Music from the Sky – Literally

Mathew Plays the Drums, Knoxville, May 2012

In the past I’ve mentioned my tendency to follow music wherever I may hear it. Following a faint sound that rings out suspiciously like live music has served me well over the years. I’ve met cool people, discovered music with which I was unfamiliar, crashed weddings and generally always had a good time. I’ve never followed the sounds of music and lived to regret it.

So, when I was sitting in my home on a recently and realized I heard music, my heart began to beat a little faster. I could only hear drums, but that isn’t so unusual. Generally the drums or the bass will carry further than anything else and that’s what I hear first. My initial thought was that Jenna and her Cool Friends were practicing across the courtyard as is often the case on a Sunday afternoon, though this was a Saturday.

Drumming over the City, Knoxville, May 2012

Without hesitation I stepped out my back door to listen more closely and move out into the courtyard to eaves-drop on their practice only to discover they were not practicing at all. I could still hear drums, but now that I was outside I could tell they were some distance away. I got my camera and started walking.

Anytime there is music on Market Square I am able to hear it faintly in my home and better if I’m outside. It sounded like it was coming from that direction and, though I didn’t know of anything scheduled, I got my camera and started walking. Strangely, while I heard the drumming most of the way to the square, by the time I got there I realized I couldn’t hear it and there was no live music on the square at all.

Music over the City, Knoxville, May 2012

Confused, I re-traced my steps listening to the music more closely. I’d been so convinced it was on the square that I hadn’t followed it with my ears the first time around. Lesson: Never let music be the background, it should be in the front and center of your mind. So, I followed it to the Market Square Garage and finally realized where it was coming from.

After walking to the top and becoming completely winded, I found Mathew Howard. Sitting behind his drum kit beside his truck with no audience but an empty top-level of the parking garage and the Sunsphere, Knoxville Museum of Art and Fort Sanders spread out behind him, he was pounding away, acting as if this is the perfectly obvious place to set up and play.

Mathew Drumming atop the Market Square Garage, Knoxville, May 2012

I noticed the scripture on his drum kit and talked to him for a few minutes about drumming and his faith. He told me how he came to get his very nice drum kit for very little money. He’d be a good fit for a praise band if anyone is looking for a drummer. I can connect you. He simply plays for the joy of playing, often seeking out obscure or beautiful places where he’d just like to hang out even if he wasn’t playing drums. I think he may have set up somewhere on the perimeter of the Biscuit Festival, so maybe you heard him there.

He’s a super nice guy who runs a window cleaning business called Another Clear Window and I suspect he does just as good and joyful a job at that as he does with his drumming. As always, the people I meet in the city are what makes it worth living here. You just don’t meet random drummers or hear music from the sky in the suburbs. Even in the city it only happens if you follow the music. The world would be a better place if each of us always followed the music. It always leads to something good.

Mathew Plays for the Joy of the Sound, Market Square Garage, Knoxville, May 2012