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Entertainment Highlights: Hartland Singer-Songwriter Hits the Road, Sparingly



Thursday, January 07, 2016
Driving west

Sun is in my eyes

And I see a billboard

With your smile

And I can’t say

That I don’t miss you

I just hope that I locked the door

And put out all the lights



Jay Nash

from Saturday 


If you go to South Pomfret on Friday night to see Hartland’s Jay Nash perform at the Artis-Tree Community Arts Center, you’ll hear songs of love and loss, regret and joy.

Just don’t expect the 1998 graduate of the University of Vermont to lament his night on the road — after Friday’s show, his next live gig is in Atlantic City in May.

“I don’t like to play more than 60 or 70 shows a year,” Nash said in a telephone interview from his Hartland studio this week. “I need to be careful in how I invest my time and energy. You can spread your time and energy too thin.”

Since completing a tour this past fall with drummer Josh Day as the duo The Contenders, Nash has been dividing his time and energy among such tasks as:

∎ Writing songs for the next Contenders album.

∎ Crafting or discussing the crafting of music for commercials and for movies.

∎ Playing online broadcasts for the Concert Window app

∎ Driving his 5-year-old daughter to kindergarten at Hartland Elementary School, and tending to his 9-month old son.

“You want to stay inspired,” Nash said. “Having different things to divert my attention make it so that when I change course, the act of picking up an acoustic guitar and going to play a show feels so fresh and exciting.”

It also feels a long way from Los Angeles, where Nash, who grew up in upstate New York and studied engineering at UVM, honed his craft on stages and in studios for almost a decade before he and his wife, whom he met on the opposite coast, moved to the Upper Valley in 2010.

“It was a great time to be a songwriter,” said Nash, who released his most recent solo album, Letters from the Lost, in 2013. “A lot of people there were coming up at the same time, finding creative homes for themselves.”

In addition to making five full-length records, as well as recording and sitting in with some of those other aspiring artists, Nash booked bands, handled sound systems and hosted open-mic nights at the Room 5 Lounge.

“That became my living room of sorts,” he recalled. “It was geat to be inspired and motivated by other people trying to do the same things.”

Nash also made connections that led, a few years after his move to Hartland to raise his family closer to his parents, who live on the New York-Canada border, and his wife’s family in Connecticut, to the chance to write the musical score to the 2005 movie Southbounders, about a young woman trying to hike the Appalachian Trail from Maine to Georgia.

“I really had no idea what I was doing,” Nash said. “I was basically helping a friend. I was figuring it out as I went.”

That experience, plus assignments to write music for commercials, helped prepare Nash for a higher-profile assignment: Composing the score for Woodstock filmmaker Jim Sadwith’s feature Coming Through the Rye, based on Sadwith’s boyhood encounter with author J.D. Salinger, starring Chris Cooper as the elusive author who spent his later years in Cornish. The movie began making the rounds of film festivals this past fall.

“Jim had a very specific idea of what he wanted,” Nash said. “He had temporary tracks to most of the film, things he’d picked out from other artists. Since you can’t just copy something else, we went back and forth for a while to find the common ground between my instincts and also fulfilling Jim’s vision. Not only was he the writer, the director and the producer, he was basically the narrator. He’d been waiting to tell this story his whole life. By the time he got to me, he’d auditioned six or seven other composers.”

With that and other projects to occupy his time, Nash isn’t worried about going stale between the Artis-Tree show and that mid-May road trip to Atlantic City.

“I pinch myself daily,” he said. “I’m super grateful for the way things have turned out.”

Jay Nash performs at the Artis-Tree Community Arts Center in South Pomfret on Friday night at 7:30. For tickets ($20) and more information, visit artistreevt.org or call 802-457-3500.

Best Bets

New York-based singer-comedian Vanessa Dunleavy will lead the band The Grift in three performances of their musical comedy My Post-Traumatic Cruise Ship Cabaret this weekend at the Rochester (Vt.) High School auditorium. In shows that the White River Valley Players are producing on Friday and Saturday nights at 7:30 and on Sunday afternoon at 2, Dunleavy and the band’s three members portray cabaret leader Vivi and The Fleeing Boroshenko Brothers, a non-English-speaking trio of exiled musicians from Belarus. The show, whose script Dunleavy co-wrote with Dana Yeaton and whose score The Grift crafted, premiered last spring in Middlebury, Vt., where Dunleavy grew up. Guy Stroman, a co-creator and frequent director of the Broadway-hit musical Forever Plaid , has fine-tuned and will direct this production in preparation for a performance for potential backers in New York. To reserve tickets ($16), visit whiterivervalleyplayers.org or any branch of the White River Credit Union. For more information, email wrvp@sover.net.

