Playing for Change


The Third Street Promenade and the surrounding streets in Santa Monica are a great “foodies” destination. No doubt, my wife and I are foodies. You see us coming, you say, “Here come some foodies.” There’s also fun shopping and lots of live music along the Promenade.
third street promenade
A musician can make a fairly good living along the Promenade in the summer. Proper permits and a good location will bring a player some nice dollars in the tip-jar every night. I had a very good friend who played there for years in the summer. He played a long antique Chinese harp and a Fender Stratocaster together. He sold dozens of CDs every night. He’s now playing on the streets and subways of Paris and doing well.

The other musician I always sought out to watch and listen was Roger Ridley. He sat hunched over, strumming his beat-up guitar and singing through a small beat-up speaker. His voice stopped me in my tracks. He sent shivers up my spine. When he sang “Stand by Me” I choked up. This guy was as good as any blues singer in America. He’s from Venice and he would play there along the boardwalk in the busy weekend afternoons and then in the evenings he would come up a couple miles to the Promenade in Santa Monica. I wasn’t the only one who knew what a tremendously talented voice Roger Ridley possessed.

In 2008 a man named Mark Johnson was also halted in his tracks when he heard Roger Ridley’s voice. Mark Johnson was traveling around recording street musicians for a documentary. He told Roger he couldn’t understand why he played in the streets when he could be in a studio. Roger told him, “Man, I’m in the Joy Business, I come out to be with the people.”

Mark Johnson finished his documentary. It was called “A Cinematic discovery of Street Musicians.” Not many people saw it. However, Mark saw something in Roger Ridley that started a whole new adventure. Mark asked Roger if he could come back with a camera  and mics and record him. No problem. It happened. Mark recorded Roger singing “Stand by Me” and then went all over the world finding talent to blend in with Roger. No problem. It happened, too.

For the last five years groups of talented musicians all over the world, including Roger Ridley, have joined together in a huge project called, “Playing for Change.” They have just completed their 90th project. I would like to share the very first song starring Roger Ridley…”Lean on Me.”

If you’re still curious to hear more, I have the recently released video –  the 90th video shot called “What’s Going On?” As the project has developed strength, more professionals have asked to be a part of the project as you’ll see in #90.

Take a few minutes to relax and watch and listen. I guarantee you will be moved. I guarantee it’s a great way to start off you weekend.

Do have a great weekend.
Now make your screen wide and turn up your speakers.

http://playingforchange.com/episodes/stand-by-me/

http://playingforchange.com/episodes/whats-going-on/

 

 

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About bakoheat

Writer/Musician
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