The Great American Songbook still sails Cape’s airwaves

Written by Anne Ierardi

Shirley Horn, a portrait by Anne Ierardi

On WOMR, Julian Jackson and Richard Rubino keep the music playing

“When they say nothing is forever, it’s not true. Music is forever.” – Annie Ross 

Community radio is alive and well on Cape Cod. WOMR in Provincetown, through its dedicated volunteers, offers a wealth of opportunities to hear music of every genre. I had the pleasure this week to meet with two men who bring the music of the Great American Songbook alive every week: Julian Jackson of PM Jazz on the first and last Friday afternoons of the month (1 to 4 p.m.) and Richard Rubino of Sounds of America on Thursdays 5 to 8 pm. In love with music all his life, Julian Jackson began his avocation of playing jazz on the air through WICN in Worcester. When he retired to Cape Cod he was able to make a full life of music: listening, playing guitar, singing and hosting his show.

“It’s a journey,” reflected Julian. “The music I play is heavily rooted in the Great American Songbook. I seek a balance between vocals and instrumentals, between male and female musicians, even music featuring piano or horn. If you tune in at 1 you will probably hear more upbeat music; as the afternoon goes on the music becomes softer, and more mellow.”

Over the years that I have listened to Julian’s show, I always learn something new about an artist, discover a new vocalist or instrumentalist, and find myself bewitched (not bothered and bewildered) by his choice renditions of the Great American Songbook.

Another enjoyable aspect of Julian Jackson’s show is his birthday features. He confided to me that he loves to bring artists to mind on their birthdays. “I like to honor their memory,” he said. Sort of like the “saints” of music, I thought. The month of May includes many greats: Shirley Horn, Peggy Lee, Benny Goodman, Rosemary Clooney, and Artie Shaw.

Fortunately there are three ways to access the station: 92.1, 91.3 or the Internet. “I was surprised,” said Julian, “to find that one day three listeners identified themselves from Jamaica; Glasgow, Scotland; and California!” While Jackson’s listeners are usually middle to older adults, his openness to new and local talent attracts some younger listeners.

Richard Rubino, born in Pittsburgh and a graduate of Berklee School of Music, has dedicated his life to playing and teaching music. His last teaching job was at Harwich High, where he taught all the symphonic and band instruments. He has also played sax, clarinet, and flute at the Melody Tent with many local musicians. He began his Sounds of America show at WFCC, programming and workin with Lou Dumont and Jack Bradley. They featured jazz and the Great American Songbook. When the new owner changed the format to all-classical, Richard found a new home with WOMR. As a good friend of Dick Golden whose show Nightlights captured our hearts, Richard was inspired by Dick to keep this music alive. Living on Cape Cod is richer because WOMR has a commitment to this gem of American music that needs to be shared and passed on to a new generation of listeners.

I spoke with Richard about the amazing performance I witnessed last week in New York. Richard remembers fondly the legendary Annie Ross; he was amazed she is still performing, with horn player Warren Vache. While having suffered from ill health, she is doing a weekly gig at the Metropolitan Room in NYC. She had me and the audience mesmerized. Her last number was her composition “Music is Forever.”

Richard’s Sounds of America features a Sinatra segment at 7 p.m. and one spotlighting pianist Dave McKenna at 6 p.m., in addition to classics by Great American Songbook composers with some contemporary jazz performers including Diana Krall, Steve Tyrell, and John Pizzarelli. Richard draws from his extensive personal collection of 6,000 albums and CDs.

I thought it would be fun to listen to a few of the artists/songs on YouTube that Julian turned me on to… Mary Cleere Haran “But Beautiful,” arresting and beautiful, and my favorite Jobim piece, “Waters of March.” Vince Jones, an Australian jazz singer and trumpet/flugelhorn player, “You Go to My Head.” Cal Collins, jazz guitarist – a live performance from Louisville of “Autumn Leaves.” There’s an upbeat video of Cal playing with Benny Goodman in Warsaw in 1976. Dr. John from the CD Duke Elegant playing sax and singing “Satin Doll.” Peter Cincotti on piano, singing outdoors in NYC “I Love Paris.”

Boy this is fun… one more for the road: Shirley Horn’s “Here’s to Life,” by Artie Butler and Phyllis Molinary.

Here’s to life and every joy it brings. Here’s to life for dreamers and their dreams.

May all your storms be weathered. May all that’s good get better.

Here’s to life, here’s to love, here’s to you.

Reprinted with permission from The Barnstable Patriot.

