BERLIN — If you’re familiar with Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb” you know that what makes the song distinctive is the counterpoint.
The part where half of the instruments are playing the song and the others are playing the baseline theme is what holds the album “The Wall” together. If it’s a song that, for some reason is not familiar, suffice it to say it’s musically complicated and to see a group of 5ht-8th grade students knock it out with real proficiency was one of the highlights of last weekend’s inaugural May Day Play Day downtown.
The group that played it, Major Major Minor, is comprised of Selbyville, Del. residents who attend the Southern Delaware School of the Arts. The members were all high school students who certainly enjoyed the rock star status they bestowed upon themselves as they dialed up several classic rock hits to a crowd that they’d totally won over. And that was only a small part of an event that promises to be another of the “mark your calendar” events in the town.
But beyond the band’s performance, it’s important to note where they played, which was on the street across from the j.j. fish Studio rather than on one of the two stages set up on either side of Main Street.
The idea behind May Day Play Day was to take an event that’s already well attended — the 2nd Friday Art Stroll — and try to expand it to include both acts and people who aren’t regulars to the event.
So in addition to the street talent show, there were street vendors, face-painting, a dunking booth and other street fair fare as well as the usual art openings and featured artists in the shops both along Main Street and down the streets that extend from it.
The Atlantic Hotel, the Globe and Rayne’s Reef still sat in the epicenter of the action providing vantage points to two of the main stages, but down the block Honey Shine developed a crowd of its own in front of the Berlin Coffee House.
Bryan Russo, who’s quickly becoming one of Berlin’s favorite sons and his band brought their A-game as usual, keeping the crowd engaged throughout with primarily original music, which is the other aspect of May Day Play Day specifically and Berlin more broadly that sets these arts events apart.
For a small town, Berlin has an incredible amount of original music available to listen to. On a given night at a given venue people have access to music and other arts created within the city limits and performed throughout the wider region.
At a very basic level, the availability of cultural events draws a particular type of enthusiast, the kind seeking an individual experience that’s not easily found. It’s simple to set May Day Play Day aside as one of those events, like the Jazz and Blues Bash and the Fiddlers’ Convention that doesn’t only grow in popularity with time, but also draws people into town who wouldn’t otherwise make the visit.
As Berlin moves to the forefront of the burgeoning “Buy Local” movement, it seems there are fewer and fewer things to nourish body and mind the town needs to import. May Day Play Day’s success reached beyond the ability to draw real numbers, especially for a first time show. It went to the heart of what distinguishes Berlin as a cultural destination.