ndy Conchelos’ Diamond Street apartment normally overlooks the Temple Community Garden and a family of cats living in the nearby bushes, but on Sunday, the typically quiet surroundings were filled with student onlookers.
On Nov. 9, Conchelos, a junior music performance major known to some students on social media as “Trombone on the Roof,” hosted a day of music, called “The Block Jam,” for the community.
The event featured students and members of the surrounding community, ranging from elementary students to Philadelphians in their 70s.
“I wanted the community to see that our neighborhood can be better … we can bring it back,” Conchelos said.
Conchelos said he hopes fans and performers alike see benefits of showcasing both student and local talent.
“This is all about nice music for the neighborhood, being able to walk around North Philadelphia and not be afraid,” he said.
The school district has been incredibly receptive to Conchelos’ plan for the Block Jam and has allowed him to distribute flyers and speak at parent-teacher meetings, inviting students to perform. Inviting young musicians, as well as college students and older community members, allows listeners and performers to see that music is for everyone, he said.
“Music will stop the generational gap,” Conchelos said.
Though Conchelos is primarily a jazz musician, the event featured guitarists, saxophonists and full bands.
“We’re all really excited to be playing this,” said Dave Scott, a freshman communications studies major and bassist of the band Water Polo. “We’ve all heard [Conchelos] playing on his roof and now is a really cool chance to get to do the same thing.”
The event provided exposure for a variety of types of music, Conchelos said.
Listeners were also able to hear new music and try their hands at instruments they may not have played before. The Block Jam featured instruments at the attendee’s disposal, like tambourines and drumsticks, open to anyone interested in using them.
“Anyone who believes they cannot play an instrument, we can hand them something and say ‘Start playing,’” he said.
Conchelos stressed the importance of being able to pick up and play an instrument, as he said he first did in middle school jazz band. Even though he said he felt he was “100 years late” to the style of music, he said he instantly connected to it.
“They say music is a second language and jazz was the language I felt the best in,” Conchelos said. “It’s as if someone has spoken to you.”
Because the performance was located on a rooftop, Conchelos drew safety zones and regulations that every performer had to abide by.
“Up here is not the safest environment,” Conchelos said. “It is my responsibility … to make boundaries, have rules. Safety is my number one priority.”
He put down tape lines before the roof’s edge, reinforced padding for a drum kit and areas where he asked performers to stand.
The event featured a barbecue provided by the Berean Presbyterian Church located at 2101 N. Broad St.
Conchelos stressed the importance of not interfering with the everyday routine of the community members. He said he wanted the event to unite the locals and Temple students.
Freshman political science major Diana Nguyen attended the concert.
“The music actually sounded quite good,” Nguyen said. “There were chill vibes around the general area.”
Vince Bellino can be reacjed at firstname.lastname@example.org