Our Inaugural Season, March 25- July 15, 2023
Welcome to the Muusic 4UU Blogsite! You got here because you found the QR code on one of our posters or postcards and scanned it.
Lucky you! Because here you will find all the information you need to know (or ever hope to!) about all our performances that we present throughout a season. We will add all the program and performer information for each concert as it comes up, so you may have to scroll down a bit to find the one you are currently attending. But just think, almost no paper waste, low printing costs, and information that can be archived and still available for all time … we’re green, baby!
WHO ARE WE?
We are all members of the group of musicians who attend the Peterborough Unitarian Universalist Church, provide the music, and now we’re starting a series of concerts to help bring more music and joy into the world. Our performers are professionals — local and regional and our groove is uh, shall we say diverse? From folk and jazz, to blues and country, to classical and opera — our plan is to keep it interesting and representative of who we are in our musical souls up here in Peterborough, New Hampshire.
SCHEDULE, Spring and Summer 2023
Saturday, March 25, Grove Street
Saturday, April 22, Folk Soul Band
Sunday, May 21, Mill City Rags
Saturday, June 17, Wendy Keith and her Alleged Band
Saturday, July 15, Aquilonian Winds
All concerts are held in the beautiful, historic sanctuary of the Peterborough Unitarian Universalist Church, 25 Main St., Peterborough, NH
Concert times are 3:00 pm.
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SUNDAY, MAY 21
MILL CITY RAGS
If you’re looking for the origins of American music, you couldn’t do much better than Ragtime and Traditional Jazz. And Jimmy Otis, the leader of Mill City Rags, reports this understanding when he says
My piano teacher introduced me to Scott Joplin’s The Entertainer and I loved it. Ragtime was this strange wonderful music-a fusion of European and African American elements.
Jimmy is a musician who came to his art somewhat later than the so-called “norm” of starting young and playing through early school years. He started playing drums in his late teens and discovered the piano at age 20. It probably had been there in the parlor all along, but Jimmy was into wrestling at the time so he might not have noticed it. Either way, once he got going there was no turning back. In college he studied theory and kept taking lessons and despite being momentarily sidelined by the accordion, he stayed the course.
And it’s obvious from his skillfully accurate technique and authentic interpretation of the music, as well as his ability to tackle a variety of styles in the genre of early jazz. I’ve heard some darned good Duke Ellington along with Scott Joplin and Louis Armstrong coming from this band with Jimmy backing it all up on the keyboard.
I personally was involved with early jazz in the Boston area since the mid-80’s, and Mill City Rags is a relative newcomer to the genre — a big relief to aficionados who have been seening the graying of audiences for a couple decades. I asked him how he pulled this group together. His answer was plainspoken:
Mill City Rags began with me saying I was going to start a Ragtime band and that was it! I had played in rock bands, but wanted to swing and play this music so I just did it.
Well, that’s making a decision.
From there it was a matter of assembling the players. An important thing to know about any jazz ensemble is that this style of music, perhaps more than any other ensemble of any genre, uses printed music as a starting point and develops a sound based on improvisation. This is above and beyond the synthesis of individual instruments and personalities — that sometimes uncanny telepathy that exists among musicians. Improv requires lightning fast decisions that comes from knowing the tune, the style and cues from other musicians. Plus the secret sauce: having good musical ideas.
The players in Mill City have those elements at play: piano by Jimmy and his bassist Rick Posch with JoAnn Gerde on drums hold the whole thing together. What is called the front line with Nicole Edgecomb on trumpet and Dan Walker on trombone provide the magic, setting the mood to bring the audience directly into a roaring 20’s speakeasy for some good times.
Hearing the origins of American popular music is a balm to the ears, heart and soul. I’m so glad that it’s still going, still playing, still making some heat in a chilly world.
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SATURDAY, APRIL 22
“Laissez les bon temps rouler!”
This is a band that will have you dancing in the aisles. You might think that’s a bit sketchy for a church, but hey — this is a UU Church. “Sanctuary” means all kinds of things, and dance is one of the best ways to get in the spirit.
