BALTIMORE, Md. — Like prior to any other performance, the musicians are warming up on their instruments, as people in the audience try to find their seats.
Then, the magic begins.
“Music is so personal,” said Maria Lambros. “It's like when we see a painting, everybody sees something different.”
What is also different is the venue for this concert. The Baltimore Station is a residential treatment facility for military veterans suffering from addiction.
“While they're here, they get all the tools they need to lead a life of recovery, but also what they need to sustain an income,” said Kim Callari, deputy director for The Baltimore Station. “We feel here like music is just an equalizer.”
They bring concerts by professional musicians into centers for autistic children, prisons, and underserved communities.
Maria Lambros founded Our Joyful Noise Baltimore after spending time in a hospital setting herself.
“We really try to make it special for our audiences,” said Lambros, who is also a musician. “And the musicians really love coming to these venues, especially those who have just been playing mainly in concert halls. This is really different and a really powerful experience for them.”
The men at The Baltimore Station don’t usually get to see concerts.
“I hope they get joy and just kind of enjoy being together and enjoy listening to amazing music,” Callari said.
When the performance starts, that musicality brings them to their feet.
“This is something that lifts the spirits of everybody,” said Corey Pollard, Jr., a U.S. Marine Corps veteran. “You know, it's something that we didn't expect, and you know, we’re just celebrating life.”
For musician Clarence Ward III, who plays the flugelhorn and saxophone with Dat Feel Good and is an Army veteran himself, there’s nothing like it.
“It's a great feeling, especially when I can get these cats up dancing,” he said.
Stanford Myers, who served in the U.S. Navy, described his favorite parts of the performance.
“The layers of the softness,” he said, “and then [Ward] comes back with the excitement.”
It’s an excitement that was palpable, said Tyrone Miller, a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps.
“Music is the universal language,” Miller said. “When we have a concert or gathering such as this, it brings us together and it gives us hope.”
It’s a hope to hold onto beyond the sound of the last note.