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from THE Deerfield Valley News, June 3, 2016
Lovingly-restored curtain will be backdrop for Wardsboro concert series
by Rolf Parker
WARDSBORO- Wards¬boro Curtain Call is bringing music and other entertaining and educational acts to the town hall stage this summer. The MILES Band will be performing at the kickoff concert and picnic supper on Saturday, June 4.
Wardsboro Curtain Call is Karen Davis, Carol Fay, Lise Fortin, Cherie Moran, Russ Pacino, and Darlene Rutnik. According to Davis, the group came together early in 2014 with the goal of improving the town hall’s stage area. A major part of that improvement was the restoration and installation of a set of antique backdrop curtains. The group was awarded a Vermont Arts Council cultural facilities grant to help with the restoration. The mission to restore the stage’s curtain gave the group its name.
“Many community halls in the late 1800s and early 1900s had these hand-painted, scenic backdrops,” said Fortin, “and Wardsboro’s stage had one of these curtains at one point, but it was lost somewhere over the years.”
Fortin said important allies made the restoration possible. “We learned about this group of people, a handful of artists from upstate Vermont (Curtains Without Borders), dedicated to restoring and preserving these kinds of curtains. They located a stage curtain that had been stored under a stage in Maine that we could have. We had to use little brushes and a special vacuum cleaner with very gentle suction to clean off the dirt and cobwebs.”
Fortin said she was glad to do the work. “One of the things on my bucket list is to restore art.”
According to Davis, other important improvements to the stage took place after 2014 including some changes to the stage lighting. In January 2016, pleased with the group’s progress, the Wardsboro Selectboard acquired new chairs for the hall and had the floor sanded and refinished.
While the group was gaining a sense of completion with the physical restoration of the stage, they turned their sights to bringing the stage to life with music and other entertainment.
“During this whole improvement process, WCC had talked about- once our improvements were completed - bringing cultural events to the hall, beyond the existing annual variety show, tap dance recital, Gilfeather Turnip Festival, and holiday concert,” said Davis. “It’s so beautiful now, and we’ve been told the acoustics are really good, how could we not use it?” asked Fortin.
“The real programming process got started after two requests were actually made by musicians to us to host their respective concerts. The West Townshend-based husband and wife group Hungrytown played a ‘concert for curtains’ fundraiser in 2014. Then they contacted us in the spring of 2015, asking if we would host their CD release concert in August, which we did. Late in December 2015, upon Hungrytown’s recommendation, singer-songwriter Sarah McQuaid approached us about hosting a concert while she’d be touring in New England. It was Sarah’s concert request that acted as the catalyst for WCC phase II - the programming phase - to officially kick into gear.”
Fortin said that the group had conducted surveys of what townspeople would like to see. “At first the response was ‘Anything!’ People were enthusiastic just to have anything at the town hall.” The group learned that, besides music, people were interested in other entertainment, such as puppet shows or magic acts. “We want to be open to a wide diversity of music and other forms of entertainment. Folk, rock, jazz. But besides CD release parties, which we are open to, we are only aiming for three or four concerts a year. We all have jobs.”
The first show is set for Saturday, June 4, when the The MILES Band will play their concert dance party.
“Since this is our kickoff event, the $10 admission includes a picnic supper before the show and desserts during intermission,” said Davis.
The WCC is seeking other performers to perform at the town hall, as well as local musicians who can have their CD release parties interspersed between those shows. One band that will have a CD release party at the town hall is Luminous Crush, which describes its music as “dream pop.”
“We are just beginning to line up a fall 2016 CD release show by Luminous Crush (a second project for Laura Molinelli and Ben Campbell of The Bondville Boys). We hope to have a date for that set in a couple of weeks,” said Davis.
Sarah McQuaid, who is also scheduled for the fall, is a singer-songwriter with dual Irish and American citizenship, residing in England. According to McQuaid, her music doesn’t fit into any one genre, ranging from a 1930s Cuban jazz number to a 16th-century lute piece or an unexpected contemporary cover. She is scheduled to play at the town hall on October 20.
The group has enough confidence in what they are doing that they have booked a show with blues musician and historian Scott Ainslie for October 13, 2017.
“We hope to have a successful first concert and a successful series,” said Fay. Fay said Ainslie’s concerts are the type of event that combines education with entertainment which the group hopes to include in their diverse programming. “And Scott is amazing,” said Fay. “We have scheduled a two-part program, one for kids with more of an educational component where they will learn about the blues and making music and how it is written, and then an evening concert as well.”
The June 4 dinner is at 6 pm and the MILES Band concert is at 7 pm. People seeking more information about upcoming shows or how they can assist WCC can contact Davis at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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