Monday, June 25, 2012

Washington College Riverfront Concert Series Features the Pam Ortiz Band and Sombarkin' July 5

Singer and songwriter Pam Ortiz and her band perform July 5.
CHESTERTOWN, MD – The Pam Ortiz Band and the à cappella vocal trio Sombarkin' will present a powerful evening of folk, gospel and other quintessentially American music on the Chester River waterfront July 5, the second performance in this summer’s popular Washington College Riverfront Concert Series.

Each of this year's events will include a special birthday tribute to American folk icon Woody Guthrie, who was born 100 years ago, on July 14, 1912.

A singer-songwriter who performed for a decade in packed Baltimore and Washington coffeehouses and recorded three albums with the group Terra Nova, Pam Cardullo Ortiz has most recently joined forces with her husband, Bob Ortiz (musician, actor and Chestertown furniture maker par excellence) on percussion, Ford Schumann on guitar and Nevin Dawson on fiddle. With an album of all-new songs in the works, Ortiz describes her compositions as "songs that speak of who we are, what we’ve won and lost, how we love and live."

Based in Worton, Md., Sombarkin' is known for its vocal instrumentation and beautiful harmonies. Together, Karen Somerville, Lester Barrett, Jr., and Jerome McKinney deliver an explosive performance of black spirituals, folk, gospel, jazz and contemporary selections, whose uplifting and haunting melodies tell powerful stories of sorrow, hope, freedom and joy.

Hosted by the C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience, the free concerts all begin at 6:30 p.m. on the lawn of the Custom House at High and Water streets. Attendees are encouraged to bring their own blankets, lawn chairs and picnic dinners. Lemonade and cookies will be provided free of charge. 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.

Sombarkin’s trio: Lester Barrett, Jr., Karen Somerville, Jerome McKinney. 
The series will end July 19 with a performance by the internationally acclaimed Footworks Percussive Dance Ensemble, which has its roots in traditional American dance and music (from Southern Appalachian clogging to the African-American body percussion art of hamboning).

Launched by the Starr Center in 2010, the Riverfront Concert Series builds on the Center's longstanding interest in the musical traditions of the Chesapeake Bay and its rich heritage of storytelling. The series host is the Starr 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 acclaimed interview series "Voices of the Chesapeake Bay." Special assistance for the Concert Series is provided by Yerkes Construction and Washington College’s Dance Program and Student Events Board (SEB), with additional support from the Maryland State Arts Council.

For more information about the Pam Ortiz Band, visit her web site at  For information about the concert series and other Starr Center programs, visit or call 410-810-7161.