The Andovers Play “Half a Century of Hits” at Chestertown’s Music in the Park, Saturday, June 24

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The Andovers Trio – John Barrett, Aaron Maloney, & Ken Hudson

The “Music in the Park” concert series kicks off this coming Saturday evening in Fountain Park in downtown Chestertown when the Andovers will present “Half a Century of Hits”.  The concert begins at 7 p.m. and will last approximately an hour and a half.

The Andovers are a classic cover band, playing the hits from the 1950s to the 1990s, with occasional forays into other decades.  The trio consists of Aaron Maloney on vocals and keyboard,  Ken Hudson on drums and vocals, and John Barrett on guitar.  The band knows a wide variety of styles and can play the top hits from multiple genres, including classic rock and popular country songs.   Maloney said that the Andovers also play in several different configurations, sometimes adding a bass player or other instrument.  It depends on the occasion, he said.  They play weddings, parties, and festivals

A typical song list for the Andovers may include songs such as “American Girl,” “Brown Eyed Girl,” “Sweet Home Alabama,” “Billy Jean,” “500 Miles,” “Friends in Low Places,” “Sweet Caroline,” “Free Falling,” “Boot Scoot Boogie,” Frank Sinatra songs, and more.

Maloney grew up in Delaware but now lives in Galena where he runs Andover Recording Studio. Maloney and Hayden Chance co-founded Andover Media in Galena, a full-service recording studio, about four years ago. Maloney is now sole owner and operator.  Last year, the studio moved into a new building with expanded facilities. The studio also offers lessons in voice and several musical instruments taught by Maloney and other instructors.  They also offer songwriting and music theory classes.

Barrett has taught drums for over 15 years — in fact, he taught Maloney. Both Hudson and Barrett work for Music and Arts in Middletown, where Barrett was a manager for a while.

Their big teaching project is Camp Rock, which debuted last year. A five-day music workshop for teens ages 14 to 18, the camp brings in a variety of instructors in various instruments, singing, songwriting, sound reinforcement, and live performance. The instructors bring their own real-world musical experience to give the students a valuable overview of creating and performing music in a fun and creative environment. Campers write and record a song, then set up the stage and sound equipment for a final showcase performance.  For information, visit the Andover Media website.

All Music in the Park performances are free.  Bring lawn chairs or something to sit on.  There are a limited number of folding chairs and benches available provided by the town.  Rain location is Emmanuel Church at 101 N. Cross St., across from the park.

Butch Clark is the technical director of Music in the Park, with the assistance of Jack Brosious and Nehemiah Williams.  Jane Jewell is the program director. Music in the Park is sponsored by the town of Chestertown with support from the Kent County Arts Council and 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 Chestertown Town Hall, 118 N. Cross St., Chestertown, MD 21620.

All are invited to join us for Music in the Park this Saturday, June 24,  from 7:00 -8:30 pm in Fountain Park in downtown Chestertown, MD

Spy Profile: Telling the Story of Veterans with Word and Music

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The powerful synergy between the spoken word and music has been the source of some truly extraordinary moments in the history of storytelling. From symphony orchestras playing as the backdrop to poetry to prose interjected into rap songs, the human need to combine these powerful forms of communication into one is a time-honored tradition.

This form of fusion seems to have unlimited applications, but nowhere does it triumph more than when pairing the flexible range of jazz to a human being’s very special, and sometimes horrific journey after being at war.

A recent example of this merger can be found in Modern Warrior, a musical drama of a soldier’s journey towards post-traumatic growth. In this case, Dominick Farinacci, the gifted jazz trumpeter, composer and favorite performer at Chesapeake Music’s annual Monty Alexander Jazz Festival, connects through mutual friends with Jaymes Poling, a returning vet, to explore how Farinacci’s music may work collaboratively with the narrative of Poling’s moving war and postwar experience.

The early results of this teamwork appear to be a stunning success. Through the support of benefactors, many of whom make the Mid-Shore their home, Dominick and Jaymes have already created a “pilot” for the musical with a premier expected in New York City, and later Easton, at the end of the year.

The Spy caught up with the co-creators of Modern Warrior at Bullitt House last week to talk about the project.

This video is approximately five minutes in length. For more information about the Modern Warrior project please go here.

