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Wake Up to Music, Miami! Commuters Get a Melodic Fix on Mondays

“Tell me why, I don’t like Mondays. Tell me why, I don’t like Mondays. I want to shoot the whole day down,“ sang the Boomtown Rats in their 1981 hit song “I Don’t Like Mondays.” Well, they’re definitely not the only ones who dislike Monday manic Monday, you wish was Sunday as the Bangles so aptly expressed.

Music appeases one’s feelings about “Monday Monday,” like The Mamas and the Papas knew. So, how about starting off the first day of the grind with a little live music during your morning commute?

“Wake Up Miami” is bringing free live music concerts to Miami Metrorail and Metromover stations on selected Monday mornings at 8:30 a.m. The concerts last from 45 to 60 minutes and include classical, jazz, folk, and world music presented by FIU School of Music students, various artists from local organizations, and other Miami-based performers.

“The Wake Up Miami” summer series features Matthew Sabatella and the Rambling String Band, The Amber Buddha-Lizards, Brothers of Others, Sean Bibble & Jared Bistrong, KJ Circles Band, Ariel Alejandro de la Portilla, Brasoul Trio, Nestor Zurita, and Shanti-Celli Nightingale.

PAXy is the organization behind the event. They are a non-profit founded in 2014 with the mission of inspiring creativity in the Miami community and helping locals become Art Lovers and Art Makers. They organize performance opportunities like “Wake Up Miami,” which provide a platform for local artists to express themselves. PAXy launched a kickstarter campaign to raise funds for the event.

I got a chance to interview the co-founder and executive director Maudie Valero:

    • What led to the origin of this project? Who was behind the origination? What inspired Wake Up Miami?
      This idea was born as “Wake up city!” at the beginning of 2014 as part of PAXy’s business plan since the time Yaima Arbona and I, were formalizing it. It evolved to “Wake up Miami!” one night at Roxanne Scalia’s house after some glasses of wine. Inspired in Music Under New York (MUNY), back then it sounded like a complete utopia, but the whole PAXy project did.
      PAXy started working on “Wake up Miami!” and meeting other organization leaders who helped with their experience. At first it seemed like live music at the Miami Metrorail/Metromover station was something very difficult to implement, but when your mission is to promote greater community engagement through the arts, nothing is impossible. When we met with MDT (Miami-Dade Transit) officials, they were very excited about the project and were instrumental in guiding us through the logistics of putting it together.
      The whole idea of the organization, and that includes “Wake up Miami!” is to inspire creativity and help the Miami community to become Art Lovers and Art Makers. To promote and give new performance opportunities for emerging local artists and diversify local cultural vision through FREE exposure to worldwide artistic elements. There is not a strong busker culture in Miami, even when it is not prohibited, you don’t see musicians in the stations playing instruments or showcasing their art. This will encourage musicians and dancers, and hopefully every artist, to interact with people outside the setting of concert halls or places meant for more private/paid events. At the same time, the community will be exposed to high quality concerts, comparable to those inside paid venues. In this way we also support the musicians, paying them for their work and the service they are doing.
    • How did you select the participating musicians? How did you connect with them and get them on board? Do they represent a specific culture geared towards the Miami community?
      The first series was Wake up Miami! 2015, at the time experienced Miami talents Omine Eager and Glenda Fernandez-Vega who brought musicians students from FIU School of Music; and Music Events Producer Roxanne Scalia were some of the experts helping us to ensure diversity and artistic excellence. After the success of that series, many musicians contacted us excited about the possibility of being part of the project. This year with the help of the same PAXy’s friends, Aldo Salvent, and Saludarte Foundation the program was curated and organized it so the community can enjoy a wide variety of rhythms, instruments, and artistic expressions. Dancers and/or actors are featured to enhance the experience at some of the shows, and we are planning to include theater elements in 2017.
      The participating artists in the series have multicultural roots from different countries, but most have chosen to call Miami home while they are studying or establishing themselves in the city, thus contributing to Miami’s diversity. That diversity is what we seek to show at the events.
    • What do you think is the benefit or having live music in public transportation? What is the power of such artistic expression in a city?
      The project created a connection with the community and cultural events, presenting art as a form of enjoyment and expression. Taking a cue from other major metropolitan cities and showcasing Miami musical talent, we were and are bringing a fun vibe to public transportation, helping with the revitalization of the downtown area, and highlighting Miami’s cultural diversity.
      We have been able to witness the community’s enthusiasm for music recitals in public places. Having art surprising us in our daily routine, especially early on Monday morning, creates a feeling of community, happiness and satisfaction that benefits each individual and everybody who interacts with him/her.
      Miami Transit’s cultural life has grown somewhat in in the past few years, but it still lacks a recurring cultural series of events designed to attract people in an informal, fun environment with the goal of entertaining as well as educating the community in the arts while also promoting the use of the public transportation system in the city. Offering free concerts to those individuals with fewer economic resources, they will feel they are part of something larger, the community, and that the community is engaging them. At the same time, a new and unique performance space for music students and local artists will be created.
      Engagement with artistic activities, either as an observer of the creative efforts of others or as an initiator of one’s own creative efforts, can enhance one’s moods and emotions, increase understanding of one’s self and others, develop a capacity for self-reflection, reduce symptoms, and alter behaviors and thinking patterns.
  • What do you hope comes about from this project?
    We hope to expand the project year-round and to bring it to multiple stations around the city in the near future 🙂
    We are part of the city’s cosmopolitan transformation, and we witness it every Monday. The very first events people were afraid, afraid to participate, afraid someone was trying to sell them something, afraid even to look to the musicians. Show after show they get more and more involved. Now they talk with us, dance, take pictures. Smiles and warm phrases from the community members, people stopping some minutes and listening to live music while getting out of the Miami’s “always busy culture,” musicians interacting with their audience, persons starting their day with that touch of art and that feeling of caring… We are very happy, it is a poem itself 🙂
  • What would you like to achieve through your organization PAXy?
    As we say it, Putting Art in the galaXy… PAXy wants to offer FREE high-quality art to Miami’s Community, and present it in a fun, inspiring, creative way. At the same time to create new and unique performance spaces for art’ students and local artists where they can make a living while enjoying their presentation, and adding life and movement to said spaces. Wrapping all that, engage individuals, artists, audience, and everything in between, in something larger, the community.
    The world is a nice place to live in when you wake up with music 😉
    Along with the free platform performances at public transportation spots, Trumpeter Arturo Sandoval will teach a master class as a collateral event.

Summer Series:

  • Aug. 1 Sean Dibble, Jared Bistrong & Ignacio Nunez
  • Aug. 8 KJ Circles Band
  • Aug. 29 Ariel Alejandro de la Portilla
  • Sept. 12 Brasoul Trio
  • Sept. 19 Nestor Zurita
  • Sept. 26 Shanti-Celli-Nightingale

Fall Series:

  • Oct.3 Alfredo Chacon
  • Oct. 10 Lorena & Invited Musicians
  • Oct. 17 Aldo Salvent Trio
  • Nov. 7 Omine & Invited Musicians
  • Nov. 14 Glenda Fernandez-Vega & Invited Musicians
  • Nov. 21 GodoyPradera Projects & Programs, Lazaro Godoy & Carlota Pradera, With Collaborating Artist
  • Nov. 28 SaludArte’s Talent

Government Center Metrorail/Metromover Station, 101 NW First Street, Miami, FL 33128.

For more information, visit: www.youtube.com/PAXyOrg, PAXy.org.

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