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Music Notes: You don’t need to miss New Orleans

 Written by Anne Ierardi PDF E-mail


Clarinetist Evan Christopher will bring it to Cape Cod

Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans?   Louis Armstrong

 Nauset Regional Middle School hosts the first New Orleans to Orleans Festival (NO2O) April 10 to 12 with music, food, film, and art. A highlight will be the appearance of world-renowned jazz clarinetist Evan Christopher. Once I realized New Orleans was not on Eastern Standard Time, I caught up with Evan on the phone.

Not only is place an important aspect of literature but it is also has significance for music. There are the places where we find ourselves and the places where we are drawn to be. For Evan Christopher that place is New Orleans.

“After university (in his native California) where I learned the fundamentals of the classical clarinet, I moved to New Orleans,” he said. “I was touring there by bus and I knew I had to return. The energy level of the city is amazing. Two factors drew me: everything there is crooked like the streets, and the humidity in the air. That heaviness I discovered is great for the clarinet. Sound travels differently and I believe this distinctness contributes to the uniqueness of the New Orleans sound. I see it as a ‘sound’ or an ethnic style not so much a genre of jazz.”

I asked Evan to explain what makes New Orleans music special. “The two important things to communicate are: how the music is connected to one’s sense of life, as nothing significant happens without the connection to live music,” he said. “Secondly, a very distinctive vocabulary in how these musicians approach their individual sounds and how they relate to each other. Finding your own voice is central.”

Evan found his voice through other musicians in New Orleans including his mentor, bass player Marshall Hawkins. Evan tours throughout the United States, Europe, and Japan and appears at the Newport Jazz Festival. He has been a featured soloist with groups including the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra and has recorded with pianist Dick Hyman and guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli. His group Django à la Créole fuses Gypsy Swing with New Orleans rhythms. Their second CD, Finesse, was voted best jazz recording of 2010 in London’s Sunday Times. A recently released CD, Django a la Creole: Live!, highlights the best of their 2012 concerts.

Evan’s passion for the New Orleans sound is evident in his thoughtful, informative remarks. In his Cape concert, he will play original compositions as well as the classic music of New Orleans. The past is as central to appreciating New Orleans music as is the present. Sidney Bechett, Omer Simeon, Louis Armstrong, and Jelly Roll Morton are New Orleans bred and born masters of the sound. Duke Ellington approached his music in a similar way, though he hailed from Washington, D.C. Evan will treat us to his narration for the music.

Evan Christopher will be joined on Saturday, April 12th by Fred Boyle (piano), Alan Clinger (guitar), Ron Ormsby (bass), and Bart Weisman (drums) with a special appearance by vocalist Cerise. Opening the concert will be the George Gritzbach Blues Band; George Gritzbach (vocals & guitar), Rich Hill (bass) and Bart Weisman (drums). The Nauset Regional Middle School Jazz Band, directed by Megan Anthony, will perform a selection.

Another wonderful opportunity is the offering of a Clarinet Master Class by Evan Christopher for all ages and levels of musicians on Saturday afternoon, April 12th.

“I’ve always wanted to visit New Orleans,” I told Evan as the close of our conversation. “Put it on your bucket list, Anne,” he said. “You may want to go in early April for the French Quarter Festival, best time to hear local musicians.” While our Orleans Festival is happening, New Orleans will be blowing out their sound, too.

Saturday, April 12, 7 p.m.,concert at Nauset Regional Middle School in Orleans featuring Evan Christopher on clarinet. Tickets $25 at; proceeds this year will benefit the NRMS Greenhouse project. NO2O is a collaboration among the Nauset Regional Middle School, the Orleans Chamber of Commerce, the Orleans Cultural Council & the Orleans Community Partnership (OCP) with generous support from the Arts Foundation of Cape Cod and the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce.

Reprinted with permission from The Barnstable Patriot.

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Music Notes: Cotuit hosts a rare Cape appearance by Donna Byrne

Written by Anne Ierardi
 As part of Provincetown Jazz Festival

 “Sing the melody. Gershwin and Cole Porter knew what they were doing.”
 Donna Byrne
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If you’re fond of sand tunes…

Written by Anne Ierardi

Circle by the Sea makes music on Sandy Neck

Sand Tunes

SING A SONG ON SANDY – Singer/songwriter Dawna Hammers, whose father used to peform on Cape Cod with jazz great Lou Colombo, entertains last month on Sandy Neck at the monthly Circle by the Sea gathering.
Photo by Anne Ierardi

…we can know reality only by being in community with it … the leader becomes better able to open spaces in which people feel invited to create communities of mutual support.

