Make Music Day gathered musicians of all ages, both professional and amateur, to perform Sister Hazel’s 1997 song “All for You” along with the band members Ken Block and Drew Copeland.
Hosted by Spicer’s Music, the second annual event was located at the Gay Street Municipal Parking Lot downtown with the performance beginning at 6:30 p.m.
Despite hopes to break the Guinness World Record for having the largest performing rock band, set at 953 in China in 2016, 575 participants crowded together with an array of instruments all in the name of music.
“This is just a great event because we literally are bringing people from all walks of life together to collaborate and play music together,” said Lana Spicer, one of the owners of Spicer’s Music.
With tents lining the parking lot, participants signed in with their instruments as early as 4:30 p.m. in anticipation. Sections of the lot were divided into designated instruments including strings, vocals, brass and woodwinds.
Standing in the woodwind section with her children and friend, Nancy Deshazo waited with her alto saxophone.
“We came out to support Spicer’s,” Deshazo said. “Our kids take lessons there and then we participated last year. It was a lot of fun.”
With 30 years of saxophone playing under her belt, Deshazo decided to recruit her children to play guitar and percussion in the band.
People could be seen carrying ukuleles, tambourines, guitars, banjos, flutes and a variety of other instruments. All were encouraged to perform with or without musical experience.
While waiting for the performance, 16-year-old Ryce Nichols helped her younger brother with his guitar strap.
“My family and I heard about [today], and I play the banjo,” she said. “So my mom signed my brother and me up; he plays the guitar too. I’ve been playing the banjo for about two years now.”
Nichols said the banjo was originally her brother’s, but he didn’t play it very often. So she decided to give it a shot. She ended up taking to it rather quickly.
“It’s something I enjoy for myself really,” she said.
Waiting in the heat, people enjoyed treats from the Kona Ice truck along with food from Momma Goldberg’s food truck. Ear plugs were also given out in preparation for the loud music.
Throughout the parking lot, strangers could be seen jamming together or helping one another with their instruments.
Father-daughter duo Sean and Madison McDonald were returning musicians from last year’s Make Music Day Alabama.
Madison, who brought her acoustic guitar, has been playing for about a year, she said. Her father participated through vocals.
As the crowd began to grow with more musicians flooding in and the performance nearing, one of the Spicer’s Music staff members threw 50 Shakey’s gift cards into the excited group for them to catch.
At 6:30 p.m., one of the owners of Spicer’s Music, Tim Spicer, addressed the crowd.
“In spite of the world record, music brought all of us here,” Tim Spicer said. “Music breaks all walls to bring people together.”
The band started off the song and then gave the cue for others to join in creating a band of 575 people.
“We got rained out the first time and had 1,300 people sign up in June, but the numbers don’t really matter,” said Tom Spicer, father and owner of the family business. “The whole point is to make music in Alabama and to just have a great time playing music with one another.”
Tom Spicer said the reason they chose to host the event is for the community.
“We know the power of music and how it can bring people together, and this is one of the things we wanted to contribute to the community to help,” he said.
Tom Spicer has been playing music for the past 50 years, he said. Everything from the trumpet in fourth grade to brass and strings. He was also in a band for 35 years.
“The harmonica is my favorite instrument though,” Tom Spicer said. “It’s so small, and I can just throw it in my pocket and travel anywhere with it. I really do like all instruments, and I’m also learning the accordion right now.”
The success of the event and their music store stems from their sense of community, Tom Spicer said.
“I think what we feel like we’ve done is connect with the people in our area; we’re not just here to sell,” Tom Spicer said. “We know that music is one of those life-long things that you learn. Just like riding a bicycle, you never forget it.”