The Van Wert County Courthouse

Thursday, Apr. 2, 2020

‘Friction’ usually catalyst for creativity

Creativity can rarely exist without friction. The present situation facing America and beyond has caused a “friction” or a force resisting our relative motion. So how does a culture respond when it comes to a screeching halt? 

By Tafi Stober

Since the beginning of American culture, we have been wired to turn to creative solutions and culture has forever adapted in reflection. For instance, the crash and the Great Depression marked a change in popular musical styles. Songwriters wrote music that identified with the public mood or sought to keep people’s minds off their hardships. Jazz and swing soared to popularity as people said goodbye to their worries through the big band tunes of Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, and Tommy Dorsey. Louis Armstrong expanded his repertoire. In addition to playing trumpet, he sang and performed on radio.

Songs written in the 1930s by Irving Berlin and Richard Rodgers are still sung today. Cole Porter musicals were popular on Broadway in New York City. George Gershwin’s “Porgy and Bess” premiered in 1935.  Accordion player Lawrence Welk, who was born in Strasburg, North Dakota, performed on radio and toured the Midwest in the 1930s. The flip-side of swing and jazz was folk and country music lead by Woody Guthrie, an Oklahoma native and folk singer who toured the country and wrote many songs supporting the labor-union movement. Again, music was reflective of the culture and created unity around a cause and purpose.

Depression-era programs, such as the Federal Theatre Project and the Federal Music Project, also created opportunities for artists to have their work presented to audiences that would not have otherwise been able to afford to attend. Free concerts and other productions provided educational experiences for the public and work for artists.

The friction of the Depression-era made way for the creative musical solutions that uplifted society and formed a musical culture that continues to impact us today. The silver lining in our current culture is the many means to pipe entertainment into our homes, even when our remote nature keeps us from the joys of community. Use technology to stay connected and let the musical opportunities made available by your friends at Van Wert Live through our Niswonger Performing Arts Center Facebook page lift you up. These entertaining opportunities are made possible by the many artists who saw a need to use a creative solution to connect with their fans during this time. The artists, as do we, understand all too well the healing power that music brings. 

Tune in and stay entertained!

POSTED: 03/25/20 at 9:04 am. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert