MUSIC LOVERS IN THE VALLEY are always getting treated to special shows.
A case in point was this past Sunday at the North Conway Village’s new HMD Gallery, which is part of the Hurricane Mountain Design Group, comprised of Steve and Gloria Burdett, Andy Narducci and Luigi Bartolomeo (hurricanemountaindesign.com).
The gallery hosted a private concert with legendary blues singer and guitarist Geoff Muldaur, accompanied by Scottish and folk cellist Abby Newton.
The setting was intimate, with the audience limited to about 45.
Muldaur, part of the legendary folk scene of the 1960s, is a longtime friend of Steve Burdett, renowned locally as a designer and master woodworker.
Steve had seen Geoff perform at a house concert last year that was a benefit for a non-profit group, FOLK New England, dedicated to preserving the music and history of the New England folk scene of the early 1960s, and he asked him to come north and do a similar fundraising concert for valley music buffs.
On hand to introduce Muldaur at Sunday’s private show was Tom Curran, executive director of FOLK New England (twitter.com/folknewengland).
Curran explained that the organization recently collaborated with the University of Massachusetts in Northampton to preserve archives.
He said such icons as Joan Baez and Tom Rush have helped the museum, which was conceived by Baez’s Boston University college roommate Betsy Siggins, who ran the folk haven Club 47, later renamed Club Passim, in Harvard Square.
“Betsy and Joan enrolled at Boston University together, and two months later they quit, and Joan began her music career, and Betsy went on to run the club,” said Curran. While she was there, from 1959-68, “Betsy started collecting reel-to-reel tapes of music from people who played there. She collected photos of all the people who played there, too,” he said.
Sometime in the 1980s or ’90s, Siggins decided to form a non-profit evoted to saving that music and items from that creative era, and Curran soon became involved through his wife, who knew Siggins.
“What you’re helping us to do is to digitize all these tapes and photos, and these negatives that people are pulling out of their closets,” he told the guests.
“It’s been wonderful work, and that’s what you folks are supporting here today,” said Curran, who described himself as being “an old folkie.”
“The big change over the past year is we’ve been accepted into the archive division of the University of Massachusetts library, so all of this material will go online once we get it cleaned up, and you’ll be able to look at it,” he said.
He described the music as “transformative.”
“It changed our lives, and I think when young people, or any people, hear this music today, it has the power to bring us to where we need to be.”
In an interview prior to the show, the Emmy-winning Muldaur, who has nine solo albums to his credit and has performed with everyone from Jerry Garcia and Eric Von Schmidt to Bonnie Raitt and John Cale, praised the group’s mission.
“Maybe you think there was only a little something going on (back in the Sixties), and then you start finding out it was deep, man, really deep — and it had an influence on the whole country,” Muldaur said.
He said his own love for the blues started as a 6-year-old, when he immersed himself in his older brother’s record collection. “It started really early for me, when I heard Bessie Smith. For some reason, certain people are wired to accept it, and, I am,” he stated.
For the show, a few walls of the gallery were adorned with classic black-and-white photos showing artists like Bob Dylan and Baez, and one showing Muldaur playing with Jim Kweskin, leader of the pioneering Jug Band, of which Muldaur was a founding member.
For those not familiar with that legendary group, they played everything from classic blues to hillbilly country, ragtime, jazz and rock ’n’ roll.
The Jug Band influenced musicians like the Byrds, John Lennon and a certain San Francisco jug band that evolved into something called the Grateful Dead.
Muldaur, now 75, also was a member of Paul Butterfield’s Better Days and at one time was married to singer Maria Muldaur.
For his captivating 2 1/2-hour performance, the fit and handsome Muldaur (who looks a bit like state Sen. Jeb Bradley of Wolfeboro, with his silvery-white hair parted to the side) drew on his folk blues roots, wowing the audience with his acoustic skills, inimitable voice and command of classic blues and American roots music.
He performed the first set solo but after intermission was accompanied by Newton, who played poignant Celtic airs on the cello, as well as some uplifting Scottish and Irish reels.
A personal favorite of this listener was his performance of “Small Town Talk,” a song by Bobby Charles and the Band’s Rick Danko, that is sometimes played on WMWV 93.5-FM, and which was very appropriate for this close-knit valley.
Geoff also regaled the audience with stories from the road, taking the lucky listeners on a haunting and soulful trip back to Memphis’ Beale Street.
Among those in the audience was music aficionado Skip Sherman, former co-owner with wife Joan of WBNC-WMWV. Others included former residents Sui Witherall and Arthur Roberts of Bittersweet Greenhouse fame, and now of Maine; as well as other local artists and musicians.
It was one of those nights that makes you proud to call this valley home. The gallery at 112 Mechanic St. is open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturdays or by appointment. It is hosting the FOLK New England archival photographic exhibit today and next Saturday and during the week by appointment. For more information, call (877) 866-5960.
IN OTHER LOCAL MUSIC, we’ve got Acoustic Nuisance’s Mini Cold River Radio Show performance tonight at the Wildcat Tavern; and Chef Vito Marcello’s Food and Wine Event at Cranmore, also today, with music by the American Vinyl All Star Band featuring Barry Goudreau formerly of the band Boston, Tim Archibald of RTZ/Peter Wolf Band and Danny Beissel of Foster Child.
On Sunday, the Barn Series at the Farmstand will feature Harvey Reid and Joyce Anderson, while the Red Parka will host its last Blues Sunday Show of the season, featuring “the Ladies of Blues and Soul” from 5:30-9 p.m., with Diane Blue, Lisa Mann and soul sisters belting out the blues as only they can.
We’re told that former valley radio personality Danny “DD” Del Rossi just might make an appearance at the Barn show. Welcome home from Texas, DD!
IN HAPPY BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK, we salute one and all, including: Rachel Damon Andrews and Steve Miller (6-24); Sara Holtby, Lisa Rinebold, Janice Brotherton and the Snowvillage’s Jen Kovach (6-25); 27 North chef Doug Gibson (6-26); Boulder-based Realtor sister Susie Eastman and photographer Dennis Coughlin, (6-27); and Sun sports and education editor Lloyd Jones, Gene Chandler, Hannah (Sullivan) Schneider and Tuckerman Brewing Co.’s Victoria Noel (6-28).
ANTHONY BOURDAIN DAY: For her birthday on the 25th, Jen Kovach and co-innkeeper/owner Kevin Flynn and staff of Eaton's Snowvillage Inn are celebrating Anthony Bourdain Day with a special Locals' Night at Max's Restaurant on what would have been Bourdain's birthday, which is also the first anniversary of the late traveling chef's untimely death. Call the inn at (603) 447-2818 for the scoop.
HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND, buggy or otherwise! And, happy summer at long last!