Plein Air Easton: East Meets West with Master Jove Wang

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Given the abundance of local and regional participants in Plein Air Easton, it’s something hard to remember that the Plein Air movement is an international one. And someone who makes that undeniably clear is the presence of one of China’s most celebrated artists, master Jove Wang, on Goldsbrough Street the other day.

Professor, author, and award-winning Plein Air painter, Wang has devoted over thirty years to move his work beyond the technically proficient into a world more associated with the extension of his soul.

In fact, Jove feels that the best metaphor for his work is that of a symphony conductor that delicately alters the impressions of light and color on canvas similar to someone leading an orchestra to bring out the very best performance.

As the invitation of Betty Huang, artist and owner of Studio B in Easton, Jove Wang makes his first appearance at Plein Air Easton with a live demonstration at the Avalon Theater on Friday starting at 9 am followed by a reception at Studio B (where is work is exhibited) on Saturday.

The Spy talked to Jove with the help of Betty’s translation skills to understand his three decade approach to his art and life.

This video is approximately two minutes in length. For more information and events like this with Plein Art Easton 2019 please go here.

Spy 7 Files a Report: Knightly Provides Night to Remember for Plein Air Easton

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The 2019 Plein Air Easton Meet the Artists event over the weekend brought several hundred people to the historic Knightly estate on Leeds Creek off the Miles River. Alice Ryan received a warm standing ovation during dinner for hosting the event at her beautiful 81-acre farm and estate. 

Guests were invited to arrive a few hours early to wander around the estate and engage with the Plein Air artists who were pressed to complete their work by 7 PM. During the reception and dinner, guests were encouraged to purchase the just completed works and well before the evening concluded, the red “sold” tags were abundant.

This week-long annual event organized by the Avalon Foundation provides a remarkable opportunity to view artists at work and, of course, to enjoy art. But, remember, the message: The best way to ensure the future of Plein Air Easton and the Health of your Arts Community is to buy art!

For more information and a complete schedule for the week: www.pleinaireaston.com 

 

Four Poets and a Family Farm: Wendy Ingersoll Perry on “Walking the Sunken Boards”

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For ten years, four Delaware poets, who collectively have had seven books published, and received five Delaware for the Arts grants, five Pushcart nominations, two “Best of the Net” nominations, and one new best poet award, descend on one Wendy Ingersoll Perry’s family farm not to far from Quaker Neck Landing near Chestertown.

During the summer weeks, the poets spend most of their day writing by the Chester River and use their evenings to read some of their day’s labor. It is one of the highlights of the year for these four friends who have formed a unique bond through the power of words and And last year, the four came up with the idea that this decade of material would make a fine book to honor the sense of place they have received from the Ingersoll family farm.

And just recently that book, entitled Walking the Sunken Boards by Linda Blaskey, Gail Braune Comorat, Wendy Elizabeth Ingersoll, and Jane C. Miller, has been published with a book celebration set for the Bookplate in Chestertown on July 12 with an introduction from local writer Amanda Newell.

The Spy couldn’t resist finding out more about this unique project and sat down with Wendy before the kick-off event to get the lowdown and hear one of her poems.

This video is approximately three minutes in length. For more information and to purchase the book please go here

Delmarva Review: Bodrum Hamam By Katherine Gekker

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Author’s note: “During a recent trip to Turkey, I visited a traditional hamam. I wasn’t sure what to expect. The tenderness and intimacy of the visit surprised me and reminded me of having my face washed by my parents, something I had not thought of in decades. It also brought back memories of seeing their arms crossed after their deaths.”

Steam echoes off blue and yellow
tiles, rivulets stream down walls.
Roof’s oculus opens to Turkey’s hot sky.

We have this round room to ourselves.
We dip ladles into heated pools, then tepid,
like a Finnish sauna but inside, in summer.

My feet appear, disappear in clouds,
our red-checkered pestemals like
keffiyeh, like Arafat wore, wet as puddles.

A man enters. I lie down. He folds my hands
over my heart. He washes me with huge
towel-covered hands, suds fly everywhere,

like blowing bubbles. He and I laugh.
Then he washes my face – no one
has ever washed my face except my parents.

