“Major Barbara” – Professional Production at Washington College – This Weekend Only

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Cast and crew of Major Barbara production at Washington College, Oct6-8, 2017. Front row, left to right: Shannon Lawn, Brendon Fox, Jackie Dulaff, (Patricia Delorey on Skype), Conor Maloney, Rachel Treglia, Tim Maloney, Katie Peacock Back row, left to right: Lex Liang, Cole Capobianco, Lexy Ricketts, Dan Perelstein, Adam Ashcraft, Nate Krimmel, Kelly Young, Colin Higgins, Abby Wargo, John Leslie, Iz Clemens, Laura Eckelman, Kate Moncrief, Giselle Brown, Meghan McPherson, Erin Caine, Nic Job, Tedi Rollins, Victoria Gill, Patrick Salerno, Mark Christie

This weekend is your chance to see a professionally produced production of one of the classics of British theater.  Written in 1905 by George Bernard Shaw, “Major Barbara” has been in theaters almost continuously since then.

Now it’s at Washington College. Each semester there is one play directed by a senior member of the theater department.  This fall Assistant Professor of Theatre, Brendon Fox, is directing one of his personal favorites, and the WC Department of Theatre and Dance has brought in a professional production team to help design the set, sound, costumes, etc.   This gives the students a chance to work with theater professionals and learn professional techniques from the pros while making both friends and contacts. They even have a professional fight choreographer to give those fight scenes a realistic touch!

Professor of Drama Emeritus Timothy Maloney, Washington College, takes the role of rich munitions manufacturer, Andrew Undershaft

This is also a rare opportunity to see one of Chestertown’s finest actors.  Professor of Drama Emeritus, Timothy Maloney, has come out of retirement to play Andrew Undershaft,  the captain of industry and father of Major Barbara.  His wife, Lady Britomart Undershaft, is played by Professor of English Kate Moncrief.  Rachel Treglia, WC class of ’19, takes the title role as Major Barbara Undershaft.

Performances will be in Decker Theater in the Gibson Arts building on the Washington College campus on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings, Oct.5- 7 at 7:30 pm.  There is also a matinee at 2:00 pm on Sunday, Oct. 8. All performances are free.

Kathryn Moncrief, Professor of English and Department Chair, plays Lady Undershaft – photo by Tamzin B. Smith

“Major Barbara” was first staged at the London Royal Court Theatre in 1905. In the USA, it made its Broadway debut at the Playhouse Theatre in 1915, just as World War I was raging in Europe. A 1941 film adaptation starred Rex Harrison, Wendy Hiller and Robert Morley. This film version of Major Barbara was shot in London during the blitz bombing of London in 1940. With explosions going on around them, the cast and crew often had to drop everything and run for the bomb shelters. But producer-director, Pascal didn’t stop the production and, amazingly, the film was finished on schedule. The play was also released as a 4-LP Caedmon Records set in 1965 with Maggie Smith in the title role and Morley reprising his role as Andrew Undershaft. While the play was originally set in the early years of the 20th century, the Washington College production is set in the present day.

“Major Barbara” tells the story of an idealistic young woman, Barbara Undershaft. A Major in the Salvation Army in London, Barbara has devoted her life to helping the poor.  For years, Barbara and the rest of her family have been estranged from their father, Andrew Undershaft, a rich munitions maker.  Ironically, their father is a major supporter of the Salvation Army and has made substantial donations to the organization.  This offends Major Barbara, who objects to his “tainted” wealth. However, the father claims that he is doing more to help society by creating jobs and a steady income for people than the Salvation Army is by feeding them and praying for them. A social satire like many of Shaw’s works, the play uses humor to explore themes of morality, money, and power, often within the family structure.

Rachel Treglia, class of 2019, as Major Barbara – photo by Tamzin B. Smith

Brandon Fox, Assistant Professor of Theatre at Washington College, director for “Major Barbara”- photo by Heather Perry Weafer

Director Brendon Fox received his B.S., Performance Studies at Northwestern University, 1993 and his M.F.A., in Directing at the University of California, Los Angeles, in 2009.  He teaches classes on acting, directing, and theater history, among other subjects. His research interests are in Restoration comedy and the adaptation of literature to the stage. In July 2014, Fox directed Two Gentlemen of Verona, for the Houston Shakespeare Festival. In 2016, he adapted the popular, best-selling British novel The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde for a staged reading at Washington College.  This was a world stage-premiere for The Eyre Affair. Author Jasper Fforde came to the college for the premiere and worked with the students in several workshop sessions.

