This past weekend I had the privilege of participating in the First Annual Bates Place U Rock Retreat and Concert Series in Orlando, FL. I have been involved as a Bates Place marketing/booking client, helping me to bring my “feel good” music to venues across the country. “What exactly is feel good music?” you may ask. We all struggled with that definition over the weekend, as it’s not a musical genre per se, but simply “music that makes you feel good,” no matter what the style. It’s been called “Positive” or “Conscious” music, but mostly the songs simply contain messages that are meant to bring joy, awareness, and healing to the world.

We began our journey with a two-day retreat hosted by Dr. Kelly Brady, a Doctor of Oriental Medicine, Licensed Psychotherapist , goddess and overall extraordinary human being. Kelly took us on a journey within, to learn about the key things we can do to be creative, from that joyful place within our souls in order to bring our healing musical messages to the masses. We talked about cultivating and nurturing the seeds of that positive energy, while acknowledging but letting go of the negativity that so often gets in our way of becoming our best most creative selves.

The retreat was entertaining, exhausting, enthralling and enlightening (and a few more e words I’m not thinking of at the moment!). It also served to bring a group of musicians together, many for the first time, in a uniquely heartfelt manner that would produce two amazing collaborative concerts.

The first night’s concert was held at Christ’s Church Unity. Though we had heard snippets of music throughout the two-day retreat, this would be the first time that all thirteen musicians had really performed in front of each other. Many had quick rehearsals before sound check to add others into their acts for background vocals, percussion, trumpet or sax solos and keyboard magic. It was a true collaborative effort. The concert was magical and enlightening, and each artist was incredibly diverse with his or her musical style. Everyone was outstanding in their own musical way and brought the joy of the past few days to life in their music.

U Rock Artists and Staff

The 2nd night’s concert was in the John & Rita Lowndes Shakespeare Center in Orlando, in one of their beautiful theaters. The songs changed, more collaborative efforts were formed and the audience ate up the entire 4-hour show!

The most touching part of the evening for me was a presentation by one of the two invited non-profits for the evening, Base Camp. The organization helps to comfort and nourish families of terminally ill children as their children undergo treatments at the Children’s Hospital of Orlando. A young girl named Marley, who had entertained us throughout the evening with her joyful shrieks of laughter and dancing, was there that evening with her family and best little girlfriend. At the age of 3 she was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. The doctors had little hope for her even after surgery and gave the young girl days to live. But the family refused to give up, and worked with their faith, along with the best that Western medicine had to offer, to try and save the life that had barely begun. Marley is now 7 years old and is in full remission. She touched all of our hearts and this “old soul” had many lessons to teach us about the power of faith and never giving up in life, no matter how dire the situation may seem.

The evening was a fundraiser for the Bates Place non-profit, which has been set up to help artists like me to spread joyful, uplifting messages to the world. Money was raised, with the help of the nation’s only singing auctioneer Mari Harris.

The last evening was spent conducting a very casual closing concert on the waterfront in Tampa. Held outside of an old Trolley Car warehouse and repair station (among other things!), it was a very special night of making music together and saying our long goodbyes.

Click here for a goofy video I took that night!

Lisa and Teri Wilder

I have to say that the whole experience far exceeded my expectations. We were well taken care of with fabulous food and food for thought, lodging and oodles of love. All of us connected on an amazing level, and musical collaborations born out of the process were outstanding, exuberant and many longer term than just the weekend performances. In fact, for those of you in the Boulder/Denver area, two of the amazing artists, Teri Wilder and Mari Harris, will be appearing live in my own backyard for a house concert extraordinaire on Saturday, September 10. Details to come!

Mark, Bates and Rique

Thank you Bates and the entire staff of Bates Place for letting us be a part of your dream to bring this amazing “music that makes you feel great” to the world. This is only the beginning.