Sunday, May 28, 2023

It's Almost Make Music Day, 2023!

In what might be seen as a “return to normalcy” move, Santa Fe’s Make Music Day celebration will return to the Santa Fe Railyard for the first time since before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Make Music Day – which features free music events in more than a thousand cities in more than 120 countries across the globe – including Santa Fe – takes place annually on summer solstice, June 21.

“It goes without saying that we all suffered huge losses during the pandemic,” longtime Santa Fe musician Busy McCarroll – as well as a member of the state Music Commission and a longtime Make Music Day organizer – said recently. “Live music gatherings were just one of the important things that we lost. As we start going back out into the world for social events (with precautions of course), it’s time to celebrate the important impact that music has in our lives and in our community.”

Because of the pandemic lockdown, there was no public Make Music Day celebration in Santa Fe in the nightmarish year of 2020. Though public gatherings weren’t on the menu basically anywhere that year, the official website for the Make Music Alliance urged musicians and bands to share videos and live-streams and encouraged music teachers to do online lessons.

With the help of Make Music North America, “we came up with creative ways to bring music into our lives for this global event, McCarroll said. Local participants that year were “online, on porches, in trucks, in boats and in our living rooms,” she said.

The event returned to Santa Fe in 2021 with various performances, free music lessons and other musical activities scattered around town. The same approach was true last year for Make Music Day. It was an attempt, organizers said, to honor the original concept of the event with musical activities and performances happening simultaneously across the city. 

Nigerian drummer Akeem Ayanniyi
However the Make Music Day crew found that participants were finding it hard to attend all the events because they were spread out so far from each other.

“So basically the people spoke and we listened,” said organizer Francesca Jozette Tharpe. “This year everything is still spread out enough to honor the original concept, but they are all within walking distance for our attendees to enjoy all the fun!"

Having a centralized location in the Railyard “feels like a full circle event,” McCarroll said, noting that the first Make Music Day Santa Fe that was organized by the Santa Fe Music Alliance (of which she is president) also was held in the Railyard.

“The Railyard represents a new, fresh and ever growing, piece of Santa Fe’s heart and soul,” McCarroll said. “Surrounded by local businesses, it’s become somewhat of the hub of our city.” And, she noted that the Railyard has been very supportive of Make Music Day from the beginning.

One change from past Make Music Days in the Railyard is that instead of having an all day concert, McCarroll said, this year will be “more of an interactive event to show that anyone can make music. It’s also a way to encourage people who don’t make music, to make music.” 

So far, scheduled highlights of this year’s Make Music Santa Fe at Railyard Plaza include:
Jammin' with Jono

Jammin’ with Jono: Veteran Santa Fe musician and recording studio owner Jono Manson kicks off the event with an hour-long group folk jam. 

Crash Romeo karaoke.

West African drum music featuring Akeem Ayanniyi.

Circle Singing led by Joseph Ewatuya.

Group harmonica lesson conducted by Phil Arnold (with 100 harmonicas being given away).

Songwriting workshop taught by Lucy Barna.

Ukulele strum-along with Brian Nelson from Queen Bee Association.

Original songs performed by The Thunderstorm Club, a kids singing/songwriting club, led by Busy McCarroll.

An “Instrument Petting Zoo” supplied by The Candyman Strings & Things.

Petting zoo?

“It’s an educational event that allows visitors to explore a variety of musical instruments in a hands-on, engaging environment,” Cindy Cook, co-owner of The Candyman explained. “Multiple instruments are set out to be touched, handled, and played. Guide sheets and information for each instrument will be provided.”

And no, there’s no danger of the instruments biting.

Lucy Barna

“Participants can discover which instruments they enjoy and which they think sound and feel the best to them,” Cook said. “The goal is to spark an interest in music and expose visitors to instruments they may want to learn to play in the future.”

And besides the performers onstage, there will be live music by local artists at establishments up and down the entire Railyard district. 

If musicians and venues want to do something outside of the Railyard area, organizers say, they can use the “matchmaking” feature on the local Make Music Day website ( to become part of the day’s festivities and get listed on the official calendar.)   

A full schedule of events will be posted on that website and at several locations on the day.

A little history of Make Music Day:

The event originated in the government of France. In October 1981, French Culture Minister Jack Lang appointed Maurice Fleuret, a composer and music journalist, as director of music and dance.

A national study had shown that showed that half of France’s young people played a musical instrument. That gave Fleuret an idea – creating a national festival dedicated to giving professional and amateur musicians – no matter what age, genre or skill level – the opportunity to perform. Fleuret’s “FĂȘte de la Musique” featured hundreds of performances “everywhere in the streets, squares, kiosks, courtyards, gardens, stations, squares …” 

In 1983 the culture minister said. “We needed an event that would allow us to measure what place music occupied in individual and collective life. A spectacular movement of awareness, a spontaneous impetus to alert public opinion and perhaps also … the political class.”

Within a few years the idea spread to other countries, including these United States.

A 2019 article in the online publication Vox explained the significance of having the festival on June 21:

“The date isn’t just significant for being the summer solstice. It’s also close to the Feast of Saint-Jean-Baptiste, or St. John the Baptist, a day that was historically marked by a major celebration in France (and is still a national holiday in Quebec), and which itself was partly chosen by the church to coincide with summer solstice celebrations. So the inclination to celebrate around this date has existed for centuries …”

McCarroll was partly responsible for bringing Make Music Day to Santa Fe in the 1990s.

She said she got a call from a French friend who asked her “to play at this global music event that started in France and happened on summer solstice.” Specifically, she wanted McCarroll to play some tunes in front of a local Starbucks. Other local musicians were asked to perform in other places around town.

McCarroll played in front of the coffee shop with local cellist Michael Kott. But, more than 20 years later, the singer recalled, “We had to pay for a buskers license which cost $35, we didn’t get paid and made about $5 in tips.”

So that was the first Make Music Day in Santa Fe, as well as its last for several years. But in 2012, Bruce Adams, former owner of The Santa Fean magazine, and Mary Bonney brought the celebration back to town. The two produced the event for two years before asking the Santa Fe Music Alliance to take over. 

One year that McCarroll probably rather forget was the 2015 Make Music Day show in the Railyard. That was the year in which she suffered sun stroke. She still has vivid memories of sitting inside the nearby Violet Crown theater, with ice on her neck, directing the show via text messages to helpers outside.

Let’s hope that this June 21 is nice and sunny – but not as brutally sunny as it was that year.

Here in Santa Fe, organizations and businesses helping this year’s local celebration include the The Santa Fe Arts and Culture Department, The Candyman Strings & Things, the Santa Fe Music Alliance, Kludgit Sound,  the New Mexico Music Commission Foundation, Hutton Broadcasting,  KSWV (Que Sauve) Radio Le Lecheria Craft Ice Cream, the Coco-Cola Bottling Compnay of Santa Fe and Artisan Santa Fe. 

The team organizing Make Music Day in Santa Fe this year includes Busy McCarroll, Cindy Cook, Francesca Jozette Tharpe, David Swartz, who is New Mexico Arts Foundation’s board and Erminia Tapia, project specialist for the Santa Fe Arts & Culture Department.

If you’d like to donate to Make Music Day Santa Fe, please email .

For more information, Contact: Francesca Jozette Tharpe, 

Me with Cindy Cook, Amado Abeyta &
Busy McCarroll. following interview for Make 
Music Day 2021 at KSWV

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