All performances are free.  But reservations are strongly encouraged. Reservations may be made online here up to two hours before each performance. If online reservations are already closed, come to the theater at least 30 minutes early for a ticket, if available, or to have your name placed on the waiting list. The doors open one-half hour before curtain time.  Those with reservations will be allowed to enter first. At five minutes before curtain, house managers will begin admitting patrons from the waiting list. For more information, email theatre_tickets@washcoll.edu and a student worker will respond.

The cast features Professor of Drama Emeritus Timothy Maloney playing Andrew Undershaft and Professor of English Kate Moncrief as Lady Britomart Undershaft, as well as:

 Adam Ashcraft ’19 (Peter Shirley)

Giselle Brown, ’20 (Rummy Mitchens)

Iz Clemens, ’19 (Jenny Hill)

Colin Higgins, ’19 (Charles Lomax)

Nate Krimmel, ’18 (Snobby Price)

John Leslie, ’19 (Stephen Undershaft)

Meghan McPherson, ’19 (Billie Walker)

Conor Maloney, ’19 (Adolphus Cusins)

Lexy Ricketts, ’20  (Sarah Undershaft)

Rachel Treglia, ’19 (Major Barbara Undershaft)

Abby Wargo, ’19 (Mrs. Baines) 

Kelly Young, ’20 (Morrison/Bilton) 

The production and design team includes:

Erin Caine (’19): Dramaturg

Patricia Delorey: Dialect Coach, (Professional-Florida) 

 Lex Liang: Costume & Scenic Designer, (Professional-New York)

Laura Eckelman: Lighting Designer

Dan Perelstein: Co-Sound Designer, (Professional-Philadelphia) 

Mark Christie (’18): Co-Sound Designer 

Claudia Adjou-Moumouni (’18): Music Director 

Cliff Williams III: Fight Choreographer, (Professional-DC) 

Cole Capobianco (’16): Associate Costume Designer, (Alumni &Professional-NJ)

Kaitlyn Peacock (’19): Assistant Scenic Designer & Props Master 

Shannon Lawn (’18): Stage Manager

Jackie Dulaff (’20): Assistant Stage Manager

Nic Job (’21): Assistant Stage Manager 

Victoria Gill (’21) – light board operator

Patrick Salerno (’21) – soundboard operator

Gillian Kelahan (’21) – wardrobe crew

Tedi Rollins (’21) – stage/wardrobe crew

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St. Martin’s Ministries – Lighting the Way

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Lighthouses by Dick Swanson displayed in his workshop. Both are included in the auction.

The 12th annual Arts Dinner Dance and Auction to benefit St. Martin’s Ministries (SMM) will be held Friday, Oct. 13 in the Chesapeake Room of Rock Hall firehouse. Works by more than two dozen artists will be available for bidding.

This year’s theme is “America the Beautiful, From Sea to Shining Sea.” To highlight the theme, this year’s featured artist, master wood craftsman Dick Swanson has created six replicas of classic lighthouses from all over the country. Each lighthouse, in addition to being a finely detailed work of art, contains several internal compartments suitable for storing jewelry, keys, or other small items. To get a preview of all six models, check out the front window of the Finishing Touch in Chestertown, where they will be on display until the day of the event.

Dick Swanson in his workshop shows book with photograph of the lighthouse that one of his is modeled on.

In addition to raising money for a very worthwhile charity, the dinner and auction is a lot of fun with good food, good conversation, and good art. The evening begins with cocktails and the silent auction at 6:00 pm.  As you stroll the Chesapeake Room in Rock Hall, you can examine the lighthouses up close along with the other works of art and decide what you might want to bid on. Maybe you’d prefer to bid on one of the glamorous get-aways for an exciting trip to the city or a relaxing weekend in the country.  Dinner is at 7:30 pm followed by dessert and a few after-dinner remarks by the staff and leaders of St Martin’s Ministries as they share stories of the work and progress in the past year.  Then the live auction will begin about 8:45 pm when you can defend your bid against your friends who would try to take home just the item you want the most – unless you can top their bid!  At 9:15, the dance begins with music by DJ Marc McCallum. His special program of musical selections entitled Dancing through the Decades provides both lively and romantic dancing to the oldies while it brings back all those memories!  At 10:00 pm, it’s time to check out and collect your winnings. It’s a lot of fun, and all in all, a wonderful evening.  Many people come back year after year.  Each year’s dinner has a different theme and a new featured artist. And all proceeds support St. Martin’s Ministries’ work with women and children. There is more information on St. Martin’s Ministries below.

Lighthouses shown in their original setting.

