Image of the Day by Jeff Weber



Chestertown resident Jeff Weber found a great vantage point to capture some of Saturday’s fireworks sparkling over Wilmer Park.

Matt Palmer, Classical Guitar at The Mainstay, July 12

Matt Palmer

Matt Palmer

Classical guitarist Matt Palmer brings a varied program of music from Brazil, Paraguay, the USA, Belarus, Russia, the Czech Republic, Germany, and Spain to the Mainstay in Rock Hall, Maryland on Sunday July 12 at 4:00 p.m. The concert is part of The Byrd Series: Celebrating Charlie’s 90th and The Hedgelawn Classical Music Series. Admission is $15. For information and reservations call 410-639-9133. Information is also available at the Mainstay’s website at

Matt Palmer is only in his thirties but he may be about to transform the sounds of classical guitar. In awarding him the Up and Coming Guitarist of the Year Award in 2010, Guitar International Magazine (which covers all kinds of guitar from heavy metal to classical said, “Classical guitarists don’t usually get much attention when it comes to these types of awards. They’re usually relegated to a category specifically for them, cast aside from the rest of the crowd for being “uncool,” or at least not as cool as their rock and metal brethren. But, after you hear Matt Palmer play a few notes of any piece, modern or historical, the classical guitar takes on a whole new persona, transformed into an instrument that can rival the hipness of any flashy, electric performance.”

In fact, during his teen years, Palmer was an accomplished self-taught heavy metal-shredding guitarist. He learned to read music and made the switch classical at the relatively late age of 18. Fifteen years later he had received the Doctor of Musical Arts degree from The University of Arizona, where he studied with Thomas Patterson and Artists-in-Residence David Russell, Sergio Assad, and Odair Assad and had written the book, “The Virtuoso Guitarist” about his three-finger chording techniques.

In demand as a performer, Matt’s recent concert engagements have taken him to venues such as Carnegie Hall, Shakespeare Theatre, The Guitar Foundation of America International Convention, numerous universities, guitar societies, and dozens of international guitar festivals throughout the world. He has appeared as a soloist throughout the United States, Europe, Mexico, Canada, South America, and the Caribbean.

His debut CD, “Un tiempo fue Itálica famosa,” has been applauded by Guitar International Magazine as “an album of the highest quality…with flawless technique, deep levels of personal expression, and an artistic integrity that seems far too rare these days.” Classical Voice of North Carolina proclaims Palmer’s “positively nuclear” debut displays “stunning precision and unwavering accuracy enclosed in a huge dynamic envelope.”

This is not, however, classical guitar for headbangers. Concert reviews have praised his subtlety and gentle touch while noting that his palette of dynamics and tone color are broad. James Flood, in a concert review for praised his “ unrelenting musical vision” and said, “Never did he lapse into mere “technical showcasing.” Throughout the performance, everything, even the “flashy” moments, was placed within a clear musical purpose… [the work of] a truly accomplished and refined musician.” The review went on to mention “His three-finger scales, which he wrote a book about, were immediately on display in the Rodrigo, which is filled with fast scales. Speedy scales are difficult to do on the classical guitar, but with his technique, he breezed through them, almost fooling the experienced player into believing that quick scales are actually easy after all.”

In short, this is a classical guitarist who will intrigue guitar aficionados of any sort and classical music lovers as well. His work is deeply satisfying, displays true virtuosity and comes straight from the heart.

The Mainstay (Home of Musical Magic) is the friendly informal storefront performing arts center on Rock Hall’s old time Main Street.

Garfield Center Announces Auditions for Short Attention Span Theatre


The Garfield Center for the Arts seeks actors for Short Attention Span Theatre (our annual 10-minute play festival) and Hey! Wait a Minute! (One-minute plays).

Auditions will take place at the Garfield Center on the following dates:

Saturday, July 11 @ 11 a.m.
Tuesday, July 14 @ 7 p.m.
Wednesday, July 15 @ 7 p.m.

Actors should be prepared to do cold readings from provided scripts. No experience is necessary.

