One by one, toddler after toddler wandered over to the upside-down buckets that had been placed in a haphazard circle in Old Town Suwanee, a set of drumsticks accompanying each pail.
Picking up the sticks, the children began hitting them against their makeshift drums, laughing while they did.
After several minutes, in spite of the chaotic flailing of drumsticks, a beat began to emerge, largely driven by the teens who were aiding in the drum circle.
Though many didn’t know it, Friday night’s drummers, and the other musicians who played during Suwanee’s second annual Summer Porch Jam, were joining thousands of others around the world in observing Make Music Day, an annual celebration of music and the summer solstice.
Having originated in France in 1982, the day is often referred to by its French name, Fête de la Musique, and is celebrated by more than 120 countries, said city of Suwanee spokeswoman Abby Wilkerson.
“Its organic roots were just encouraging people to go out and make music, but we have organized it a little more,” Wilkerson said. “We joined up last year as the first city in Georgia to do it, and now Macon has joined on, so we’ve lost our ‘only city’ status. But we’re hoping next year to get a big-screen (and projector) so we can live-stream Make Music Day events from around the world.”
While Suwanee’s Summer Porch Jam largely featured set musicians who had signed up to play prior to the event, the Ireland House, a new venue this year, hosted karaoke — a tribute to the essence of Make Music Day.
“The karaoke was more of a, ‘Let’s bring it back to its organic roots and leave it open to anyone,’” Wilkerson said. “We leave it open to anyone to sign up (for the set schedule) though. This is my favorite event of the year — it’s got this block party feel and it’s just cool and organic and people enjoying themselves. It makes me think of a small town.”
That small town feel was evident as locals lounged on porches and in blankets in the grass, or shared pizza on the sidewalk with one another, as Allison Adams, Blaine Kantor and Madeleine Busse did Friday evening.
“It’s really good to see everybody out in Suwanee,” Kantor, who attended for the first time this year, said. “It’s nice weather and really relaxed, and the music is really nice.”
Laura Miller, who brought her daughter and mother to Summer Porch Jam, echoed Kantor, and she was excited when she saw the event advertised.
“I saw the ad and thought, ‘Oh, this will be something fun and something different to do to get out of the house,” Miller said. “It’s awesome, though; I haven’t seen anything like it. It’s just very cool.”