“When Angela Mack first approached me in late 2004 with her Chronic Creativity excerpts, I found her ingenious way of describing the condition Chronic Creativity in diagnostic terms metaphorically apt.
It didn’t take long into reading about the first symptom, Claustrophobia, that I realized Angela possessed a perspective on “being perpetually creative” that I identified with. She gave the state of creative lucidity I’ve been experiencing almost daily since I left my corporate job in 2000 a name that fit so well: Chronic Creativity.
I found each of Angela’s subsequent Chronic Creativity excerpts not only engaging, but also insightful. As an accomplished teacher, musician, composer, and artist, Angela writes from a place of living the dynamic creative mind, and witnessing its fruit in those she guides. Her enthusiasm is contagious, to say the least.
So many ideas and much discussion can come out of Angela’s Chronic Creativity excerpts. Not wanting to miss out on an opportunity to express my own thoughts, I’ll note my impressions on Creative Slush as each excerpt is published on the Creativity Portal. “
by Angie Mack Reilly written in January 2019 and published on 8.8.20
Especially In this age of artificial intelligence (AI), we need to take another look at the universal language of music. It is an essential component to any culture. The question is, will we embrace all that the gift of music has to offer?
I often tell my private music students that singing and playing an instrument is a sport. I know that, in Wisconsin, we value sports. Musicianship requires rigorous training and mastery over the muscles involved. Because of that, it is considered a “discipline” which takes patience and time. I consider myself a “personal trainer” for musicians of all ages.
After working with thousands of youth over past few decades, I am very concerned that our children are not expressing themselves and innovating as much as they are capable of. “The screens” are robbing them of these two very essential components. Weekly music lessons keep that creative expression alive and spark innovation. Our children are going to have to compete with artificial intelligence (AI). How will they do that? With creative communication, expression, intuition and innovation.
I am the most passionate about people coming together to creatively collaborate. The acronym for team is “together everyone achieves more”. That is why I am involved with so many different music events. Music events create a sense of belonging and are vital for the good health of any culture. Simply put, music events improve our quality of life in Ozaukee County and give us a sense of community.
On the morning of January 10, the cast and crew of NSAA’s Elf Jr. will be featured on Real Milwaukee with Brian Kramp of Fox 6 . Children will get to experience first-hand why improvisation and confidence are essential skills in the television industry.
There needs to be a way for funds to trickle down to the artists themselves. Sadly, this is not happening in our county as much as it should be. The arts scene in Grafton is struggling. I dream of a day when artists and musicians can be adequately compensated for their contributions. I applaud Cedarburg for how much they value the arts with their dollars. In my opinion, this directly results in educational, economic and cultural success.
Can I be frank and say that kids who grow up with the arts as a vital part of their upbringing do not grow up and shoot other people? There is a cure for mass violence. It’s a preventative cure and it’s called the arts. The arts industry naturally teaches an awareness and appreciation for human life and the human experience.
Isolation and disconnect make emotional and mental imbalances even worse. I have used the arts my entire life as a means of coping with childhood trauma and combating depression and anxiety. Socializing and connecting with others does not come naturally to me. I have to work really hard at it. The bulk of my friendships began while working on arts projects with others. The arts provide a place of belonging. The arts can help re-wire a traumatized brain and provide a place of human connection which is also known to help with addiction.
Pure and simple. We need to get busy mentoring the next generation in the arts. And Wisconsin communities need to be financially and generously supportive. Innovation and creative communication need more priority and respect in the business world.
FOR CONSULTING, WORKSHOPS AND SPEAKING: firstname.lastname@example.org
Have you ever seen the show, “Who’s Line is it Anyway?”
It’s an improvisational comedy television show. One feature is that the actors are asked to make up comedic lyrics and a melody on the spot while a band plays music that they’ve never heard before. NOT an easy task!
I have always marveled at the show’s actors’ ability to do this. Decades of teaching music and drama has taught me that improvisation requires a heightened sensitivity and a rapid mind. Improvisation is done without any preparation. It requires having a wealth of knowledge to pull from as well as a bravado of spirit.
This is why I like to listen to jazz. In my opinion, jazz is one of the most difficult and advanced musical art foms to master. Why? Because of the improvisation. Likewise, stand-up comedy. It requires a high skill level of improvisation that is extremely difficult.
Like I was saying. Very few people have this high level of skill that entails composing music, creating lyrics and creating a melody on the spot.
Ben Merens has this skill.
