The string of events that led to meeting Arnold Montgomery serve as a reminder to welcome and flow with life’s surprises.
We will start at the beginning.
We had just left New Market School, where we painted a mural and gave art and songwriting workshops. We were driving to Birmingham via the scenic route (we avoid highways because the bus can’t go over 65mph anyway).
As we were driving through Guntersville, Alabama, the town caught our eye. It looked quaint and beautiful – nestled right up against a lake – and we decided to stay the night.
The story of our stay in Guntersville is a tale in and of itself, and one for another post. Long story short, we stayed for five days, met amazing souls, did a concert, became the talk of the town for a bit. One of our social media posts went viral locally, reaching over 45,000 people in the area in just a few short hours.
The post reached a school administrator at Ray Thompson Elementary, a Title 1 school in nearby Gadsden, Alabama. She contacted us to see if we had time for a school visit. In truth, we had planned to work solely on post production for the rest of the year. But we try to live by the mantra of being ‘yes people’. So we made it work and went to Gadsden for a full day of music and art workshops!
Now it’s time to back up a bit. At our concert in Guntersville, we met a man who raved about a pizzeria and brewery in Gadsden. We hadn’t planned to go because Gadsden was out of our way, and we also rarely eat out.
Well, when we arrived in Gadsden, we found that the city had free parking just behind that brewery (parking can be tricky with the bus sometimes). As mentioned, we very rarely eat out, but we decided just this once to treat ourselves.
As we were looking over the menu, we noticed a section of the menu about the brewery’s live music schedule. Tuesday jazz night. So after our day at Ray Thompson, we returned to the brewery for jazz night.
We almost didn’t go.
Arnold Montgomery is a world-class jazz saxophonist, who also crafts handmade saxophone mouthpieces.
He also plays jazz on Tuesday nights at a small brewery in Gadsden.
During intermission, I introduced myself to Arnold and floated the idea of him jumping in on my collaborative album project. He was absolutely game, and he even proposed we come see and document his workshop where he makes mouthpieces.
So the next day, we drove the bus to Arnold’s home for a day of creation!
- We filmed the entire process of making a mouthpiece and put it into a video for Arnold to use for his business.
- For that video, we recorded Arnold improvising, which was so good I had to make a post for it here on AWTY.
- Arnold recorded a track on “Roamer”, the first song on my collaborative album.
- And finally, he posed for José’s portrait series.
We all came away from the day – not only with valuable material, but also with a new friendship we can tell will last through the years.
None of this would have happened had we not decided to stay the night in Guntersville.
The Art We There Yet journey has been filled with stories like these. One thing leading to another, one person leading to another, opportunities and experiences blossoming out of simply saying ‘yes’.
It is a reminder to stay open to the opportunities, surprises, and even tragedies that show up unexpectedly along our paths. You never know where it may lead. And besides…there is an excitement and beauty in not knowing what lies just around the bend.