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Highlights: Paying Tribute to Otis Redding

  • Carlos Ocasio, of Hartland, sings Otis Redding's "Mr. Pitiful" and Scott Paulson, of Bethel, provides the bass line during a rehearsal in the Hopkins Center in Hanover, N.H., Monday, Dec. 4, 2017 ahead of a tribute to Redding to be performed Sunday, Dec. 10 at the Briggs Opera House. Ocasio gathered a band of well known Upper Valley musicians to form the band. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Singer Carlos Ocasio, of Hartland, claps a rhythm while discussing a horn arrangement written by Don Glasgo, of Norwich, left, for "Satisfaction" during a rehearsal for their Otis Redding tribute concert in Hanover, N.H., Monday, Dec. 4, 2017. Keyboard player Ian Gollub, of Norwich, looks on at right. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Carlos Ocasio directs the band through the end of a song during rehearsal for their Otis Redding Tribute in a Hopkins Center rehearsal hall in Hanover, N.H., Monday, Dec. 4, 2017. From left, are Greg Palmer, Barb Smith, Don Glasgo, Ian Gollub, and Scott Paulson. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Trumpet player Greg Palmer, of Springfield, N.H., stretches his cheeks and lips after an hour of rehearsal with the band put together by singer Carlos Ocasio in a rehearsal hall of Dartmouth's Hopkins Center in Hanover, N.H., Monday, Dec. 4, 2017. The band will perform a tribute to Otis Redding at the Briggs Opera House on Sunday, Dec. 10. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.



Valley News Staff Writer
Thursday, December 07, 2017

After reading about the impending 50th anniversary of the death of Otis Redding, Carlos Ocasio started recruiting fellow Upper Valley musicians for a tribute to the star-crossed soul singer.

The Frydaddy frontman didn’t need to ask guitarist Ted Mortimer twice.

“He started to tell me about the idea, and before he was done,” Mortimer said, “I interrupted him and asked if I could play guitar in the show.”

It also didn’t take long for trombonist Don Glasgo, saxophonist Barbara Smith, trumpeter Greg Palmer, bassist Scott Paulson, drummer Bobby Sparadeo and keyboardist Ian Gollub to commit to gather at Briggs Opera House in White River Junction this Sunday night, where they will accompany Ocasio on (Sittin’ on) The Dock of the Bay and other Redding hits.

“As soon as I started throwing the idea around, the musicians were pumped about it,” Ocasio said in a telephone conversation. “I’m lucky in that I could have picked two of everything because there are so many talented musicians in the Upper Valley.”

Ocasio, who co-runs and books the Friday-night musical acts at Skunk Hollow Tavern in Hartland Four Corners, started building that network in 1986, after moving to the Upper Valley from his native Syracuse, N.Y. He had first encountered Redding’s work in the mid-1960s, listening to his older brother’s 45 r.p.m. records. Redding perished in a plane crash on Dec. 10, 1967.

“I remember crying when he died,” Ocasio said. “In the neighborhood where we lived, you couldn’t do that in front of the other guys.”

While Ocasio’s love of soul music evolved toward what groups like Earth, Wind and Fire were playing in the 1970s, he often heard more senior musicians “still talking about the old-school guys, like Otis and Solomon Burke.”

Mortimer, who attended Dartmouth College in the late 1960s and wound up settling in the Upper Valley and leading the dance band Dr. Burma, was following a similar musical trajectory while growing up in New Mexico.

“The first song I remember hearing Otis sing is That’s How Strong My Love Is, which was written by Solomon Burke,” said Mortimer, who now plays with The Party Crashers, the Stone Cold Roosters and other bands. “I also remember his incredible duets with Carla Thomas on King & Queen, especially Tramp. To my young ear, this music seemed incredibly raw and intense compared to most of what I was hearing on the radio at the time. It was a glimpse of real life, not sugar-coated or sentimental, but still joyful.”

While Redding died at age 26, Ocasio, now in his 60s, doubts that “I could have sung like him until now.

“It’s like, ‘Oh: It fits now.’ … You get to appreciate it more. Listening to that music all those years, and then tackling it, is a whole different animal.”

Mortimer, who counters that “Carlos could have done this at any time if he’s wanted to,” is nevertheless grateful for the timing of Sunday’s concert.

“All of us have worked with Carlos at one time or another over the years, but never all at one time,” Mortimer said. “I think we were all eager to finally get a chance to do an ambitious project together.”

Add altruism to the ambition: Proceeds from ticket sales will go to the Vermont Foodbank, and the audience also is invited to bring non-perishable food that will go straight to the Upper Valley Haven.

“I have this thing about kids being hungry,” Ocasio said. “I grew up poor. I know what hunger pangs are about.

“So what better cause, especially at Christmastime?”