I remember crossing my mother’s hands
over her chest after the end, seeing my
father’s hands crossed by someone else.

My bones sharp against the tiles,
all liquids have escaped me. I’ve
never been so thirsty or so clean.

We dress to the muezzin’s afternoon call
to prayer. Outside, I hear seagulls,
smell the Aegean, then the Baltic.

You take photos of me at the hamam entrance.
Later I notice how sunken, how hollow-cheeked
I look, everything sucked out of me.

 

Poet Katherine Gekker is the author of “In Search of Warm Breathing Things” (Glass Lyre Press, 2019). In addition to “Delmarva Review,” her poems have been published in “Little Patuxent Review,” “Broadkill Review,” “Poetry South,” “Apple Valley Review,” and others. She has received nominations for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. Some of her poems have been set to music, including a collection “…To Cast a Shadow Again,” by composer Eric Ewazen, and a seasonal cycle of poems, “Chasing the Moon Down,” by composer Carson Cooman. She was born in Washington, D.C. When not writing, she practices piano.

“Delmarva Review” publishes the best of original new poetry, nonfiction, and fiction selected from thousands of submissions annually by authors within the region and beyond. The independent, nonprofit literary journal is supported by individual contributions and a grant from the Talbot County Arts Council with funds from the Maryland State Arts Council. The print edition is available at Mystery Loves Company, in Oxford, and Amazon.com. An electronic edition is also sold at Amazon.com. The website is DelmarvaReview.org.

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RiverArts Curator Cindy Stafford on “Patterns of Eastern Shore Life”

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Residents and visitors to the Eastern Shore love spending their time here because of the quality of life. Much of that joy comes from the patterns found in our natural surroundings.

Artists were challenged to interpret this theme broadly, capturing the beauties, and wonders of rural eastern shore life.  Some artists were inspired by the seasonal rhythms of planting, a bountiful harvest, an early frost, or how light and shadow play across a changing environment.  Some enjoyed capturing the bustle of parades, fairs, summer parties, farmers’ markets.  Others were taken by the wildlife and still others by the water.  Artists were asked to capture the patterns that can be seen all around us in the life on the Eastern Shore.

For more information, please go here.

Spy Review: The Rolling Stones “No Filter” Tour

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The Rolling Stones made it back to Maryland during the long Fourth of July holiday, following the postponement of their Memorial Day weekend concert due to Mick Jagger’s heart-valve surgery. Any doubt that the Stones can still play, that Jagger can still command the stage and prance about in full-throated theatrical vigor, was obliterated on a steamy night that would drain men half his age and that of his partners comprising—yes, indeed—the world’s greatest rock-and-roll band ever.

Take that, Beatles fans. More on that later.

A confession in AARP terms: Historical perspective informs my opinion that the Stones are now performing better than ever. Which is saying a ton. In my estimated 27 times of seeing and hearing them live, which may account for my partial hearing loss, I’ve never known the Stones to mail it in, to go through the motions, though at times in the ’70s, when Keith Richards chased his heroin hangover with Jack Daniels, the band occasionally lost focus. Even then, their ragged play reflected a spontaneous and one-of-a-kind genius.

But on this Fourth of July eve, the Stones were as deliberate in their seemingly raucous mayhem as I’ve ever experienced. From the “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” opener to the “Satisfaction” finale, the band—even with several new contributors to their supporting cast and sharply limited rehearsals constricted by Jagger’s recovery—never missed a beat. We can thank Charlie Watts for that. The band’s senior—an original Stone along with Jagger and Richards who turn 76 this year—has anchored their controlled chaos for 57 years, coming in at the last instant with the percussive heartbeat they all lean on, if only by vibration when they can’t hear it onstage.

