When my brother was 3 years old, he used to play air-conductor in our backyard. A tree stump served as his podium and a straight pine stick was his baton. The blades of grass below him were musicians playing their instruments and Brian could hear symphonies swooning in his ears. Fast forward thirty some years and my brother is head-banging while holding a classical baton, conducting a live rock orchestra of musicians in California- but I’m no longer watching from our swing-set: Brian gave me V.I.P. tickets to his show!
My brother, Brian Adam McCune was the musical director of the Green Day tribute show and fundraiser for 924 Gilman this past Friday February 19, 2016 at the Fox Theatre in Oakland, California, a show staring Dave Möeschler’s Awesöme Orchestra and over 150 guest musicians.
Upon arrival, my brother Brian treated my mother and I with V.I.P. tickets to the show. Unbeknownst to me, I watched the opening of the show next to Billie Joe Armstrong, Tre Cool and Mike Dirnt themselves. In my defense, it was dark and I was absorbed in the music onstage. Before long, Billie Joe exchanged warm greetings with mom and myself.
This project began when Brian was approached by Undercover Presents to cover Bjork’s music, though after thoughtful consideration, memories of jamming to Green Day’s 1994 album release with yours truly began to flood his mind. For the full story, read Brian’s note here: Brian’s Note.
Brian asked Undercover Presents to instead consider an East Bay area native punk rock band: Green Day. It was a perfect fit. The tribute album was recorded at Fantasy Studios in Berkeley, the recording studio where the original hit album was recorded. Brian would recruit co-founder and best friend of 15 years, Dave Möeschler to involve their Awesöme Orchestra alongside 14 Bay area bands to pay tribute to an iconic American band.
Brian wanted to ensure this tribute would encourage diverse arrangements and be open to other languages and musical genres outside of American-English punk-rock- and he accomplished just that. We heard Spanish and Arabic language translations; we heard punk-rockers, gospel choirs and of course, the most Awesöme Orchestra featuring Brian Adam McCune’s orchestral arrangements. All in all over 150 musicians came together to perform onstage and the Mayor of Oakland memorialized the event by declaring the day both now and forevermore “Green Day Day.” Then she dropped the mic. (You’ll wanna click that link to watch!)
mic drop:When a performer or speaker intentionally drops/throws the microphone on the floor after an awesome performance.*
*I had to look this up on wikipedia, because as a singer, I cringed at the thought of anyone intentionally dropping a microphone. Who knew equipment damage was a sign of respect?! I don’t get out enough…
(April 18th is unofficially Brian Adam McCune Day.)
My excitement that evening was twofold: watching Green Day watch my brother conduct rock orchestral arrangements of their original music AND hearing Billie Joe reflect upon his East Bay roots and the 924 Gilman. Armstrong recounted how back in the early days of his musical career, his band came early to set up at the Gilman, played their show and were responsible for clean-up afterwards, including scrubbing the toilets, perhaps shedding some light on the odiferous title of their hit album “Dookie.”
As a Montana transplant, there’s a silent culture of respect for the self-made millionaires for whom no task is too big nor too small.
“Leave it better than you found it,” we often say.
Finally, Billie Joe expressed affection for the East Bay, explaining that he and his band members have chosen to raise families and put down roots with their wives and kids there. The intuitive Colombian woman in me heard a sense of pride and joy in Billie Joe’s voice as he described raising his family. One can have great career success and multiple hits (consider Green Day’s “American Idiot” & Armstrong’s duet album with Norah Jones), and even have enormous impact on the lives of many in society, but at the end of the day, when the concerts come to a close, the most important thing is family.
I may be projecting this Mitchell mantra onto the Armstrong family, but I doubt they’d disagree.
The following day, I attended my sister-in-law’s wedding where several toasts noted the fact that my in-laws just celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary. As I turned to my husband and flower-girl daughters, my teary-eyed nieces and nephews, I realized that Dr. Dace and Dr. Bob Mitchell, aside from their incredible contributions to medicine, have given us all an inspiring legacy of success in marriage, family and commitment, one that will take all of us a lifetime of loving each other to achieve.
I had such wonderful times with my family this weekend- especially with my brother Brian who has always been the best sibling in the world to me. I am so proud of his musical accomplishments and also proud to call this amazing man my family, my brother.
The fact that he accomplished all this outside of his full-time job at Ubisoft is truly amazing. Let’s see what Brian actually did: he music directed a tribute album, spent 22 days in Fantasy Studios recording with over 150 musicians, wrote orchestral arrangements, conducted said arrangements, banded together with other musical organizers to raise money to restore the 924 Gilman performance venue and gave Green Day and hundreds of other people a night to remember for the rest of their lives.
Well done bro, well done.