ELLENVILLE – A bold new program has taken shape to bring music and togetherness to our community here in the Rondout Valley. It’s called Music On Market, and it includes thirteen incredible and diverse concerts over the next nine months, all at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Ellenville.
The concept was described by the Reverend Jeff Golliher in these terms, “The mission of Music On Market has several interwoven threads. One thread is to bring music to our community.” Another is “to enhance our larger life together here, which is made up of many communities.”
St. John’s is hosting this concert series, but Golliher says, “It’s not a religious program,” instead, as the theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer coined the term — “It’s our life together” and this is the concept that Golliher feels inspires the concert series. “Everyone is invited, from all houses of worship, and those who might not attend any house of worship. MOM is about a "life together," not a community divided among itself around religion or politics or anything.”
The series begins with a bang on April 19, when “Klezmer meets Gospel” and the six-piece Saints of Swing band will be backing both their regular star singer, Miss Renee Bailey, and Richard Chiger, a Klezmer specialist.
Renee Bailey really is a star, and sings blues, gospel, jazz and R’n’B with real feeling and power. She has performed with a who’s-who of the greats, from Aretha Franklin to Sam Cooke, to BB King to Louis Armstrong. She sang gospel in church as a child, and later moved north to New York’s night club scene and then became the featured vocalist at Peg Leg Bates’ Country Club for twenty years. Known as “Lady Sunshine” she is also the Music Director of Samsonville United Methodist Church. Her most recent record is “Good Old Songs” released last year.
Richard Chiger also began singing as a kid, he sang in the Catskill Borscht Belt hotels, and also had training as a Cantor, the singer in a Jewish temple. He sings in the traditions of Yiddish Klezmer music and Broadway musicals.
Klezmer music? That name is relatively recent, indeed, first used in the late 1970s. Before that it was generally known as Yiddish music with lyrics in the language. It has roots in eastern Europe, especially Romania. It is a lively style, based on dance music… The Saints of Swing are basically a jazz band in the old sense of “jazz” — playing everything from Dixieland to Motown, R’n’B classics and Gospel and Klezmer, too. Their song list seems to run on forever and is as eclectic as it is electric. Route 66 to Twist and Shout, Natural Woman to Days of Wine and Roses, Honky Tonk Woman to Ain’t Misbehavin’!
David Winograd leads the group on bass and tuba, Dale Demarco handles sax/clarinet and some vocals, Barry Bryson plays trumpet and sings, Ken Foy has the trombone and he sings, too, Peter Tomlinson plays keyboards and Larry Balestra drums.
This concert kicks off at 7:30 pm, $15, but only $10 for seniors and students.
The next concert in the series will be on May 5 and is titled “A Cappella Choral.” On May 17, Latin Jazz Express arrives with red hot rhythms from Puerto Rico and Cuba, via the streets of New York. The concerts will continue until December 20 with the 12th Annual Holiday Concert. St. John’s will be the venue throughout, and a more magnificent one is hard to imagine in the context of the Rondout Valley.
Anastasia Solberg, Director of the Music Institute of Sullivan and Ulster Counties, located in Ellenville, has had the job of bringing MISU concerts to St. John’s for ten years. Solberg commented, “MOM’s mission is to culturally enrich an otherwise somewhat compromised area of Ulster County. This series, with its wide breath of genres, should appeal to a larger cross section of the greater Ellenville area’s population and, hopefully, with that, open their eyes and ears to other forms of world music.”
“After the past decade of chamber music serving somewhat of a specialized audience, it was time to expand and offer on a regular basis concerts that will appeal to a larger cross-section of the public and the ethnic mix here. We hope to get more people interested in different types of music. Frankly, I don’t know of a series of this magnitude produced in Ellenville since I moved here twenty-plus years ago.”
Marty Rabkin, who has been a crucial cog in getting the show rolling, said, “This has been a wonderful collaborative experience. Reverend Golliher brought his intellectual drive and support, Anastasia curated and booked an excellent program and together, we’re kicking off an ecumenical concert series we look forward to continuing for years to come.”