I first heard the Stones in 1964, as I recall, on WCAO-AM, the top 40 station in Baltimore, when an overnight DJ wandered off the playlist to spin a 45 flipside that had Jagger moaning in bluesy-beggar mode “I need you, baby, Mona.” (“Without your love I’d surely die.”) Perhaps this captured the love-life anguish of a dateless 16-year-old. Whatever. The Stones’ Brit/blues fortified me against near-universal peer pressure to tilt my allegiance toward The Beatles. Six years later, when the Fab Four were no more, I taunted their fans by calling The Beatles “the world’s most overrated band.” It was tongue-in-cheek, sort of. They were undeniably great, but also hyped beyond measure. My measure was how well a band balanced studio albums and original songs with live performance. The Beatles never mastered the latter. They surrendered to screaming girls who drowned them out. The Stones, instead, virtually invented the modern rock concert by installing their own sound, and later video equipment plus beyond-Broadway stage sets. Meanwhile, The Beatles and other touring bands at the time relied on sound systems available to them at, for instance, Shea Stadium in New York, or the Civic Center in Baltimore.

The Stones’ mastery of this vital piece of their legacy is so evident as to be taken for granted. Most in attendance at FedEx Stadium, Hyattsville home of the Redskins, expect such aural and visual enhancement at any big-venue event. But geezers like me remember when bands sounded like what you might hear on a P.A. system at a bus or train terminal. Squawk! Squawk!

My first Stones concert was 1965 in Baltimore and the second that same night (or maybe it was vice versa) at the even-then decrepit Washington Coliseum. I discovered by way of Bill Wyman’s coffee-table scrapbook, which he autographed early this millennium, that I paid $7.50 for each concert. A few years ago, at what I expected would be my final Stones attendance, ticket prices moved two decimals to the right. That I could procure nosebleed tix for $99 this time around persuaded me to see them again, I presume, once more, for the last time. I’ve been fooled before, but given Jagger’s surgery and the Stones’ four-to-five-year gap between tours, that makes most of them 80-plus next time around. 

Wyman, now 83, may be responsible for the Stones’ astute attention to sound equipment. Senior to other band members, he was hired, in part, because he had his own speakers, better than any the others could afford. 

Back to “No Filter,” the Stones’ current tour: Every Stones epoch is represented on their playlist, including a brief instrumental interlude of “2120 Michigan Avenue” and a cover of “Mercy Mercy,” both preceding the 1965 blockbuster “Satisfaction,” ranked rock’s No. 2 all-time by Rolling Stone. The Stones played it like it was first time, virginal (or at least horny). Sometimes rock stars and others in stadium venues turn the microphone toward the audience to fill in the blanks, such as “I can’t get no” or “You can’t always get what you want,” and the gesture falls flat. Not here. The stadium reverberated with live feedback. The same on the disco-ish “Miss You”: “Too too too too, too-de doo. Too too-TOO too!” Even the apocalyptic “Gimme Shelter,” with now climate-change overtones, evoked a mournful wave of “ooooh ooooh woooh.”

On any and all of these numbers it’s impossible to miss the “rookie” among Stones regulars. In 1975, Ronnie Wood succeeded Mick Taylor, who replaced drug-addled Brian Jones before he was fired, then died face-up in a swimming pool in 1969. Wood is a “Picasso on guitar,” as Jagger described him. Next to the frontman, he’s the Stones live-concert centerpiece, displaying his electric and acoustic string athleticism, balanced by Richards’ inventive and high-caliber showmanship. Regrettably, Keith is a lesser figure in that the Stones are not producing new songs. It once bothered me that fans sat on their hands when the Stones played new material on their tours in the ‘90s and early ‘00s. It doesn’t matter anymore. There’s a treasure of songs left off the current 20-song setlist. I didn’t hear my personal favorite, “Dead Flowers,” or the one I personally identify with as a Dutchman’s Lane farmboy—I retired to Easton Club East, next door to the former dairy farm I grew up on—“Sweet Virginia” (“got to scrape the [excrement] right off your shoo-ooze”). But there were songs from every period, sung with no punches pulled, including “Start Me Up,” which was played at our first-dance wedding reception, best known for the lyric “you make a grown man cry,” ending with the woman in question’s desirability to a dead man. 

The Stones are profane and poetic. R-rated Bob Dylan, if you will. Who can argue with their philosophy: “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try some time you just might find you get what you need?”

If you’ve never seen the Stones, this could actually be your last chance. They’re playing July 23 in Philly, barely a two-hour drive from Easton (less from Chestertown) since the Middletown bypass opened. Failing that, there are two shows Aug. 1 and 5 up the Jersey turnpike at MetLife Stadium. If you care about rock ’n’ roll at all, you must see these masters of the art.

