A few weeks ago ABC's 20/20 with Diane Sawyer aired an inspirational segment on Arizona Congresswoman, Gabrielle Giffords, who in January 2011 suffered from a near-fatal shooting, leaving her in critical condition for several weeks and severely damaging her brain. In the special, Diane Sawyer interviews Giffords for the first time since her injury, and showcases Giffords' amazing spirit, determination and courage.
Due to the injuries Giffords had suffered from receiving a bullet point blank to the head, she was afflicted with aphasia, the inability to speak due to damage to the linguistic pathways in the brain. Yet in the 11 months since the shooting, she has made remarkable progress, and has regained much of her speech and motor skills, a triumph that can be attributed in part to music therapy.
The bullet had mostly damaged the left side of Giffords' brain, the part that controls speech. The words were there, but she had to find a different route to access them. It was through song that she was able to attach rhythm and melody to words, and thus create a new neural pathway to language. You might wonder how music accomplishes this. According to neurologist and best-selling author, Oliver Sacks, "Nothing activates the brain so extensively as music." This is because music is able to activate visual, motor, coordination and emotion centers in both hemispheres of the brain. Thus one can use music to retrain the brain in order to compensate for brain damage.
Bread & Roses hosted a community gathering at a special happy hour at The Tavern at Lark Creek on Thursday, September 8. On the side patio of this beautiful, historic restaurant in Larkspur, many people from diverse parts of our ever-expanding community gathered to share good cheer. With festive sangria, margaritas, wine and beer for sale to benefit Bread & Roses, we visited with each other under the redwood trees and enjoyed the lively folk-rock music of the talented Rant Brothers.
Susan Gilardi, Bread & Roses Board Chair Emeritus, first had the inspiration for the second annual event along with restaurant manager TJ Jacobberger and Bread & Roses Executive Director Cassandra Flipper. While Susan was helping to greet people, her husband Dennis Gilardi parked his 1922 Model T Ford in the driveway to draw attention to the event.
With red, white and blue balloons bobbing cheerfully in the breeze, the band Moonalice played an upbeat Bread & Roses concert for the veterans at the VA Hospital in Menlo Park on Labor Day 2011. Blessed with beautiful sunny weather, this early afternoon special event was held on Monday, September 5 on a small stage in a grassy area to the right of the front door of the Community Living Center.
Our audience was a mix of veterans -- most from World War II who lived in the nursing unit close by and enjoyed the performance from a covered deck. They were assisted by other vets from the Vietnam era who came from a residential rehab program in a nearby building.
Photo: Moonalice performing a Bread & Roses show at Delancey Street Foundation in San Francisco.
A band of seasoned musicians, Moonalice features Roger McNamee on rhythm guitar, bass and vocals; Ann McNamee on keyboards and vocals; Pete Sears on keyboards, guitar, vocals and bass; Barry Sless on lead, pedal steel and bass guitars; and John Molo on drums and vocals.
Pete Sears launched the set with "Down the Road", a crowd pleaser and apt metaphor for this traveling band that goes all over the country playing outdoor festivals and parks as a living embodiment of their belief that music is a communal experience that should be shared.
Robert Gupta's story is an inspiration to us all: not only does he play first chair violin for the Los Angeles Philharmonic, he is also their youngest performer, having joined the orchestra in 2007 at the age of 19. What is perhaps most remarkable about this young prodigy is that in addition to his professional music career, he also directs his own free concert series, The Street Symphony, which brings live classical music to the homeless and mentally ill on Skid Row in downtown Los Angeles. KQED's California Report recently did an audio story on Robert's social service outreach, which includes comments from the patients after his concert. You can listen to the report here: http://www.californiareport.org/archive/R201108250850/b
In the San Francisco Bay Area, Bread & Roses serves a number of residential mental health facilities at major hospitals including short-term units at San Francisco General, and California Pacific Medical Center, as well as longer-term treatment facilities such as Cordilleras in Redwood City and Canyon Manor in Novato.Among our most challenging audiences, we know that mental health patients, particularly those who are also homeless, can be hard to engage and at the same time, are often deeply appreciative of and positively affected by music's healing force.