In addition to Swanson, contributing artists include Marjorie Aronson, Evie Baskin, Jayne Hurt Bellows, Paul Bramble, Robyn Burckhart, Nora Carey, John Carey, Laura Cline, David B. Giffort, Charlotte Guscht, Pegret Harrison, Lynn Hilfiker, Mary Averill James, Jonathan King, Marlayn King, David Lyon, Joyce Murrin, K. Chrisgtine O’Neill, David O’Neill, Mary Pritchard, Marcy Dunn Ramsey, Lani Seikaly, Lolli sherry, Linda Sims, Nancy R. Thomas and Dennis Young. While the emphasis is on beautiful and unique works of art, there are also other items available for bidding at the silent auction.

All the lighthouses are currently being displayed in the window of Finishing Touch on High Street in Chestertown, just across from Fountain Park.

Tickets for the SMM Arts Dinner and Auction are $110. To make reservations, go to the Mid-Shore Foundation’s website.  You can also make donations at the site to help SMM in their work with women and children and in the process become an official St. Martin’s Ministries Angel, Archangel, Seraphim, or you can join the Heavenly Chorus, each for various levels of donations.

Three of the six lighthouses that up for auction at the St. Martin’s Ministries’ arts Dinner and Auction on Friday, October 13.

Those who would like to bid on a lighthouse but cannot attend the dinner on Oct 13, can submit a bid by email to Anne Donaghy at Donaghy.Ja@gmail.com. Include the word LIGHTHOSE in the subject line of your email.  Then in the text, give your name, telephone, email address, and the name and number of the Lighthouse you’re bidding on, plus the amount of your bid. There is a minimum bid of $150 for a lighthouse. (So bid high if you can’t be there during the auction to raise your bid as needed!) A few days before the dinner, someone will call to verify your bid and request credit card information.  Should you win, you will be notified the next day. Credit cards will not be charged unless your bid wins. This information is also on a sign in the Finishing Touch window.

Saint Martin’s Ministries

Saint Martin’s Ministries began in 1973, when The Benedictine Sisters of Ridgely founded St. Martin’s Barn – an outreach ministry to Christ’s poor. The Barn provided food, clothing and limited funds for preventing evictions and electricity cutoffs. Ten years later, June, 1983, Saint Martin’s House became a reality – a transitional residence which seeks to empower homeless women and children to work towards self-sufficiency in a safe and stable environment.

Today Saint Martin’s House in Ridgely provides up to 2 years of transitional housing for single women and women with children. The program also provides appropriate support services to persons who are homeless or who are close to homelessness. The transition is to help them be more self-sufficient so they can move towards living on their own. The ministry also provides clothing, emergency food, eviction prevention assistance and utility assistance for those in need. St. Martin’s Ministries administers the Rental Assistance program for Caroline County.

For example, in one recent year, SMM reported that the residences had housed 29 persons, 15 women and 14 children.  They came from all over the Mid-Shore.  This amounted to 7,368 bed-nights valued at $92, 100.  In another year, SMM housed 14 women and 44 children for a total 4,685 bed-nights.  With careful administration and efficient volunteers, the cost per person has run around $40 per day.

The St. Martin’s Barn program provides emergency food and clothing. In one year, they distributed 3, 672 food packages, averaging over 300 per month.  The same year, SMM provided over $100,00 to save 171 families from eviction.

In order to keep these services going – to help more women and children –  SMM runs several other fund raisers in addition to the annual Arts Dinner and Auction,. They just finished their 2nd annual golf tournament and also hold an Authors’ Luncheon in the spring.  SMM has been awarded over $150,000 in government grants.  Altogether, St. Martin’s Ministries has been a life-changing and life-saving influence in the lives of hundreds of women and children over the years.

SMM is a non-profit 501(c)(3) charitable organization. All donations are tax-deductible as allowed by law.

You can be a part of this.

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Coming Attraction — Movie Theater to Reopen!

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The old Chester 5 Theatres will become the new Chesapeake 5 Theatres – opening late November 2017

The movies are returning to Chestertown!

Chesapeake Theaters, Inc., a new company, has formed to re-open, refurbish, and operate the old Chester 5 Theatre in Washington Square in Chestertown. Their license application was submitted to the town yesterday and immediately thereafter work began in the theater building.  The company expects to have the theater open in time for Thanksgiving when theaters traditionally do a large share of their annual business.  At the latest, it should be open for the Christmas season.  It all depends on the progress of the construction.  The new complex will be named Chesapeake 5 Theatres.

The old chairs ready to be carted out.

The renovation began yesterday,  a representative of the company told the Spy on Wednesday, Sept.20.  The seats are already unbolted from the floors in 4 of the 5 theaters in the complex.  In the next week or so, he said, the entire theater will be essentially gutted – drapes pulled down, carpeting ripped up.  Then the remodeling and refurbishing can begin. When finished, the theater will have new floors, carpeting, seats, wall coverings, marquees, projection screens — “new everything,” the representative said. The restrooms and concession stand will also be brand new. ‘It’s not going to look like anything you’ve ever seen.” he said.

