When Kristine Jackson and Austin “Walkin’ Cane” Charangat ended their second set at The Bistro Off Broadway on Thursday, May 11, most people in the audience did not want the music to stop. This up-town event with a down-home feel, the final show of Darke County Center for the Arts 2016-2017 “Connections” season that closed DCCA’s Coffeehouse Series, connected with its sold-out audience from beginning to end. Kristine and “Walkin’ Cane” sang the blues and much more, telling stories with their songs, stories that linger in the hearts and minds of all who were there. The talented musicians took turns performing vocal solos interspersed with delightful duets, skillfully accompanying themselves and each other with their outstanding guitar-picking, immediately engaging listeners who became enthralled by the enticing magic emanating from the stage.
The energy that exists between audience and artists forms an inexplicable bond that energizes spirits and touches the soul. DCCA’s Coffeehouse Series provides an almost perfect atmosphere for that mystical link to occur; the final Coffeehouse show was not the only one to inspire that connected feeling. When Mirari Brass Quintet opened the season at Montage Cafe on Thursday, October 3, the spirit of joyful collaboration between trumpeters Alex Noppe and Matthew Vangel, Jessie Thoman who plays horn, trombonist Sarah Paradis, and tuba player Stephanie Frye communicated itself to the audience which not only appreciated the musicians’ amazing virtuosity but also the sense of fun which infects their performances of music that ranges from European classics to American jazz to Broadway hits.
Next came something completely different! If you were in the audience when Audiobody performed at Henry St. Clair Memorial Hall on Thursday, December 15, you undoubtedly remember the unique performance by brothers Matthew and Jason Tardy, a show that can only be described as, well, indescribable. They wore electronic jumpsuits that played music, manipulated LED light tubes, and utilized a 15-foot-wide drum set while constantly one-upping each other with their juggling, contortions, and hilarity; but that’s not the half of it. Audience members connected with the spectacular show and each other, forming a lasting bond around those shared moments.
John Latini won the audience at Arcanum Historical Society’s Wayne Trail House on Thursday, February 9 with his irresistible charm and abundant wit. Streaks of lightning lit up the windows behind the stage, appropriately providing fireworks to illuminate John’s incandescent persona as his dextrous guitar work and soulful vocals spun fascinating stories connected to real life. John’s inherent ability to interact with his audiences provided a perfect fit for the comfortable, yet invigorating vibe of DCCA’s Coffeehouse shows.
The Coffee Pot hosted a sold-out show by pianist Jason Farnham on Thursday, March 2; billled as a blend of Jerry Lee Lewis, Victor Borge, Beethoven, and Schroeder from Peanuts, Jason played while standing up and while up-side-down, told stories and cracked jokes and wormed his way into the hearts of all in attendance. Utilizing a set list that ranged from the classics to Woody Guthrie to a remix of “Let It Go” from Frozen, Jason bonded with his enthusiastic audience, creating one memorable moment after another as he winningly demonstrated his vast skills and creativity.
Folk singer Scott Ainslee believes that music connects our brains with our spirits in a way that words cannot. Scott performs without a set list, his instinctive reaction to the relationship established with each audience determining what song comes next. His concert at Union City’s Arts Depot on Thursday, April 20, left no doubt in the minds of those assembled as to the artists’s wisdom in these matters. Whether performing a Robert Johnson blues song or an Irving Berlin number, Scott Ainslee uses his prodigious talent to unite people in a common appreciation of cultural roots and traditions. Invisible threads bind audience and artist, creating a strong tie that celebrates the power of music to communicate.
Each of these unique experiences left a lasting impression on all involved, a sustaining reservoir of hope, joy, and laughter to lift spirits and sustain souls. DCCA’s exceptional 2016-2017 Coffeehouse Series lives on in memory, enhancing lives. You shouldda been there!
Marilyn Delk is a director of the Darke County Center for the Arts and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.