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Texas musician holds outdoor concerts to fill pandemic void

By Kaley Johnson, Fort Worth Star-Telegram on

Published in Lifestyles

FORT WORTH, Texas — A line of a dozen people stand outside Melt Ice Cream Shop on Magnolia Avenue in Fort Worth, the sweet smell of sugar wafting from the open door. Families chat on the sidewalk nearby, masks pulled down to eat their dessert. a block down, the sound of a violin drifts on the summer breeze.

Standing in front of the yellow light of a window, Armond Vance moves his hands assuredly with the instrument's bow as he plays a mash-up of a Drake song and Tchaikovsky.

Vance, 24, has been putting on outdoor concerts in Fort Worth since coronavirus cut off many people's means to listen to live music. Since May, he's regularly played on the sidewalks in Near Southside or at the Dallas Farmer's Market, and he has been invited to perform for at least 34 "porch concerts" — casual, one-man performances on people's patios.

"Everything about the experience is pretty personal and more intimate in general," he said about those porch performances, where a group of people typically gather outside a friend's home and listen to him play everything from jazz to "a cross pollination of hip hop and classical," he explains.

Vance, who started to play the violin at 12 years old, now teaches orchestra at William James Middle School in Fort Worth. Through his outdoor concerts, he hopes to fill the musical void that the pandemic has caused.

A self-described "musician-without-borders," Vance flows between all styles of music. He'll play "Tennessee Whiskey" upon request, or infuse a Cardi B song with a classical symphony. Most of the time, he's improvising, creating a unique experience each time he plays for both himself and the audience.

"It's not playing random notes. It's kind of like having a conversation without a script," he said. "I understand my musical vocabulary and I'm using that vocabulary and rearranging it to make different patterns."

 

Along with playing music, Vance is passionate about teaching others — everyone should have access to a musical education, he said.

"As long as you have that creative drive in you, you can really do anything," he said.

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