RiverFest – June 28 – A Celebration of Art & the River

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At 6:00 pm Wednesday, June 28,  RiverArts invites everyone to gather along the Chester River to celebrate the unveiling of new sculptures by three truly creative artists: Cindy Fulton, Rob Glebe, and Morgan Raimond. The unveiling will be followed by a party and dinner cruise aboard the Chester River Packet.  The artwork will be situated along the waterfront foot bridge between High Street and the marina and will remain up through Labor Day Weekend.

It will be visible in the evening as well, via solar lighting.

River Orrery by Patti & Dave Hegland & Breon Gilleran at the 2016 RiverFest

Cindy Fulton has created a 7 foot sculpture titled “Neptune’s Grasses” made of weathered copper. “My copper sculptures are reflective of things that I see in nature. We live in a forest next to a creek so I get my inspiration from grasses, trees, and bushes.” Cindy uses different types of copper and bends and pounds it into shapes that she sees around her. The colors of the copper vary depending on how oxidized it has become. The copper for “Neptune’s Grasses” has had many years of weathering helped by a bit of Cindy’s oxidation procedures.

Rob Glebe has created a 6 foot high bee hive, entitiled “Beekind.”  It is  made of Corten steel, which will develop a nice patina over time. “Last year I had a bee hive sighted on my property. And it has been a real learning experience. So I guess my thoughts are a continuing theme of how to bring attention to the world of bees. They play such an important role in our life cycle and people forget all they do for us. All they want is a little respect!”

Morgan Raimond’s sculpture, “Feeling the Pinch” is an  8 foot tall,  site specific copper sculpture of a Chesapeake Bay blue crab reaching out of the Chester River. The iconic blue crab claw represents aspects of the region presently. The dichotomy of the strong, menacing claw is juxtaposed with the fragile eco-system of its environment in its current threatened state.

Tickets are $75 and include a two-hour party and cruise on the Chester River Packet, a 1920 style, 65’ classic yacht completely restored by local craftsmen, as well as a champagne reception, appetizers, and dinner.

This is a celebration as well as a fundraiser for RiverArts. It helps keep the doors open at KIDspot, buy new equipment for the Clay Studio and supports our new ArtsAlive! Education Center. Half of the cost is tax deductible.

Tickets may be purchased online at www.chestertownriverarts.net  and click on Events. You may also call the RiverArts Gallery at 410-778-6300 or visit the gallery at 315 High Street (at the end of the breezeway). Gallery hours are Tuesday-Friday, 11-4, Saturday 10-4, and Sunday, 11-3

All are welcome! Come for a delightful evening on the water while supporting one of Chestertown’s great community assets.

RiverFest – June 28 – 6:00 pm  at the Chester River along the foot bridge between High Street and the marina for unveiling of new statuary .  The art will remain up through Labor Day Weekend.

An Enchanted Midsummer Evening with Shore Shakespeare

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With its production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” Shore Shakespeare brings one of the bard’s most fanciful comedies to the stage.

Nominally set in and around Athens during the golden age of Greek culture, the play quickly expands its classical setting to bring in a group of English tradespeople – and then shifts gears yet again to the magical world of elves and fairies. And just to make sure nobody leaves the theater without something to remember, the play includes a love story, a series of magical enchantments, songs, dances, and a play within the play. Shakespeare was clearly having fun when he concocted this one – and the Shore Shakespeare production makes sure that comes across to the audience.

This is Christian Rogers’ debut as a director, and he has done a fine job of bringing the play to life. One of the founders of Shore Shakespeare, Rogers has played major roles in a number of the company’s productions, including MacDuff in last year’s “MacBeth,” Rogers said after the Sunday performance at Adkins Arboretum that he wished he could be on stage instead of watching from the sound booth. But he shows real talent as a director, and while it would be a pity to lose him completely as an actor, the impact of this production makes one hope that he will take the opportunity to direct again not too far down the road.

There are essentially three plot lines in the play. The first involves a love story in the Athenian aristocracy. Lysander and Hermia love one another and wish to marry; but Demetrius also loves Hermia, and wishes to marry her – and her father favors Demetrius’ case. Meanwhile, Helena, who loves Demetrius, is out in the cold. And by Athenian law, Hermia must obey her father or forever renounce marriage – or be put to death. Lysander and Hermia take matters in their own hands and flee for a remote village, where they plan to marry – and hope the law will not reach them.

