April 28th was a big day for engineer-producer Mark Johnson and his team out of Santa Monica, CA. It was release day for Playing For Change: Songs Around The World" a DVD/CD project that features musicians from over a dozen countries. Many of the performers have never met and few have names that would be even regionally recognizable.

April 28th was a big day for engineer-producer Mark Johnson and his team out of Santa Monica, CA. It was release day for Playing For Change: Songs Around The World" a DVD/CD project that features musicians from over a dozen countries. Many of the performers have never met and few have names that would be even regionally recognizable.

It all started some ten years ago when Johnson observed two monks performing for morning commuters at a NYC subway station. "Here were people who normally would rush by one another," Johnson said. "But they were suddenly standing side by side. And it was the music that did that. It brought them all together." A few months later, Johnson heard Santa Monica street musician, Roger Ridley, performing Ben E. King’s 1961 hit, "Stand By Me." Ridley agreed to let Johnson record and film his performance, and thus began Johnson’s globe-trotting recording session. For several years, Johnson and crew were on a search and record mission to find little-known musicians for "Playing for Change — a play on words reference to the coins thrown to street musicians as well as the transformation music inspires. The performances were recorded in New Orleans, South Africa, Himalayas, Jerusalem and elsewhere, against a variety of backdrops and then edited together. The lead off track, "Stand by Me," is performed by 37 musicians from the Netherlands, Brazil, Spain and Russia. A YouTube video of the song has already been viewed nearly 8 million times since November. If you haven’t seen it, here it is:

 

Originally posted 2009-04-29 18:24:04.