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Children’s Book Launch Event at The Bookplate


The Bookplate will host a children’s book launch and workshop event for “Everywhere, Wonder” by Matthew Swanson and Robbi Behr on Saturday, March 4, 2017 at 11:00 am. The Chestertown author/illustrator, husband/wife duo will give a funny, informative, kid-focused presentation about working together to create their latest children’s picture book, “Everywhere, Wonder.” Matthew and Robbi will read and sign the book, and help kids write and illustrate their own “Books of Wonder,” teaching them to notice, appreciate, and share the interesting and beautiful things all around them. This event is ideal for children in kindergarten through sixth grades and grown-up children-at-heart are welcome to attend too. (Matthew and Robbi’s newborn baby Jasper will also be there.)

Sweet Megg and the Wayfarers at The Mainstay March 9


Sweet Megg and the Wayfarers bring their New York hot jazz to The Mainstay in Rock Hall, Maryland on Thursday March 9, 2017 at 7:30 p.m. Admission is $15 in advance and $18 at the door. Information and advance ticket sales are available at the Mainstay’s website http://www.mainstayrockhall.org and reservations to pay at the door can be made by calling 410-639-9133.

Sweet Megg and her wayfaring musicians transport listeners, not to the past but to a new world of their own making. The band is led by the charmingly enigmatic Sweet Megg, who imbues each song with her own mix of vocal melancholy and euphoria. The band incorporates elements of New Orleans swing, Harlem swing, Parisian cabaret, and gut bucket blues into a seamless whole. Saxophonist Ryan Weisheit reimagines a world where Sidney Bechet, Lester Young, and Charlie Parker blow side by side. Together Sweet Megg, Ryan, and all the Wayfarers create a world where hot jazz, a style that got its start in New Orleans at the turn of the 20th century, flourished as Dixieland and then as traditional jazz, and is alive and well and living in New York City.

Sweet Megg IMG_2038 - hrUpon returning to New York, she was fed up with the competitive nature of the modern jazz scene and gravitated towards the traditional scene that circled around Mona’s Tuesday night jam sessions in the East Village. The musicians of Mona’s Hot Four who ran the sessions introduced Megg to this new music in an old style and she soon found herself sitting in almost every week. There was also a Gypsy Jazz scene, popular in Brooklyn where she was living and she soon started gigging with a gypsy jazz group, The Bailsmen (two members of which became the rhythm section of The Wayfarers).

By late 2012, Megg was itching to start her own project incorporating all her favorite styles and influences. She loved singing songs popular with the Django Reinhardt scene, mixed with Billie Holiday numbers, some Edith Piaf, some blues, and lots of swing tunes that she had learned at Mona’s.

Luckily, within weeks of deciding to start her own band she met Ryan Weisheit.  He had been going to Mona’s for over three years but somehow, they had not met until that November. Ryan grew up in the quaint college town of Normal, Illinois.  He started playing saxophone when he was 10 and has never put it down for a day.  For college, he left the Midwest and traveled to Jacksonville, Florida to study with one of his greatest influences, legendary alto saxophonist Bunky Green, focused on alto saxophone and like many saxophone players of that age, Charlie Parker.

When he got to New York he received his masters from Queen’s College studying under Antonio Hart, and hit the modern jazz scene of New York with a force.  He regularly went to the local jam sessions in the West Village and Harlem but eventually became rather jaded by the scene. Much like Megg, he was uncomfortable with the competitive nature of the modern jazz scene. He got involved with the DIY scene of Bushwick and began playing saxophone in the horn section of Bad Credit No Credit, a gypsy punk band lead by Carrie-Anne Murphy.  He also found himself regularly playing at Mona’s because it was a jam session that seemed cooperative, welcoming and very good fun. Megg and Ryan met and immediately decided they had to start a group together. Megg being a big Sidney Bechet fan, convinced Ryan not to sell his soprano sax and to start playing Bechet numbers in the group.

Sweet Megg 2 HRThey found that in Sweet Megg and the Wayfarers, they inspire each other. Ryan has influenced Megg’s singing, introducing her to modern tunes she had never heard, to vocalese, and inspiring her to scat as much as the other soloists in the band.  Megg helped inspire Ryan to take center stage.  He no longer just plays background but helps lead the group with his mix of Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young, Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, and Sidney Bechet style saxophone playing. The influences from their different backgrounds have shaped Sweet Megg & the Wayfarers into a band that combines generations of jazz into one unified sound.