∎ On Sunday afternoon at 3:30 at the Briggs Opera House in White River Junction, Juneberry Music will hold an introductory rehearsal to gauge interest in forming a community chorus of singers of all ages and abilities. The chorus will rehearse at the Briggs on Sundays through the winter, working on singing in unison, two-part harmony, three-part harmony, rounds and circle songs, in genres of music ranging from western classical and traditional folk to jazz and pop. While registration will take place at this first rehearsal, aspiring choristers are welcome to sign up ahead of time at juneberrymusic.com/community-chorus.html, where additional information is available. Chorus organizers Patricia Norton and Becky Luce will welcome donations at each rehearsal, to help cover costs of music, rental of the opera house and other expenses. If enough singers join, the organizers are aiming for a first concert on April 24.

∎ South Strafford accordion master Jeremiah McLane will lead his trio of guitarist/bouzouki player Owen Marshall and bassist/tenor guitarist Corey DiMario into the West Newbury (Vt.) Hall on Sunday afternoon for the second in the Rock Farmer Road Show series of Americana concerts. Admission to the show, which starts at 4, is $15. For more information, visit rockfarmerrecords.com or call 802-866-3324.

∎ The Haverhill Recreation Department is inviting performers and devotees of bluegrass and country music to the first in a series of six acoustic-music jams at the Clifford Memorial Building on South Court Street in Woodsville, on Sunday afternoon from noon to 4. While admission is free, light snacks are available to performers and listeners who pay the requested donation of $3. Subsequent jams are scheduled for Jan. 24, Feb. 7, Feb. 21, March 6 and March 20. To check whether a scheduled jam will go on in bad weather, call 603-747-2839 after 9:30 a.m. the day of the event or check radio station WYKR.

Looking Ahead

Folk singer-songwriter Cheryl Wheeler will bring her quick wit and wide-ranging voice to the Flying Goose Brew Pub and Grille in New London next Thursday night at 8. Reservations are required for the show, which starts at 8 p.m. To reserve tickets ($25) and learn more, visit flyinggoose.com or call 603-526-6899.

∎ Next Thursday evening starting at 5:30 at Barnard Town Hall, accordionist Jeremiah McLane of South Strafford and multi-instrumentalist Timothy Cummings of Monkton, Vt., will serenade the Feast and Field Winter Market and Harvest Supper with dance music that spread from northern Europe and the British Isles to eastern North America. The market doors open at 5.

Theater/Performance Art

As a benefit for The Upper Valley Haven, comedian Jim Breuer will take the stage at the Lebanon Opera House tonight at 7:30. For tickets ($25.50 to $49.50) and more information, visit lebanonoperahouse.org or call 603-448-0400.

∎ Need a fresh dose of intensity from Benedict Cumberbatch? The Hopkins Center will screen National Theatre Live’s HD simulcast of his star turn in Hamlet, on Saturday night at 7 in Dartmouth College’s Spaulding Auditorium. For tickets ($23) and more information, visit hop.dartmouth.edu or call 603-646-2422.

∎ The River Theater Company of Charlestown is inviting thespians of all ages and abilities to audition this coming week for its production of Oliver!, the musical adaptation of the Charles Dickens novel Oliver Twist. The production will run May 13 and 14 at Claremont Opera House. Auditions will take place at Charlestown Town Hall on Summer Street on Sunday afternoon from 2 to 4:30 and on Wednesday night from 6 to 8:30. All auditioners should be prepared to demonstrate the ability to perform simple dance steps, and should bring recent photographs or head shots of themselves. Behind-the-scenes workers are also welcome, and the company is looking for an assistant director with experience in choreography and dance and for a stage manager. For more information, or to arrange alternative audition times or to send a video audition, email Mike Wright at river.theater@yahoo.com.

Music

The DakhaBrakha quartet will perform folk melodies from the members’ native Ukraine and the Balkans region of Europe blended with punk, indie rock, pop and world music at Dartmouth College’s Spaulding Auditorium in Hanover on Wednesday night at 7. For tickets ($17 to $30) and more information visit hop.dartmouth.edu or call 603-646-2422.

