When 14-year-old DJ Benny Bergle says he was born to play music, he means it. Since 2 years old, he’s been sitting at a piano.
Back then, it was his father, Kenny Bergle, a jazz musician and sales engineer at Sweetwater, who willingly admits he "forced it" upon his son. He also placed an acoustic bass guitar in his son’s crib.
He says that Benny has been plucking it ever since.
"I’m just really happy and blessed that he is into music – I mean, he really couldn’t help it," Kenny Bergle says, laughing.
It’s quite fitting for Father’s Day that the duo will be sharing the stage for the city’s Make Music Day on Sunday.
With its beginning in France as the "Fête de la Musique," the international celebration of music encourages the community to get out to public areas to listen to music as well as play some instruments themselves.
The event is presented by Sweetwater, and public events coordinator Jen Lock says the company sponsored a similar event last year. But with Sweetwater becoming a national sponsor this year, the city will be recognized as one of more than 20 cities in the U.S. participating in the official celebration.
Lock says her goal this year was to capture the community’s attention by focusing the event downtown so that the annual event can grow into a citywide celebration next year.
"We’re making it a lot bigger and more community-focused," Lock says. "It’s pretty much what Sweetwater is all about, which is getting out, playing and listening to music."
The event will have music performances on three different stages at Freimann Square and will offer opportunities for people to play instruments including ukuleles, drums and electronic instruments.
Kevin Christenson, music director of Sweetwater Academy of Music and Technology, says the event’s interactive experiences provides something for both music novices and seasoned musicians.
There will be a music exploration area for children ages 5 and under and a jam area for musicians who want to meet up and play a drum kit and electronic guitars. Participants can also experiment with a theremin, an electronic instrument that reacts to the moisture content of the player’s hands.
"For the Make Music Day event, I think it’s a good opportunity to pick up a guitar or pick up a ukulele or do some hand drumming and see if it’s something you want to devote some time to," Christenson says. "It’s all in one place, and in five-hour period of time on a Sunday afternoon, you get to experiment with a lot of different types of music."
Lock says the lineup for the day includes 18 bands, including the Fort Wayne Funk Orchestra, Exterminate All Rational Thought and Alicia Pyle.
"I was pleasantly surprised," she says. "I asked a couple of bands that I knew around town. I think I maybe had to ask three, and then the rest came to me. That was awesome."
Kenny Bergle was one the acts that came to Lock. Bergle and DJ Benny Bergle have planned a set that shoots back and forth between Bergle’s experimental jazz act, known as Musical Therapy Laboratory, and DJ Benny Bergle’s mix of electronic music.
For Kenny Bergle, Sunday will be one Father’s Day gift to remember.
"It’s this brotherhood of sharing the gift of making music around the world. I think that’s so cool," Kenny Bergle says.
"I really like performing and having people enjoy it or at least be intellectually stimulated from it. It’s therapy for me, and it’s so neat to be able to kind of pass it on through live music. The fact that it’s on Father’s Day is just kismet."