The Mainstay (Home of Musical Magic) is the friendly informal storefront performing arts center on Rock Hall’s old time Main Street. It is a 501(c)(3), nonprofit dedicated to the arts, serving Rock Hall, MD and the surrounding region. It is committed to presenting local, regional and national level talent, at a reasonable price, in an almost perfect acoustic setting. Wine, beer, sodas and snacks are available at the bar.

The Mainstay is supported by ticket sales, fundraising including donations from friends and audience members and an operating grant from the Maryland State Arts Council.

The Mainstay now sells advance tickets online through Instant Seats, a Washington based firm. Information and advance ticket sales are available on the Mainstay’s website http://www.mainstayrockhall.org. Follow the Buy Tickets link to buy tickets at the advance price. If you would rather pay at the door, you can still make a reservation by calling 410-639-9133.

Upcoming Mainstay performances include:
March 9 Sweet Megg and the Wayfarers
March 13 Mainstay Monday: Host Joe Holt welcomes Marc Dykeman on guitar and vocals and Mike Buccino on bass
March 15 Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars
March 18 Zoe & Cloyd
March 25 Chuck Redd and the Bucket Brothers
March 31 The High and Wides

Mardi Gras Masquerade Dance Party at the Garfield Center


Attention! Revelers of all ages are invited to the annual Mardi Gras Masquerade, Music and Dance Party at The Garfield Center for the Arts on Friday, February 24th. The perennially popular Dixie Power Trio will entertain beginning at 7 pm; with the lobby doors opening at 6:30 pm.

The Dixie Power Trio is a four-piece group dedicated to the music and sounds of Louisiana. The group is based in Fredericksburg, VA and has toured extensively throughout the United States in support of their eight independently produced recordings.  “Big Parade” is the band’s most recent release and was recorded in 2013. In a typical set the DPT will play a gumbo of different styles including zydeco, Cajun, New Orleans jazz, funk, street parade, and rock.  The songs are a mix of Louisiana-flavored originals and covers—all with a unique, happy-go-lucky attitude.  The band’s music has been featured on NPR’s “All Thing’s Considered” and on several WB television shows.  Over the past few years the DPT has shared the concert stage with many Louisiana music luminaries including Wynton Marsalis, the Neville Brothers, Dr. John, Terrence Simien, Chubby Carrier, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, the Olympia Brass Band, and Beausoleil.

Costumes are not mandatory, but highly encouraged! Intermission will feature King Cake and a special performance by Philip Dutton & the Alligators. A cash bar will include Mardi Gras specials, and beads and masks will be available for those who need to accessorize.

Reservations Recommended! General Admission is $25; but a $30 “Backpack” ticket ensures that $5 will be donated to the local Backpack program, which provides needy children with nutritious and easy-to-prepare food over the weekends. Student tickets are $15 with ID. For more information, visit www.garfieldcenter.org, email boxoffice@garfieldcenter.org or call 410-810-2060. The Garfield Center for the Arts at the Prince Theatre is located at 210 High Street, Chestertown, MD.

Christ Church Ensemble to be joined by Oboist Heidi Schultz


59270_heidiOn Sunday, February 26, the Christ Church String Quartet of Christ Church Easton will be presenting music by J. S. Bach, Edvard Grieg and Tomasa Albinoni at the 11:00 service.  Pre-service music will begin at 10:50 a.m., and the public is invited.

First in Sunday’s repertoire, the resident quartet will be joined by oboist Heidi Schultz to form an oboe quintet.  Schultz who is currently on the music faculty at Washington College is a graduate of the University of Kansas, Northwestern University in Chicago, and the Peabody Conservatory.  She was for eight years a member of the United States Naval Academy Band, and was also a member of the Chicago Symphony and the American Wind Symphony.  Together, Schultz and the four other very gifted musicians will present  the Sinfonia, a ten minute movement from Johann Sebastian Bach’s cantata,  Gott soll allein mein herze haben,  BWV 169.  As was common during the period, the material found in the Sinfonia is known to have appeared elsewhere in the composer’s work.  In this case, the work presented relies on portions of a lost concerto thought to have been written between 1717 and 1723 while Bach was in Köthen.  That same concerto was probably also the inspiration for two additional concertos, a harpsichord concerto, BWV 1053 and an organ concerto used in an organ dedication in 1725.