Meanwhile, in that same village, a group of tradesmen is planning to put on a play in hopes of winning a prize. The theme is the love story “Pyramus and Thisbe,” and the incongruity of the casting and the amateur actors’ attempts to adjust the plot so as not to frighten ladies in the audience make up much of the fun of this subplot.

The third plot brings in Oberon, king of the faeries, who is arguing with his queen Titania. To get his wishes, Oberon sends his servant Puck to find a magical flower that will make his queen fall in love with the first thing she sees upon awakening, hoping to use the spell to get her to accede to his wishes.

Of course all three groups end up in the same section of the forest, where the mingling of mortals with magic generates much confusion and many laughs. But we don’t need to summarize the whole plot – everybody read the play in high school, right?

Rogers has assembled his cast from among the regulars at Shore Shakespeare, and there’s not a weak performance among them. At the center of the play are the four lovers.

Lovers face off in the enchanted forest in Shore Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”

Troy Strootman plays Lysander, and Robbie Spray is Demetrius; Heather Oland takes the role of Helena and Christine Kinlock that of Hermia. All four have numerous credits in local theater, though Oland and Strootman are making their first appearances with Shore Shakespeare. All carry their parts well, running the gamut of emotions from besotted love to jealous fury. Bravo to each! The lovers’ fight scene near the end is especially well-played and well=choreographed, with Helena jumping on Lysander’s back and the two men circling each other angrily.

The Athenian nobles and the faery royalty are played by two actors: Brian McGonigle takes the roles of Oberon and of Theseus, Duke of Athens, while Colleen Minahan plays Titania and Hippolyta, Theseus’s bride. Since the characters are never onstage at the same time, this works – and it gives an interesting parallelism to the two courts. And, since Oberon and Titania have far more active parts in the play, it gives them something interesting to do while making sure there are good actors in the secondary roles. Greg Minahan also takes two parts, as Hermia’s father Egeus and as Peter Quince, leader of the troupe of  tradesmen/actors. He distinguishes the two characters nicely – in fact, he’s so good that some audience members might not realize the same actor is playing both.

One of the key roles in the play is Puck, the mischievous faery who does Oberon’s bidding. Avra Sullivan, one of the founders of Shore Shakespeare, is a delight in the role – darting around the stage, mugging, pantomiming magical spells, and on the whole giving a memorable performance. Hard to believe this is the same actor who played Lady MacBeth so effectively last summer! Sullivan trained as a Shakespearean actor, and it has shown clearly with every role she has played with the company.

Bottom (Patrick Fee) and Puck (Avra Sullivan)

The other prime comic role in the play is Bottom the weaver, played broadly by Patrick Fee, another fixture in the Shore theatrical community. Bottom is one of Shakespeare’s most iconic comic characters, the country bumpkin who finds himself in exalted company and proceeds to muddle through. Fee does the character proud – one of his best performances.

The other rustic characters are played equally broadly, with good comic effect. They include Sarah Gorman, Josh Hansen, and Jane and John Tereby. Hansen, a ninth-grader at Wye River Upper School, has already accumulated several theater credits, including two roles in last year’s Shore Shakespeare “MacBeth.” He is appropriately amusing as Flute the bellows-mender, cast as Thisbe, the female lead in the artisans’ play, reciting his lines in a high, squeaky “female” voice. John Tereby gets great fun out of being cast as a wall that separates the lovers; and Gorman, wearing an orange mop, does a nice comic turn as the roaring lion in the tradesmen’s play – a wonderful send-up of amateur theater that rings as true today as it must have in Shakespeare’s time.

The villagers rehearse their play , checking to see if the moon will be full on the night of the performance.  It will.  From left, Greg Minahan, Jane Tereby, Josh Hansen and John Tereby

Lindsey Hammer, making her Shore Shakespeare debut, plays a faery who assists Puck in some of his magical exploits. Her dancing and graceful leaps add greatly to the choreography.

