Library friends will kick off new concert series Sunday
The Friends of the Jamestown Library will unveil a new concert series at the library Sunday afternoon. There are several other ongoing musical series in town, but the new library series is unique in that all of the performers are Jamestown residents.
According to Joan McCauley, a member of the library group, organizers of the concert series were inspired by the programming of the library’s foreign film series. This year the program will feature films that revolve around the issue of community. The time that McCauley spent living in California also played a role in the development of the new idea.
“I lived in San Diego for years and there was a local radio station that used to do what they called the homegrown album every year,” McCauley said. “They would get different artists from San Diego and record an album with just those musicians. I thought that would be fun to do with the concert series.”
The music committee, which consists of McCauley and Sue Brayman, placed a news item in the Jamestown Press looking for local artists to be part of it. There were about a dozen responses, and from those, five artists were chosen.
McCauley said that some artists couldn’t be evaluated because there was no way the committee could hear their work. Others didn’t realize the length of each concert, and still others needed accompaniment that the committee could not provide.
“Some of the artists we were familiar with,” McCauley said. “For some of them we listened to CDs or YouTube links and made a decision. It wasn’t easy.”
The first performer in the concert series is Andrew Potter, who has lived in Jamestown for years. Potter’s presentation it titled “Road to High Street.” It is a bit unusual because instead of being purely musical, it includes several components that Potter combines to create a mixed-media performance.
Potter was attending the University of Rhode Island when he formed a juggling act with a partner. After graduation the team decided to move to San Francisco to try their luck as street performers. After a couple of years, their show – which blended juggling, comedy, music and circus skills – found success.
In the early 1990s Potter became burned out and left the act. While casting around for something to do, he became interested in video production. He became aware of another artist who had created an autobiographical video presentation.
“He was a storyteller,” Potter said. “He told these stories and he rolled in video segments. It was the most amazing thing I’d ever seen. I thought I could do something like that.”
Potter and his wife returned to the East Coast and he began to study video production at Boston’s Emerson College. For his final project he decided to do a performance piece like the one that had inspired him. He developed the idea while he was in grad school. He began to create segments that told stories about his career as a street performer.
When he finished graduate school in 2000, Potter had a rough version of the presentation – and he’s been developing it ever since. Meanwhile, he has made a living as a freelance video producer, creating video projects for corporate clients as well as shooting wedding videos.
According to Potter, who developed the narrative and wrote all of the music for the piece – some of which he plays on stage along with other musical parts that he has recorded – his presentation began to click about three years ago.
“I started to go around and look for places to perform it,” Potter said. “I started to play fringe theater festivals, and I started to get strong responses to those performances.”
In June of last year, Potter was booked at the Hollywood Fringe Festival in California. His show was well received by audiences and garnered positive reviews. Potter will perform a 90-minute version of his show at the library Sunday.
“It’s a fun, entertaining show,” Potter said. “It showcases me going off and doing something that’s very nontraditional.”
The mission of the Friends of the Jamestown Library is to support the library’s functions and to make programs available to the public at little or no cost. The group raises money through membership fees and the occasional fundraiser, and in addition to its own presentations, funding is given to the library to offset the costs of some library programs.
“If they have a particular need for some equipment, or something else that’s not in their budget, we help donate toward things like that,” McCauley said.
The concert series begins on Sunday, Jan. 13, at 3 p.m. It is free and open to the public.
“We’re excited about the series because it’s very diverse,” Mc- Cauley said. “This will be a really Jamestown-focused event, and we’re looking forward to hearing everyone and having everyone in town come to see them.”