Parker Palmer

The orange sun is setting; the full moon is waxing, a bonfire glows red on the beach, the wind is blowing as the tide comes ever closer to a large circle of people. There are women, men, children enjoying each other, the warmth of the fire pit, the sounds of the wind and sea. For 34 years, this monthly summer circle has met at Sandy Neck Beach. Originally called “PM by the Sea,” it was sponsored by People Meet, Inc., with Avis Strong Parke.

About ten years ago, Leona Bombaci, a longtime participant, assumed leadership and a new name, “Circle by the Sea,” continuing the rich tradition of bringing people together to sing, dance, play music, tell stories, toast marshmallows, and have a good time in the midst of the natural world.

Circles by the Sea meet around the time of the full moon from June through September. Bombaci explained to me the usual format: June and September focus on “friends of Circle by the Sea,” an open talent participatory evening with music and stories and a drum circle. July and August host invited musicians, storytellers, dancers.

Last month I joined the circle, happy to be on the beach for the first time this summer – why do I wait so long, I wondered. Dawna and Leona created a warm and enlivening atmosphere, opening spaces with their music and welcome.

There were a few other smaller groups of people sitting around bonfires in this designated area of Sandy Neck. Singer, songwriter, music teacher Dawna Hammers, a longtime regular performer, returned from Vermont, where she now makes her home. She played some familiar folk tunes on her guitar including “Both Sides Now” as well as many songs she composed. “Come to the Table” invites a community spirit as we all sang along (You can learn more about her and her music at Dawna dedicated a song, “Women are the Weavers of the World,” to Leona and Avis, who 25 years ago became her “spiritual mothers.”

On Aug. 30, the circle will feature another favorite performer: Jackson Gillman. Known as the “Stand-Up Chameleon” for bringing many characters to life through his talents in mime, acting, singing and storytelling, he’s a well-known performer from Onset who appears at schools, libraries, conferences, and festivals. For many years he has presented workshops at the New England Storytelling Conference (

Also performing in August is the Paul, Ben & Jerry Show with “songs of the sea” Using acoustic instruments including a washtub bass to sing whaling and sea songs, they represent three generations. Paul is father of Ben, who is 17; Jerry is the elder of the group.

If you are looking for a place to unwind in a camp-like atmosphere by the beautiful sea, with good entertainment and a family fun vibe, put Sept. 20 on your calendar.

Circle by the Sea is a family event for all ages. $5 donation is requested. Next circles: Sept. 20, 7 to 10:30pm. Bring beach chairs, a piece of firewood, a non-alcoholic beverage, chair, blanket, drums and other instruments. Sandy Neck Beach Road /off Route 6A Barnstable/Sandwich – park in the lower lot and enter at the far end to the beach. Rain location: Knights of Columbus Hall, 5 Armory Rd. Buzzards Bay.

Reprinted with permission from The Barnstable Patriot

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Music Notes: Viva Italia: A multi-course celebration in honor of Verdi

Written by Anne Ierardi

Giuseppe Verdi

Giuseppe Verdi
Illustration by Anne Ierardi

“Chatham mist” will be dispelled by warmth of Italy

You may have the universe if I may have Italy. – Giuseppe Verdi

A few years ago in our antique home my spouse and I redesigned our kitchen around a single medieval-style tile of men baking polenta, the white and blue kitchen walls are now tomato-red and warm yellow colors, and our neglected English garden became a Tuscan courtyard with St. Francis in a vegetable garden. I hear the voice of my grandfather “Pa” Verrochi chiding my parents, “Why are you planting flowers? You can’t eat them!”

If I can’t physically be in Italy, I desire to bring my soul and imagination there. On Sunday, April 28,Cape Cod will have the opportunity to be warmed, serenaded, and romanced by Viva Italia! in celebrating Italian vocal and instrumental music with compositions by Verdi, Puccini, Bellini, Mascagni, Scarlatti, and Tosti. Sponsored by the Chatham Music Club, in honor of Giuseppe Verdi’s bicentennial, the concert will be at 3 p.m. in the Chatham Congregational Church.

I had the pleasure of speaking with two of the performers and members of the Chatham Music Club: Barbara Reed and Carole Buttner Maloof about the concert. They say the scope of the concert is, as one put it, “incredible,” highlighting the professional quality and diverse musical talent we are privileged to appreciate on Cape Cod. Indeed, all the performers are connected to the Cape. Art MacManus, a well-known pianist and opera-coach is director and accompanist for this performance. Operatic choruses include The Easter Chorus from Cavalleria Rusticana, “Casta diva” and cavatina from Norma, the Anvil Chorus from Il Trovatore, and “Va Pensiero” from Nabucco.

