Tuesday, June 22, 2010

C.V. Starr Center Announces Summer Series of Free Riverfront Concerts

CHESTERTOWN, MD— The C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience is launching a new series of free outdoor concerts to be held weekday evenings on the riverfront lawn of the Custom House. The Washington College Riverfront Concert Series will kick off Tuesday, July 27 with singer-songwriter Bob Zentz and continue August 17 with the guitar duo of Mac Walter and John Cronin.
Both events will begin at 6:30 p.m. behind the Custom House, corner of High and Water streets in downtown Chestertown. Drinks and light refreshments will be provided; attendees are encouraged to bring their own blankets or lawn chairs. In case of inclement weather, the concerts will take place in The Egg, a performance space in Hodson Hall Commons on the main Washington College campus.
Adam Goodheart, Hodson Trust-Griswold Director of the Starr Center, hopes to expand the series in future summers. “We see this as a way to bring together two things we love to do,” he says. “First, celebrate the rich heritage of this region, and second, create a program that the entire community can learn from and enjoy. Plus, when you combine great music, a beautiful waterfront, and a warm summer night, it's pretty hard to go wrong.”
The series builds on the Starr Center’s longstanding interest in the musical traditions of the Chesapeake Bay and its rich heritage of storytelling. Hosting the concerts will be the Center’s program manager Michael Buckley, whose weekly radio program on Annapolis based WRNR, 103.1 FM (Sundays, 7 to 10 a.m.) includes the widely acclaimed interview series "Voices of the Chesapeake Bay."
The performer opening the Riverfront Concert Series on July 27, Bob Zentz, is a veteran musician and storyteller whose Chesapeake Bay songs have become classics in the region. He has been a featured artist at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, the Scottish National Folk Festival, and the Australian National Folk Festival, and a guest on the popular public-radio program “A Prairie Home Companion.” He also has been a crew member and performer aboard Pete Seeger’s Hudson River sloop Clearwater.
Zentz’s concerts are a showcase for a wide range of traditional (and seldom-heard) instruments, such as the concertina, the hurdy gurdy, and the autoharp. With a strong sense of history, humanity and humor, his repertoire ranges from traditional Celtic tunes and ballads to sea chanteys, from tales of old timers to poetry set to music. He has recorded seven albums, including Horizons, released earlier this year. For more, visit http://www.bobzentz.com.
When the series continues on Tuesday, August 17, guitarists Mac Walter and John Cronin will bring their impressive fingerwork and gorgeous harmonies to Chestertown. The two musicians, who are cousins, started making music together as teenagers, playing at family gatherings and developing a mutual interest in folk music. Each later established an impressive career on his own.
A three-time winner of the Washington Area Music Awards, Mac Walter developed his unique fingerstyle approach to folk, rock, blues, jazz, and country at the Charlie Byrd Studio in Bethesda, MD. Heavily influenced by folk luminaries such as Doc Watson, Mississippi John Hurt, Dave Van Ronk, Dick Rosmini, and his own guitar mentor, Raun MacKinnon Burnham, he recorded three CDs with Deanna Bogart and also played with Danny Gatton and Roy Buchanon.
John Cronin settled in British Columbia and was drawn to the Western cowboy flavor of the local music. This led to a seven-year stint with Canadian musical icon Ian Tyson, playing to sold out concerts all over Canada and the US. He also toured with renowned fiddle player Vassar Clements.
Together, Walter and Cronin provided back-up guitar and vocals on Chesapeake Bay folk icon Tom Wisner’s last album, Follow on the Water. They have created two albums together: Cousins, released in 2003, and Second Cousins, released in 2006. For more on the duo, visit http://www.macwalter.com.
Washington College’s C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience explores our nation’s history—and particularly the legacy of its Founding era—in innovative ways. Through educational programs, scholarship and public outreach, and especially by supporting and fostering the art of written history, the Starr Center seeks to bridge the divide between past and present, and between the academic world and the public at large. It also serves as a portal onto a world of opportunities for Washington College students. Its guiding principle is that now more than ever, a wider understanding of our shared past is fundamental to the continuing success of America’s democratic experiment. For more information on the Center, visit http://starrcenter.washcoll.edu.

Photo: Musician and storyteller Bob Zentz

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