OLD FRIENDS AND NEW ONES

This is the time of year that I begin planning St. Clair Productions’ next season (yes, there will be a 19th season).  I try to bring a mix of old favorites and new acts, plus a mix of styles, every season.  If there is a musician or group you would love to see, please e-mail me their names and, if possible, a link to their websites.  My e-mail is astclair@mind.net.

Our fall shows are great examples of how we bring back old favorites and book others we haven’t produced before.  Paddy Keenan and Samite, had never performed in this area and they represent some of the world music we produce.  Hot Buttered Rum had appeared in Ashland before but not produced by St. Clair Productions.  Christine Lavin, Kelly Joe Phelps and Tony Furtado are all musicians we have produced and enjoyed before.

Jennifer Berezan, who performed in January, was here many years ago but produced by another organization.  When I asked her to perform here, I had no idea if anyone knew her.  Turns out her local fans love her so much that they passed the word to all their friends and we had a packed house.  She is definitely someone I will bring back again.

Our February shows also feature old friends and new acts.  Patrick Ball has performed here many times, bringing his one-man shows or an evening of storytelling and Celtic harp.  This time he is returning for a second performance of “Legends of the Celtic Harp,” his collaboration with harpists Lisa Lynne and Aryeh Frankfurter. Ball is the orator telling stories of the harp and the three perform the music.  The show will feature pieces they performed two years ago as well as some new ones.  “Legends of the Celtic Harp” takes place on Saturday, February 1st.

Our show with Bill Evans on Friday, February 7 is his first.  I am really looking forward to learning new information about the banjo.  Evans is presenting “The Banjo in America.” Tracing the banjo from its West African roots to the New World, Evans performs musical examples from the 1700’s to the present day on a variety of vintage instruments, explaining how the banjo has been at the intersection of African- and Anglo-American musical and cultural exchange for over 250 years. His repertory includes18th century African dance tunes to the music of the Civil War, and from early 20th century ragtime to folk and bluegrass banjo styles.   Evans is the author of Banjo For Dummies, the most popular banjo book in the world.

Saturday, February 15, one of our favorite musicians, who we’ve had many times, returns.  Holly Near performs with John Buchino on piano and emma’s revolution (the duo of Pat Humphries and Sandy O, who we also have produced on their own) on back-up vocals, guitar, banjo, and ukulele. Performing material from her recent recording, Peace Becomes You, old favorites from her earlier repertoire and a few standards from the American Songbook, Near presents a thoughtful, uplifting evening of music.

All shows are at the Unitarian Fellowship, 87 4th St., Ashland, 8 p.m.  Tickets are available at www.stclairevents.com, 541-535-3562 or the Music Coop.