With the performances all taking place outdoors, the sets are minimal. There is effective use of colorful movable trees in some of the forest scenes, especially when the lovers are running through the wood at night, unable to find one another because of Puck’s enchantments. A backdrop with columns gives the general impression of Athens, and a few strategically placed stumps give the actors a chance to rise above the scene for a moment. That’s about it – but it’s effective, and likely true to the way the play would have been staged in many productions in Shakespeare’s era.

The costumes are visually attractive and evoke both the era and the distinct groups of characters. It’s amusing to see the rustics dressed in what could be working-class uniforms – with items such as straw hats, suspenders, vests –  from almost any historical era from the 1600s to today.  It nicely distinguishes them from both the noble Athenians and the flamboyant Faery court, while making a sly nod to the fact that the characters might as well be English country folk of Shakespeare’s time. Kudos to Barbi Bedell and Marcia Gilliam for their costume work.

One of my few quibbles with the production was the decision to represent Puck’s transformation of Bottom’s head into that of a donkey by simply adding donkey’s ears to his straw hat. Granted, a more traditional papier-mache donkey’s head could cause problems for the actor in seeing and moving, as well as being uncomfortable if the temperature climbs too high – as it can in June. But with nothing more than the ears on his hat, the other actors’ horrified reaction to Bottom’s transformation seems less believable. Something along the lines of a “Groucho” nose or a donkey’s tail would add humor and help the audience see the magic come alive.

A nice touch is the background music, which mingles Felix Mendelssohn’s score for the play with more modern pieces, including selections by Gounod, Stravinsky, Ravel and Prokofiev – plus some original music by Greg Minahan. The music for the rustics’ final exuberant dance, choreographed by Minahan, is especially appropriate – it’s a nice bit of fun I won’t give away here.

For that matter, the whole production is fun. The actors are clearly enjoying themselves, and it’s contagious. Be sure to see it when it comes to your part of the Shore — and bring the whole family. You couldn’t ask for a better way to spend a summer evening.

Shore Shakespeare will be presenting “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” this coming Friday and Saturday, June 9 and 10, at Oxford Community Center, and Sunday, June 11 at Idlewild Park in Easton. The next weekend, the production moves to Long Wharf Park in Cambridge for one performance, Friday, June 16. Saturday and Sunday, June 17 and 18, Shore Shakespeare will be on Cray House Lawn in Stevensville. The summer run closes with two performances in Chestertown’s Wilmer Park, Friday and Sunday, June 23 and 25.
Admission to all performances is free; audience members should bring lawn chairs or blankets to sit on. Performances are at 6 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 3 p.m. Sundays. For more information, visit shoreshakespeare.com.

Photos by Jane Jewell

Music Festival Orchestra to Play World Premiere of Schoenberg Composition

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The National Music Festival concert Tuesday features the world premiere performance of a work by Arnold Schoenberg, one of the most important composers of the 20th century.

Composer Arnold Schoenberg (1874-1951)

While“Verklärte Nacht” (“Transfigured Night”), which Schoenberg wrote in 1899, has long been one of the composer’s most popular pieces, the versions performed had a number of deviations from the original manuscript — a fact unearthed by Richard Rosenberg, the NMF’s artistic director when he found the manuscript misfiled in the Library of Congress music collection.

“Verklärte Nacht” was originally written as a string sextet, which Schoenberg later arranged for string orchestra. It is an early work, written when the composer was still very much under the influence of the German Romantic composers such as Wagner and Brahms. “iI has had a tremendous life of its own,” Rosenberg said Monday night at a potluck dinner for the musicians and their hosts.

Rosenberg said he came across the work when he was a graduate student, researching another project at the Library of Congress. He came across a large bound red folio, which upon examination turned out to be Schoenberg’s manuscript for “Verklärte Nacht,” which he said had been lost for 45 years. And on closer examination, Rosenberg said, he realized that there were significant deviations from the published version — including five bars of music near the beginning that had somehow been left out.

The manuscript included the composer’s revisions to the score, with some sections hand-sewn into the copy, “And he was a terrible seamstress,” Rosenberg joked. He spoke to various people who had worked with Schoenberg, who came to the U.S. in the late 1930s to escape Nazi persecution, and determined that what he had was “the real McCoy.” He eventually published a corrected edition, and premiered it with members of the San Francisco Symphony in its string sextet version.