Having been in journalism for over 30 years, Ben is somewhat of a celebrity in the Milwaukee area. Most people know him as the longtime radio host for Wisconsin Public Radio’s At Issue With Ben Merens on the Ideas Network.
As a live radio host, Ben has had to improvise on every program. He has literally spoken on thousands of shows without a full script. Again, not many people can do this.
I find it fascinating that Ben has taken this strongly exercised skill of improvisation and has applied it to music.
Ben came over to record some music recently and met my son Joshua for the first time. Within minutes of meeting Joshua, Ben created a comedic song complete with lyrics, melody and music. The song played on the ironic fact that Joshua is a baker who cannot eat gluten. Check it out.
“Yes. God must have a sense of humor you see. When a baker cannot eat gluten. I think that’s God’s stand-up comedy.” – Ben Merens
Ben explained to me that all of his experience in radio has taught him amazing focus and mindfulness. He is a keen listener which can be a rare commodity in today’s self-centered and busy world. In fact, Ben has written a book called People Are Dying to Be Heard. He is an experienced keynote speaker on the topic of communication. He conducts workshops that help people and organizations find their unique story or voice. His ability to understand people also fuels his ability to create on-the-spot songs.
“And the only constant in life is change. And we all must be willing to rearrange” – Ben Merens lyric from One Hundred Voices
People who have the ability to improvise are highly adaptable. They quickly adjust. They are keenly sensitive. Aware. Flexible toward change. Adaptability knows how to feed an audience while feeding off of the audience. Because no two audiences are the same, you will find that no two versions of Ben’s songs are the same. He adjusts the song to fit the environment.
Forget buying mood lighting at a party. Hire Ben to come and entertain your guests in a way that they won’t ever forget! I’m serious! Hire him to speak or sing at your place of worship, school, workplace or event. Ben has a long track record of connecting with audiences of all demographics.
The Background and the Vision
Ben and I recently started connecting after a music event that we both attended in Cedarburg. The more I have gotten to know him, the more I have appreciated what a gem of a human being he is. Ben loves people. Pure and simple. And he uses his talents to help others in a variety of creative ways. We have a similiar intuitive, improvisational and heartfelt manner in which we share our talents with others. We both understand adaptability or, as I like to call it, fluidity. Ben recently invited me talk with him about creativity on his Riverwest Radio show called Just Talking. You can listen to the link below.
Because of how creatively compatible we are, I thought that it would be great to work on a creative project with Ben. Since we both love networking, I thought that we should invite others who want to join us. It’s a bit improvisational. The musicians and singers will have to be adaptable. But we want to communicate a message as a performance public art piece. Not perfect. But heartfelt. Because a lot of people need a glimmer of light right now. Please join us.
100 Voices: Public Performance Art
WHO: Calling 100 Musicians and Singers for “One Hundred Voices Jiant Jam” (a Flash Mob type performance) Don’t worry. Nobody’s making anyone dance. (lol)
WHAT: We will be performing “One Hundred Voices” written by radio personality Ben Merens(listen to the track above….lyrics are in the comments). This song was inspired by the book 100 Voices: Americans Talk About Change by Mary M. Clare. Mary traveled the nation asking diverse people what change meant to them. Ben wrote the song upon meeting the author.
Event has been cancelled and will hopefully be rescheduled due to Covid-19 crisis
WHEN:Sunday March 22nd, arrive no later than noon. Performance will be videotaped/recorded at 12:30pm. By participating, you are agreeing to be on film, audio recording, social media, television, etc….Rain date of Sunday March 29, same times. Try to gather in the cul de sac just south of the giant piano Walk of Fame when you arrive.
WHERE:Paramount Plaza Walk of Fame in downtown Grafton (outside of Atlas BBQ)
HOW: We will rehearse the song at noon under the musical direction of Angie Mack Reilly. Looking for acoustic instruments such as acoustic guitars, hand drums, voices, violins, saxophones, etc….Please have the song memorized and rehearsed before arriving
WHY: We want to raise awareness about the ripple effect that “one voice” has and how music continues to be a unifying, meaningful and valuable tool to bring people together. This is an attempt to raise awareness about the musicians who recorded for the Paramount record label.
We need to get raw and real
and express our emotions.
We need the theater to make us cry
and laugh and love again.
Humanity is threatened and compromised
by artificial intelligence.
We are at a pivot
and must preserve.
Most photos below were taken by Angie Mack Reilly. Otherwise used with permission.