Vocalist soloists include Christopher Allen, Bonnie Brenner, Alan Brooks, Leslie Loosli, Carole Buttner Maloof, Barbara Reed, Helen Guilet Smith, Diana Toscano, Ashley Wade and Kathy Wimberly. Alan Brooks will be performing “Di Provenza” from La Traviata. Ashley Wade, a beautiful young mezzo-soprano and graduate of Harwich High School, is singing “Stride La Vampa” from Il Trovatore.

Leslie Loosli, an amazing performer, will sing “Vissi D’Arte” from Puccini. I met Leslie two years ago when I took her vocal class at ALL (Academy of Life-Long Learning). Her vivacity and love of song inspired our group to sing together with confidence and gusto while preparing our minds to relax and focus. During our last class, we invited our friends to come hear us sing. When I need healing energy riding in my car, I play Brigadoon’s “Heather on the Hill.” recalling our class with Leslie.

When I was growing up in Boston my brother Johnny worked in the music business, as we called it in those days. He often brought home people from diverse backgrounds, sometimes not giving my mother a lot of notice, for an Italian dinner. We always delighted in watching the faces of his guests when yet another dish was brought to the table from my mother: homemade cavatelli, eggplant parmagiana, veal cutlets, a big salad, and assorted Italian pastries.

Just when you think you are full, we have the chamber trio: Christian Holleck on cello, Gabriella Ramsauer on recorder, and Rodney Shuyler on piano. And organist Julian Petrallia and pianists Anne Francouise Perrault, Lucy Banner and Arthur MacManus. An exciting four-hands piano operatic overture is planned.” As my mother would say to our guests, “make some room” for the next course.

Established in 1999, The Chatham Music Club’s mission is to promote appreciation of classical music through performance and education. The club began meeting in members’ homes, listening to and performing classical music. It developed into a nonprofit organization to bring classical music to everyone and support music education especially for young people. All proceeds from their concerts go to a scholarship fund.

A $2,500 scholarship will be given to an accomplished music student. The competition will take place on Oct. 19 at the First Congregational Church in Chatham and is open to vocal and instrumental classical music students, ages 14 to 21, who are Cape residents or are studying with a music teacher on Cape Cod.

And the last course on Sunday? A complimentary sweet and savory reception follows the concert.

Ah…La Dolce Vita!

Viva Italia, Sunday, April 28, at 3 p.m. at the Chatham Congregational Church, Main Street at the downtown rotary. Tickets ($20) may be purchased at the door or by calling Ann Lieber (508-398-8811). Children under 12 are admitted free

Reprinted with permission from The Barnstable Patriot.

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MUSIC NOTES: Celebrate Earth Day with the exhilarating music of Libana

Written by Anne Ierardi

Chatham concert promises world tour

Sue Robbins Portrait

Portrait of Sue Robbins, illustration by Anne Ierardi

“Libana has collected accolades from far and wide. They have been called ‘magical,’ ‘…diverse, colorful, a wonder to behold…’ and ‘one of the top musical groups performing today.’ Perhaps a critic from the Cape Cod Times said it best, though, when he wrote that ‘their music makes you high. It swells the spirit as they swing into harmonies never encountered in American music.’” — The Southampton Press (NY)

The amazing music of Libana stretches our imaginations and brightens our spirits as we listen to music from Bolivia, Algeria, India, Liberia, Malaysia, the Bedouin Arabs, the Sephardic Jews and beyond! Libana returns to Cape Cod on Sunday, April 21, at 3 p.m. at the Chatham Unitarian Universalist Meeting House. Susan Robbins, Lisa Bosley, Allison Coleman, Marytha Paffrath, Linda Ugelow and Cheryl Weber make up Libana. They play instruments from many parts of the world including the djembe (West Africa drum) dholak (Indian drum), charangos (Indian strings) and the oud. Their songs and chants are illuminated by spoken introductions to the cultural context of the music with stories or anecdotes.

Artistic Director Sue Robbins and I met for lunch at a Peruvian restaurant near her music studio in Somerville. She described how Libana came to be:

“I had an epiphany 34 years ago on Crane’s Beach in Ipswich. I felt disheartened after Alexander’s Feast broke up (early music/medieval renaissance group) so I sought refuge at the beach. My best dreaming occurs at the beach and indeed, it was like a lightning bolt, an epiphany. My desire was two-fold: to explore what women around the world were doing and to work with a group of women to understand and work with the creative process as women.”