Film

Former Arlington National Cemetery guard Ethan Morse will preview his documentary, The Unknowns, at the Bellows Falls (Vt.) Opera House tonight at 7. The movie follows the training and promotion of sentinels who take turns watching over Arlington’s Tomb of the Unknown Soldier day and night. Morse, a former resident of Putney, Vt., will answer questions after the screening. Admission is free. For more information, visit theunknownsmovie.com.

∎ The Woodstock Vermont Film Series resumes at Billings Farm and Museum on Saturday afternoon, with screenings at 3 and 5 of Desert Runners, a documentary about ultramarathoners who race in some of the most challenging landscapes in the world. To reserve tickets ($6 for Billings Farm members, $11 for others), call 802-457-2355. To learn more about upcoming movies, visit billingsfarm.org/filmfest.

Dance

A double dose of contra dancing at Norwich’s Tracy Hall on Saturday night begins at 6:30 with the Revels Band of Fools playing the music and caller Nils Fredland leading an hourlong family session; admission is by donation. And starting at 8, with Fredland continuing to call the steps, South Strafford accordion master and pianist Jeremiah McLane, Vermont fiddle phenom Sarah Blair and veteran singer-songwriter-guitarist David Surette will set the rhythm for Muskeg Music’s “Turn Up the Heat” contradance. Admission to the later dance, for which there will be a 7:45 run-through for newcomers, is $8 to $12 for ages 16 through adult, and by donation for seniors. For both sessions, dancers should bring a change of clean, soft-soled shoes.

For more information, email uvdm.org/dances or facebook.com/NorwichContraDance.

Bar and Club Circuit

The Brattleboro-based string band Pinedrop plays at Bentley’s Restaurant in Woodstock tonight at 8. Singer-songwriter Wayne Canney steps to the mic on Friday night at 9.

∎ Folk/pop chameleon Joseph Stallsmith steps to the microphone at the Canoe Club in Hanover tonight at 6:30. Following him to the stage with 6:30 to 9:30 shows over the coming week are pianist Keith Bush on Friday, jazz singer-guitarist Rowley Hazard on Saturday, Kenyon College’s Take Five a capella group on Sunday, guitarist Ted Mortimer on Tuesday and the folk duo of Dana and Susan Robinson on Wednesday. And on Monday night starting at 5:30, Marko the Magician will perform his tableside sleight-of-hand.

∎ Frydaddy frontman Carlos Ocasio plays a solo set at Jesse’s restaurant in Hanover on Friday afternoon at 5.

∎ Chad Gibbs leads his Turner Round quartet into Lebanon’s Salt hill Pub for a set of party rock on Friday night at 9. And at 5 on Saturday night, Arthur James plays and sings the blues.

∎ Royalton singer-songwriter Alison “AliT” Turner performs at the Inn at Weathersfield in Perkinsville on Friday night at 7.

∎ The funk-rock trio About Gladys plays Salt hill Pub in Hanover at 9 on Friday night. At the same time on Saturday, the trio Borderstone launches a set of classic rock.

∎ Moxley Union performs a mix of rock and soul at Skunk Hollow Tavern in Hartland Four Corners on Friday night starting at 9.

∎ Josh Gerrish infuses Salt hill Pub in Newport with a dose of country-western music on Friday night starting at 9, and on Saturday night at 9, Juke Joynt takes the stage with its blend of classic rock, funk, country and bluegrass.

∎ Faux in Love pulls into Windsor Station on Saturday night at 9:30 to play a set of indie rock, followed on Tuesday night at 6 by singer-songwriter Kyle Boisvert.

Open Mics

Jim Yeager leads an open mic at the ArtisTree Community Arts Center in South Pomfret tonight from 7 to 9.

∎ Ramunto’s Brick & Brew Pizza in Bridgewater hosts an open mic starting at 7:30 p.m. on Thursdays. Participants get a free large cheese pizza.

∎ String players of all ages and abilities are welcome at the weekly acoustic jam session at South Royalton’s BALE Commons on Friday night from 6:30 to 10.

∎ Joe Stallsmith leads a weekly hootenanny of Americana, folk and bluegrass at Salt hill Pub in Hanover on Monday nights starting at 6.

∎ Bradford’s Colatina Exit holds an open mic on Tuesdays at 8 p.m.

∎ The Seven Barrel Brewery in West Lebanon runs an open mic on Tuesday nights, beginning at 8.

∎ Jim Yeager hosts an open mic at Hartland’s Skunk Hollow Tavern, at 8:30 p.m. on Wednesdays.

David Corriveau can be reached at dcorriveau@vnews.com and at 603-727-3304.

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