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Norwood Village Green Concert Series celebrating 40 years


NORWOOD — The band shell in this village, the bedrock of the Village Green Concert Series, is noticeably refreshed and stands ready to welcome the series’ 40th season.

The creator of the series doesn’t feel too shabby either.

“I’d like to get to the 50th anniversary,” said Joseph M. Liotta, 73, president and founding program director. “It’s year by year, but my new goal is 50 years and out.”

The 16-concert 40th edition of the series begins May 30 with the annual St. Lawrence County Music Educators Association choral/stage band festival and ends Aug. 4 with local musicians John Kribs and Barb Heller.

“The 2013 season will be a blockbuster,” Mr. Liotta said.

Acts include two jazz headliners, two diverse dance groups, a Grammy-winning country and Americana singer, a master storyteller, a gospel group and a legendary Irish ensemble, along with many local performers.

But such a season comes with a price, Mr. Liotta said.

“Since it was the 40th anniversary, I wanted to do a little more,” Mr. Liotta said. “We had some money built up for the series.”

Mr. Liotta said the overall fee for performers for the 2013 season is up about $12,000 from last year.

“I expect to end the season with maybe $6,000 less than we had at the end of last year, but still be in the black,” he said.

Mr. Liotta can feel more confident about plotting finances for the next couple of years because of a grant awarded by the state Council on the Arts. The three-year package gives the series $7,500 each year, including this year. Besides grants, the series is funded by pass-the-hat donations at concerts.

Mr. Liotta said the series, for the first time, is taking part in the New York State Presenters Network, whose Presenter/Artist Partnership Project provides funding for a touring roster of artists. The Campbell Brothers, who will perform June 13, are part of the network, made possible through a regrant from the Council on the Arts.

“They pay up to 50 percent of the performers’ fees,” Mr. Liotta said. “In our case, it’s 25 percent.”

He hopes to expand the program next year by hosting three artists in the network.

The performers have an improved band shell to perform in.

The structure was dedicated in September 1976, three years after the series began, in commemoration of the nation’s bicentennial.

Mr. Liotta organized fund drives last year for renovations. Improvements completed late last summer include a new roof, acoustic panels, fresh paint, a security gate and security cameras. Funds were also raised to upgrade bathrooms in the park.

Mr. Liotta said performers should appreciate the stage’s acoustic panels.

“It was always loud up there with the cement block walls,” he said. “It was hard for the performers to hear themselves, and the monitor mix is very hard to get up there.”

A custom-built gate was installed to prevent the panels from being vandalized. The gate offers another security-related benefit: “We don’t have to take everything down between concerts,” Mr. Liotta said. “We’re going to be able to leave up some risers, banners, tables and other items. We’ll have less of a problem with setups and take-downs.”

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All concerts for the 40th annual Norwood Village Green Concert Series are at 7 p.m. unless otherwise noted. The lineup:

May 30

St. Lawrence County Music Educators Association Pop Choral/Stage Band Festival: Performances by St. Lawrence County school music ensembles, from 4 to 9 p.m.

June 10

Soul Street: This dance company from Houston pushes the artistic boundaries of street dance. They use music ranging from hip-hop to classical.

There will be a 1 p.m. performance for students in grades five through eight at Norwood-Norfolk Central School before the 7 p.m. public performance.

June 13

The Campbell Brothers: This trio of brothers, with guest accompanists, performs African-American gospel music from the Africa-American Pentecostal Church with electric steel guitar and vocals.

June 20

Kellylee Evans: Ms. Evans, a Canadian jazz and soul vocalist, in won a 2011 Juno Award (Canada’s equivalent of a Grammy) for her album “Nina,” which was named the best vocal jazz album of the year. Her fourth album, “Remember When,” was released April 16.

June 23

Lou Coppola with Liz Queler and Seth Farber: Mr. Coppola, of Long Island, will perform music from his album “Story 7.” He will be accompanied by the husband and wife duo of Liz Queler and Seth Farber, who will also perform music from their album “Edna’s Project.” The project sets the poetry of the late American writer Edna St. Vincent Mallay to music.

Mr. Farber was musical director to Odetta (Holmes), a folk singer who died in 2008. He produced three CDs for her, two of which were nominated for Grammy awards.

June 27

The Northern Symphonic Winds: Northern New York’s only professional wind ensemble.

June 30

Pierre Chartrand and Danse Cadence: Mr. Chartrand, Montreal, began his company, Danse Cadence, in 2000. He also produces his own shows based on the music and dance of Quebec.

July 7

The All Star Big Band: This group, under the direction of north country resident Wally Siebel, will feature Denis DiBlasio on baritone saxophone and flute. Mr. DiBlasio directs the jazz program at Rowan University in New Jersey.

July 10

David Gonzalez with Daniel Kelly: Mr. Gonzalez, a master storyteller and poet, is the recipient of the 2011 International Performing Arts for Youth’s Lifetime Achievement Award for Sustained Excellence. He will perform with composer and pianist David Kelly.

July 14

Mary Ann Casale and Andy Van Duyne: A resident of Northern New York, Ms. Casale sings a mix of folk, country and blues. She was the opening act for the late Harry Chapin twice and toured the college coffeehouse circuit in the late 1970s and early ’80s. She performs locally and out of state.

Mr. Van Duyne has been performing music professionally for more than 45 years in rock bands, folk groups and other ensembles and as a soloist. He settled in the north country after graduating from SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music and for 32 years was a music educator at Norwood-Norfolk Central School.

July 18

Frankie Gavin and DeDannan: Mr. Gavin, known as “the prince of Irish fiddlers,” has six solo albums and has contributed to albums of artists ranging from Earl Scruggs to the Rolling Stones. His band, DeDannan, consists of Damien Mullane on accordion, Eric Cunningham on percussion, flutes and whistles, Mike Galvin on bouzouki and guitars and Michelle Lally on vocals.

July 21

The Canal Street String Band: New York state residents Phil Banaszak, Dave Ruch and Jim Whitford perform traditional American music.

July 25

The Brass Firemen: This Norwood Fire Department band is a north country institution. It has performed at two presidential inaugurals, the opening ceremony of the 1984 Winter Olympics in Sarajevo, the Indianapolis 500 and other events.

July 28

Suzy Bogguss: The Grammy-award-winning country and Americana singer will perform music from her “American Folk Songbook” album. Ms. Bogguss, an Illinois native, is a frequent guest on American Public Media’s “A Prairie Home Companion.” She won her Grammy in the “best traditional folk album” category for the 2004 compilation album “Beautiful Dreamer: The Songs of Stephen Foster.” Ms. Bogguss has recorded 10 albums for Capitol Records, one of which has been certified platinum and three others, gold. Eight of her singles have cracked country music’s top five list on Billboard.

Aug. 1

The Atkinson Family Bluegrass Band: From Harrisville, this band performs original and traditional bluegrass music across the state and Northeast. The band’s latest album is “Twilight of the Day.”

Aug. 4

John Kribs and Barb Heller: Mr. Kribs is a guitarist, singer and songwriter with more than 40 years of experience. Bands he has been involved in include the Raquette River Rounders, which he created in 1979. He has performed in Denmark and Norway as well as throughout the U.S. and Canada. He has opened for Arlo Guthrie, the J. Geils Band and James Cotton.

Ms. Heller is the host of the North Country Public Radio program “String Fever,” heard at 3 p.m. Thursdays. She plays guitar and has released four albums, including a seasonal album with Mr. Kribs last December.

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