And a little child shall lead them

The little girl played  long and well, graciously acknowledging support with a dignified lift of her eyebrows.

I’d have missed her entirely as I rushed along College Avenue late Saturday afternoon, paced by an increasingly strong Mile of Music FOMO.

But, I looked down for a moment, caught her eye and chuckled a little. As is my habit, I snapped a picture. Later, I realized that picture told the story of Appleton’s ascent as one of the best cities for music in the country.

The little girl sat in a doorway with a school-supply recorder in her hands and an upside down baseball cap at her side. As she played people gamely and habitually dropped money in her cap. In any other town, she might have been manning a lemonade stand.

Here in Appleton, though, it is music that refreshes folks on hot summer days and I smiled to see her peddling hers so sweetly.

Certainly, Mile of Music owes its success to its co-founders, specifically Cory Chisel’s creativity and charisma and Dave Willems’ inexhaustible drive. But, Appleton’s love affair with music predates their collaboration by a good 166 years.

Lawrence University and its renown music conservatory have anchored the Avenue since 1847. Its impact on the area arts community has been profound. Just down the street, Heid Music has been supplying lessons and instruments since 1947.

Add to that an educational system, both public and private, that nurtures talent from preschool on and you begin to see a community that understands the cumulative value of music.

Just a little while after I left the enterprising young girl, I watched Traveller romped across the Houdini stage. Later that night, Molly and I climbed to the top of the Midtown Parking Garage to see Wild Adriatic fire up a record crowd.

From a quiet doorstep to a rowdy main stage, it was good to see music alive and well and growing in Appleton.

Little girl on a doorstep
I just thought this little girl was cute, but when I looked closer, I realized she kind of told the whole story of Appleton’s love of music. Check out her loot!
Veseria joy
We caught Veseria Friday and we loved their joy…
In a very cool encore, drummer/vocalist Kyle Perkon jumped off stage with his cymbals and invited kids to join him. Who knows what little rock stars played the drums with him that day? They had a great time.
Yellow bellied sap suckers
Sunday morning we saw the Yellow Bellied Sap Suckers (mostly because we loved their name). They turned out to be a very entertaining duo.
Wild Adriatic
The very well-behaved crowd for Wild Adriatic Saturday night filled Houdini Plaza.
View from the ramp
Molly and I climbed up the ramp to get a good view.
Molly and Me
We were all, mother, daughter and cellphone camera, a little tired and sweaty but thrilled to be a part of such a cool music festival as we surveyed the scene from the parking ramp roof Saturday night.
Chalk art
Even the chalk art celebrated music.
Cory and Adriel
Kudos to the founders.



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