I have no regrets now, having seen them, I suspect for the last time. But what of my post-Stones life? These guys are not too old to play. But I may be too old to see them. Getting to FedEx was way more hassle than I’d bother for a Redskins game or anyone else besides the Stones. But if they never tour again, what am I left with in terms of guilty pleasures? I don’t smoke and gave up recreational drugs way back in the last millennium. I don’t drink to excess and have been faithful in decades of marriage. The Stones are my last surviving vice. Guess I’ll have to take up gambling.

Steve Parks, retired journalist and arts writer/editor, is a recovering Stones addict now living in Easton.

 

Spy Review – On Land and on Sea: A Century of Women at the CBMM

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“On Land and on Sea: A Century of Women” may seem an odd theme for a major photography exhibition at the regionally focused Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, especially considering that 71 of the 80 images—all black and white—were shot by Morris Rosenfeld and his son, Stanley, commercial photographers working mostly in and around New York City. 

Only one of the Rosenfeld photos, for a 1951 advertisement hawking Cruisalong pleasure boats, was shot along the Chesapeake—at Solomon’s Island. But the museum’s chief curator, Pete Lesher, supplemented the exhibit with nine photos—three each by Maryland contemporaries of the Rosenfelds. 

Included among the Aubrey Bodine prints by the late Baltimore Sun photographer is one of Eastern European immigrants working in an oyster-packing plant in 1957. Constance Stuart Larrabee, the only female photographer whose work hangs in the show, charms us with a candid 1951 portrait of Annie Daley, said to be the oldest woman on Tangier Island at the time. The island, just south of the imaginary line in the Chesapeake separating Maryland from Virginia, along with Smith Island just north of the line, were settled by European immigrants who first landed at Jamestown. Annie, in her traditional dress and bonnet, could pass for an early settler except that we suspect she did not live to 250 years of age.

The third Maryland photographer, Robert de Gast, captures shipwright June Wingo caulking the seams of a Maryland Dove reproduction in 1978. If you stroll across the museum campus from the Steamboat Building, where the photo show is mounted, to the shipyard overlooking the harbor, you’ll see a new reproduction of the Dove under construction. The original Dove, and Ark, its sister ship, brought the first European settlers to what became the British colony of Maryland in 1634 at what is now St. Mary’s City. “That photo was a no-brainer to select for this show,” says Lesher, who besides his full time job at the museum serves on Talbot County Council.

The other 71 photos, all by the Rosenfelds, are organized into seven chapters in the catalog by Margaret Andersen Rosenfeld, a University of Delaware anthropologist who married into the Rosenfeld family. “In the Yard” depicts women either observing boats passively on shore, as in the earliest photo from 1911, or working on them, hands on. “At the Wheel” finds women taking charge either rowing, steering or rigging the sails. Among the most dramatic is of Ruth Herring from 1933. She was the defending world record-holder among Class A Professional Hydroplaners. Her craft races along, all but airborne, with only the outboard propeller skimming the water’s surface. A series of wintry photos shows the grit of women boaters who competed in Frostbite Regattas at yacht clubs from Larchmont, N.Y., to Detroit. The races were conducted on waters that had not yet frozen over though air temperatures were far below 32 degrees. Though these are all stills, you can practically see competitors shivering.

America’s Cup races from the 1930s take over an entire wall in the second-story galleries of the exhibition. Phyllis Sopwith, wife of Sir Thomas Sopwith of Great Britain, is regally framed at the helm of their sailboat Endeavour, which challenged for the Cup—never lost by Americans until the 1980s—in 1934 and ’37. They were defeated by Gertrude Vanderbilt, also shown at the wheel of Ranger, and her husband Harold Vanderbilt, who designed the sailboat. It took a special ruling by the Cup committee for the women to be allowed onboard with their husbands for the races.

 

“Spirit, Sports & Spectators” ranges from an unidentified aviatress with her biplane in 1917 to three-time Ladies Tennis Champion of the U.S. Open, Mary Browne, in the same year. It’s hard to imagine her not tripping over her full-length tennis skirt—all white but still a stark contrast to women’s tennis wear at Wimbledon these days.

