We’ve all heard it, that ticking watch that frames the introductions of the reporters at the beginning of “60 Minutes”. Well guess what? The Joy of Music clock just started making the same noise. With JOM now just a year away we officially transitioned from “that was fun” to “time to get back to work”. Now, now…no need to run in circles screaming and pulling your hair (that comes later), but it IS time to start looking at what needs to be done. This is mostly for you new kids, but it’s also a reminder for the regular offenders. I’ll use the flow of the evening to give you an idea of some of the things that we need to do (there are many more). Consider it a warning shot across your “I’m happy to be a volunteer” bow. I’ll plug in the Volunteer Opportunities (VO’s) as they arise.

Entering the event there’s always music on the lanai. A Mariachi band, African drums, you never know (VO = assisting with the coordination of the musicians or, if you’ve got the chops, being one). There’s a check-in table where guests are greeted and given the location of their seats (VO = working at the check-in table). Tickets were purchased well in advance and the event is always sold out (VO = keeping track of online ticket sales, sending acknowledgements, a fairly involved team effort).

Moving into the main ballroom, tables of 10 are set (VO = table decorations and putting all the name cards in place) and a large stage is on the far side of the room (VO = decorating the stage). There’s a room in the back for prepping the different phases of the evening’s adventures and another for singers who aren’t having dinner (VO = singing with the chorus even if you’re not attending the fundraiser as a dinner guest). In the rear of the room a cash bar is set up (no VO there, just a little courage) and next to that is the silent auction (BIG TIME VO = the silent auction is a long-term project and needs a small army; many hands make light work. Even if you’re not part of the army, finding donated items is a big deal).

The main program itself is always a blur with multiple styles of music and culture and sound. We’ve had everything from children’s choirs to Taiko drums, from Japanese calligraphy accompanied by a bamboo flute to Korean dance (VO = keeping everything straight in the back where the entertainers are staged so things move nice and smooth). Depending on the mix of acts there can be quite a lot of activity as one culture departs and another appears (VO = moving music stands, chairs, whatever). The centerpiece of the evening is the presentation of the McCreary Na Ke Akua Aloha Mele Award to someone in the island’s musical community who has made a significant impact on the arts in Hawaii followed by a performance of the Windward Choral Society in their honor (VO = as above, come sing!).

The closing entertainment for the evening can be just about anything. Last year it was Dixieland music with people dancing between the tables and general merriment and silliness. Once the whole thing winds down we need to get gone because the ballroom turns into a pumpkin at midnight (okay, that’s not exactly true; it becomes a church sanctuary, but you get the idea) and our stuff needs to disappear (VO = cleaning up, another small army needed).

My friends, that’s just the bare bones of what has become a major production. There are many, many more places where volunteers are needed and they’ll start popping up before you know it. I can guarantee you two things when you jump in and help (notice I didn’t say “if”; we need everybody to help at whatever level they can): first, you’re going to find yourself working really hard as part of a well-oiled machine to put together a fundraising dinner that ranks right up there with the best of ‘em and second, when it’s all done, you’re going to be really tired and filled with the joy that comes from being part of both an event as amazing as JOM and a member of a team that has supported each other every step of the way. It’s a seriously awesome adrenaline buzz and may force a little tear out of one corner of your eye (but you’ll be a little relieved that we only do it once every two years).

Oh yeah, almost forgot. You’ll sleep until noon the next day. Clear your calendar