Short Attention Span Theatre will run two weekends: September 18-20 and September 25-27. Everyone ages 15 and up is encouraged to audition. Those who are unable to attend auditions can contact the theater at 410-810-2060 to make other arrangements.

Stage crew, set builders, set painters, costumers and assistant directors are also needed. Anyone interested in helping should stop by the Garfield during auditions to leave their contact information.

For more information, contact SAST producer Mark Sullivan at, or call 410-810-2060 or visit our website

About Short Attention Span Theatre (SAST):
At the Garfield Center for the Arts at the Prince Theatre, playwrights, directors and actors who delight in the art of the 10-minute play are at it again! Short Attention Span Theatre offers an evening of 10-minute plays, designed to hold your attention for just long enough. The plays will feature a multitude of actors, directors and authors, as well as the world premiere of original works by local playwrights.

Farms and Wine! RiverArts Sponsors Tour on July 25 and 26


RiverArts is sponsoring a Farm and Winery Tour for the weekend of July 25 and 26 as an extension of their July exhibit, “The Art of Wine.” Three wineries on the Chesapeake Wine Trail along with three farms involved in produce, dairy and flowers will be open for special tours, wine tasting and other farming experiences during the weekend. The goal of the tour is to further celebrate the beauty of the rural upper Eastern Shore area and to educate our non-farming friends and tourists about the sophistication, complexity and innovations that are part of modern farming today.

Six farms and wineries listed below will be open to the public on July 25 and/or July 26, and are all wonderful places to visit.  They will be sharing their expertise in winemaking, farming and dairy; emphasizing the importance of buying local foods and supporting local farms; and offering opportunities to sample and buy local wines, flowers and food.  The three wineries are all part of the Chesapeake Wine Trail.

Cassinelli-VineyardCassinelli Winery

Cassinelli Winery is a Winery and Distillery located on a 110 acre home farm in Church Hill, MD. Visitors on July 25th and 26th between noon and 5:00 will be able to taste five wines and three spirits and can also do a product tour and hear about other products they are working on. Cassinelli actively plants and maintains vineyards including Chardonnay, Merlot, and Viognier grapes as well as hundreds of apple, peach, pear and plum trees that families will soon visit to pick and enjoy. They are currently working on opening a full distillery at 323 High Street in Chestertown, MD.

Clovelly Winery

At a beautiful bend in the Chester River, you will find the bountiful lands of CLOVELLY ~ a third-generation, Maryland Eastern Shore farm established in 1959. Their vineyard is situated on the south-facing hillside of Clovelly Farm overlooking the Chester River. On Saturday at 2:00, vineyard manager Mark Patrick will give a special talk and a walk through the vineyard to discuss growing practices, the types of grapes they grow, and the basics of vineyard management. Between noon and 4:00 on both July 25 and 26, tours of the vineyard include a tasting of their available wines. Tours and tastings are $5 per person or $8 including a souvenir Clovelly Vineyards glass. For $12 per person, tours may also include cheese and bread pairings with the wine tasting.  Please note that tours may involve some walking and last about 30 minutes.

Colchester Farm

Colchester Farm Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a nonprofit, small-scale farm that grows fresh local produce for shareholders and community members, and offers apprenticeships and education programs. Visitors will tour the farm to learn about their CSA operation and see how they incorporate sustainable practices for small-scale, bio-diverse production to support a healthy community. Saturday morning visitors can catch a glimpse of the CSA operation from 8am to 10am during their market-style share distribution. The CSA promotes an alternative model of farming that strengthens the relationship between farmers, community members, food, and the land.  CFCSA operates on 10 acres of land, part of a 345-acre farm on the Sassafras River near the town of Galena. They will be open to tourists on July 25 and 26 from 8:00 am to 2:00 pm.

