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Black River Valley Concert series kicks off Jan. 12


LOWVILLE — The ninth annual Black River Valley Concert Series includes a Grammy-award winner but it begins with a celebration of local talent.

“As we say, it’s a ‘Celebration of Lewis County,’” concert chairwoman Marian M. Opela said of the series’ opening performance on Jan. 12 at Lowville Academy and Central School. “We have a lot more talent here than people realize.”

The Jan. 12 concert will feature a wide variety of talent from Lewis County school students and recent graduates. Among the acts: The Lowville Jazz Ensemble will present seven selections; the Copenhagen Jazz Combo and Beaver River Central Brass ensemble both will perform two songs; and the South Lewis Select Chorus will perform four songs.

Beaver River Central students Andrea Peters on violin and Lillia Woolschlager on oboe will perform the duet “Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus.” Miss Woolschlager will also perform the piano solo “An American in Paris” by George Gershwin.

The series is sponsored by and supports the Lewis County Historical Society.

“Attendance was good last year,” said Mrs. Opela. “For the past two years, we’ve done reasonably well.”

Volunteers saved the series in 2010 after its paid administrator was let go because of budget cutbacks. Mrs. Opela said dedicated patrons, sponsors and funds from the St. Lawrence County Arts Council and the New York State Council on the Arts have helped to make the series a success.

The 2013 eight-concert series includes rock, funk, bluegrass and Latin dance. It concludes in April with two concerts by acclaimed soprano and Adams native Lisa Vroman. One of those concerts will feature the winner of a student talent competition who will sing with Ms. Vroman.

All concerts, except the Jan. 12 event at Lowville Academy and the April 6 performance of the Crane Latin Dance Troupe at Beaver River Central School, are held at the Lewis County Historical Society’s “Blue Room” at its headquarters, 7552 S. State St.

The lineup:

Jan. 26: Joanne Shenandoah is a singer, composer and guitarist from the Oneida Nation. In 2006, she won a Grammy award for her work on the compilation album “A Tribute to Mother Earth.” It received the Grammy for best Native American Record Album. Ms. Shenandoah also has received more than 40 other music awards.

In October, she performed in Rome, Italy, at the celebration for the canonization of Kateri Tekakwitha, the first Native American saint. She has also performed at the White House, Carnegie Hall, three presidential inaugurations and Madison Square Garden.

Ms. Shenandoah has been able to channel her love of pop, folk and classical into her ancestrally inspired music, which also has been used in many film soundtracks. She has collaborated and or performed with Neil Young, Willie Nelson, Rita Coolidge and Bruce Cockburn.

Feb. 2: Bernie Clarke and the Rhythm Sharks is a rhythm and blues group from the Syracuse area The band performs original material and eclectic blues, soul and roots selections.

The Rhythm Sharks was one of 24 local and regional bands selected to play at Woodstock ‘99 in Rome. In 2000, the band released an album, “Love Recession.”

Feb. 16: Sean Harkness is a first-call guitarist who lives in New York City. He composes music for solo guitar and for small ensembles, and he supports many singers, musicians, and theatrical productions. Last year, he received the outstanding instrumentalist award from the Manhattan Association of Clubs and Cabarets for his New York City solo shows.

In addition to featuring Mr. Harkness on the cover of its 2011 product catalog, Walden Guitars released a Sean Harkness signature 12-string guitar in Europe, Asia, and North America.

Along with numerous compilations, TV, and film soundtracks, Mr. Harkness has released six albums.

March 2: My Sweet Patootie. An article in Driftwood Magazine described this act as “two parts exemplary musicianship and one part vaudeville comedy.” The acoustic roots trio, based in Ontario, Canada, consists of Terry Young, Sandra Swannell and Bradford Nowak.

The band’s folk roots, country blues and vintage jazz sound is heavily influenced by the record collections that were owned by their fathers. The band’s name is a term of endearment popular in the 1920s and 1930s meaning a “hot dame” or a “sassy sweetheart.” Several of its ragtime titles from the jazz age reference the expression.

My Sweet Patootie performed at this summer’s Norwood Village Green Concert Series.

March 16: John Cadley and the Lost Boys. This bluegrass group from the Syracuse area was created in 1999 by Mr. Cadley, who remains the only original member. He’s joined by Henry Jankiewicz on fiddle; Mark Allnatt on banjo and guitar; Ted Williams on mandolin and John Dancks on bass. Their style is a blend of traditional bluegrass songs like “Uncle Pen,” “Are You Missing Me?,” and “Long Black Veil,” to original compositions, mostly written by Mr. Cadley, who also plays guitar and mandolin.

April 6: The Crane Latin Dance Troupe. Dance students from SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music will perform at Beaver River Central School auditorium in Beaver Falls.

April 20-21: Lisa Vroman, performing two concerts. This soprano, a 1975 graduate of South Jefferson Central School, Adams, and a 1979 graduate of Crane, is a frequent guest soloist with theaters, opera companies and orchestras all around the U.S. and the world.

She also is an advocate of the arts — which is partially why this summer she received an honorary doctorate degree from SUNY Potsdam. On April 19, Ms. Vroman will present a workshop for local voice students. That evening, there will be an “Broadway Idol” competition for 20 selected students from the workshop, Mrs. Opela said. The winner will sing with Ms. Vroman at her concerts at 7:30 p.m. on April 20 and 1t 2 p.m. on 21.

In December 2011 and January of this year, Ms. Vroman played the role of Anna in “The King and I” for Lyric Opera Virginia. She was in Paris in the spring performing a Cole Porter review written by her husband, Patrick O’Neil.

the details
WHAT: Ninth annual Black River Valley Concert Series sponsored by and supporting the Lewis County Historical Society.
WHEN: The series begins Jan. 12 in the auditorium of Lowville Academy and Central School, 7668 N. State St., with “A Celebration of Lewis County.” The eight-concert series concludes April 20-21 with soprano and Adams native Lisa Vroman performing two concerts.
All concerts, except for the opening celebration and an April 6 concert by the Crane Latin Dance Troupe at Beaver River Central School in Beaver Falls, are held at the society’s Blue Room, 7552 S. State Street. All concerts begin at 7:30 p.m.
COST: Season tickets are available at $115. Concert tickets are $18 in advance and $20 at the door. Advance tickets can be purchased at Cafe Z, 7594 S. State St., or at Dr. Guitar, 154 Court St., Watertown.
MORE INFO: Call the society at 376-8957 or visit its website at
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