During the communion, the Christ Church String Quartet will present the hauntingly beautiful Adagio in G minor attributed to the 18th century Venetian composer, Tomaso Albinoni.  Much debate surrounds this neo-baroque gem raising question as to whether Albinoni actually had anything to do with the piece at all.  The controversy stems from 20th-century musicologist and Albinoni biographer Remo Giazotto who claimed to have based the piece on a fragment from an original manuscript by Albinoni.  Whether the piece was real is questionable, but it has come to be accepted that the finished work is that of Giazotto.  Following the Adagio, the quartet will present a setting of Edvard Grieg’s Morning Mood commonly known as incidental music to the play Peer Gynt by Henrik Ibsen.  While the piece was written to depict scenes in a Moroccan desert, most listeners find it more reflective of Grieg’s Scandinavian origins.

Also during the service, the Christ Church Choir will present Allen Pote’s setting of the 121st Psalm, I Lift Up Mine Eyes to the Hills.  A well known setting in choral music, the piece will also feature the oboe and Easton flautist, Gerri McGuire.

Christ Church is located at 111 S. Harrison Street in Easton.  For information regarding this or other musical events, call 410-822-2677.

Mid-Shore Arts: The Church Hill Theatre at 35 Years Old with Nina Sharp


A quick check of Wikipedia shows a very limited response to the query term, “Church Hill, Maryland.” In fact, with the exception of a summary of the 2010 census, which shows that about 500 people live in the town, and that Church Hill has four buildings on the National Register of Historic Places, there’s not much there.

But it does have one thing that very few places have, and that’s the beloved and successful Church Hill Theatre (CHT).

Built in the 1920s as the town’s community center, the building became the home of the Church Hill Theatre in 1982, some thirty-five years ago. That was reason enough for the Spy to want to know more about the CHT. It seemed rather remarkable that a community theatre company could survive that long in a town of 500 which rests some fifteen miles from the next town over.

But in talking to the Theatre’s executive manager Nina Sharp the other day, it turns out the CHT is not only surviving but actually thriving. With five major theatre productions a year, two youth educational programs, as well as ongoing partnerships with Chesapeake College, Gunston School, and the Home Educators of the Eastern Shore, Church Hill is very much alive and well.

That’s not to say CHT doesn’t have its challenges with owning a building that needs a great deal of love and care, but as Nina suggests in our chat, all signs look good for another thirty five years.

This video is approximately minutes in length. For more information about the Church Hill Theatre, please go here.

WC’s Cappella Group At Emmanuel March 5


WACappella returns to Emmanuel on March 5 at 4 pm.

Please join us as we welcome Washington College’s one and only coed cappella group on campus WACappella back to Emmanuel for a concert on Sunday afternoon, March 5 at 4 p.m. The proceeds from the free-will offering for this performance will go to support the National Music Festival free lunch program for student workers, mentors and NMF students hosted by Emmanuel again this summer. Meet the performers at a reception after the concert in the Parish Hall.

March 5 at 4 p.m.
Emmanuel Church on the Fountain Square
Chestertown, Maryland

The Pam Ortiz Band’s “Songs For Our Future” March Concert to Climate Change


“Songs For Our Future” is pleased to announce that we have added a second show for the next performance in our Songs for Our Future series, a Concert to Highlight Climate Change & Clean Energy. In addition to the show originally planned for Friday, March 3 at 8:00 p.m., we are adding a show on Sunday, March 5 at 3:00 p.m. with all the same music and special guests.

In addition, we have made it possible for you to reserve seats for all upcoming shows. Visit our EventBrite page to reserve tickets. All donations will be taken at the door. If your plans change, please return to the site to cancel your reservations so we can accommodate someone on the waiting list.

The first two shows in this series have been sold out, standing-room only events so be sure to reserve a spot.  We were sad to have to turn people away last month, and regret if it happened to you. We want to make sure everyone can be a part of these special events.

How did the concert do in February? With your help and the support of our volunteers and special guests, we raised $2,775 at our February concert to support the work of the National Immigration Law Center to protect the immigrant community. You all are amazing!

