Our lowertown neighbors, MetroNOME Brewery are making a big impact for our Jazz Ensembles this year for Give To The Max. Earlier this fall the cozy and cool venue hosted a performance by Wynton Marsalis as an addendum to his recent Orchestra Hall appearances. At this event donors raised nearly $4,000 for music education and MetroNOME decided to split the amount between us and our neighbors to the west, Hopewell Music Cooperative North.
The generous gift is just in time to help us reach our #GTMD22 goal which is focused on getting our accomplished Jazz ensembles gig ready. Our Youth and Adult ensembles have opened for international musicians at the Twin Cities Jazz Fest. They have graced the stage of the Selby Avenue Jazz Fest, performed at the Landmark Center –and recently they opened for (the very same) Wynton Marsalis at Orchestra Hall.
Our Program Director Tonya Gregory and Founder Grant West went for a tour of the brewery last week. We caught up with Bill Eddins, (Co-Owner, Chief Design Officer, Assistant Brewer and Music Director Emeritus of the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra) for a short interview.
How was MetroNOME, a for profit organization with a mission dedicated to music education, conceived?
The year 2020 hit. Come the middle of March –everything I was involved in had disappeared. All my gigs, gone. My wife and I were doing Thai-Yoga massage at our studio, gone. I was a tennis judge, gone. Everything disappeared.
For the first time in my life I found myself with nothing to do. And then in May, we had the riots. My third set of riots. Miami in ‘89, LA in ‘92 and now here. About a month later, I found myself in the shower on a beautiful late June day, getting madder and madder and madder. From the shower window I looked out, through the anger thinking, you should brew today, it’s a perfect day and you should brew today!
The other half of my brain was saying, Bill, you just went through your third set of riots. Why are we fighting the same fight that we were fighting 30 odd years ago? Nothing has changed. Being a musician, my next thought was –we’re not investing in the things that make our society better. Like music and music education. Why are these the first things on the chopping block? It makes no sense. I sat there in the shower, staring at one tile for at least ten minutes. Something clicked. I got out, sent an email to Matt (MetroNOME co-founder/co-owner) and said, Here’s my idea: We’re going to found a brewery and once we’re profitable, we are going to take our proceeds and fund music education for underprivileged youth.
I sent that email out and didn’t hear from that guy for like TEN DAYS! No call, no text, no reply –I was tempted to drive by his house to see if there was a “For Sale” or “SOLD” sign out in front. Like maybe he disappeared off the face of the planet, to get away from this crazy idea I’d pitched him. 10 days after that he got in touch and said, “yes, this could work.” We started working on MetroNOME from there.
How was the connection to Walker|West made?
Dude, I’m in music! I’m a musician and there is no such thing as 6 degrees of separation in our business– it’s never more than two– so as soon as any little connection gets made, it’s like the neurons are firing. It was utterly inevitable for us to be connected with Walker|West. I’d heard of Walker|West through the years. Before I was involved in building MetroNOME, I’d been hearing about Walker|West. The Twin Cities is a very musically active area, there’s a ton of music going on. It’s one of the big reasons that I like living here.
On the importance of supporting music education:
As much as the Twin Cities is a very active scene, there is a section of society that insists that these things –the arts, music education–that these things, things that make us better as a society are not important. That they are superfluous, are add-ons. Some ask why we would even waste money on these things. This enrages me on every single level because why would you not want to invest in things that make society better?
It’s as simple as that in my book. Is the money that much more important than living in a civilized society? It’s become my mission to turn that around and to ensure that any kid who wants to learn and study music has the opportunity. When it comes to music education, I will absolutely throw money wherever it can go!
I know that like 4%-5% of these kids may end up in the MN Orchestra (my background is in the classical genres) and that’s fine. I know the other 95% will either play in rock bands, or do jazz, or world music, or may not even do anything musical past high school, but they get that experience. They will understand why music is so important. The fun of it, the joy of it, and the fact that it makes our society better because it brings us together as human beings.
The whole thing about music, from a sociological standpoint, is that it forces us to interact with one another. Music builds community past racial, gender, sociological barriers and that’s the wonderful thing about it for me!
Is there any common ground between brewing beer and playing music?
Brewing beer is easy, anyone can brew beer. Brewing good beer is pretty easy as well. But brewing a beer that’s good today, good tomorrow and again and again going forward –that’s hard! What we are trying to do is eliminate variables and that’s the same thing you do when you are practicing an instrument. The technique is the same day after day, after day, after day. It’s just that you can use what you’ve learned differently. What if we put the emphasis here, what if we change the amount of an ingredient there. Subtle differences.
We thank Bill (and Matt) and MetroNOME Brewery for their wonderful gift towards this year’s GTMD goal. Help us get to the goal by November 17th. Gifts of any size whether one-time or recurring make an impact.