Let your colors show
Have everybody watch
Throw your soul
Let the wind pick it up
Rustle in the leaves
Because you are you
Wade in the water
Put your smile on
And move with grace
Explode with light
Have no fear
See the world
Don’t hide away
Because you are you
That poem, written in 2012 by Sophie Steiner, is the inspiration behind “Be Loud” – a weekend of music and togetherness for the Chapel Hill and Carrboro musical community. And the greater community of people like me who love and appreciate the talent – past, present and future – that we are blessed with in this area. Sophie passed away from cancer in 2013, and although I never met her, I think she would have loved every second of this weekend. It was not just a celebration of music, it was an affirmation of her life and positive energy.
I was privileged to be able to attend both nights – and see some of my musical heroes on stage again. The Pressure Boys, The Connells, Dexter & Sara Romweber, A Number of Things, and a reunited Let’s Active with Sara on drums again after all these many years.
During my time at UNC (’82-’86), I was lucky enough to have been able to see these fantastic groups and artists in their heyday. A Pressure Boys show was ALWAYS an event – they could take the roof off a place with their energy and talent. And Let’s Active heavily influenced a whole generation of bands – R.E.M. and many others.
Mitch, Sara, Suzi, Lynn and Missy absolutely did justice to Afoot/Cypress-era Let’s Active songs. So tight, so amazing. And we could all feel the presence of the late great Faye Hunter.
I was struck by how the musical community comes together for benefits like this. Musicians come together selflessly, giving and enthusiastically. I watched the faces of the performers and saw happiness and joy written all over them. And I saw pure bliss on the faces of audience members (including mine).
As one friend said, “I pity anyone who has never seen the Pressure Boys live.” Truer words have never been spoken. It was like we were all magically transported back to 1984 – back to our youthful, energetic 20s and full of reckless abandon. Anyone attending this weekend felt that again. And when Mitch Easter and crew took the stage, it was clear why he is such an influential legend – not just in North Carolina, but around the world. The man can play guitar. And Sara Romweber can hit the skins like nobody.
But this weekend was about Sophie. And about remembering the precious gifts we have in our health and the health of the people we love. Treasuring every second we have together and never taking anything for granted. The bands got loud, the crowd got loud, and (as I am reminded today by my hoarse voice) I got loud.
I hope we got loud enough for Sophie to hear us. And I hope she is smiling at it all.