A Personal Account
Called "the voice of American music" Alison Krauss and her band Union Station took to the stage in Weill Hall at the Green Music Center last Sunday night - a culmination of the weekend of opening ceremonies for the new musical heart of the North Bay. Gone were Governor Jerry Brown and the black tie celebrations from the evening before. It was "Community Day" - and it showed. This was the night when Weill Hall, quite literally, opened itself up to the public - a public that was more than 5,000 strong and ready to celebrate.
"I've never seen anything like this," said Krauss. "We're honored to be here."
For Krauss and her band it was the last stop on a two year long world tour. For the audience at Weill Hall it was the beginning of a musical journey that will last generations. And the people knew it.
Arriving on the red carpet with my parents - both folk singer-song writers and members of the Grammy's who have walked that other red carpet - the mellow, happy Sonoma County vibe was definitely present. But, there was also something else: excitement. The people were more than happy to be there - they felt a sense of pride. It was obvious listening to passing conversation that the feeling of being a part of something, well, magical was shared by the members of the audience. My parents certainly felt it as well. So did I.
President Ruben Armiñana talked to the audience before the show and said that he had heard that "this was the most exciting event to happen here since 1937" - a celebration of the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Showing my parents the grounds of the Green Music Center before the concert it was obvious that despite the decade-long struggle to complete the project, it had been realized in a major way. The organization for this culminating event of the opening weekend was truly astounding. My concerns about parking, for instance, proved to be unfounded. I had detailed conversations before the show about my parking strategy to make certain quick post-concert get-a-way was possible. Turned out the folks at SSU Police & Parking Services already thought about that and after an enjoyable and historic evening we just rolled away into the Sonoma County night.
Even the staffers - many students - seemed very excited to be working at the event. At the box office was a student from my Media Law class - which I teach in one of the Green Music Center classrooms - beaming and helping patrons left and right. The students were identified by name and major on the box office window - a good conversation starter for those new to coming to musical events on a college campus. There were student ticket scanners, student ushers and more. Everyone was enthusiastic and well-informed from topics ranging from the concert to, even, the type of wood used to build the floor and chairs in Weill Hall.
And, yes, I enjoyed the concert greatly. But what I really kept thinking about the entire time was what it would be like 50 years from now to look back on all the luminaries that will eventually take to this stage and how I was there with my family at the very beginning.
Written by C.E. McAuley
Communication Studies Faculty