A few months ago now, I got a short message from someone named Michelle Djokic. We had met, and our paths had crossed before. In fact, her family has been known to me my most of my life. Denise Djokic, a relative, is an incredible Canadian cellist who I've had the opportunity to perform with, and Mark Djokic is a fantastic Canadian violinist as well. Anyways, here I was reading a message from Michelle in my tiny little cabin in Bonny Doon, California where I was sheltering in place. Here is her message written on May 17th "Hi Edwin, I believe you are living in Santa Cruz these days. I have been hunkered down in Carmel most of the time. I need to make some music. Any desire to get together, safely, of course? or have a chat some time. My cell phone is 650-xxx-xxxx. I hope you are well and sane. Michelle" It feels strange to read this message now, as I'm sure your mind is piecing this story together - yes, we started playing music. Three hours later, I wrote back, and said, as many of you could imagine... YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS. I'm paraphrasing, but you get the idea. We spoke on the phone, and discussed ideas, thoughts, repertoire, and said, let us just get together - we can play outside, we can be safe. I mean, we had met, but we didn't really know each other. Although - I will also say, that we have some pretty incredible mutual friends, and when some friends you have, that you know are just salt of the earth, well I trust that so hard, I mean, I surround myself with feelers, so when my friends feel, they get it, I get it, we get it. You get it? So we did have a few of those amazing friends in the back of our minds encouraging us that at least it wasn't going to be a waste of time hanging out and playing music together for an hour or two. I'm enjoying being casual about this beginning, because shit got epic! So we played a little, and then we played some more, and it was just freaking awesome. I had so much fun. Michelle is an absolute monster on the cello. Just so you know, that just means she has unbelievable command of the instrument, and it's basically just her soul playing, and the cello is there because it has four strings and has the potential, if played well, to sound amazing - of course since then I also found out that Michelle has one of the most amazing cellos on the planet - OBVI.
I'm not even sure how or why or when the decision was made, but we became a "Quaranteam". That decision brought us through the friendship ranks in a huge way. I don't play video games, and never have, but I bet it's the equivalent of getting to level 439 in a record amount of time. We got together again, and then I met Mark, Michelle's amazing husband, and we also got along - he gave me a nickname pretty much right away, called me Edwardo, and never looked back. He hasn't slipped once! So now I have another name, kind of neat actually. But don't get any ideas, I still love my name, Edwin. Soon I stayed over for dinner. We had Chinese, for the first time in many months. For someone that travels a lot, going from eating incredible food at restaurants all over the world, to cooking at home every single day, having take out Chinese felt glorious. I guess I could have ordered take out too, however, living alone, that seems ridiculous. I might as well cook, and I love cooking. Dinner turned into a planning meeting, and for those of you that know Michelle, will probably smile at that thought, oh yes, Michelle is a "doer" Someone that makes sh*t happen. It was so fun, we wracked our brains - how in the world were we going to play music for people, something we crave for two reasons. It feeds our soul, but even more importantly, it feeds other peoples souls!!! So, after much thought, we decided, well, lets invite people over - lets start a small series - lets invite people to sit outside, on Michelle's porch, physically distanced, with masks, with sanitizer, with all the things, but lets play music live. And we did! We started the Manzanita Music Collective. We played fourteen concerts I believe so far, every Thursday. It was one of those things that we put in our Calendar instead of taking it off... well, I don't think I put it in my Calendar, because I can store all my gigs in my head again. For a while I've needed a Calendar, but not now - although I really hope I will again soon... I do love making music with others soooooo much. I'm so grateful for Michelle, and her love for music, community, life, chamber music, so many things. I look forward so much to our next project, our next set of concerts, our next sharing of music, whatever it may be. When I left for Canada at the end of our summer series, she looked at me and said, you just wait, you'll be missing me - and it's true. I miss her. So I thought I would share a bit of our story, and toast to our next concerts, our next project, because we will do something again soon, I'm sure of it! Also, we have exciting footage, stories, videos, and audio to share with you over the coming weeks and months as well, because since our circle had to be local, and small, we had some friends follow us around with cameras and microphones so that we could share some of the magic with you all.
Thanks for reading,
on tour. kickin it. playin.