Crow Farm and Vineyard

Crow Farm owners Judy and Roy Crow both grew up on farms and both have a passion for maintaining the agricultural authenticity of the area and Crow Farm. Visitors on July 25 and 26 between noon and 5:00 will see firsthand a diverse working family farm, tour the winery and taste award winning dry premium wines.  Visitors will learn about the herd of grass fed Angus Beef and the importance of rotational grazing.  To further sustain the profitability and natural environment of the farm, the family’s 3rd generation established a vineyard business including wine-making and a wine tasting room. The tasting room offers a full array of hand crafted Crow Vineyard wines, and you can add a pairing tray made from our local grass fed Angus Beef and other farm grown items.

Galena Blooms Farm

Galena Blooms is an organic specialty cut flower and herb farm. They grow a wide variety of perennials and annuals over spring, summer and fall — primarily native plants.  They also offer a complete line of body care products, all produced on the farm. Galena Farm will host a flower-arranging workshop on Sunday, July 26. Cost is $25, and pre-registration before July 19th is necessary.  Sign up by emailing  Each person will receive a quart size mason jar, as well as a bucket of fresh cut flowers and herbs to work with. Two 45 minute tours of the farm will also be available on Sunday, the first at 10:00 and the second at 4:00. There will be a 10% discount on all body care products following both tours.

St. Brigid’s Farm

Established in 1996, St. Brigid’s Farm started with 69 registered Jersey heifers.  The herd has grown to 200 animals consisting of milking cows, replacement heifers, steers and veal calves.  The 62-acre farm is planted in permanent pasture, comprised predominantly of perennial rye grass and clover where the seasonally calved herd intensively grazes from April through November. On July 25 and 26 between 10:00 and 5:00, St. Brigid’s Farm will offer guided tours, wagon rides, grass fed beef for sale as well as a chance to view their restored antique tractors and the milking of the cows at 4:00.

Information for the farm and winery tour can be found on the RiverArts website at    Additional farms and wineries may still participate in this year’s tour by calling RiverArts at 410 778 6300.

Garfield Center Announces the Hedgelawn Summer Performance Series


Each year a portion of the Playmakers experience at the Garfield Center for the Arts at the Prince Theatre includes three interactive performances in addition to putting on their own production. These shows, sponsored by The Hedgelawn Foundation, feature multicultural artists who introduce Playmakers to a variety of theatrical arts. Past performers have included dancers, musicians, storytellers, and puppeteers.

This year the Playmakers are putting together “Peter Pan and Wendy”, and the Hedgelawn series ties directly into that theme. On Wednesday, July 8th at 2pm, the Garfield Center will be hosting a presentation by Heller Halliday, who spent her childhood on the stage with her mother, Mary Martin. The talk includes a guided tour through the Kohl Lobby photo and memorabilia display of Martin in her famous role as Peter Pan. Halliday has generously lent the Garfield Center part of her own personal collection for this occasion.

Wednesday, July 15th at 2pm, the Garfield is proud to present a performance by a Native American Pride Dancer, who will be performing music and movement passed down by his ancestors for centuries. The Playmakers will be studying the dance, in order to replicate it in their own interpretations of the Native characters in Peter Pan. They hope to show respect for Native Peoples and their heritage.

A Japanese Swordsmanship Workshop led by sword master Shizumi Mandale concludes the series on Wednesday, July 22nd at 2pm. Playmakers will use these skills to help them with their stage combat scenes between Captain Hook’s pirates and Peter Pan’s lost boys. This workshop has limited space; if a non-Playmaker would like to participate, please sign up soon by contacting the Garfield Center Box Office. Those not wishing to participate are invited to observe from the balcony free of charge.

These shows are family-friendly and open to everyone. Tickets are $5 and group rates are available (no charge to current Playmakers). Please call the Box Office at 410-810-2060 or email Tess Hogans ( for more information. In addition, don’t forget to mark your calendars for the “Peter Pan and Wendy” shows, scheduled for Friday, July 31, Saturday, August 1.and Sunday, August 2.

The Garfield Center for the Arts at the Prince Theatre is located at 210 High Street, Chestertown, MD, 21620. For more information please vist

Author Gilbert Byron Birthday Celebration Set for July 11


This year’s Gilbert Byron birthday celebration will be held on Saturday, July 11th from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. at Pickering Creek Audubon Center; 11450 Audubon Ln,; Easton, Md. 21601. Come for the free refreshments and stay for the updates on the Byron Society, progress on the restoration of his house, memorabilia and books! And also to have fun.

