We built this city on Rock and Roll

With a simple, stapled songbook and some old campfire songs, retired choral director Mr. Jim Heiks and his merry band of rock star carolers told the story of music. We found them loosely grouped under a shade tree on a sunny Saturday afternoon, Cory Chisel, Langhorne Slim, and Hillary Reynolds, cheerfully singing children’s songs as Cory’s high school music teacher strummed guitar. That’s how music begins. A small crowd gathered, sang and swelled. Girl choir members past and present lent sweet harmonies. Latecomers shared song sheets with kind people they’d never met. In the front row, a small boy in a white baseball cap earnestly tried to sing along. That’s how music grows. The somewhat impromptu concert happened at Lawrence University on the east end of the Mile of Music Festival. The school, with its renowned music conservatory, plays a central character in the thriving Fox Valley Music scene, home of the Appleton Boychoir (alumnus Cory Chisel) and the Appleton girl choir (alumna Hillary Reynolds and last year’s headliner Mel Flannery). Among the 220+ bands and solo artists performing at the hugely successful Mile of Music Festival, many grew up in the Valley, where a collective passion for music education has given birth to an impressive number of professional musicians. That’s how music lasts. We loved every moment of this year’s Mile of Music Festival, the beautiful ballads, the sweaty serenades, rollicking rock, and nervous debuts. Mostly, though, we liked the transcendent celebration of genuine music talent and the little kids who stood right in front of stages, looked up and thought, “Someday, that’s going to be me.” That’s how music lives.

Hillary Reynolds Fan
This adorable little girl could not take her eyes off the equally adorable Hillary Reynolds Band during their Saturday morning performance at the Appleton Farmer’s Market. So enthralled was the little cutie, that, when her family had to leave, she walked backwards so she wouldn’t miss a thing.
Sing a long
Amid the bustle of an incredibly busy music festival, a cool group of performers took some time out for an old-fashioned sing along. In many ways, you can trace the birth of the festival itself to the retired choral conductor (and passionate music teachers like him) on lead guitar. Last spring Langhorne Slim performed on Conan O’Brien and the talk show host called himself an obsessive fan. We can’t thank him enough for popping up all over the Mile of Music Festival and making our day with this sweet sing along.
Sing A long crowd
A long view of  a super cool sing along.
Colorado Trail
How have I lived a whole half century and not ever heard this lovely tune. (Check out the fifth measure)
Little boy
You just know the little boy in the Cory Chisel hat is watching Jimmy Brown, lead singer of Matrimony, and thinking, “Someday that will be me.”

Here’s a taste of the sing along. With super human discipline I refrained from crooning along as I recorded this little ditty. You’re welcome.

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