It took many years for Rosenberg to get around to transcribing the work for string orchestra, incorporating the revisions and corrections into Schoenberg’s own arrangement. In fact, it was only when he became fluent with modern computer software for composers and arrangers that he was able to complete the project to his satisfaction. Now it will receive its world premiere at the NMF concert tonight, at 7:30 in Washington College’s Decker Theater.

Schoenberg went on to become one of the most influential composers of the century, especially after his development of the 12-tone technique of composition in the 1920s. Almost every subsequent composer has had to come to terms with the technique, which rejects the concept of a piece being in a particular key. Even composers who were active before the development of 12-tone technique in many cases adopted it for their later work.

In addition to performing the Schoenberg at Tuesday’s concert, the NMF orchestra will be recording it for Naxos Records, one of the major classical recording labels. The recording sessions, which will not be open to the public, will take place over several days.

Also appearing on the program Tuesday will be J.S.Bach’s “Brandenburg Concerto #6,” Nielsen’s “Little Suite,” Reger’s “Lyric Andante” and Grieg’s “Suite: From Holberg’s Time.”

There will be a pre-concert talk by Rosenberg at 6:30 in Tawes Theater. Admission to the concert is $15, which includes the pre-concert talk.

Delmarva Review: The Bone Bag by Michael Keenan Gutierrez

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They don’t tell you there will be bone. That it will be white. That it will have texture. You thought it would just be ash, like that of fire pits, the dead ends of cigarettes.

Why did you think this? Films, perhaps? You don’t know, but as with so much of the territory you’ve traveled, you’ve brought the wrong map.

According to the website for the National Funeral Directors Association, cremation is a “two-step” process, where first the body is “heated” for two hours at between 1400-1800 degrees, and afterwards the remains are put through a “processor” and what’s left is supposed to come out uniform, industrial, a sort of pre-fab mourning.

That’s not what you see though.

You see your father’s bones. You see them in your hand. You see them slip through your fingers and drop into the water to be taken out by the breakers.

Even though he died four months earlier, you can’t get home right away because of work, because your adult life won’t let you, because you’ve already drained your savings on a last minute flight during the summer, just a few weeks before he died, when he’d been too high on morphine to remember you’d ever visited. He didn’t remember you dressing him, turning on his oxygen. He didn’t remember you pulling away his cigarettes when he was on that oxygen. You’re glad about this.

When you finally do come home for Christmas, your mother shows you the box she’s kept in a guest closet. You’d been expecting an urn—like the movies, again—but no, it’s just a simple brown box, a carton really, something for shoes. Inside his ash and bone are sealed in a plastic bag, the kind you’d get at a carnival, but instead of water and goldfish, there’s this sort of dust.

You think of Star Wars, when at the end of Return of the Jedi, Luke burns Darth Vader’s remains on a pyre. Some part of you wishes you’d done the same. That primal part of you wants that ritual, to have the rite of passage consecrated formally, but you know it takes you two hours to build a shitty campfire and then there’d be the stench and the sight of his body burning and you know you haven’t the stomach for it.

So you settle for a bag inside a box.

The day after Christmas, you and your family all put on something nice and you walk out to the nearby beach and look out at the dark Pacific. It’s a beautiful beach. It should be, for him. It should be because you got married here the previous Christmas. He was there, sallow and struggling to stay standing. But he’d endured, long enough to see you marry.

You don’t talk.

You lead your sister to the line where high tide meets dry sand and she is holding your arm as if you’re walking her down the aisle, except she can hardly stand. Your mother opens the box and pulls out the bag and your future brother-in-law slips you a pocketknife because you hadn’t thought of that.

Now you’ve also got your mother’s arm and while your wife and future brother-in-law and aunts and uncles hang back on dry land, you and your mother and sister make for the water. You shed your shoes and wade in. In December, the Pacific here averages 59 degrees and you feel the shock run over your feet and up your calves.

You go knee deep then think about the knife, but your mother has already dug her thumb into the bag and each of you takes a handful. That’s when you see the bone. It’s not uniform. It’s not pre-fab. It’s definitely a man. It was him.

