Talking meta-music-making with CJ Allen

CJ Allen for Maker Expo 024

On Friday, I sat down with meta-music-maker CJ Allen to catch up on what’s happening with his event THE SHOT and to talk about Maker Expo. I first heard about THE SHOT when our mutual friend and awesome artist Lauren Judge introduced us. That led to a coffee meetup with CJ, Lauren and Heather Riemersma where we talked at length and high-fived for building something new in the community. In words cribbed straight from the official website:

“THE SHOT is a community-based singing competition and mentoring program that brings together university and college students for a two-week experience. It gives an incredible opportunity to those aspiring to further their vocal talents. They audition, receive constructive feedback, and are mentored by established music industry professionals. A winner is selected by a crowd vote at the Finale.”

This gig engages students at WLU, UW, and Conestoga College, encourages creative expression, and further binds the community together, which sounds a lot like… right, Maker Expo! I’m going to tell you something I learned from CJ, but first: APPLY TO BE AN EXHIBITING MAKER AT MAKER EXPO! There are only 20 days left before our Canada Day, July 1 deadline. As I said last night while introducing ME to the assembled Tuesday Open Night crowd at kwartzlab, Maker Expo hinges on *your* committed, active participation. Set aside your apprehensions about showing your half-finished project. Dispel your doubts that people will find your work interesting. Look into my eyes and commit to participating and then sign up.

Ok, what did I learn…

CJ Allen for Maker Expo 010

This was huge. I was telling CJ about all our blogging, and emailing, and social media’ing to circumvent the procrastinatory hurdles of human nature. I also told him that we were going house-to-house (figuratively) and maker to maker, stopping people on the street and in coffee shops and encouraging them to apply as makers for Maker Expo.

CJ Allen for Maker Expo 015

Hearing that last bit, CJ told me that was very much the area in which to focus effort. Thinking of the parallels of our events, and how both required participants to break social inertia and sign up, CJ noted that a full 71% of applicants for THE SHOT came from in-person, we’ll-do-the-typing-for-you, connections with people 1-on-1. CJ’s applicant-seeking crews were trained, infused with the philosophy and then deployed to student-rich environments to encourage aspiring performers to join in.

CJ Allen for Maker Expo 007

I thought of little else between that coffee chat and getting this observation back to our Maker Expo google group discussion. And happily, in the low-friction, immediate-action do-ocracy of the ME planning group, we’re hitting the streets with laptops in laps looking to sign you up. Ravi is going to be at Cambridge Arts Festival on Saturday June 20, and then later that very same night, Agnes and posse will be running an interactive workshop at Summer Lights Festival in Downtown Kitchener. This could not be easier. Would it help you sign up your crew if we came out to see you in person? Just ask us!

And speaking of signing-up-for-awesome-experiences, THE SHOT is running again this fall so be sure to follow them to stay on top of all the good stuff happening here in WR.



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