Libana was born as 25 women gathered to make music together, music that empowered a depth, authenticity and freedom of expression. It was a time when women, especially in the Cambridge/Somerville area, embraced change, formed groups and experimented with new art forms and healing expressions. That quest fueled the hauntingly beautiful music of Libana for the past 34 years.

“The unity and universality of women from around the world transcends race, language, and class,” Robbins said. “The opportunity for women to sing together balances the history books that have favored male musicians. We are all creative beings. While women’s realities in various parts of the world are challenged or restricted, there is always something to celebrate. The core is love, spirit, and our essential oneness.” Today we know this music as “World Music.” We can be thankful to Libana for assisting in its birth and development.

Sue Robbins knew from an early age that singing was at the core of her spiritual path.

Born in Cleveland, Ohio, she returned with her family to New England and eventually came to Cape Cod, where she graduated from Dennis-Yarmouth High. “I wasn’t happy with being taken from my friends junior year and having to fit into a new community,” she reflected. A year later she was studying voice and music education at UMass Amherst.

Her interest in music and instruments from different cultures grew during the time she was with Alexander’s Feast. From her bedroom window in Cambridge she could hear the Arabic music from the belly dancing at the restaurant below. (“Wow! that is so cool.”) She bought an “oud,” an Arabic stringed instrument that goes back to Spanish Medieval times with its Moorish influence.

Sue’s studio in Somerville is a delightful open space for rehearsals, dance and other community artistic ventures. When she shuts the heavy door she enters her own world of music, art and wonder. Throughout the space is fabric art from different countries that Libana has performed in: India, West Africa and Turkey.

While feasting on our delicious Peruvian chicken, we recalled how we met at an 11-day workshop two summers ago in the breathtaking hills of Umbria, Italy. Sue was our accompanist for the 19 singers that gathered from all over the world. Many of us, including myself, had never performed a solo piece. Sue took the songs we chose, put them in the best key and helped us draw out our full authentic voices. Many afternoons Sue led us in an energetic group sing of songs from different cultures.

Another face of Libana’s music is in their connection and commitment to global justice. Relationships have been cultivated as they shared songs together, leading to support organizations that assist women in villages practicing traditional arts. Barefoot College in rural Rajasthan is an innovative place that trains village grandmothers in solar electricity. This knowledge allows the women to illuminate their villages. This in turn empowers the women as leaders in their communities and allows girls and women to learn to read and write in the evenings. Libana also supports SEWA, Self Employed Women’s Association, in Gujarat. Artisans, health care workers and street vendors are learning a new model of unionization and business skills. In Bulgaria, Libana toured in 1996, returned in 2008 sharing songs, dancing, and partying with the “babis” or elders who live close to the earth in secluded areas. International Fair Trade items will be available for purchase at the Cape concert.

LIBANA in CONCERT! – Sunday, April 21, at 3 p.m. in the Chatham UU Meeting House, 819 Main St.; 508-945-2075. $12 in advance, $15 at the door (seniors 65+ kids 12 & under: $10 in advance, $12 at the door)

Reprinted with permission from The Barnstable Patriot

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Returning of the light

Dar WilliamsWritten by Anne Ierardi

Dar Williams to perform in Wellfleet

There will always be the light and the sea.

The rolling sea…the light and me.

And it all comes down…down to me.

To feel the presence of my soul.

Amid the torrents and the cold of the sea…     

“The Light and the Sea,” by Dar Williams

Singer-songwriter Dar Williams performed on March 23 at the Wellfleet Congregational Church as a benefit for the Wellfleet Preservation Hall and WOMR. She’s excited about coming back to Wellfleet, having lived here and summered here.

“I am thrilled about the transformation of the Wellfleet Preservation Hall, how it is enhancing the Outer Cape, and happy to be doing a combined benefit for them and the great community radio station WOMR,” she said in an interview. “It is so important that a critical mass of people can start the ball rolling, how social capital versus material can thrive outside of cities, right here on the Cape.”

Dar and I spoke “of many things” as she is an artist with both an inner vision and an outer vision. Influenced by her “boomer” parents who embraced the folk movement of the Sixties and back-to-nature way of life, she listened to Joan Baez, Judy Collins, and Sandy Denny, and loved the sensitive voicing of Paul Simon. “My parents tapped trees and made maple syrup even in the suburbs!,” she said. “When I told them I had chosen music as a career, they were elated.” Later she performed with some of her heroes including Baez, who became an early fan and recorded several of her songs.