A century of women at the voting booth will be observed next year—the 19th Amendment granting women the vote was ratified Aug. 18, 1920—and is represented in this exhibition, drawn from one million images in the Mystic Seaport Museum’s Rosenfeld collection. In a 1912 photo, two women are attending a suffragette rally in New York, one standing and the other on horseback. They would not get to vote for another eight years.

Steve Parks is a retired journalist, arts writer and editor now living in Easton. 

“On Land and On Sea: A Century of Women in the Rosenfeld Collection” Through April 5, 2020 at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, Steamboat Building
213 N. Talbot St., St. Michaels
Hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily through October, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. November through April

 

 

Monty Alexander Jazz Festival Celebrates 10 Years

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Celebrating its 10th anniversary, the Monty Alexander Jazz Festival returns to Easton this Labor Day weekend bigger and better than ever!

Cyrus Chestnut

The energetic, ever-swingin’ festival features an exciting lineup, boasting some—if not the—best jazz musicians in the country, including guitarist/vocalist Allan Harris, pianist Matthew Whitaker, pianist Cyrus Chestnut, and the ever-phenomenal headliner, Monty Alexander.

The festival runs Friday, August 30th through Sunday, September 1st, with concerts at the Avalon Theatre in Easton, plus a Sunday morning brunch at Hunter’s Tavern, located at the Tidewater Inn.

Matthew Whitaker

Vocalist, guitarist, bandleader, and composer, Allan Harris kicks things off Friday at 8 p.m. with Nat King Cole at 100—a fitting tribute considering the Miami Herald referred to Harris as an artist blessed with “the warmth of Tony Bennett, the bite and rhythms sense of Sinatra, and the sly elegance of Nat ‘King’ Cole.”

“Jazz is a great expression of what we are,” Harris says, adding that he’s also a fan of the freedom within the genre. “Every night when we do a song, we do it differently. We keep the template of what it is, but try to stretch it a little bit.”

Saturday’s program begins with a free community concert, starring jazz guitarists Randy Napoleon and Dan Wilson.

Rooted in jazz tradition, Napoleon is widely-known as a forward-thinking musician and one of the most sought-after guitarists in New York. In addition to leading his own trios and other small combos, Napoleon tours with legendary singer/pianist Freddy Cole. Guitarist George Benson calls him “sensational.”

Dan Wilson

From a young age, Wilson knew he wanted to pursue a career in music. Though his style is jazz-focused, it certainly draws influence from a wide variety of genres. He’s been touring nationally and internationally with three-time Grammy nominated jazz organ legend, Joey DeFrancesco. He describes the human connection between the performer and audience that’s created during a live show as “second to none.”

The duo’s performance, titled Guitars, Without Compromise, begins at 11 a.m.

Matthew Whitaker, who made his debut on the Festival stage last year at the Young Artist Showcase, returns—this time around in the Saturday matinee spot!

Blind since birth, Whitaker began performing at the age of three, when his grandfather gave him a small Yamaha keyboard.

By 15, he was named a Yamaha Artist, becoming the youngest musician to join this group of notable musicians. Hastily making a name for himself in the jazz world, the now 18-year-old was recently named one of seven rising stars for 2018 by USA Today network’s 201 Magazine.

Catch Whitaker in An Exciting Debut, An Eagerly Awaited Return at 2 p.m.

The Festival’s eponymous headliner takes the Avalon stage at 8 p.m. for what will undoubtedly be a lively celebration of his 10 years at the helm of the Monty Alexander Jazz Festival.

Considered one of the top five jazz pianists ever, Alexander’s musical expression combines elements of the blues, gospel, calypso, and reggae. He’s renowned for his vibrant personality, magnetic charisma, and breathtaking talent.

Tickets for Monty Alexander Celebrates the 10th Anniversary will sell out—and fast!

Unlike previous Festivals, this year’s Jazz Brunch will be held on a Sunday, which is great news for jazz enthusiasts as that means they won’t have to wait as long between Saturday’s showstopper and Sunday’s matinee for live music.