Carlos Ocasio leads a parade of Upper Valley musicians in a tribute to soul singer Otis Redding at the Briggs Opera House on Sunday night from 7 to 10. Admission is $20, with proceeds going to the Vermont Food Bank. Listeners also are welcome to donate non-perishable food for the Upper Valley Haven.

Best Bets

City Center Ballet dances the Clara’s Dream passage of Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker on the stage of the Lebanon Opera House four times over the coming weekend, starting tonight at 7. For tickets ($9 to $38 in advance, $14 to $43 at the door) and more information, visit lebanonoperahouse.org or call 603-448-0400. City Center dancers will host pre-performance teas at the Lebanon Ballet School, on the downtown mall, on Saturday at 1:30 and 2:30 p.m., and on Sunday afternoon at 1:30. To reserve tickets ($15) for a tea, visit citycenterballet.org or the opera house ticket office in City Hall.

The Parish Players kick off their two-weekend revival of Peter Parnell’s Scooter Thomas Makes It to the Top of the World at the Eclipse Grange Theatre on Thetford Hill tonight at 7:30. After this Saturday night’s performance, Parnell will talk about the evolution of the play with Dartmouth College theater professor Peter Hackett. To reserve tickets ($10 to $15) and learn more, visit parishplayers.org or call 802-785-4344. Proceeds benefit the programs of West Central Behavioral Health.

In a tune-up for the Paul Winter Consort’s annual winter solstice celebration in New York City next week, cellist Eugene Friesen plays a solo concert on the theme of “Cello by Candlelight” on Saturday night at 7:30, at the North Universalist Chapel in Woodstock. Admission is $15.

Pianist Annemieke McLane, accordionist Jeremiah McLane, piper Tim Cummings and soprano Julie Ness perform Advent and Christmas music at the United Church of Strafford on Friday night at 7. Admission is by donation, a portion of which goes to the church’s Manheim Fund for artistic endeavors with a spiritual dimension.

Singer Luette Saul and bassist Peter Concilio join pianist Sonny Saul at Pleasant Street Books in Woodstock on Sunday afternoon, for a concert of jazz, to raise money for efforts to help Puerto Rico recover from Hurricane Maria. Before the concert, scheduled to run from 5 to 7, Washington, D.C.-based psychiatrist Milangel T. Concepcion Zayas will talk about the mental-health impact of the storm’s aftermath. Admission is by donation.

Looking Ahead

Revels North will stage six performances of “A Nordic Celebration of the Winter Solstice” at Dartmouth College’s Spaulding Auditorium in Hanover, between next Thursday night and Dec. 17. For tickets ($8 to $46 on opening night, $11 to $48 for Dec. 15, 16 and 17) and more information, visit hop.dartmouth.edu or call 603-646-2422.

The Upper Valley Music Center is inviting aspiring singers of all ages and abilities to its annual recital of Handel’s Messiah at the First Congregational Church of Lebanon, on Dec. 17. To register to sing or play an instrument, at a fee of $15, visit uvmusic.org/events. The suggested admission for listeners is $10.

Theater/Performance Art

Northern Stage continues its production of Disney’s The Little Mermaid at the Barrette Center for the Arts in White River Junction over the coming week, starting with performances this afternoon at 2 and tonight at 7:30. For tickets ($15 to $69) and information about subsequent shows, visit northernstage.org or call 802-296-7000. The musical runs through Jan. 7.

Shaker Bridge Theatre stages Mark St. Germain’s romantic comedy Dancing Lessons over the next two weekends, starting with a performance tonight at 7:30 at Whitney Hall in downtown Enfield. For tickets ($16 to $35) and more information, visit shakerbridgetheatre.org or call 603-448-3750.

Vermont Pride Theater is scheduling auditions this weekend for its January staged reading of part 1 of Trans Scripts, the play that Paul Lucas built around interviews with more than 75 people of transgender experience. To arrange an audition at Sunday’s session at the Bethany UCC Church across Main Street from Chandler Music Hall in Randolph, email director Cher Laston at dramaqueen1957@gmail.com or producer Sharon Rives at kenrives@gmail.com. The performance will take place at Chandler Music Hall on Jan. 27, with proceeds benefiting the transgender rights project of GLAAD, the advocacy organization formerly known as the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.

The Parish Players hold two auditions next week for their 12th annual Ten-Minute Play Festival. Before the sessions at the Eclipse Grange Theatre on Thetford Hill on Monday and Tuesday nights, each running from 7 to 9, there will be an hour of reading and reviewing scripts and breakdowns of the casting for each play. The festival is scheduled for Feb. 8-18. To learn more, visit parishplayers.org or call 802-785-4344.

Music

The Pine Hill Singers perform traditional and modern music of the holiday season from England, Wales, Ireland and Scotland during their annual winter concert at Alumni Hall in Haverhill on Friday night at 7. Admission is free. 