The new rocker chairs – 44 inches from floor to top of headrest – with padded arm-rests and headrests.

The five new theaters will be in the same spaces as previously – no walls will be removed. Each theater will have brand-new, 44-inch high rocker-chairs with padded arm-rests that can be raised or lowered.  Each arm-rest has a cup holder.  Initially, all the seating will be rocker-chairs.  However, the company has special luxury recliners on order.  When those arrive, in approximately 2-3 months, the rockers will be removed from the back half of each of the five theaters and the recliners installed.

The concession stand will offer a much more varied menu than the previous theater. Along with the usual popcorn and candy, the new expanded menu will include pizza, hamburgers, fries, mozzarella sticks, and chicken tenders. There will be special trays that fit into the cup holders on the theater seats so patrons can eat while watching. Alternatively, they will be able to sit at a table in the dining area of the lobby while waiting for their show to begin. The company representative said the theater might apply for a liquor license at some point but has not made that decision yet. One of the reasons cited for the closure of the Chester 5 complex was the availability of beer and wine at the competing Middletown theaters.

The new theater has already re-hired the former manager for the Chester 5 Theatres.  According to their representative, they will be looking to hire about a dozen more employees.

The principals of Chesapeake Theaters, Inc, a small independent company formed to operate the new theater complex, have had substantial theater experience, including operating other theaters in Maryland. The company representative said that they are very impressed with Chestertown and want to be a community-oriented company.   They are also open to holding fund-raisers for community organizations, especially anything that benefits children, such as the Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts.

The old Chester 5 Theatres closed Sunday, June 4, 2017, without any advance notice. At the time, theater manager Charlene Fowler said business had been slowly declining for about five years. She attributed the change in part to competition from the newer movie theater in Middletown, Del., which had a more up-to-date facility and a liquor license.

Let the show begin!

Photography by Peter Heck and Jane Jewell.  Special thanks to Chestertown Spies Alexander and Emma for their hot tips and timely info!

Old Chester 5 theatre room

Old seats partially dismantled.

Kent County Schools Will Cancel Bus Contract

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Reliable Transportation of Baltimore school buses parked at the former bowling alley on Route 213 in Queen Anne’s County 

A resolution to the school bus crisis is on the way.

At the Kent County Board of Education meeting on Sept. 18, Superintendent Karen Couch announced that the school system and Reliable Transportation of Baltimore have reached an agreement in principle to cancel their current contract. While details are still being worked out by lawyers for both sides, the school system has already begun transitioning to the new school bus system. At Superintendent Couch’s request, the board passed a motion to authorize the on-going final negotiations with Reliable.

By Monday morning, Sept 18, Couch said, there were already six buses on the road hired directly by Kent County Public Schools through contractors or individual owner/drivers.   All the buses meet both state and county safety standards with all required equipment installed. With more direct hires in the works, Couch stated that there is still a need for at least 14 more buses which Kent County Public Schools (KCPS) will purchase.

Until the new buses arrive, Reliable will continue to pick up children on the routes not covered by the drivers hired directly by the school district. The school board did not have a time line for the new buses to be in service as of the Monday meeting. They are still considering possible short-term options including borrowing buses – especially special needs buses – from other school systems.

Many of the bus drivers from Reliable will be offered driver positions as the new buses come in. This model of school transportation, in which a school system owns some buses and hires drivers directly, while other buses are supplied by independent contractors who own one or more buses, is known as a hybrid. Caroline, Talbot, and Queen Anne’s counties all have hybrid systems, while Wicomico owns all its own buses.

Reliable knows of the school board’s plans and has agreed to have its buses and drivers used until the school district can transition to their new buses. Couch said that cancellation of the contract with Reliable was despite the company’s best’ efforts and due to circumstances beyond their control. Reliable is committed to a smooth transition, she said.

The county will still need to hire more drivers, some of whom will probably be unfamiliar with the routes, so some of the problems such as late pick-ups and drop-offs may continue during the transition. Three buses will be available for field trips and athletics — an improvement over last year, when only two buses were available, which often made for scheduling difficulties.

Superintendent of Schools Karen Couch

The school plans to buy the additional 14 buses, two of which are special needs buses, for a total of no more than $1.5 million. KCPS will piggy-back the contract with one from another local school district. City National Capital will provide the loan at 2.15 percent interest for 10 years. The deal is a lease-purchase, so the county will own the buses at the end of the 10 years. The lease/purchase agreement is expected to cost $168,000 per year, which is within the school’s current transportation budget. There is no penalty for early repayment. Interest over the 10 years will amount to an estimated $183,000. As the average life of a school bus is 15 years, this may give the district five more years with only maintenance costs. The school district is hoping to join the county’s bulk fuel purchase program to minimize fuel costs.