The Pam Ortiz Band with Special Guests: Meredith Davies Hadaway, Celtic harp,
poetry Andrew McCown, outdoor educator & storyteller Robert Earl Price, poet Jeff Davis, bass

Friday, March 3 at 8:00 p.m.
Sunday, March 5 at 3:00 p.m. [2nd Show Just Added!]
Robert Ortiz Studios
207C S. Cross St.
Chestertown, MD

$15 suggested donation ($10 students)

Eastern Shore Band Hosts Sellout Concert Series to Protect Important Rights


pam ortizWithin days of the election last November, singer-songwriter, Pam Ortiz, and her husband, Bob, sat down to make a list of organizations they could support that would protect the people and rights they feared were now vulnerable. “As I thought about the very modest checks we might be able to write,” said Ortiz, “it occurred to me that, as musicians, there was much more we could do.” Like many musicians, the Ortiz’ have performed over the years to raise money for numerous causes. “Why not host a series of concerts, each of which would support a different important right or vulnerable group of people? We pitched the idea to our like-minded bandmates, the members of the Pam Ortiz Band – Ford Schumann, Nevin Dawson, and Philip Dutton – who were immediately on board.”

The band performed the first in their Songs for Our Future Series in January to a standing room only crowd. Concert attendees donated $3,400 at that event to support the right to vote, with proceeds going to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.

The band’s second concert raised $2,775 for the National Immigration Law Center, to support the immigrant community.

Each concert in the series features the Pam Ortiz Band, with different special guests. In January, members of Sombarkin, an a capella gospel trio, performed along with poet Robert Earl Price. Fredy Granillo, a Salvadoran guitarist and songwriter was the featured guest in February.

The concerts are held in Bob Ortiz’ furniture studio in the band’s home base, Chestertown, on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. The local Eastern Shore community has responded enthusiastically, selling out each performance. To accommodate the crowds, the band has added a second show for the next event in the series. The group’s Concert to Highlight Climate Change and Clean Energy on March 3rd and 5th will raise funds for 350.org, a grassroots environmental organization. The March concerts will include special guests, Celtic harpist and poet, Meredith Davis Hadaway, outdoor educator and storyteller, Andrew McCown, and poet Robert Earl Price.

Future events in the series will include concerts to protect the LGBTQ Community, to protect the Muslim community, to support women’s reproductive health, and will culminate with a final concert at an alternate location, the Mainstay in Rock Hall, to support the right to free speech.

For additional information about The Pam Ortiz Band and to hear Ortiz’ music: Visit http://www.pamortizband.com/.

For photos: Visit http://www.pamortizmusic.com/press-kit/

Concert Location:
March – June Concerts – Robert Ortiz Studios, 207C S. Cross Street, Chestertown, MD 21620.
July Concert – The Mainstay, 5753 N Main St, Rock Hall, MD 21661

To reserve tickets for these concerts: Visit www.pamortizband.com.

Registration Open for Summer Camps at the Garfield


PM_reg_poster1This summer marks the 14th year of Playmakers Summer Theatre Camp at the Garfield Center for the Arts, and directors Tess Hogans and Catherine Bushby are thrilled to announce that this year the campers will be presenting The Princess Bride. The camp will run for four weeks from July 17th to August 11th and is open to ages 8-15.

Also included in the cost of the Playmakers camp is the Hedgelawn Performance Series. These exciting multi-cultural performances introduce Playmakers to a variety of theatrical arts. Playmakers interact with Professional Artists who provide three Fridays of interactive, educational entertainment. These performances are open to the public for a minimal admission fee.

The cost for campers aged 8-10 is $345, and $385 for ages 11-15. The 11-15 year old campers play the larger roles and the 8-10 year old campers make up the chorus and supporting characters. Scholarships are available on an as-needed basis, and anyone interested in more information about Playmakers should contact Tess Hogans at thogans@garfieldcenter.org.

Children interested in musical theatre should register for the week-long MUSICAMP, which runs July 10th-14th. This camp culminates with a performance of The Most Epic Birthday Party Ever on Friday, July 14th at 7 p.m.
 MUSICAMP is a great introduction to the stage for ages 8-15, and meets Monday through Friday 9:00am to 3:30 p.m. During the week all campers will participate in acting, singing, choreography and set design. MUSICAMP is an intensive musical theatre experience with age-appropriate content and expectations. The show is directed by Julie Lawrence and ably assisted by Rachel Craig and Charlice Culvert.

Registration is now open for both camps!

Please visit www.garfieldcenter.org and click on the “Summer Camps” tab. Space is limited; sign up today!