By Abby Cole, communication specialist, Office of Marketing and Communication
When Dan Bergen found himself stuck at home during this strange time of social distancing, he turned to something familiar: his guitar.
Playing guitar for more than 20 years, the executive director of community engagement has performed at bars, community events and even various Marquette events. More recently, Bergen started doing live concerts in his backyard or living room for friends and family.
Like many of us, Dan and his wife were wondering how to fill the time and spread some positivity during the coronavirus pandemic. He quickly leaned on what he knows best: engaging the community. Guitar in hand, Dan took to Facebook Live where he has now performed two “concerts” of his favorite songs and fan favorites for family, friends and—of course—his Marquette colleagues.
“Music can provide people respite in times of difficulty and chaos,” Dan explains. “It triggers positive long-term memories and creates community.”
He’s planning to put on more shows; his first two have been archived and are available via YouTube (links below).
In the first show, Bergen covered songs by some of his favorite artists, including the Dave Matthews Band, Kenny Rogers and local musician Willy Porter. He also performed a few originals, offering short anecdotes before each song to explain the inspiration or story behind the lyrics. One song he dedicated to his grandfather, who passed away years ago after battling lung cancer.
For the second show, Dan solicited song requests from his Facebook friends prior to the concert. The theme was “story songs (songs with a narrative arc) and lullabies.” This set included classics like “Jack & Diane” by John Mellencamp, “Moon River” by Andy Williams and the Irish folk song “Danny Boy.”
During a time of isolation, when many are feeling anxious or sad, Dan has found a unique way of engaging the community by using his non-work talent to make people happy.
The reaction from Dan’s friends and family has been overwhelmingly supportive and encouraging, “The ‘hearts’ and ‘thumbs-ups’ have been prevalent, reconnections have been made, and new connections have developed as a result,” he says.
Dan’s friends have also shared photos of their kids watching his concerts and sent him private messages expressing their gratitude. “It’s a blessing to connect with people in this way during such a difficult and unusual time,” he says.
Dan adds that this whole experience has reconnected him with people he hadn’t seen or heard from in a long time. “This has been a tremendous grace for me in the midst of this moment. I am excited to reconnect with people in-person through music after this is over.”
Bergen’s next concert is scheduled for this Saturday, March 28, at 8 p.m. RSVP via Facebook.
Do you know someone in the Marquette community who is sharing positivity during this challenging time? Nominate a friend or colleague to be featured in Marquette Today by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.