You scatter him into the water, careful not to get him on your pants, but he does anyways. A small wave surprises you, and all three of you jump and you’re soaked but laughing. Why are you laughing? Because it is ridiculous to be out here? Because it is ridiculous that you all put on something nice to wade into cold water to dump him in here? Because what else are you going to do except return to dry land, him beneath your fingernails, and you return to the empty house where died….

The Spy is pleased to republish Mr. Gutierrez’s Pushcart Prize-nominated essay from The Delmarva Review. The ninth edition of the nonprofit literary journal was published by the Eastern Shore Writers Association with support from private contributions and a grant from the Talbot County Arts Council with funds from the Maryland State Arts Council. For more information, visit the website: www.delmarvareview.com.

Michael Keenan Gutierrez is the author of The Trench Angel (Leapfrog Press), a finalist for the James Jones First Novel prize. In addition to The Delmarva Review, his work has been published in The Collagist, Scarab, Public Books, We’re History, The Pisgah Review, Untoward, The Boiler, and Crossborder. He lives with his wife in Chapel Hill where he teaches writing at the University of North Carolina.

Roots Concert Series Brings The Steel Wheels to Chestertown

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The Roots at the Garfield concert series continues June 9 at 8 p.m. with a performance by The Steel Wheels.

Hailing from the Blue Ridge .Mountains of Virginia, The Steel Wheels are comprised of songwriter  Trent Wagler on guitar and banjo, Eric Brubaker on fiddle, Brian Dickel on upright bass, and Jay Lapp on mandolin.

Their latest album, Wild As We Came Here is a significant leap for the band, which started its journey in 2004. Wagler, Dickel, and Brubaker studied at Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, Virginia, about an hour from Charlottesville. (All four members of the band grew up in Mennonite families.) Wagler and Dickel were in a punk/alternative band until acoustic music lured them in.

Wagler soon started crafting songs and learned flat-picking. Dickel took classes on building guitars. They briefly played as a duo before Brubaker joined on fiddle. Lapp eventually came on board after getting to know the band from the local folk circuit. In 2010, following a variety of EPs and LPs, the ensemble officially branded itself as The Steel Wheels, a tip of the hat to steam-powered trains, industrial progress, and the buggies of their Mennonite lineage.

NPR’s Mountain Stage  says, “Few groups have come as far in such a short period of time as The Steel Wheels…”  Country Standard Time magazine adds, “What sets The Steel Wheels from the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia apart from many bands is the combination of their stellar instrumentals, accentuated by the one of a kind lead vocal of [Trent] Wagler, and keenly supported by strong harmonies. Eric Brubaker on fiddle, Jay Lapp on mandolin, and Brian Dickel on bass weave in and out intricately throughout this record, painting vivid imagery which flows effortlessly, just teasing the lyrics enough to allow them to resonate within you.”

Then as now, The Steel Wheels’ style weaves through Americana and bluegrass music, folk and old-time music, and the acoustic poetry of the finest singer-songwriters. By incorporating percussion and keyboards into the sessions for the first time, Wild As We Came Here adds new textures to their catalog, as themes of discovery and perseverance run throughout the collection.

This concert is the third in the five-part Roots at the Garfield series, generously sponsored by Andrew and Leslie Price, which brings early blues, bluegrass, folk, r&b and rock music to Chestertown. Remaining concerts include David Stone: The Johnny Cash Experience on July 22nd and Hannah Gill and the Hours on September.

Tickets are $30 general admission and $20 for students. Tickets are available by calling 410-810-2060, online here or at the box office. The Garfield Center for the Arts is located at 210 High Street in Chestertown.

 

Mid-Shore Arts: Don Buxton Reflects on the Chesapeake Music Festival

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For many newcomers to Talbot County it takes a certain adjustment before its flat landscapes and hidden coastlines starts to hint at the remarkable nature of the Eastern Shore life. And that was the case with Don Buxton, the co-founder and executive director of Chesapeake Music and its world class chamber music festival.

A then-recent graduate of Juilliard, who had just started to work with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Don found himself driving to Easton to teach music at the fledgling Academy Art Museum when he began to get the message that this region was not only stunning but could genuinely support a diverse music scene.