The a cappella chorus Wrensong sings English, German and French Christmas carols on Saturday afternoon at 3 at the Norman Williams Public Library in Woodstock. Admission is free.

Cameo Baroque performs seasonal works of Jean-Baptiste Quentin and other French composers at the Church of Christ at Dartmouth College in Hanover on Sunday afternoon at 1. Admission is by donation to the Upper Valley Haven and to the 19 Days of Norwich and Beyond.

The New Hampshire Troubadours, an a cappella madrigals ensemble based in the Lake Sunapee region, present a free concert of Christmas music on Sunday afternoon at 3, at the Episcopal Church of the Epiphany in Newport. The church’s UpBeat Youth Choir will add its voices to several songs.

The Randolph Singers and the Festival Youth Chorus tackle seasonal carols and works of Handel during their “Handel with Care” holiday concert on Sunday afternoon at 4, at the Chandler Music Hall in Randolph. Admission is by donation.

The Horse Meadow Chorus performs songs of the season at the Horse Meadow Senior Center in North Haverhill on Monday morning at 11. Admission is by donation.

Dance

Shindy sets the rhythm and Dana Dwinell-Yardley calls the steps during Muskeg Music’s contradance at Norwich’s Tracy Hall on Saturday night at 8. Admission is $6 to $9.

Students from The Dance Factory in Springfield, Vt., perform the Tchaikovsky ballet The Nutcracker on Saturday night at 7 and on Sunday afternoon at 2 at Springfield High School. Admission is $8 to $13. For more information, visit The Dance Factory page on Facebook.

Bar and Club Circuit

Gary Hubbard and Dan Freihofer, aka The Dinosaurs, play country blues at Peyton Place restaurant in Orford tonight, between 6 and 9.

Burlington-based singer-songwriter Erin Cassels-Brown performs at The Skinny Pancake in Hanover tonight at 7. The string band Saints & Liars appears at the venue on Friday night at 8.

Larry Allen Brown and the Acoustic Earth Trio play a session of roots music at the Flying Goose Brewpub and Grille in New London tonight at 8. To reserve seats ($25), visit flyinggoose.com or call 603-526-6899.

Royalton singer-songwriter Alison “AliT” Turner performs at the Inn at Weathersfield in Perkinsville on Friday night from 7 to 10.

The Harmony Hill quartet plays the Sunapee Community CoffeeHouse on Friday night at 7, downstairs at the Methodist Church in Sunapee Harbor. While admission is free, donations are welcome.

The Vermont roots band Still Hill performs on Friday night at 9 at Skunk Hollow Tavern in Hartland Four Corners.

Mo’Combo kicks off the weekend of music at Salt hill Pub in Hanover with a set of soul and jazz on Friday night at 9. On Saturday night at 9, multi-instrumentalist and singer Shrimp Tunes rocks out.

Singer-guitarist Ted Mortimer joins Soulfix at Salt hill Pub in Lebanon on Friday night at 9. And on Saturday night starting at 9, the Adam McMahon Trio plays across the spectrum of blues, country, classic rock and modern pop.

Arthur James sings and plays the blues at Salt hill Pub in West Lebanon on Friday night at 9. The Americana-rock trio Acoustic Truffle performs at the venue on Saturday night at 9.

Country singer-songwriter Ben Fuller performs at Salt hill Pub in Newport on Friday night at 9. Tirade rocks the house on Saturday night at 9.

The Gully Boys pull into Windsor Station on Saturday night at 9:30.

Open Mics

Jim Yeager hosts several open mics over the coming week: tonight at 7 at ArtisTree Community Arts Center in South Pomfret; Friday night at 6 at Big Fatty’s BBQ in White River Junction; Monday night at 8 at Bentley’s in Woodstock; at the Public House in Quechee on Tuesday night at 6; and on Wednesday night at Skunk Hollow Tavern in Hartland.

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 hosts a weekly hootenanny of Americana, folk and bluegrass at Salt hill Pub in Hanover on Monday nights at 6.

Fiddler Jakob Breitbach leads a weekly acoustic jam session of bluegrass, Americana and old-timey music on Tuesday nights at 7 at The Filling Station Bar and Grill in White River Junction.

Tom Masterson and Brian Tarleton host a weekly open mic at Bradford’s Colatina Exit on Tuesday nights at 8.

David Corriveau can be reached at dcorriveau@vnews.com and at 603-727-3304. Entertainment-related news and announcements also can be sent to highlights@vnews.com.

Correction

Carlos Ocasio will lead several Upper Valley musicians in a tribute to soul singer Otis Redding at the Briggs Opera House in White River Junction at 7 p.m. Sunday. An earlier version of this story gave an incorrect time and date.