There's a magical place for all things art, music, engineering and performance in New Orleans' Upper 9th Ward called Music Box Village. It was an idea started by a few very creative people who saw the beauty of music in some unlikely places.
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"Music Box Village is a village of musical architecture. It's tiny houses that have instruments built inside of them around the idea of the ways that homes and neighborhoods are musical."
The concept came about in 2011 by Jay Pennington and Delaney Martin, who formed a non-profit called the New Orleans Airlift -- an organization dedicated to founding projects around experimental community art. The duo came up with the idea of turning run-down houses into a village of musical houses.
"We all came up with the idea together because a house next door to my house had fallen down and we didn't know what to do with the material and we decided New Orleans needed a house that was a musical place. We saved that material and built the first version of this back in 2011. We had some shows and they were really successful," Pennington said.
After the initial success, they started building other versions of musical houses. They've made these musical villages in Shreveport, Louisiana, and Kiev, Ukraine, and well as Mass Moca in Massachusetts. Last year they finally were able to secure a permanent location for their home-base Music Box Village in New Orleans. The space features many tiny musical houses and a huge warehouse where they build them.
The project pushes artistic boundaries, but more importantly it brings together people of all stripes for a heartwarming, creative experience that has equal appeal for a musical giant such as Thurston Moore or a gaggle of 5-year-olds. It's a place for anyone and everyone to come and enjoy the beauty of collaboration. Their ultimate goal was to encourage artists and groups who aren't communicating to communicate through their art.
"We have concerts with musicians from all over the world always collaborating with New Orleans artists. That's kind of our thing."
So far New Orleans Airlift has had over 1000 collaborators. That includes, musicians, dancers, inventors, architects and engineers.
They also offer free public open hours for people who want to come experience the tiny, interactive musical houses themselves.
Concert tickets range in price from free to $30-40 at most.
Over time, Pennington hopes the Music Box Village will become a landmark cultural destination and a place to grow up for this city’s children.
"One thing I can tell you is that it doesn't feel anything like it looks in video. It's something people have to put their hands on and feel themselves. Expect to ask a lot of questions and really wonder what it is you're really looking at."
For concert schedules/times and open hours information visit www.musicboxvillage.com.
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