Community Through Music: That’s What A Local Musician Discovered When He Invited People To Pull A Tree Stump And Join Him For Jamming In The Wilderness Of Central Oregon .
“Music is the international language,” said the Bend musician Andre Belinsky.
For Belinsky, this language is meant to be shared outdoors, by firelight and headlamps.
“And those songs,” Belinsky said, “they were left to us as gifts.”
After Belinsky and his family moved to Bend amid the pandemic, he longed to get a group together to take advantage of these freebies.
Belinsky posted an invite on Facebook, where several other artists were craving that same camaraderie.
“I moved to Bend almost two years ago,” said a fireside attendee, “and I was looking for people to play music with and play guitar with and I saw the message of ‘Andrew and I jumped on it.”
“Well, I always wanted to play around the campfire,” said another participant, “but I’ve never been this good and I’ve never played with other people.”
That’s how the Fireside Strummers started.
As the fire crackled, ginger tea and cookies were devoured, and songs echoed through the trees; the musicians have found common ground.
“We have people of all ages, from all walks of life, from all different lifestyles here,” Belinsky said.
Each week, Belinsky shares sheet music with those interested in attending.
It also provides a Zoom link for those who just want to listen.
Willing performers join around the campfire on ponderosa stumps in Belinsky’s backyard, and the white sheet music illuminates a longing brewed over years to be apart.
“I don’t think I’ve ever played in front of a band before. It’s a very private thing to me,” said a newcomer who experimented with the guitar and his native saxophone.
This intimacy flies away with the ashes and the smoke, while a local musician has finally found the harmonies he was looking for.
“It’s the place where we can get together and have a conversation,” Belinsky said.
“Playing in real time, with new siblings around a fire without any judgment, without any hesitation, feeling completely relaxed and included,” said one participant.
Fireside strummers hope to have more weekly jam sessions and bring in more artists willing to share their art and participate in the community.