Tim Sparks, Free Outdoor Concert at The Mainstay, July 11


Tim Sparks, an extraordinary fingerstyle guitarist will headline a free outdoor concert of early traditional country blues, gospel music, Jazz, Be Bop, classical and world music on the back deck of the Mainstay in Rock Hall, MD on Saturday July 11 at 7:00 p.m. Banjo Man (Tom McHugh) and Tom Anthony open the show with a set of folk, blues and mischief. Bring a comfortable chair. The concert will move indoors to the Mainstay in case of rain or extreme heat. Information is available at the Mainstay’s website

This free outdoor concert is sponsored by the Kent County Arts Council, People’s Bank, the Greater Rock Hall Business Association and The Mainstay.

Tim Sparks

Tim Sparks

Guitar Player Magazine has called Tim Sparks’ music “Fresh, exotic, and totally cool.” Acoustic Guitar Magazine has called it “rich and sensuous”, and guitarist Leo Kottke simply says “He’s really one of the best musicians I know.”

Born in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Sparks started picking out tunes by ear on an old Stella flat top during a bout of encephalitis that kept him out of school for a year. He taught himself to play the music he heard around him: traditional country blues and the gospel his grandmother played on piano in a small church in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

At 14, Sparks was nominated by a musically astute uncle for a scholarship at the prestigious North Carolina School of the Arts. There he studied the classics with Segovia protégé Jesus Silva while continuing to play all kinds of music, increasingly turning to classic jazz for inspiration. He adapted compositions by Jelly Roll Morton, Scott Joplin, and Fats Waller to the guitar, frequently reducing piano arrangements to their essence.

While recording three albums with the seminal vocal jazz ensemble Rio Nido, Sparks also became proficient in jazz styles from Brazilian to Be Bop. During this time he arranged Carla Bley’s composition “Jesus Maria” for Leo Kottke.

Sparks’ interest in classical music led him to adapt Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite for guitar, a work that has been cited as a significant contribution to solo guitar literature. For Sparks, it was a labor of love that earned him the National Fingerstyle Guitar Championship in Winfield, Kansas in 1993.

A sojourn abroad inspired his interest in European and Mediterranean styles, particularly the music of the Balkans. Upon his return to Minnesota, Sparks immersed himself in the ethnic music scene, performing on Oud and Saz in Middle Eastern ensembles and playing guitar in Greek, Klezmer, and Sephardic groups.

His work came to the attention of John Zorn, the saxophonist, composer, and curator of Tzadik Records in New York which led to a new cycle of compositions inspired by traditional Jewish melodies: “Neshamah” (1999), a solo effort. “Tanz”, which garnered Downbeat Magazine’s highest praise, five stars, in 2000 and “At the Rebbe’s Table” (2002). All three releases have been acclaimed by a broad spectrum of critics and listeners alike. Spring of 2003 saw the release of “Masada Guitars,” featuring interpretations of John Zorn’s music by Tim, Bill Frisell, and Marc Ribot.

In recent years, Sparks’ musical focus has come full circle, returning to the country blues and classic jazz that served as a springboard for his worldwide guitar explorations. His most recent recording “Sidewalk Blues” is a mix of ragtime and Jazz from New Orleans to Harlem, country blues and gospel.

Sparks says, “In my show, I play roots-Americana fingerstyle guitar instrumentals of country blues and gospel and then I segue into 1920’s jazz and Klezmer and then I move into world music and then I play some of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite…[my goal] is to make this wonderful music enjoyable and accessible for an audience.”

The Mainstay (Home of Musical Magic) is the friendly informal storefront performing arts center on Rock Hall’s old time Main Street.