Gupta's interest in music as therapy for the mentally ill was perhaps inspired in 2008 when he met and began tutoring Nathanial Ayers, the schizophrenic musical virtuoso who is the subject of the bestselling book, The Soloistby L.A. Times columnist, Steve Lopez. Many of you might be familiar with the film adaptation, which stars Jamie Fox and Robert Downey Jr. Of his time working with Ayers, Gupta remarked that he was struck by how music seemed to calm Ayers and act as a sort of medicine or therapy. It was at that time that Robert began The Street Symphony.
Budding jazz chanteuse Lucy Krakow is a featured “Whiz Kid” on this week’s Larkspur Corte Madera Patch. While at Redwood High School, Lucy was a volunteer performer for Bread & Roses who did concerts for three different facility audiences. An inventive jazz singer with her own distinctive style, Lucy is also a talented singer-songwriter as well as guitarist.
For her Bread & Roses shows, she brought her talents as a creative collaborator to the forefront by recruiting three musicians to perform with her. At Marin Services for Women (MSW) she performed original songs she co-wrote with Katie Hamilton who is now at Boston’s Berklee College of Music. At Aldersly in San Rafael, a residential community for seniors, she played jazz standards with saxophone player Jake Botts. At Our Common Ground, a rehab for teens in Redwood City, she performed in a charming and inspirational duet with her brother Roger.
My how time flies when you are having fun! Teatro ZinZanni is offering the Bread & Roses community a special ticket price for their current show: Maestro's Enchantment on Sunday, July 31st.
Joan Baez has been illuminating Teatro ZinZanni's Spiegeltent since June and she will be starring her last performance of Maestro's Enchantment that day.
Due to popular demand, Madame ZinZanni has added one more matinee show to the schedule for 11:30am on July 31st. As a special offer to our fabulous Bread & Roses community, you can reserve tickets at the special price of $76 for this last matinee show. Call Teatro ZinZanni's box office at 415-438-2668 and mention "Maestro's Roses" to purchase tickets with this special offer today!
Long-time Bread & Roses volunteer and supporter Ken Harrison reported that he recently saw Armistead Maupin's "Tales of The City" a new musical at ACT's Geary Theater. He recalls that two years ago he was asked to drive Mr. Maupin to a benefit awards ceremony at the Herbst Theater. As they drove, Ken mentioned Bread & Roses and its founder Mimi Fariña. Mr. Maupin remembered that he had mentioned Mimi in his first "Tales of the City" novel. (See chapter Their First Date on page 75 in the most recent paperback edition).
When Ken recently saw the musical version of the book, he happily noted that the line "Oh look! There's Mimi Fariña... she's Joan Baez's sister" from the book made it into the staged version of the story. Noting that the play is set in San Francisco in 1976, shortly after Mimi Fariña founded Bread & Roses, Ken said this prompted him to recall pleasant memories and it appeared this was true for the audience too.
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Grammy-award winning Joan Baez has been an essential musical force and free speech activist for over 50 years, and she has now made a very welcome return to Teatro ZinZanni as Madame ZinZanni in "Maestro's Enchantment." In her starring role, she reunites with The Maestro, played by master illusionist, Yevgeniy Voronin, when she returns to the Spiegeltent with her mysterious 18th century circus troupe.
Joan first joined Teatro ZinZanni ten years ago and continues to capture the hearts of all with her radiant energy and of course, that voice! She will be performing alongside a brilliant and beautiful cast in "Maestro's Enchantment" until July 31 at Pier 29 on the Embarcadero. Call the Box Office at 415-438-2668 or visit love.zinzanni.org for more information and tickets.
At Bread & Roses every day, we are privileged to witness the healing power of music, and today scientists and neurologists are confirming what we’ve known for over 37 years: that “humans are hardwired to respond to music.”
Thanks to Executive Editor Jim Wood & our friends at Marin Magazine for the nice piece in the August issue in their "FYI: Causes" section about Bread & Roses mission to provide hope and healing through live music. Marin Magazine staff attended several recent Bread & Roses programs at the Manzanita Child Development Center in Marin City, The Cedars in Ross and the Canal Family Support Center in San Rafael. Kudos also to performers Ira Marlowe (singer-songwriter/guitarist), San Domenico's Virtuoso program (classical music) and Johnny Kearns (magician/clown/juggler). Your support means so much... http://www.marinmagazine.com/Marin-Magazine/August-2010/Music-Therapy/