The first free outdoor concert of the new Washington College Riverfront Concert Series takes place Tuesday, July 27 with a performance by veteran singer-songwriter Bob Zentz. Organized by the College’s C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience, the event will start at 6:30 p.m. on the riverfront lawn of the Custom House, corner of High and Water streets in downtown Chestertown.
Drinks and light refreshments will be provided; attendees are encouraged to bring their own blankets or lawn chairs. In case of inclement weather, the concert will take place in The Egg, a performance space in Hodson Hall Commons on the main Washington College campus.
Guest artist Bob Zentz is a prolific songwriter, musician and storyteller whose Chesapeake Bay songs have become classics. His concerts are a showcase for a wide range of traditional instruments, which can include the concertina, the hurdy gurdy, and the autoharp. With a strong sense of history, humanity and humor, his repertoire ranges from traditional Celtic tunes and ballads to sea chanteys, from tales of old timers to poetry set to music. He has recorded seven albums, including Horizons, released in January of this year.
Zentz started his career in college, as a founding member of The College of William & Mary’s “Minutemen” singers from 1962 to 64. After several years as a sonar man in the U.S. Coast Guard, he was hired as a writer for the “Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour.” After that show was cancelled, Bob returned to his native Norfolk in 1971 and opened Ramblin’ Conrad’s Guitar Shop & Folklore Center. Named in honor of a local backstreet minstrel and country singer, the store and concert venue served the next 23 years as the hub for folk and traditional music in the Hampton Roads region. It also led to the founding of what is now The Tidewater Friends of Folk Music and the public radio show “In the Folk Tradition.”
In addition to being a leader of the Virginia music scene, Zentz has appeared on PBS’s long-running program “A Prairie Home Companion” and crewed and performed aboard Pete Seeger’s Hudson River sloop Clearwater, helping to restore the Hudson River and spread the word about preserving our waterways. His recording of his own composition “Horizons” was included on the 2006 album Songs for the Earth, a tribute to environmental author and pioneer Rachel Carson on the centenary of her birth. For more information on Zentz, visit http://www.bobzentz.com.
The Riverfront Concert Series will continue August 17 with the guitar duo of Mac Walter and John Cronin. Hosted by Starr Center program manager and 103.1 WRNR disc jockey Michael Buckley, the concerts reflect the Center’s longstanding interest in the musical traditions of the Chesapeake Bay and its rich heritage of storytelling. “This series brings together two things we love to do—celebrate the rich heritage of the region and create programs the entire community can learn from and enjoy, ” says Adam Goodheart, the Hodson Trust-Griswold Director of the C.V. Starr Center. “Plus, when you combine great music, a beautiful waterfront, and a warm summer night, it’s pretty hard to go wrong.”
For more information on the center or the concerts, visit http://starrcenter.washcoll.edu.