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Making Music In The Streets of Plymouth

Last Saturday Plymouth joined 800 cities around the world to celebrate Make Music Day. The general idea - music performed by anyone, anywhere they like.  

Bob King has a day job but he hosts open mics at Tony's Restaurant on Thursdays. Today, he's standing in front of Thomas Roberts Hair Salon playing some of his favorite songs.

"It must be beautiful for people to walk around town and hear a different song every ten feet."

10 - or maybe 20 - feet away stands Jim Tyrrell. Tyrrell's day job is music and after an hour in front of the UPS store, he's off to play at a wedding.  But he wanted to be part of the first ever Make Music day in New Hampshire.

"And I'm hoping that this actually opens the businesses up to the ideas that they might be able to have a local musician in, you know?  Hopefully it'll be good for a business too, cause that's really the idea, just as much."

The music has to compete with the predatory growl of motorcycles.  Rebecca Lee, who organized today's event, said she forgot Make Music day coincided with another noisy New Hampshire tradition.

"This is pretty much how I imagined it would be.  Just a very organic thing, with people picking a spot at random and just starting to play. I guess I also didn't consider that it was also motorcycle weekend."

104 different acts were scheduled to perform but dozens of other musicians just showed up.  

"When 11 o'clock hit and I started walking up the street I almost started crying cause it was just so beautiful to see."

Make Music day got its start in France in 1982. The Fete de la Musique was designed to give kids and amateurs a chance to perform in a public space - even if they didn't know how to play but were curious.

Under the Music and Arts tent on the town common, there's a kind of petting zoo of musical instruments, from ukuleles to trombones.  One and half year old Cole Robeson sits down at the drums.

Next to Cole, 4 year old Gabriel Sargent blows through the alto sax as one of the tent workers flutters the instrument's keys. Gabriel's mother Nina looks on.

"It's a great chance for them to just try things that you as a parent would sit there and question how much you are investing into something that - if and whether they are gonna like it or not."

Around town, the Baker Valley Band runs through old timey songs, the Street Rats pump out accordion and washboard jams and Meg Josalen sings along with her own original piano tunes.

But when the Crunchy Western Boys start up, a crowd gathers fast and spills into Main Street and one motorcyclist turns his engine off in the middle of the road to listen. 

Sean Hurley lives in Thornton with his wife Lois and his son Sam. An award-winning playwright and radio journalist, his fictional “Atoms, Motion & the Void” podcast has aired nationally on NPR and Sirius & XM Satellite radio. When he isn't writing stories or performing on stage, he likes to run in the White Mountains. He can be reached at shurley@nhpr.org.

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