 

Swingin’ in the Park!

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Come hear the big-band sound of Swing City on Sunday, Sept 24 at 3:00 pm.  This will be the last of the summer concerts in Fountain Park in downtown Chestertown.  Originally scheduled for July, the concert was postponed due to a torrential downpour on the day.  Note that due to scheduling issues, this Music in the Park concert is not on the usual Saturday evening.  Instead, Swing City will perform on Sunday afternoon at 3:00 pm in the usual location in the park. There is no charge for any of the Music in the Park concerts but donations will be gratefully accepted.

Led by trumpeter Elmer Dill, Swing City performs all over the eastern U.S., with occasional ventures as far afield as Canada. The 35-member band has been a hit with Music in the Park audiences, drawing large crowds for its appearances in the open-air concert series. Before the evening is over, there have usually been several couples dancing on the bricks around the fountain.

Elmer Dill, founder and director of Swing City, led his first band while still in high school. He attended the University of Delaware, where he played with the university’s stage band, the Delmodians. After college, he joined the U.S. Navy and played in bands all over the world. Several other Swing City regulars share Dill’s military band background, and nearly a third are current or retired musical directors. Most of them live in the Delmarva area, though a few come from as far afield as western Maryland, Pennsylvania, or New Jersey. Members have ranged in age from students in their teens to musicians in their eighties.

Ann Morris of Swing City

The band’s repertoire includes both swing era classics from the likes of Tommy Dorsey and Glenn Miller and stylish, big band arrangements of more modern material. The set list for Sunday features sax and trumpet solos as well as popular songs  such as “In the Mood,” “I’m Getting Sentimental Over You” and a six-trumpet arrangement of “Bye Bye Blackbird.”  Ann Morris, a favorite from previous Swing City concerts, returns as the band’s featured vocalist.

Sunday’s program begins at 3:00 p.m. and will end at approximately 4:30. Admission is free. Audience members should bring something to sit on. Only limited seating is available. Note that there is no rain date.  In case of rain, the concert will be canceled. This concert marks the end of the 2017 Music in the Park program. The summer 2018 series will begin in mid-June after the National Music Festival which is the first two weeks of June in Chestertown.

The Music in the Park series has brought a variety of musical styles, including jazz, swing, bluegrass, klezmer, folk, gospel and more, to Kent County audiences since it began in the mid-1990s. The concerts are sponsored by the town of Chestertown with support from the Kent County Arts Council and many community contributors. To help make these free programs possible, send donations payable to the town of Chestertown and designated for “Music in the Park,” to 118 N. Cross St., Chestertown, MD 21620. Donations may also be made at the concert.

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It Happened on Queen Street

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David and Anne Singer of Chestertown were out of town for a few days at the beginning of July.  When they returned, they noticed a puddle in the driveway but thought nothing of it.  Maybe it had rained.  But the next day, the puddle was still there.  Was it a little larger?  Long story short, a pipe under the driveway from the house had sprung a leak.  They turned off the water to the house and called their plumber.  However, it was now in the middle of the July 4th holiday.  Their plumber was out on a job and not available.  They called several other plumbers but each was either busy or didn’t have the large equipment necessary to dig down to the pipes. The Singers had now been over 24 hours with no water in their house.  Finally, they found Doug Nicholson, Sr, plumber and electrician, who had the equipment and was willing to come in over a holiday for an emergency job.  After excavating the full length of the driveway to a depth of about five, Nicholson unearthed something the Singers had never seen before – “tar-paper” pipes.

The Singers’ house is one of those wonderful old brick homes on Queen Street. Built around 1790, number 109 N. Queen Street is listed as “The Chambers House” in Michael Bourne’s Historic Houses of Kent County (p 350). According to Bourne, it was probably built at the same time (1788-90) as the Nicholson House, next door, with which it shares several architectural features including a molded Doric cornice, one of the earliest documented in Kent County.

The plumber-to-the-rescue, Doug Nicholson, Sr., is not related to the next-door Nicholson House family from the 1790s, – as far as we know. But then again, it’s Kent County, so who knows!

The Chambers house is not known to be listed in any official records until 1811 when it appeared on a deed. The land was acquired in 1786 by Benjamin Chambers, a prominent attorney in the town who served as Clerk of the Court and later as a general of the militia at the Battle of Caulk’s Field. His prominence can be measured by the fact that in 1810 he moved to Widehall. At that point, he transferred the house to his son Ezekial Chambers, a prominent attorney in his own right and later a judge. The younger Chambers moved to Widehall in 1822, and the North Queen Street house became a rental property until 1865, when Chambers sold it to a local contractor, John Greenwood.

