A couple of weeks ago, our community gathered together on the Greenville Public Library lawn to witness one of the greatest blues guitarists of all time doing what he was born to do, transfixing a crowd of over 700 diverse local citizens with his artistry while wielding the power of music to bring not only joy but also healing to those who had been unable to gather together as an arts audience for over a year.
That magic happened at Darke County Center for the Arts’ fundraising event Barbecue and Blues, featuring the phenomenal Noah Wotherspoon and his talented trio augmented by the energizing sound of horns making a joyful noise. An ideal description of this feast for all the senses came from an awed audience member who quietly said “Amazing!” then uttered, “That was delicious!” The enigmatic empowering energy exchange between artist and audience was a palpable presence on that perfect summer night, lingering long after the musicians left the stage. Many in attendance, including the performing artists, expressed gratitude, sincerely saying, “Thanks! I needed that!”
Although the degree of talented musicianship on stage at the library lawn may not be easily duplicated, the opportunity to partake of that mysterious power did not end on that fabulous night.
In fact, the next night, I was once again energized by music, this time at Heritage Park in Versailles. That jolt of energy was powered by the wonder of rock-n-roll performed by Boo Radley, a Cincinnati band fronted by Chris Mulvaney, an attorney who graduated from Versailles High School in the early 1980s and returned with his group to present a free concert raising funds benefiting pancreatic cancer research. Chris worked with our kids at McDonald’s in Greenville back when they were all still in high school, so I’ve known him for a very long time, and even though he is no Noah Wotherspoon, he has gotten a lot better at playing guitar than when his loud practicing broke dishes and vases in our living room back in the day. Boo Radley skillfully played almost every song they knew — and once again, the magic happened. The crowd and the musicians melded in spirit, and everyone left the concert filled with energy, joy, and hope.
If you missed those memorable shows — and believe me, you shoulda been there — opportunities to experience the powerfully healing influence of music abound in our community. One concert remains in the Towne & Country Players 7 p.m. series at Heritage Park where Boo Radley played. The Kim Kelly Orchestra will perform on July 24, featuring a performance by the T & C Players Community Chorus.
And continuing a beloved tradition, Greenville Municipal Band concerts have returned to the Marling Bandshell in Greenville City Park at 7 p.m. on Sundays! The popular Greene deVilles will join the Band for a Motown tribute on Aug. 1, and a Tribute to Broadway featuring local vocal powerhouses Chelsea Whirledge, John Whirledge, and Gracie Pell singing favorites from West Side Story, Les Miserable, and Wicked will take place on Aug. 8. The group will be led Doug Albright rather than usual concertmaster J.R. Price on Aug. 15 to present “The Sounds of Autumn,” followed by the Greenville Municipal Jazz Band augmented by vocals from Chelsea Whirledge on Aug. 29, and end with a Grand Finale Spectacular on Sept. 5.
Another free concert series featuring local favorites is happening at YoLo Park in Greenville from 7 to 9 p.m. every other Thursday evening. Mora & the Boys will perform on July 29, followed by Natalie Milligan on Aug. 12, Amanda Livingston on Aug. 26, and Carter Quinn on Sept. 9; Danny Schneible will close the summer series on Sept. 23. Additionally, jazz, funk, blues, and gospel pianist Deron Bell will share his abundant talents in the downtown park on Friday, August 6 in conjunction with Main Street Greenville’s Artisan Stroll.
As we all work together to recover from the effects of a global pandemic that still rages, the power of music helps us heal, providing inspiration and bringing joy that transcends reality itself; may we all experience that magical power in our lives!