Wildfires are amongst one of the main natural disasters affecting a large portion of citizens across the country today. From California to Nevada, thousands of people are fleeing from apocalyptic scenes in forced evacuations. Acres are burning by the thousands and the area is simply not safe. Then, of course, the people on the Gulf are in similar distress but for an opposite problem: Hurricane Ida’s wrath. The death toll rose to 5 early this morning and is expected to increase.
These natural disasters add another setback to the touring music community, one of the heaviest hit industries since the start of the pandemic. Given all of the above, it can be really difficult to hold onto hope for the future. One man is taking the internet by storm as a symbol of hope in the middle of all of the chaos.
Violin Man Saves the Day Amidst California Wildfires
Mel Smothers is an ordinary Tahoe area resident with a big heart. Recently, he found himself stuck with so many others in a bumper-to-bumper traffic jam. Backed up for over two hours of eastbound traffic on Highway 50, the jam came after a mandatory evacuation was ordered for all residents due to the approaching wildfires. If you’ve ever found yourself in a traffic jam, you know there aren’t many options available to you to pass the time. You can twiddle your thumbs or maybe turn on the radio. You can sulk with your head in your hands or angrily wave a fist at the frozen traffic. Or you can pull out a violin.
That’s exactly what Mel Smothers decided as the only appropriate way to respond to all the chaos and despair of the situation. Smothers casually grabbed the violin and exited his yellow Jeep to stand in the heart of the traffic jam. Using the car to lean on, a dressed-down Smothers rocks a black t-shirt and white shorts. With a full head of white hair and a beard to match, Smothers is quite the sight. Other drivers stuck in the jam thought so too, and many rolled down their windows to catch what was going on. Other drivers even turned their cars off and went to take a closer look. Smothers plays a slow melody which reverberates between the lines of parked cars. It’s tragic but beautiful all the same. It seems to echo solidarity and hope in the midst of all the strife the wildfires have already caused.
The San Francisco Chronicle has the video. They were also kind enough to share the special moment on Twitter.
Longtime Tahoe area resident Mel Smothers plays his violin while being stuck in 2 hours of eastbound evacuation traffic on Highway 50 after mandatory evacuation orders were issued to all of South Lake Tahoe.— San Francisco Chronicle (@sfchronicle) August 30, 2021
Live updates: https://t.co/IM4gpQeODM pic.twitter.com/8D9bkMx8zq