Folksoul Band is something of an institution around these parts. The sounds of New Orleans — Cajun, Soul, R&B — may not seem to be a great fit for chilly New Hampshire, but their sizeable following says otherwise. Don’t we all need a little heat (warmth) and heat (rhythm) now and then?
We took the initiative to ask leader Fred Simmons a few questions about his motives and wherewithal concerning Folksoul, and here’s what he said:
Folksoul is such an interesting name for a band. Can you tell us something about the music and your approach?
[Folksoul is] dance music, with a natural and organic acoustic balance that does not rely on volume to reach people’s hearts and souls. No other band sounds quite like this one, or makes music exactly like it. It is high-spirited music generated by the musicians and the instruments themselves, and it’s an interesting assortment on both counts!
So, Folk and Soul. I get it. Tell me about yourself. What is your background in music?
I have been playing music ever since college, and have played for people all over the country, from Alaska to Maine, and have learned a lot about music and people and myself in the process.
Nothing like being in front of an audience to learn to read people, right? What got you started in this style of music?
When Leslie and I first arrived in San Francisco from New York in 1976 we began playing on Fisherman’s Wharf and began a style of playing American roots music. In 2007 we began to focus especially on New Orleans musical culture, and called our new band the Folksoul Band.
What is it about this style of music that moves you? Can you put that drive into words?
My experiences have taught me that New Orleans culture, via artists like Louis Armstrong and Fats Domino, funneled through artists like Hank Williams and Elvis Presley, is the seed for a unifying American culture. We are an exponent of that unifying American culture, that expresses the marriage of African American and European American cultures.
Tell me just a little bit about your bandmates. How did you meet them and how do you interact as members of the ensemble.
Leslie Vogel and I have been married and also musical partners for all these many years since college. We have learned to play together in various forms, and we do many things with our music.
Tara Greenblatt is an extraordinarily creative musician with an expressive voice and also a great percussionist, who also has her own band as a vehicle for her great songwriting. We are happy that we can share in this mission of bringing this music into the world.
We are glad to have Ramsay Thomas joining us on stand-up bass for the last 5 years, providing us with the steady solid bass rhythm that our music requires.
What brought you to New Hampshire, and is there anything else interesting you want to say about your lives here?
We moved to NH in 1986. By then we had two children and our original band finally gave up the ghost in Anchorage AK, so we moved back east, to be closer to our children’s grandparents. We bought land in greenfield NH, cleared it and built a log house, where we still live today.
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GROVE STREET TRIO
MARCH 25, 2023
Grove Street is a trio of local Monadnock area musicians, Chaz Bealieu (flute), Eric Blackmer (guitar) and David Duhon (cello). They have just released their first CD album called THE TUNES, The Whole Tunes and nothing but the tunes- The Tunes for short. Grove Street is an unlikely group of individuals to be making such beautiful music together. Chaz was an English teacher, now a cook, Eric was a pro audio sales and studio builder (retired), and David was professional bridge player and now is an organic farmer. These disparate individuals brought together by a shared love of music have forged a strong musical bond. Chaz and Eric have been playing together locally for over 20 years in groups with various other musicians. David joined up more recently…
THE TUNES is an eclectic collection of instrumental music drawn from over 4 centuries, focusing heavily on the works of four composers, Turlough O’Carolan (1670 – 1738), a blind itinerant Irish harpist who wrote hundreds of songs mostly named for patrons, Bob McQuillen (1923- 2014), a legendary local piano player and beloved shop teacher who wrote hundreds of songs, mostly named for people he knew. Then there is Tom Febonio, a living composer who happens to be an old college mate of our flutist, Chaz. Tom has a remarkable body of compositions that range from whistle tunes to full blown classical music. The fourth composer featured on the CD and in today’s concert is Jessica Walsh who compiled 2 books of Celtic Music for Flute which we have been playing from for years. Many of the songs in her books include variations which we use and they are brilliant. When we got to making the Tunes we found that we included two of her songs.
The music that Grove Street performs is a unique blend that doesn’t fit into any one genre. You might call it Celtic music, or folk but that would not tell the whole story. Grove Street likes to describe what they do as chamber music. One thing we can be sure of is that it is beautiful music.
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