Performers for Fête de la Musique musically greet the first day of summer in downtown Albion


Contributing Writer
June 24, 2021

Although it was a cool 65 degrees with grayish skies in Albion on Monday, musicians came out to play various instruments from 5-9 p.m. in honor of Music Day, as Fête de la Musique is known in English. Toward the beginning of the event there were six locations with musicians playing various instruments. Spots opened and closed as handfuls of people listened to the musicians, with about three stations closing out the evening.

Jim Stuart woos the people strolling by with his trumpet playing during Fête de la Musique in downtown Albion.

“Informally, I would say we have about six places with power available. I like the informality of it. It’s music by the people not choreographed, not organized, not cajoled, not paid for, just people out making music,” said Jim Stuart, owner of Stirling Books & Brew and one of the informal organizers. Stuart, Kelly Kidder, and Cliff Harris helped either spread the word or provide technical assistance.

The crowd enjoys … Wisz, Albion area, play her ukulele with her instructor, Kelly Kidder for Fête de la Musique. (Youth names abbreviated to comply with Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.)

Initially started in France in 1982 to allow amateur musicians in Paris to perform for free in public, the celebration has spread throughout the world to encourage anyone to make music in the streets.

Free concerts are also performed in many of the countries celebrating Fête de la Musique. Wonderful tunes could be heard from musicians playing a variety of instruments in Albion, an accordion, a ukulele, horns, electric pianos to name some.

Mary Slater plays the accordion as her husband Dick Lewin turns her pages in Bournelis Park in downtown Albion.

Kidder was involved with Fête de la Musique in Albion from the start. “At the time, about 15 years, they were hoping to introduce it to America. It seemed like a good community-building event.

It gave a chance for musicians to play for the love of playing and not for monetary gain.”

“I got invited by a friend. It sounded fun,” Daniel McGarry, a senior at Albion College said. San Pham, his page-turner and friend who extended the invitation, stayed in Albion for the summer also but leaves for Emory University to get her Ph.D. in chemistry.

On a Fête de la Musique website created by the Sister City committee in 2014, it is stated that the event sprung from the French sister city relationship with Noisy-le-Roi and began in 2005.

Reactions from some store owners explain why they are involved in sharing music with the Albion area by having performers in front of their establishments. “Music is great, and to see C, who is Kelly’s youngest student, come and perform is like extra special,” said Ramona Kidder, co-owner of Dickerson Music, speaking about her husband, Kelly Kidder, also owner of Dickerson Music and C. Wisz, his student.

Ann Wade performs in front of her mother’s Yellow Bird Chocolate Shop singing “Our Last Summer” by Abba and playing the Ukulele during Fête de la Musique 2021.

“I was really excited to set up a pop-up stage,” owner of the Yellow Bird Chocolate Shop Jenny Risner-Wade said. She prepared for Walk the Beat students to play in front of her store as well as her daughter, Ukulele player and singer Ann Wade. She mentioned the French sister city relationship and was glad that the day of music continues. “We do creative fun stuff in Albion all the time,” Risner-Wade added.

The Calvary Brass from the Calvary United Methodist Church in Jackson played in front of the Courtyard Marriott for Albion’s Fete de la Musique. Bruce Harshe, Horton; Bob Woodward, Brooklyn; Bill Henry, Dexter; Sharon Bechtel, Grass Lake; Gary Micheel, Jackson; Julie Peckham, Parma.

See photos from over the years and read about the history of the Fête de la Musique in Albion by clicking here.

Photos by Sylvia Benavidez except as noted.  Photos and story copyright, The Recorder.

This story is reprinted with permission from The Recorder.
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