CONWAY — Arts Jubilee, the non-profit that presents a summer concert series at Cranmore Mountain Resort each year, has an additional mission to bring live music performers to area schools.
According to Arts Jubilee founder Cindy Russell, “We believe that the students are our future audience, and it is our goal to show that live music performances are very exciting and even better in person than on a screen or in an ear bud.
“Don’t be surprised,” she continued, “if your student comes home from school this week and starts talking about penny whistles, bagpipes and music synthesizers and two cool guys who played music for them.”
That would be musical duo Dennis & Davey (Dennis O’Neil and Davey Armstrong), who are known throughout the region as one of the finest contemporary Celtic-folk acts around, have performed for Arts Jubilee for decades.
The musicians began their week on Monday at Freedom Elementary School and Pine Tree School in Center Conway. Over the rest of the week they were scheduled to perform at Jackson Grammar School, Madison Elementary School, Kennett Middle School, Conway Elementary, and in Maine, New Suncook School in Lovell, Molly Ockett School in Fryeburg and Brownfield-Denmark Elementary School in Brownfield.
Russell noted, “Students are sure to be intrigued by Armstrong’s foot pedals, penny whistles of all sizes and unbounded enthusiasm about Celtic music. Not to be outdone, O’Neil has a guitar that can sound like a piano, organ and many other cool instruments, as well as a microphone that can change a person’s voice from baritone to soprano.
Partnering with Arts Jubilee to assist in covering expenses are MWV Kiwanis, Memorial Hospital, Fryeburg Rotary and the individual schools’ PTOs.
To experience a Dennis & Davey performance yourself, check out the Arts Jubilee five-part concert series at Cranmore this summer. Kids age 12 and under are free. Dennis & Davey will be opening for “The Piano Men” (featuring the music of Billy Joel and Elton John) on Aug. 1.
Reached Wednesday after playing Kennett Middle, O’Neil said the experience has been challenging but wonderful.
“You get a little jaded, and it made us think like kids again,” he said. “What blew me away was how willing and eager to be interactive” the kids were. He also commented on how enthusiastic and well-behaved they were.
“They were unbelievable.”
To learn more about Arts Jubilee’s summer concerts, go to artsjubilee.org.