Feb 26, 2014
11:30 AM
Arts & Entertainment

Connecticut Draw for Artists With Music in Films Like 'Hall Pass', on TV? A Library

Connecticut Draw for Artists With Music in Films Like 'Hall Pass', on TV? A Library

Shervin Lainez

Barnaby Bright, a folk duo from Brooklyn, will perform at the Beekley Library March 8.

Thinking of concerts held in libraries is likely to evoke visions of children sitting in circles for story time and sing-alongs, rather than images of professional performers with buzzworthy bios entertaining discerning adults in the cozy confines of a unique venue.

The Licia & Mason Beekley Community Library in rural New Hartford is changing that association. Musical performances at this library are less “library concerts” and more must-see performances by talented artists with national profiles that happen to take place in a library.

The next not-to-be-missed performance is that of husband-and-wife duo, Nathan and Rebecca Bliss, known as Barnaby Bright.  They will take to the library stage on March 8 at 7 p.m.

"Since the release of their first album, 'Wake the Hero' in 2009, Barnaby Bright has garnered high accolades for their songwriting and sound," the duo's bio says. "Grand prize winners of the NY Song Circle competition, Barnaby Bright's music has also been featured on national television to soundtrack heavy moments on shows such as 'ER' and 'Days of Our Lives.' Their follow up EP 'Gravity' was named one of the top 100 records of the year by Amazon.com, keeping good company with the likes of Adele and Bon Iver. They continue touring in support of their brand new full length record, 'The Longest Day,' gracing such notable venues as Lincoln Center and NPR's 'Mountain Stage' in West Virgina, and sharing stages with the likes of the Lumineers and Norah Jones."

The Nights at the Beekley Music Series sources talent from around the country and as far away as Germany—such as 2013 season opener Antje Duvekot—to create a line-up worthy of any high-end music venue. The difference is that the library—like a good editor of nonfiction, perhaps—leaves out the downside associated with high-end venues, such as lines, hassle and high costs.

There’s no mad dash to get your hands on tickets at the Beekley, and the price doesn’t exceed $25 at the door. A six concert package deal, ranging from $135 and $150, comes with dinner at local eatery Chatterley’s Restaurant and gets you priority seating at every show. Beer and wine are available during the show, and perhaps more important, parking is free and abundant, eliminating that type of pre-show/post-show hassle.

Gothic columns flank the stage in The Great Hall where concerts are held. In the modest space, which was built with quality acoustics, an intimacy exists between the artists and the audience.

And the context of a library cultivates an attentive audience. As American singer-songwriter Ellis Paul, who will play the venue in April, so aptly put it, “A library is sort of forced quiet.”

The goal is to liven this sleepy Northwest Corner town with acts you perhaps haven’t heard of but you definitely should. At the start of the season in October, series creator David Sessions said his goal is to find “that mix of music that is interesting and challenging.”

“I’m trying to bring people to the venue who don’t typically tour through our region,” Sessions says. “It keeps it new and fresh for the audience.”

For the last two shows of the current season, he has tapped troubadours of our time—Barnaby Bright on March 8 and musical storyteller Ellis Paul on April 26.  

Both acts tour most of the year and have played Connecticut before, but it will be the first time at the Beekley Library for both.

“I actually don’t even know what to expect,” Barnaby Bright's Bliss says of playing the library. “A lot of great artists have played there before and they have a budget to compensate musicians well. We like to play nice places that compensate their musicians well and they seem to fit the bill.”

The couple, which has deep roots in folk music but keeps it fresh with a mix of acoustic and electronic instruments, will bring the full band to the performance—a cellist, bassist and drummer.

Ellis Paul will perform on April 26. 

Full bands are an innovation of the series this year. The stage only fits three people comfortably, so Sessions typically books soloists or duos, but a six-piece band at the Christmas show proved the potential to Sessions. He says he loves, “the vibe,” of a full band.

The Thomaston Opera House will loan staging to hold the five pieces of Barnaby Bright.  

“It will be really fun. We love playing just the two of us but it’s a special treat with the full band, so we’re excited for people to experience that,” Bliss says.

Ellis Paul has played libraries before and returns to them because they pair perfectly with his musical storytelling style.

“Just something about the setting, surrounded by books, it’s a cool place to hear songs,” says Paul. “The environment frames the songs in a unique way.”

There’s already a buzz around Paul’s performance, and Sessions expects tickets to sell out soon.

According to his website bio, Paul is one of the leading voices in American songwriting and one of the top songwriters to emerge out of the fertile Boston folk scene. He helped create a movement that revitalized the national acoustic circuit with an urban, literate, folk rock style that helped renew interest in the genre in the 90's.

"He has won an unprecedented 14 Boston Music Awards, sung at Fenway Park for the Red Sox, The Boston Garden for the Celtics and even had the mayor of Boston, Thomas M. Menino, proclaim it 'Ellis Paul Day in Boston' on July 9th, 2010 when Ellis celebrated his 20th year in making music," the bio says. "Ellis' worldwide audience has grown from several high profile song placements and hundreds of thousands of YouTube video plays. His songs are heard in various commercials, documentaries, TV shows such as "Ed" and MTV's "Real World"; and in the soundtracks of blockbuster films, including 3 Farrelly Brothers films: "Hall Pass", starring Owen Wilson and Alyssa Milano, "Me, Myself, & Irene," starring Jim Carrey, and "Shallow Hal," with Jack Black and Gwyneth Paltrow. Director Peter Farrelly has called Ellis Paul 'a national treasure.'"

Visit The Nights at the Beekley Music Series website for ticket prices and more information.


Connecticut Draw for Artists With Music in Films Like 'Hall Pass', on TV? A Library

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