Then Greenwood sold the property just a year later to the Vestry of Chester Parish, who converted it into a residence for the rectors of Emmanuel Church. It remained in the hands of the parish until 1910. During that time, the house was expanded to add a pantry and dining room on the first floor and two bedrooms upstairs. Thereafter it had several owners until 1994, when the Singers bought it and began restoring it.

The tar-paper pipes were a surprise to the Singers but not to Nicholson who said that he had seen them often in the older parts of town. They looked like hollowed out logs.  Not at all like today’s plastic pipes. The tar-paper pipe is made of wood pulp and pitch. It represents a less expensive alternative to classic clay piping which has been used throughout history, in ancient Rome, through Chinese dynasties, and into modern times, and is usually referred to as terra cotta.

In addition to tar-paper pipes being used as sewer pipes, they were frequently used as conduits for electrical wiring – notably in the Empire State Building and other skyscrapers. Tar-paper pipes were also adopted by the oil industry to pump salt wastewater out of drilling sites. Its use as sewer pipe was very common during World War II and into the 1950s, which fits Nicholson’s estimate that the pipe at 109 N. Queen St. was “about 70 years old.”  The pipes are commonly called Orangeburg pipes from the name of the upstate New York town where they were manufactured by the Fiber Conduit Company, which later changed its name to the Orangeburg Manufacturing Company. Orangeburg pipes were widely used from 1860 until 1970, when plastic pipe such as PCV came into common use.

Bob Sipes, Utilities Manager for the town of Chestertown, said the sewer system on Queen Street was installed in the first decade of the 20th century, so it’s conceivable that the Orangeburg pipe, which is a lateral line leading from the town sewer mains to the house, dates back to that period. However, that would be unusually long for that sort of pipe to last.  The town’s water and sewer systems were not built using Orangeburg.

Orangeburg pipe’s main liability is its tendency to flatten under pressure. The layers of rolled-up tar paper can also begin to separate, creating “bubbles” or humps.  While its normal life expectancy was listed at 50 years and some can last considerably longer, Orangeburg was often known to fail within 10 years, usually due to the pressure of the soil in which it was buried. So this one, at 70 years old, did pretty well.

While we were there taking pictures and talking to the Singers and several neighbors who came by to see the progress, we noticed a steady stream of cars come slowly up the one-way street, carefully negotiating the speed bump and the construction.  David Singer sighed and said that for some reason many GPS systems give this narrow, one-lane, one-way, residential street as the preferred route to downtown Chestertown rather than the wider Cross or Spring streets.  At least, he noted, the drivers first view of Chestertown is the beautiful, historic homes of Queen Street.

Well, now the pipes are all replaced with modern longer-lasting pipes.  The water is turned back on. The Singers can heave a sigh of relief. Until the next time.  That’s the joys of owning an historical home – you never know what’s in the attic, under the stairs or the paint or even the driveway.  But you learn a lot of fascinating history along the way.

(This article, “It Happened on Queen Street,” is the first in an irregular Spy series on the homes and history of Chestertown and Kent County.  Please contact us if you have an idea for a future subject in the series, either below in the comments or by email to Editor@ChestertownSpy.com.)

All done! But then it’s never all done with an old house, is it?

Toe-Tappin’ Fun with Annapolis Bluegrass at “Music in the Park”

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Annapolis Bluegrass Coalition plays in Fountain Park on Saturday, Aug 5. L-R: Mike Hartnett (Fiddle), Larry Connor (guitar & vocals), Roger Green (mandolin & vocals), Terry Wittenberg (banjo & vocals), Jim Duvall (bass fiddle)

Bring your dancing shoes for this Saturday’s Music in the Park concert featuring the Annapolis Bluegrass Coalition.  The music starts at 7 p.m. in Chestertown’s Fountain Park and continues until about 8:30 p.m. One of the area’s most popular groups, Annapolis Bluegrass Coalition, combines instrumental virtuosity with close harmonies in a mixture of bluegrass standards, originals by band members and a few “out-of-genre” tunes adapted for the bluegrass style. The band will concentrate on bluegrass standards for its Chestertown set, as well as a selection of originals by band members.

The band leader and founder is Roger Green, who plays mandolin, and sings both lead and harmony vocals.  Larry Connor plays guitar and sings lead and harmony vocals.  On banjo and vocals is Terry Wittenberg. Rounding out the group are Mike Hartnett on fiddle and Jim Duvall on bass fiddle.

