Teaching is an interesting gig in that some aspects of the job that I like are also the ones that can frustrate the heck out of me. I was reminded of one of those this week. My job is an intense one in that I’m always busy and there is always way more than needs to get done. This allows for days to fly by. At the same token, it rarely allows me to check in with the rest of the world and when I do, it involves quick glances or short replies. I don’t have the time or the focus to dive into something happening in the world or in Duranland. While I’m glad that my work days don’t drag, I am sad that I miss out on things, particularly when it comes to fandom.
This week, Simon participated in a luncheon as part of the 2019 Cultural Summit, an event put on by the Brevard Cultural Alliance (BCA), which is ” the professional organization representing the arts and cultural sector on Florida’s Space Coast.” The goal of the organization is as follows: Brevard Cultural Alliance provides artist residencies in numerous public schools, has a thriving Art in Public Places temporary exhibitions program, helps buildcollaborative working groups on issues of importance to the sector, supports the development of cultural destination, and holds capacity-building workshops for artists and cultural organizations. BCA administers the County Community Cultural Grant program on behalf of the Brevard County Board of County Commissioners. BCA and the Space Coast Office of Tourism coordinate promotion of events for participating organizations through the Cultural Marketing Initiative. BCA promotes area artists, arts organizations and arts and cultural events to our residents and our visitors.” Simon’s luncheon was a live interview where they advertised that “he’ll reflect on the past, present, and future of Duran Duran, of the music industry, and what success as an artist means.”
This all sounds fascinating to me, especially since people could buy tickets to attend. The idea reminds me a bit of John’s book talks and readings in which fans could buy tickets to hear him read parts of the book and then to also ask questions. I was lucky enough to attend one of those so I can imagine how awesome it must have been for those fans who attended this. (I know Rhonda said something on Twitter about how much we would love anyone who actually attended share their experience via a guest blog. Let me repeat the offer. We would love to from someone there what it was really like!) So, what have I seen about this event? Since I’m playing catch up here, I’ll do my best to share what I could find out about it.
In my search, the first place I looked was at the band’s social media. Both Facebook and Twitter had some photos and video clips. In one of the clips, Simon shared one experience on MTV in which they were joined by Keith Haring, a famous artist in the 1980s. I remember seeing that clip somewhere, sometime. I tried to find it on YouTube with no luck. That said, I remember the first time I saw it how cool I thought it was that this artist was working at the same time that Simon (and I think Nick) were talking. I loved how Duran always had connections to visual artists like Keith, Andy Warhol and more. Simon’s appearance at BCA reminds me that the band’s love of art and connection to it remains strong.
Another video clip focused on how songs really help to connect to other people. In some cases, it might let people know that they are not alone and in others it sheds light into something that others might be going through. I know that this connection that Simon spoke to is what really matters to me. I fall in love with songs when I find a connection to them. Maybe I’m a Duranie for this reason–maybe I have felt a personal, emotional connection to more of their songs than anyone else or the connection is simply stronger with Duran’s music. I think back to the first few listens of Paper Gods. It wasn’t until I found myself relating to some of the lyrics that I really liked the album.
Of course, there was some other press about this luncheon besides what was shared by DDHQ. One article was in Florida Today, which you can read for yourself here. It mentioned a few fans, including ones who met Simon decades ago, named a daughter Rio, held up lots of Rio album covers and more. Simon touched on the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame, studio work and that he hopes that Duran’s music will just be there. (I think it is safe to say that for many of us it will be. Always.) I appreciated both the recognition of the fans as I always believe that we are a big part of the story but I loved what Simon said about the music.
From what I saw, heard and read, this was a pretty magical experience for those in attendance. Simon seemed charming, personable and open from the video clips I saw. I recommend seeking out the band’s social media as well as people who attended social media. It seems to me that when band members do this type of thing the fans just eat it up. We want to see the band members in a different setting. People would like to ask questions directly. The band members don’t seem untouchable then but relatable, human. More importantly, it works to bring a stronger connection with the fans to the band member but also between fans as I saw lots of fans talking and connecting afterwards on social media. This is the type of thing that keeps fandom going, in my opinion. Good for Simon for participating and good for the fans who attended.