Allan Harris

From 10 a.m. to noon, attendees can indulge in impeccably crafted brunch dishes while listening to the musical offerings of Wilson and Napoleon—the jazz guitarists featured at Saturday’s free community concert. Reservations via Hunter’s Tavern are required.

Closing out the weekend is pianist Cyrus Chestnut, performing Where Gospel Meets Jazz at 2 p.m. on Sunday, September 1st.

Born in Baltimore—his father the organist at his local church—the composer and producer says he’s always believed in the deep connection between jazz and God. His works unabashedly demonstrate this concept, seamlessly blending facets of jazz with elements of gospel, R&B, and classical genres.

Weekend passes for the Monty Alexander Jazz Festival, along with individual show tickets, are on sale now.

Over the last decade, the Festival has grown from a modest venture—comprising two performances by saxophonist Grace Kelly on its opening night and Alexander the following evening—to a three-day jazz extravaganza, featuring outstanding, first-class talent from across the nation.

“The response has been exceedingly enthusiastic,” says Festival Producer, Al Sikes.

Not only has the amount of shows presented increased, but the audience continues to expand rapidly, too. An unwavering optimist, Sikes admits with a hearty laugh, that he imagined bringing great jazz to the area would excite the community. Still, he’s been pleasantly surprised with the Festival’s ever-growing success.

“I’m just delighted at where we are,” he adds.

The Monty Alexander Jazz Festival is partially underwritten by the Maryland State Arts Council and the Talbot County Arts Council. Jazz on the Chesapeake is a program of Chesapeake Music. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit Jazzonthechesapeake.com or call 410-819-0380.

Chestertown “Music in the Park” Concert – Chesapeake Brass Band- Saturday, July 6

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Chesapeake Brass Band

Come on down to Fountain Park this Saturday, July 6, for the next in Chestertown’s Music in the Park summer concert series, featuring the Chesapeake Brass Band. The music will begin at 7:00 pm and lasts approximately 90 minutes, with one short intermission. Bring something to sit on as only limited seating is available. Admission is free. In case of weather problems (rain or extreme heat), the concert will move to nearby Jane’s UME Church where it is dry and there is air conditioning! Look for a sign on the stage or announcement here in the Spy on the day of the concert for any changes due to weather.

The 35-member band performs a varied repertoire of contemporary and traditional brass band music throughout the Mid-Atlantic region. The concert at Chestertown will feature popular marches such as “Moorside Suite” and “The Champions,” along with compositions by John Philip Sousa. There will be a trombone feature on “Stardust” featuring Dave Aument, as well as jazz tunes such as “Caravan” and “Miller Magic”.  Other tunes include “Fantasy on British Sea Songs” and Broadway tunes from My Fair Lady.

Formed in 1996, the Chesapeake Brass Band is made up of amateur and professional musicians from New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Delaware. Following the brass banding tradition, it is an all-volunteer organization.

The band has won numerous awards over the years, including placing first in their division at the North American Brass Band Association Competition in 2013. In 2018, the band was Runner Up in their division at the Dublin Festival of Brass in Dublin, Ohio.

Dr. Russell Murray, Musical Director of the Chesapeake Brass Band

The band’s musical director is Russell Murray. Dr. Murray earned his Ph.D. in Musicology from the University of North Texas. He has taught music history and directed early music ensembles at the University of North Texas, Texas Wesleyan University, and Rice University. He is currently Professor and Chair of the Music Department at the University of Delaware, where he is the director of the Collegium Musicum and is also on the Core Faculty of the Women’s Studies program. He has been at the University of Delaware since 1991.

For more information, see their website at http://www.chesapeakebrassband.org

If you yourself are, or you know, an accomplished brass player or percussionist looking for a new challenge, the Chesapeake Brass Band has openings. Contact the band at chesapeakebrass@aol.com or call 302-530-2915.

In case of rain or high temperatures, the concert will be moved a block away to Janes Church at the corner of Cross and Cannon streets. Information will be sent to the email list and listed on a sign on the stage in the park on the day of the concert.

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 to Music in the Park, Chestertown Town Hall, 118 N. Cross Street, Chestertown, MD 21620.

Chesapeake Brass Band

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