Roger Green – Band leader, Mandolin, Guitar and Lead/Harmony Vocals. Major bluegrass influences: Reno & Smiley, Flatt & Scruggs, Jim & Jesse, Country Gentlemen.- currently leader of Annapolis Bluegrass Coalition

Born in Washington DC, Green grew up in Silver Spring, Maryland. Green said that he has played bluegrass since he was 10 years old. He writes most of the band’s originals. He particularly likes train songs and has added several to the band’s repertoire. In his early teens and through high school, he played banjo and formed his first bluegrass band, The Mink Hollow Boys, with high school buddies.  Shortly after, Roger began playing mandolin and for a short time performed with Emerson & Waldron.  During a tour of duty in the Air Force, Roger picked with Mac & Hazel McGee who later went on to form the popular New England band,  White Mountain Bluegrass.  After being transferred, Roger worked with a Montgomery, Alabama, band called the Wry Grass Medicine Show.  Following military service,  Roger picked with local Washington DC bands, Leon Morris & AssociatesDestination BluegrassNone of The Above and Ritchie Reunion.  In the early 1990’s Roger switched back to guitar and formed a new group with Tom Gray & Fred Travers called the Gray, Green & Travers Trio.  After Fred left to join the Seldom Scene, Roger started working with pickup musicians under the name of Roger & The Real Good Pickers until finally starting the Annapolis Bluegrass Coalition

Mike Hartnett – Fiddle. Major bluegrass influences: Howard Forrester, Kenny Baker.

Mike Hartnett was born in Baltimore, Maryland, and raised in Chase, Maryland. He started playing at age 12.  His early age musical influence was from his father, also Mike Hartnett, who played old time fiddle.  Mike brings over 30 years of fiddle experience with him adding a new dimension to the overall sound of the band.  His style is mostly in the traditional bluegrass vane, but he also draws from the more eclectic as well as old timey fiddle.  Mike’s first bluegrass band was Overland Express and he stayed with them from 1978 until the early 1980s.  He then did a stint with the long standing and well-known Patent Pending band and then moved on to a group known as the Lawson Brothers until the late eighties. Mike also played with other local bands such as Dean Sapp and Harford Express throughout the eighties and then reconnected with former Overland Express members in the popular Blue Daze band.  Other bands of note that Mike was a part of includes Shiloh Ridge from the York Pennsylvania area and Blue Train.  He is also much in demand as a fill in musician for groups such as Foggy Hollow and Across The Track.

Terry Wittenberg – Banjo and Lead/Tenor/High Baritone Vocals. Major bluegrass influences: Bill Emerson, Ben Eldridge

Born in Baltimore, MD and raised in Silver Spring, MD, Terry Wittenberg started his musical interest at age 7 with the guitar. During his high school years, Terry played rock guitar and was heavily influence by the early blues recordings of Eric Clapton. He was also a fan of country singer Buck Owens and learned how to sing tenor by emulating Buck’s tenor singer, Don Rich.  Terry was introduced to bluegrass during an evening at the Red Fox Inn, where he saw Bill Emerson playing banjo, and he knew right then that banjo was what he wanted to play. Going full steam into bluegrass, he was a founding member of the popular Washington DC group, None of the Above. He also played with Southgate and Overland Express. Later he fronted his own band, NewGrass Effect.  Terry is frequently called on to fill in with different bluegrass bands, and occasionally would work with the Annapolis Bluegrass Coalition. In spring of 2014, Terry became a member of Annapolis Bluegrass. He brings a new dynamic to the Annapolis Bluegrass vocal mix that includes lead, tenor and high baritone. He contributes significantly to the hard driving sound that Annapolis Bluegrass is noted for and has a keen sense of originality in his approach to the banjo. Terry also has a unique capability of recognizing songs from different genre’s that will fit well into bluegrass. The tunes and songs that he introduces to the band helps keep the Annapolis Bluegrass repertoire fresh, relevant and exciting.

Larry Conner – Guitar and Lead/Harmony vocals. Major Influences: Osborne Bros., Flatt and Scruggs, New Grass Revival, J.D. Crowe, Tony Rice, parking lot picking at Sunset Park in Pennsylvania and Watermelon Park in Virginia 

 

Larry Connor was born in Baltimore and grew up in Perry Hall, Maryland. Larry started playing guitar at age 10.  Coming from a family whose roots are from the Floyd County area of Virginia, it was natural for him to learn Bluegrass and old time music at an early age. His father played guitar, banjo, and sang along with his brother, uncles, cousins, and other relatives including his grandmother.  Larry has played Bluegrass with local musicians and family members throughout his entire life. At the early age of 18 he was singing with the Floyd County Boys and then The Conner Brothers Band along with his cousins Tommy, Mickey, and John Conner on two of their albums.  For many years, Larry continued to develop his guitar chops playing country and country rock with the Baltimore based band Dakota until 2010 when he teamed up with Bill Runkle and Smith Hollow.  In early 2017, Larry became a member of The Annapolis Bluegrass Coalition doing what comes naturally; picking bluegrass guitar and singing high lonesome songs.

