I use the word 'community' a fair amount of times. Enough that when it's used too much, it begins to lose its meaning. Sort of like fellow words love or music or hope. But with the prevailing rhetoric of etymology aside, when it comes to the idea of community, of people living intentionally with one another, caring for one another, challenging one another, drinking beer together and weathering life together, I'm in it for the long haul.
I suppose what makes an event like Fauxchella so special to me is that it distills some of these flimsy words down to their core. It rattles away the extraneous connotations till what's left is the locus of the idea: A group of people living together with a common goal, a collectively shared practice, an investment in each other's best interests. In day to day life, a community can take on a great deal more nuance, diversity, and expansiveness. It's no less crucial to our strivings as human beings, but sometimes when the pattern of the Every Day is sheared back, what takes shape is something altogether special. So it goes with an event like Fauxchella, at its core a 3-day music festival whose sole aim is to foster and bring to fruition the talents and proclivities of musically-minded people.
So, aside from trotting out the thesis of the event like some gimped one trick pony, (or, Heaven forbid it, sounding like the talking head in charge of dispensing church mission statements), here's what's important: Like community, the idea of music and what music means is often overlooked due to its utter proliferation. But music touches us in profound ways; a chaos of sound rendered and mysteriously clarified by order; an erratic, roiling ocean whose infinitesimal parts form a far more fearsome whole. I'm not a musician by any stretch of the imagination (excepting, perhaps, my own, which casts me in increasingly unlikely scenarios--most of which involve Neko Case, Nick Cave, and Patsy Cline's ghost), but I've always been fascinated by how music and music makers work. Maybe I'm invoking the same query that so vexed the nuns presiding over Fräulein Maria's well-being, but seriously: How do you catch a cloud and pin it down?
Dave Hickey describes the process in Air Guitar: Essays on Art & Democracy thusly:
Rock-and-roll, on the other hand, presumes that the four of us--as damaged and anti-social as we are--might possibly get it to-fucking-gether, man, and play this simple song. And play it right, okay? Just this once, in tune and on the beat. But we can't. The song's too simple, and we're too complicated and too excited. We try like hell, but the guitars distort, the intonation bends, and the beat just moves, imperceptibly, against our formal expectations, whether we want it to or not. Just because we're breathing, man. Thus, in the process of trying to play this very simple song together, we create this hurricane of noise, this infinitely complicated, fractal filigree of delicate distinctions.
That hurricane of noise floated out of shipping containers at 2am, it covered the desert floor with the rising sun at dawn, and it pulsated in the air at high noon with the frenetic energy of a revving engine. There was laughter and silence in equal measure, a gentle acceptance of the various scars brought to the weekend, and a sincere love for the bearers of those scars. One may never be able to harness what it is that makes music work, or describe why humans need each other in such profound ways, or place a name to that feeling one gets when a moment in life is calcified forever in memory.
But by God, we'll try.