Pam Ortiz Band Tunes Up For Fourth in Fountain Park

The Pam Ortiz Band returns to Chestertown’s Music in the Park series Saturday from 7-8:30 p.m., July 4, with a program of original music by one of Kent County’s most respected songwriters.
Ortiz, playing guitar and singing lead vocals, will be joined by her regular group, with her husband Bob Ortiz on percussion, guitar and vocals; Ford Schumann on lead guitar; Nevin Dawson on viola and violin; and Phil Dutton on piano and keyboards.

Pam Ortiz has been active as a singer/songwriter since the 1990s, when she and Bob Ortiz were part of Terra Nova, which performed on the coffee house circuit in Baltimore and Washington and recorded three albums. Her best-known song from that era is probably “Angels Don’t Always Have Wings”,which is still a staple of the current group’s sets.

ortiz2She put her musical career into slower gear for several years after moving to Chestertown,concentrating on raising her two children and on work. But the songs kept coming, and her two most recent albums, “Rattle Them Chains” and “Red Devil Moon” contain some of her strongest music.

“Red Devil Moon,”a collaboration with poet/playwright Robert Earl Price and the vocal trio Sombarkin, is Ortiz’s most ambitious work to date. Inspired by Jean Toomer’s novel “Cane,” it chronicles the black experience in the United States just before the great migration out of the rural South. The band performed a concert version of the show at the Garfield Center for the Arts in November, 2014, and at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore in May. A video of the Garfield performance can be bought on the band’s website,
Bob Ortiz’s conga drums are the rhythmic foundation of the group, with a variety of other percussion instruments for expressive emphasis. He also picks up aguitar and sings a lead vocal as occasion demands. And his furniture shop off Cross Street has often served as a venue for musical events, featuring the Ortiz band and other groups.

Guitarist Schumann is familiar to local musicians as the host of the monthly open mic at Garfield Center for the Arts. He also performs with guitarist/ singer Ben Bennington and bassist Debbie Campbell as the trio BFD. In his da job, he is the founder and president of Infinity Recycling.

Dutton’s keyboard skills are regularly on display as the leader of the Alligators, inspired by the music of his native Louisiana. He also appears as one of the regular performers at J.R.’s piano bar.

Dawson recently performed his program “The Versatile Viola,” at the Mainstay in Rock Hall, using the instrument in a variety of contexts including folk,classical and world music. He is also a viola mentor for the National Music Festival.

The Ortiz band has been very active locally, performing at Chestertown Colonial Tea Party Festival, Downrigging weekend and the Juneteenth celebration at the Charles Sumner GAR post, among other appearances. Bob Ortiz said on Tuesday, June 30, that the bandis looking to take “Red Devil Moon” to the next step, including the possibility of creating a full score for a possible Broadway production.

The group will be appearing at Main Line Unitarian Church in Devon, Pa. Friday, Sept. 19. They are also scheduled for a show at the Mainstay, Friday, Sept. 25 and at the Avalon Theater in Easton, Bob Ortiz said..

Bring something to sit on.  Only limited seating is available. Free Admission.

Rain location:  Emmanuel Episcopal Church – 101 N. Cross St. across from the park

These free programs are sponsored by the Town of Chestertown with support from The Kent County Arts Council & Community Contributors. To help make these programs possible, please send donations payable to the Town of Chestertown and designated for “Music in the Park,” to 118 N. Cross Street, Chestertown, MD 21620.

Bill Peak’s Novel Wins More National Honors


Local author Bill Peak’s debut novel has just received two awards from the Catholic Press Association. In that organization’s annual book awards competition, “The Oblate’s Confession” took second place in the category “Catholic Novel” and third place in the category “First Time Author of a Book” (“The Oblate’s Confession” was the only work of fiction to win in this category).

These prizes mark the third and fourth national awards Peak’s novel has won since being released in December. Previously, “The Oblate’s Confession” took silver in the Independent Book Publishers Association’s Benjamin Franklin Awards™ for “Best New Voice: Fiction,” while winning outright the National Indie Excellence® Book Award in the “Religion: Fiction” category.

Thanks to his work at the Talbot County Free Library, Peak is known locally as “the library guy.” His library column can be read on the first Sunday of each month in The Star Democrat. You can learn more about the Catholic Press Association Book Awards at: