The Levitt Pavilions are bringing once again a numerous amount of free concerts with stellar performers all over the country. As a special treat, they had the band Playing for Change on tour on all of their locations over a three week period. Southern California got to have them in their Pasadena and McArthur Park locations. Playing for Change has become an organization building music and art schools for children around the world.
From the Playing for Change website this is how it all started:
In 2005, Mark Johnson was walking in Santa Monica, California, when he heard the voice of Roger Ridley (now deceased) singing “Stand By Me.” Roger had so much soul and conviction in his voice, and Mark approached him about performing “Stand By Me” as a Song Around The World. Roger agreed, and when Mark returned with recording equipment and cameras he asked Roger, “With a voice like yours, why are you singing on the streets?” Roger replied, “Man I’m in the Joy business, I come out to be with the people.” Ever since that day, the Playing For Change crew has traveled the world recording and filming musicians, creating Songs Around The World, and building a global family.
The evenings began warming up with drum circles for an all ages crowd. With master drummer guiding the beginning of each evening, adults and children got to drum to the Levitt beat and those who participated even received their own hand drum courtesy of Remo (I got one too and love it!). Band members of Playing for change also joined the drum circles and all engaged in the same beat. When the time of the performance came, the audience was still vibing with the beat of the drums.
Playing for Change at Levitt Pavilion Pasadena
More photos of Levitt Pavilion Pasadena show at FARAHSTOP, the music photography archive.
The difference between both shows, to me, was mainly the setlist. Levitt LA got to extend themselves a little bit more providing additional music treats with original adaptations AND also got to invite LA’s favorite Ghanaian Mr. Rocky Dawuni to perform with them on stage sweet reggae music. Songs like Makumba and Don’t Worry Be Happy had everyone dancing, while their cover of Etta James I’d Rather Go Blind had the audience inevitably emotional. Highlight of the night: their performance of Stand by Me, in English and Spanish (Quedate conmigo).
More photos of Levitt Pavilion McArthur Park show at FARAHSTOP, the music photography archive.
The Playing for Change Levitt tour is over. It was a great gift to those who got to witness it and I am beyond happy to have documented it. But their labor does not end her. To learn even more about their music and organization you can visit their website and social media outlets and if moved by their cause to build bridges and educate through music, you can even participate to fulfill their mission.