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COW BOP departs Chicago May 7, following Route 66, with a full tank of gas and $100. Our intent is to make it the whole way to LA by playing, bartering, selling CDs and living off the kindness of strangers. We are seeking pledges for each mile traveled to be donated to JazzMasters Workshop. We will also visit schools and community centers to inspire kids and open up new territory for JMW.

1. To raise awareness and support for JazzMasters Workshop and the mentoring process
2. To bring music back to a more personal level, interact spontaneously with the public and help
    create interest in local music scenes
3. To reinvigorate America's pioneering spirit and love of the 'road'

Here's the question: Can it be done? Can musicians-relying on their skill and guile-support themselves, spontaneously, on the road? Even though the concept is rooted in medieval times, there have been minstrels accompanying the lore of every generation since.

However, now, in the 21st century, the challenge takes on unprecedented dynamics. It may seem that music has become something that is either grand spectacle or relegated to background status, where we rely on and expect it to come from electronic boxes, to provide an often distant or detached soundtrack to the symphony of our lives. And in many cases, we consume it like a product that no longer brings us together with other people nor with the people who play it.

Our quest was borne of this. We will depart Chicago-on route to LA-with only $100 and a full tank of gas. We will discover whether people will take part and subsequently support such an anachronistic mission. Like minstrels of yore, we will freely move from place to place, relying on the generosity of strangers, responding to life's basic rhythm, embracing the pioneering spirit of freedom that is deeply etched in the American psyche.

The reason for choosing Route 66 is its symbolic and mythic status in our culture. While much of it is now interstate highway and bypassed-much like intimate musical performance-the route affords us the occasion to connect with a wide variety of people and places.
Our statement is one with an optimistic and nurturing eye to the future. We have adopted JazzMasters Workshop (JMW), a national non-profit organization dedicated to putting the power of music performance into the hands of children. With programs that address various levels of ability, JMW utilizes the resources of the music community to inspire and enlighten young people. We will ask for pledges for every mile we travel, and these funds will enable JMW to make inroads, reaching even more children.

It is an exciting challenge, one that promises to enrich the lives of the people we come in contact with, including everyone in our group. The success is in the doing. It can be done!

Click here to learn more about the Route 66 Challenge band Cow Bop.