Add to that a chance encounter with classical music aficionados Eve and Ralph Bloom after a performance at a local church, both of whom had long advocated for a nationally recognized chamber music festival in Talbot County, it wasn’t too long before Don found himself moving to the area and working with the Blooms, their son Lawrie Bloom and Marcy Rosen to launch what would become the Chesapeake Music Festival.

As the festival begins its 33rd season, the Spy caught up with Don to ask about those early days and how pleased he is that the founder’s aspirations have become so much more than they ever dreamed of.

This video is approximately five minutes in length. For more information Chesapeake Music and its work please so here.

Viktorija Gečytė with Go Trio at The Mainstay June 9

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Lithuanian-born, Paris-based vocalist Viktorija Gečytė returns to The Mainstay in Rock Hall, with Go Trio and Ben Seacrist on trumpet on Friday, June 9 at 8 p.m.

Viktorija Gečytė

Though born in Lithuania and based in Paris, Viktorija Gečytė is, in many ways, an American Jazz vocalist. She first sang on stage at the age of five in her native Lithuania and was soon singing at festivals, touring Europe, recording, and making appearances on Lithuanian television. Influenced by the great American singers, she met Gene Perla and Sean Gough, who are two thirds of the US-based Go Trio while she and Sean were students at Lafayette College in Easton, Pa. Though based in Paris, she has returned to the US to tour every year in the last decade. This year, following the US tour she will take Go Trio to Europe.

The story of how a Lithuanian born singer based in Paris has come tour with an American Jazz trio goes back to those days at Lafayette College.

Gečytė, and pianist Sean Gough from New Jersey  were both students at Lafayette College and met in Lafayette’s jazz combo. Gough hosted the jazz jam at The Cosmic Cup in Easton and one day a tall, white-haired gentleman politely approached and whispered, “Can I play a tune?”

“Sure!” replied Gough, “Let’s play ‘Autumn Leaves,’ you know that song?”

The tall gentleman kindly smiled… “I think I do.”

Little did Gough know that he was talking to bassist Gene Perla, who had played with Elvin Jones, Sarah Vaughan, Nina Simone, Sonny Rollins, and Miles Davis, among other icons. It took Gough no more than two seconds to realize that Perla’s steady beat had travelled a long road.

Two weeks later, at Phenom, a Thai restaurant with a jazz scene, Perla heard Viktorija Gečytė sing for the first time and realized that this was an exceptionally sleek and mighty voice.

They started playing together regularly. And they kept on going, even when Gečytė moved to Paris to start a career in executive communications by day, singing in jazz clubs and jam sessions by night. Every year since 2008, they have toured as “Viktorija Gečytė with Go Trio,” and have performed in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Paris, Zurich, and Vilnius.

Viktorija Gečytė and Go Trio

They have performed for diverse audiences in run-down bars, posh music halls, classic jazz joints and music festivals. On these diverse stages the audience response is consistent, unequivocal enthusiasm. The deepest paradox is that their music has the instant taste of a classic; it’s familiar, universal, and yet their conversation is unique. It’s alive, drawing in listeners, engaging them in the dialogue.

Their sound is utterly refreshing, in a world where jazz struggles between inaccessibility and nostalgia. Viktorija Gečytė with Go Trio do not “sound like jazz,” they don’t “play jazz.” They play, offering the heart and soul of jazz: music that uplifts, invites the audience in and takes them along as it soars.

Pianist Sean Gough continually stretches boundaries and has appeared in concert from New York City to San Francisco. He teaches at Lafayette, is a founding member of several improvising bands and appears most often with Go Trio.

Gene Perla began classical piano at age five and switched to bass at age 24, upon hearing Charlie Haden. His first major gig was with the Willie Bobo Sextet. Later gigs included Nina Simone, Woody Herman, Sarah Vaughan, Elvin Jones, the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra, and Sonny Rollins. He has done studio work with Todd Rundgren, founded P.M. and Plug Records, and established recording facilities. He teaches at Lehigh University and The New School for Jazz & Contemporary Music.

Perla, Gough and Gečytė will be joined by drummer Nic Cacioppo and Ben Seacrist on Trumpet.

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 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.

Admission is $15 if purchased in advance and $18 at the door. Information and advance ticket sales are available at the Mainstay’s website. Reservations to pay at the door can be made by calling 410-639-9133.