I had the opportunity to talk with the good folks at PocoNotes, who were instrumental in getting me involved in this blues framily. I attended one of their musical showcases and was floored by the care and love that they put into it. Always thinking outside the box, always seeking the pathless traveled, they have been consistently putting on affordable, entertaining and intimate artist showcases.
Their next one is June 8, 9, 10 2012 and promises to be another in a fine collection of events.
B411: So how did this combination of the two event spring up?
PN: Where to begin? Okay! From the top, we guess!
Well, it all started with a(nother) bout of insomnia when the “designated worrier” in this partnership just. couldn’t. sleep! So, instead of counting sheep, started counting memories created in this journey we call “PocoNotes.”
Without getting into the particulars, we’ll let it suffice to say that an idea came to mind…some telephone calls were made…pieces fell into place…and we are now honored to say that on June 8, 9 and 10, 2012, we are hosting our first three-day event entitled “The Faces and Voices of The Blues.” The “faces” will be a photo exhibit by Luzerne County resident and acclaimed documentary photographer, Jim Gavenus, and the “voices” will be a Blues workshop for aspiring guitarists of all levels (or folks who just want to sit and listen to some good stories), a live musical performance and some “artful music” by internationally-touring Blues musician and historian, Toby Walker.
B411: Toby is exceptionally talented, but I don’t know a lot about Jim’s work, tell me more.
PN: Jim’s photography is exhibited in galleries and museums worldwide, and his intimate images and poignant storytelling have earned him the Gordon Park Documentary Photographer of the Year Award, as well as an esteemed place in the North Carolina Bluegrass Hall of Fame. He has already worked with more than 30 Hall of Fame musicians, and his images appear regularly for Sony Music, Columbia Records, Lost Highway Records, Merlefest and FarmAid. When he isn’t traveling, lecturing,
expanding his portfolio or honoring us by joining the PocoNotes “elite,” Jim is busy passing his knowledge of – and passion for - photography to his students at Luzerne County Community College.Toby is a ”Long Gislander” now living in “Noo Joisey” who also happens to be an exceptionally gifted fingerstyle guitarist, singer, songwriter and storyteller who has dedicated his life to capturing The Blues where – and from whom – they were created. His storytelling entertains audiences with tales of his travels to meet and learn from these masters. In collaboration with Carnegie Hall, Toby brought ‘American Roots’, an educational and musical program about The Blues, into the New York City school system. His tenth CD, “Shake Shake Mama,” has just been released to great reviews and follows his “Speechless…for once” CD, which was honored with the 2010 New York Music Award for Best Instrumental Album of the Year. (Many of you will remember that Toby is a “repeat offender” himself…and played for us in 2008 on a night in June when the only thing hotter than the un-air conditioned venue was his guitar playing. Regardless, he played until 11:15 that night…and not one audience member left. In fact, they moved closer to the stage – and to each other – in all that heat. A-mazing!)
B411: So together again for the first time sort of, give us some details on the whole shebang.
PN: Yes…separately and together, Jim and Toby are the “faces” and “voices” of The Blues. More importantly, they are our friends – and personal heroes, so it’s an honor to create an event that will showcase their combined years of dedication to bringing the music directly to future generations. It hasn’t escaped our attention that The Blues made a giant leap in their journey from its humble origin as slaves’ “field hollers” to its most recent exposure at The White House with the Obama family…and now The Blues will be playing for the PocoNotes family at A white house in Scranton! A pretty cool one, too…built in 1778 and at its best when its rooms filled with music and art…and YOU!
So, here are the details. The photo exhibit will be available for viewing on Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 12:00 Noon until 4:00 p.m. It will feature several iconic images from Jim’s extensive portfolio and will debut several acquisitions from his most recent visit to Mississippi…that he made specifically for this event! Rumor has it there is one photo that no one but Jim has seen yet…because it’s that special! Toby will lead a Blues workshop on Saturday afternoon from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. that will be geared toward aspiring guitarists of any skill level or enthusiasts interested in learning more about this American art form. He will then return for his evening performance at 8:00 p.m., where he will captivate his audience not only with his guitar playing but also with his collection of unique, vintage guitars. Ooh, baby! At his generous suggestion, Toby will also provide musical accompaniment at the Sunday afternoon exhibit, adding another dimension to the story that Jim’s images will be telling.
B411: What’s the cost, are there special V.I.P. tickets available and such for people to purchase?
PN: All tickets are three-day passes with pricing tiers of $35 for V.I.P., $25 for General Admission and $10 for Seniors/Students. All passes include viewing of the photo exhibit, the Blues workshop and the live evening musical performance. The V.I.P. passes also include a Friday evening Cocktail Reception Launch Party AND a Saturday evening pre-show “Meet and Greet” with the artists…and an opportunity to select your seats. (An A-type personality’s dream!)
If you’ve never been to a PocoNotes show, you may be getting curious as to what all the “buzz” is about. So, make this event your first and head over to www.PocoNotes.com to get your tickets now…or call us at (888) 800-POCO if you have any questions.
B411: Is there anything else folks might want to know about?
PN: Two more, really important items of note: We will make a $5 per ticket donation to The Society for the Preservation of the Tripp Family Homestead to ensure that this historic home – like The Blues – will be around for future generations to enjoy…AND…funding for this project was provided in part by the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency, which is administered by The Pocono Arts Council, as well as by a Lackawanna County Arts and Culture Grant, a program of the Lackawanna County Commissioners and the Lackawanna Council on Arts, Culture and Education. This is humbling stuff for two people, who are simply trying to make the smallest of differences!!
For more information about the artists, you can visit Jim at www.GavenusPhoto.com and Toby at www.LittleTobyWalker.com. For more information about the Tripp House, stop by www.TrippHouse.com.
B411: Sounds like another amazing event – thank you for all you do to support the music of these fine artists and for what you do for the community as a whole. That’s it?
PN: That’s it! Thank you for ALL of the support you’ve shown the local, regional and touring musicians we’ve hosted. Regardless of whether they travel by tour bus or Greyhound bus, they deserve – and have – all of our respect in an industry that’s getting more and more difficult to navigate every day. Simply by attending a live event, you become part of a musician’s journey.
Be good to each other…and we’ll see you at the show!
Until next time,
Love, Peace & Chicken Grease
photos: courtesy of artists, Toby Walker photo by Larry Sribnick