The Value of a Free Concert

Thank you, South Whidbey Parks & Recreation and Goosefoot. Every Wednesday night, for about two months in the summer, those two local organizations put on free concerts in the park (SW Parks & Rec) and in the parking lot (Goosefoot). Tonight’s concert was Joy Mills, an excellent band that probably sounds best in a tiny bar with a tiny dance floor. All that applause was spread out over the outfield of a baseball field. It probably sounded diluted to them. To me, at least, a free outdoor concert was better than some high priced arena event. When you have little to spend, you find things that were always free but overlooked. There are treasures out there.

Someone asked for a synopsis of this blog. Evidently, they think I should be writing for another of the national web sites. Fine by me! The blog is the continuing story behind Dream. Invest. Live.Dream Invest Live cover; but it is also ‘personal finance for frugal folk’. Frugal folk aren’t cheap. Frugal folk appreciate the value of resources, including time and money. What they frequently discover are things like the free concerts, not only because they are free, but because so many things are valued based on their price tag instead of their true value. Spend $50 on tickets to a show, and you have personal image reasons to prove that it was money well spent. Get the same music for free, and suddenly people think it isn’t worth their time.

Time to visit, or revisit, the video of Joshua Bell playing violin in DC. Instead of playing in a grand concert hall, he played in a public building, just like too many other street musicians. A master artist, playing for free, is ignored by almost everyone. Several, though a minority, looked to have dropped some money in his case. A few, very few, stopped and the let crowds flow around them, anchored to concentrate on a beautiful performance. The video has been played over five million times, and I wonder if five million people now look at street musicians differently.

The Joy Mill Band played tonight, and I suspect they were paid, though probably not paid what they are worth. They played from the hill that acts as the outfield fence. The nearest member of the audience was yards away. There was enough room between the band and the audience that a crowd of kids were playing a completely unorganized and energetic game that involved a football then a frisbee and a lot of running around. In September, the band heads off on their European tour. I don’t know how much of their fee was paid by taxes, donations from Whidbey Telecom, or patrons of art and community. It probably came to less than ten dollars a person. Their performance was worth far more than that.

For an hour and a half, a bunch of grownups sat on their lawn chairs or blankets, had picnics, and applauded at the right times, usually. For about an hour and a half, everyone got to watch dozens of kids being kids. The game of football frisbee keep-away. Rolling down grassy slopes without regard for stained pants. Squeals of laughter and surprise because they were outside and could use their outside voices as they played. It is amazing to hear an eight year old get louder than an amplified band. And, of course, cuteness throughout as kids with pacifiers try to get more than a few dozen steps in a row, only to fall down, stay there as if nothing happened, and then get up and keep going – probably in some completely new direction. Thanks to a couple of slower songs (and a willing dance partner) we were able to get in a waltz, and nice bit of two-step. (Dancing fast on turf with bicycle shoes is a bad idea – though probably a good video.)

There isn’t as much to brag about as having attended The Opera. There aren’t any ticket stubs to frame. There probably won’t be an article in the Big City Newspaper. There was, however, a fine night with good music, good people, and no stress about parking or traffic or passing through security checkpoints. My main concern was getting home on the bicycle before sunset – and even that turned into a nice sunset ride as the tide reached its peak.

There are many grand events and great considerations in the world. They are impressive and noble. There is much work to be done. There is also a value to setting aside the grand to take in the simple because there lives the value that – with a bit more support – can be far more sustainable, and which can sustain us when we go back to work.

About Tom Trimbath

real estate broker / consultant / entrepreneur / writer / photographer / speaker / aerospace engineer / semi-semi-retired More info at: and at my amazon author page:
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