Jim Duvall – Bass Fiddle. Major bluegrass influences: Jim & Jesse, Seldom Scene, Country Gazette 

Jim Duvall “keeps everyone honest” with the steady beat of his bass fiddle. A veteran of many bands in different styles, Jim also takes an occasional bass solo on instrumental numbers. He was born in Washington DC, though he grew up in Burtonsville, Maryland.  Although he has been playing music all his life, Annapolis Bluegrass is his first stint as a bluegrass and acoustic bass player.  His musical background goes back more than thirty years and includes clarinet, electric guitar in a Motown band called Louie & the Uptights, and much more recently electric bass for a top 40s country band called Southern  Pride.   He plays an S-Model Kay bass, the perfect instrument for the lower registers of bluegrass music.  

For more information, visit the Annapolis Bluegrass website.

Music in the Park performances begin at 7 p.m. in Fountain Park and run until about 8:30. Annapolis Bluegrass is always one of the best-attended performances of the series and a limited number of seats are available. Audience members are advised to bring folding chairs or blankets.

In the event of rain, the performance will be held in Emmanuel Episcopal Church, on Cross Street opposite the park.

Music in the Park is sponsored by the town of Chestertown, with support from the Kent County Arts Council and community contributions. There is no charge for admission to the concerts, but donations to support the program are encouraged.

Smoke, Rattle & Roll – Chestertown Has a New Restaurant!

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Chestertown has a new restaurant! Smoke, Rattle & Roll opened on Saturday, July 22.  The second of its name – the first is in Stevensville on Kent Island – SR&R specializes in barbecue and Mexican dishes along with a variety of sandwiches, salads, and sides.  SR&R will be open Sunday through Thursday from 11:00 am – 9:00 pm then stay open til 10:00 pm on Fridays and Saturdays.

Located in Kent Plaza next to China House, Smoke, Rattle & Roll will offer eat-in, take-out, and catering. The specialty of the house is the BBQ ribs platter (full rack $21.99, half $12.99).  There is a choice of seven sauces that range from the mild and sweet to the hot and spicy. In addition to the ribs, there’s barbecued pork, chicken, or beef brisket served in a sandwich with one side or on a platter with more meat and two sides. These are reasonably priced, running from $7.48 – $12.00 for the BBQ sandwich/platter selections.  All the meat is rubbed with their special recipe then hickory-smoked for a minimum of twelve hours.

If you’re not in a BBQ mood, you can order a burger or a BLT.  Or wings.  Or mac-n-cheese. There’s something for everyone. Burgers are priced from $8.48 – $12.98 and come in one patty (1/4 lb) or double patties (1/2 lb).  Gluten-free buns are available for $1.50 extra.  You can satisfy your yen for Mexican food with a burrito, taco, quesadilla, or nachos.  There’s a house salad, a Caesar salad, and a taco salad.  See the complete menu online.

Rarin’ to go! The new staff finished a day of training and orientation before the grand opening on Saturday.

Smoke, Rattle & Roll has four large flat-screen TVs on the wall behind the bar.

The restaurant has applied for and expects to receive a license for beer and wine in the near future.  The bar is all ready to go into action.  It has the traditional high stools and four large flat-screen TVs on the wall behind the bar.

The restaurant also has several catering options.  You can come in and pick up a DIY kit and put it all together at home.  Or you can hire Smoke, Rattle & Roll’s food truck to arrive at your house or business with everything you need to feed your hungry hordes – from the grill and ingredients to the cooks and kitchen crew.  The truck is $300 per hour plus the price of the food. For details email the catering manager, Randy Bone, at contact@smokerattleandroll.com

Welcome to Chestertown, Smoke, Rattle & Roll!

Email: contact@smokerattleandroll.com For more information see the Shake, Rattle & Roll website.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

July 22 Music in the Park Canceled Due to Weather

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The Saturday, July 22 Music in the Park Concert, featuring the Swing City big band, has been canceled due to weather. The group is too large to fit easily into Emmanuel Church, the alternate venue in case of rain.

If possible, the concert will be rescheduled.

The next Music in the Park concert will be Annapolis Bluegrass, Saturday, August 5, 7:00-8:30 pm.