Where empathy lacks
And judgement abounds
Is where the artist lies
The artist cries
And they keep walking by
Greed is thick
So charity is sick
Money given upward
To impress CEOs with bribes
That feed their vanity and ego
The money needs to flow down
Down down down like rain
Down on the people
Contact: email@example.com for speaking engagments and interviews
Angela got in touch with Alex van der Tuuk and began corresponding with him on a regular basis and reading his book
January 2005 ParamountsHome goes online, collects data, and begins networking locally and worldwide
Kris of the Grafton Jaycees begins to tackle the project of putting on a blues festival in Grafton after Angie proposed the idea to the group.
Angela gets in touch with Michael “Hawkeye” Herman and he begins encouraging her and mentoring her toward her goals.
Joe Krupski approaches the Grafton Planning Commission to open a Paramount Restaurant
September 2005 Michael “Hawkeye” Herman does Blues in the Schools for all 3 Grafton Elementary Schools(Thanks to principal Scott Oftedahl, area music teachers and Kennedy P.A.C.E.)
Fall 2005 “Embrace the Legacy” concert series designed to educate adults about Paramount at the Timothy Wooden Building/North Shore Academy of the Arts (Thanks to Barbara Krause and Grafton Area Live Arts)
October 2005 Angie pitches the “Paramount Blues Festival” to the Cedarburg Cultural Center. Angie helped plan the event featuring Ann Rabson, Fruitland Jackson, and a Paramount panel discussion
Ad Hoc Committee forms to discuss the possibilities of incorporating the Paramount theme into the downtown redevelopment and Grafton’s identity. Ad Hoc Committee Members Present: Jim Brunnquell, Jim Grant, Angela Mack, Tom Sweet, Melissa Schmitz, Darrell Hofland, and Michael Rambousek. Discussion begins about creating a Paramount music society of sorts
December 2005 Paramount GIG (Grooves in Grafton) begins to form and later brings “the mobile museum” to area banks, businesses, and the library to educate the community.(Thanks to Missy Schmitz)
January 2006 Grafton Blues Association begins to form out of members from the Grafton Jaycees
July 2006 Paramount GIG presents “A Dance With Early Jazz” to raise funds for the etching of artists into the Walk of Fame
July 2006 ParamountsHome wins the annual Wisconsin Historical Society website award
July 2006 PBS History Detectives films in Grafton upon Angie’s written request and story pitch
August 2006 “Lost Musical Treasure” by PBS History Detectives airs nationwide
August 2006 The Grafton Hotel is purchased by Rob Ruvin
Angie presents “Passionate about Paramount and the Blues” at the Grafton children’s library
September 2006 First annual Paramount Blues Festival presented by the Grafton Blues Association and attended by first lady Jessica Doyle
Representative Mark Gottlieb issues a legislative citation to the Village of Grafton acknowledging the importance of the history and praising the Village, individuals, and groups who have embraced the history
The Village of Grafton holds the first annual Walk of Fame ceremony to honor Henry Towsend as the first inductee into the new Walk of Fame. Angie provides a team of youth singers to accompany the event.
North Shore Academy of the Arts (Angie) presents a second annual “Embrace the Legacy” concert featuring the Paul Curtis Band
October 2006 ParamountsHome (Angie) lectures at the Wisconsin State Historical Museum
October 2006 Henry Townsend Memorial Benefit Concert presented by the GBA- American Legion, Grafton
November 2006 Grafton Blues Association becomes organization of the year – Grafton Chamber of Commerce
November 2006 Paramount Plaza tree lighting ceremony – Grafton Chamber of Commerce
December 2006 Paramount Restaurant opens and begins to provide a venue for musicians to play (Thanks to Joe Krupski)
December 2006 North Shore Academy of the Arts (Angie) finishes its recording studio and does some makeshift recording projects with Scout Groups, classes and birthday parties
December 2006 Paramount GIG begins to merge into the Village of Grafton Historical Preservation Commission
The News Graphic listsAngie as one of the most influential leaders in Ozaukee County. (2006)
June 2007 Playwrite Kevin Ramsey announces his new musical, “Grafton City Blues” to be performed at the Milwaukee Rep Theatre Jan-March 2008. Angie’s interview of Kevin is published in the playbills.
June 2007Paramount Walking Tour is completed
Summer 2007 Many of the components of the Paramount Plaza are completed
September 20072nd annual Paramount Blues Festival
September 22, 2007 Walk of Fame ceremony inducting Louis Armstrong and Son House. Dick Waterman came for the ceremony and gave the Grafton Historic Preservation Commission a photo of Son House and Skip James that hasn’t ever been published before.
October 18, 2007 Village of Grafton and Grafton State Bank formally dedicate the sculpture by Norm Christensen
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