Starting out in her early twenties, Dar has been maturing along with her music for two decades and has recorded nine studio albums. She grew up in Chappaqua, NY, has lived and sung in Somerville and Northampton, and now lives in New York with her family. Her latest CD is In the Time of Gods, inspired by Greek mythology. Drawing on the stories of Hermes, Poseidon, Athena, Vesta, and other gods of the Pantheon, she explores issues important in her own life.

One of these issues is power. “In the Sixties,” she said, “the boomer generation risked being disinherited as they took on the mantle of authority reflected in their music… Leonard Cohen, Simon and Garfunkel, Joni Mitchell. They challenged the material and spiritual values of the time. In the Nineties, though in some ways we were more self-absorbed, we became sensitive to gender awareness and multicultural values.”

With In the Time of Gods, Dar is exploring power and civilization, examining the chaotic forces in life that the gods were struggling with and our own turmoil in today’s world as we try to evolve in our understanding of what civilization could become.

A religion major at Wesleyan University, Dar has been exploring questions of meaning and social responsibility for a long time: “The inner terrain, who I am meets the outer terrain of power and authority – that’s when my beliefs and commitments are put to the test. Sometimes I have to get psyched up to rise to a challenge and other times my ego is deflated, often by reality.”

“Yes,” I responded. “That reminds me of my friend Kula, who talked about becoming ‘right-sized’ as we try to regain balance in our lives.”

“The Light and the Sea” is about the Greek sea-god Poseidon (associated with Neptune, planetary ruler of Pisces where the sun is currently traveling in the zodiac). For Dar this song became symbolic of retaining a moral compass. “As I get older,” she wrote on her website, “my big struggle isn’t being virtuous and moral. It’s more about what I do in chaos. When I’m stressed out, I say and do terrible things. There’s a light to follow and you can lose it in chaos.”

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HarlemWorks presents roots & branches of American Song

Written by Anne Ierardi

The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams. Eleanor Roosevelt

Gary Foote was at the airport, on his way east when we connected on the phone. Gary’s love of travel and passion for music have given him a life of fulfillment. He believes in the value of serving others through his music as performer, composer, and as a producer: helping others to make their dreams come true.

Foote’s group, HarlemWorks, is returning on Feb. 9at 7:30 p.m. to once again delight Cape audiences at the Cultural Center of Cape Cod in South Yarmouth. “This is like a homecoming; the generous people of Cape Cod have been with HarlemWorks since the beginning,” he said.

Foote’s trio consists of Tony Lewis on drums, Argentinian pianist Dareo Boente on piano, and himself on bass, but the creativity doesn’t end there. He brings in versatility from talented artists including in this performance vocalist, John James, a “first call” singer in New York; Sherma Andrews, a major performer in Trinidad who won a scholarship to study at Berklee College of Music; and the amazing choreographer JD Jenkins. We will hear some Ellington, Bacharach, and some surprises. You can also hear HarlemWorks on their CD featuring a combination of funk, jazz, and R&B.

Gary grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In fourth grade he began playing bass; by ninth grade he knew it was to be his vocation. His oldest brother Jymme encouraged him to keep an open mind. His father, a social worker in the public schools, modeled for him an ideal of service. He loved playing bass in the Youth Orchestra and in rock bands with guys older than himself, helping his music to mature and giving him great opportunities.

Foote has produced Smokey Robinson and Blood, Sweat, and Tears. Smokey was a profound influence: “He is a craftsman, incredibly gracious and giving, a role model for other musicians,” Foote said. “Smokey has made me want to give more. He’s been in the business for 58 years since age 14 and he is happy, healthy, wealthy” – Foote laughs – and wise, I added. I felt an urge to go out and buy a Smokey Robinson CD. “We have to keep the Motown memories alive, a truly American music,” Gary said.

Gary is married to singer Jenny Douglas, who often travels with him. She has worked in diverse music genres with artists Pink, Cher, Janet Jackson, and Mick Jagger and has performed steadily with Toto since 1990.

Today Gary Foote is living his dream, having traveled to six continents and to every state in the U.S. “I have been on the road with over 75 musicians, but you know you are only on stage for two hours of the day and it is important how you live during the rest of the time,” he said. “Now that I have HarlemWorks I can experience the joy of helping others share their music as well as continuing to play and compose. I see myself as a dream-maker.”

Reprinted with permission from Barnstable Patriot

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