Make Music Day 2021, and Ushering in a Rockin’ Summer

by Marisa Torrieri Bloom

As I write this it’s around 3 p.m. on the last Tuesday in June, a month that’s kept me so busy that I’ve had little time to stop and reflect on life, music or motherhood — the pillars of my existence. On the plus side, I’ve been living the change I want to see for rockmommies — playing out, booking gigs, and creating new music. It doesn’t matter that I’m past my so-called youthful “prime.”

Rock n roll isn’t an age; it’s an attitude.

This week, I’m at the beach, enjoying some quality time with my sons, my spouse, and the sun, thinking about my recent performance on 6/21/21 for Make Music Day in New York City. I’m ecstatic I got to play in Tomkins Square Park with my band Trashing Violet, and several other friends’ bands on the makeshift Girls Rock & Girls Rule “stage” where the bandshell used to exist. Simply being New York for the first time since February 2020 meant the world to me.

Enjoying my ukulele in Montauk. It’s also the only instrument that will fit into the car when we go on a family vacation. Photo credit: Nathan Bloom (my son)

The MMNY show was meaningful for so many other reasons. Obviously, being able to play music in public without a mask is a reality I couldn’t fathom a year ago. I tend to be a bit “glass half empty” at times, and I really didn’t believe that vaccinations would work so well, or that I’d be able to stand side by side with my girlfriends, singing into the same shared microphone.

Seeing people enjoying our music as we played in the park reminded me of why I picked up a guitar and a microphone in the first place, and stirred up emotions I hadn’t felt in so long. The last time I played MMNY was in 2009, with my former band The Underage Hotties. I’d forgotten what it was like to play on the streets, to relative strangers or would-be friends.

My band Trashing Violet playing Tomkins Square Park for Make Music New York (6/21/21). Photo: Alan Rand

But the most epic thing about performing on the first official day of summer was being part of something bigger than myself.

Make Music Day actually began in 1982 in France, as “Fête de la Musique,” and crossed over the Atlantic to debut 12 years ago in New York City. Today, more than 5,000 New York-area musicians — amateurs and professionals, of all ages and musical persuasions — perform in more than 1,000 free, outdoor concerts on June 21st. And nearly 100 other U.S. cities officially mark “Make Music Day” through performances in public spaces.

I’m over 35, an age that many in the industry consider “ancient” — especially if you’re female. While times have changed, there’s still a pervasive attitude that if you haven’t already “made it” in your 30s, it’s better to give up and make room for the next generation. Put the guitar in the corner, or perhaps relegate performing for open mic nights every once in a while.

But on June 21, age, gender, and status don’t matter in idyllic parks or on sidewalks. Music can be made and played anywhere, and there is always someone who wants to listen. All you need is a power source.

Playing outdoors on the summer solstice, the longest and one of the hottest days of the year, felt so liberating. By the time my band finished an hour-long set, and lugged our gear to a restaurant’s makeshift outdoor seating area in a former parking space (pre-2020), my life felt so perfect and so complete. 

I hope that every musician reading this feels inspired to get back out there this summer. While we can’t predict what tomorrow will bring, there’s no time like the present to seize your instrument — and seize the day.

Marisa Torrieri Bloom is the editor and founder of Rockmommy