Collaboration: dotmatrix project-Style

The Green Burro; photo by John Leonard

The Green Burro; photo by John Leonard

Here. Have a little background music while you read. Follow this link, then click the arrow in the upper right corner. Molly McGinn's "Kill Devil Hills" is playing here while I write; wanted you to enjoy it, too. Courtesy of Last.fm.

When you walk into a dotmatrix project event, it's clear this won't be your ordinary live music performance. You don't quite know why at first, but it feels different. (In a good way.)

Sure they've got live music, which is why you came in the first place. And if you live in Greensboro, you're also here because it's handy to catch a quality performance just down the street. Also, these performances are free. Free's good. But that's not "it," either.

Brandon Knox harmonica photo by Andy Henley

Brandon Knox harmonica photo by Andy Henley

The thing that makes the dotmatrix project so special to my mind is the intense presence of collaboration. The musicians are setting up, the photographers and film folks are coming in with all manner of equipment of their own. Same with the sound engineers. It feels... bigger, somehow, than Just A Live Music Performance. People are keen to help out. It's almost not like the musicians are performing for you, but they're performing with you.

And they are:

Each show features at least two local acts, and the rotating media team of filmmakers, photographers and sound engineers who create two live albums, music videos and hordes of still photos.
Janik photo by Elizabeth Lemon

Janik photo by Elizabeth Lemon

The first time I caught a live dmp event, after a few songs we heard, "Okay, everybody move in. We're making a video!" And the music lovers laughed and cheered and pulled themselves away from the corners and cozy spots where they'd set themselves up around the room, to enjoy the tunes. Even the "front and center types" got a little closer. We all crowded to the middle of the room and the energy was immediately cranked up a few notches.

Something else that always stands out to me at these shows is the way the photographers intermingle with the crowds. Whereas people often push and shove at concerts, and call out to people with cameras, telling them to get out of the way, dmp invites what almost feels like a second layer of choreography. A photographer moves in for a shot and those nearby respectfully pull back just a bit. Nobody wants to bump her arm and cause the shot to be lost. This flow, this give-and-take, is worked into the movement as we dance to the beat coming from the stage. Move to the music, and move, too, to make way for The Shot.

Guitar head photo by Tanya Peterson

Guitar head photo by Tanya Peterson

The schedule's easily accessible: I have the dotmatrix project widget over here in the side navigation. It updates as new bands are slated. And if you don't care for the style of a particular band? Never mind. Next show you'll get to hear something different. These folks are bringing you variety.

See you there!

Oh. And if you liked the sound of Molly McGinn's voice when you started reading? Mark your calendar for November 20; she's a dotmatrix project artist. Hopefully we'll get to hear her again real soon; the lineup has changed, but you should still come out...