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Emelin Theatre Blog - From Kentucky to Mamaroneck: Bluegrass At the Emelin
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Monday, February 28, 2011, 11:36 AM - Posted by Administrator
Great article about the Bluegrass series at the Emelin on Patch.com today! Thanks to Patch and Marc Ferris for the support!

http://larchmont.patch.com/articles/fro ... e-emelin#c

From Kentucky to Mamaroneck: Bluegrass At the Emelin

One of the longest-running series of bluegrass music concerts isn't in Kentucky, the birthplace of the genre, but in Mamaroneck at the Emelin Theatre. Started by enthusiasts J. Jay Mautner and Doug Tuchman 29 years ago, the showcase still attracts large, boisterous crowds.

After Mautner moved to Manhattan and Tuchman passed away, the torch passed to Arnie Fleischer in 2006. Fleischer, a Brooklyn native who lives in New Rochelle, is a bluegrass devotee who plays banjo in a group called the Westchester Bluegrass Boys and scouts out bands that he thinks will be successful in Mamaroneck at festivals and gatherings nationwide.

Kentucky native Bill Monroe, the father of bluegrass, forged the traditional sound in the late 1940s and 1950s, emphasizing the banjo, mandolin and fiddle as solo instruments. Sometimes called "folk music on steroids," bluegrass bands convey their musical message through instrumental virtuosity and tight harmony vocals.

"It's not the kind of music you usually get in this area, but Arnie picks the best of the best," said Lisa Reilly, executive director at the Emelin. "And he does it all as a volunteer; usually people get paid for programming."

Fleischer mixes established acts, like the Nashville Bluegrass Band, who performed last October, with up-and-coming groups like Gold Heart, consisting of three sisters, who appeared in December. Female-fronted bands are a plus and he likes to include a mix of traditional bands that adhere to the sound of the music's Golden Age and contemporary acts that include different influences.

"It's more of an art than a science to do it right," he said. "The biggest challenge of putting together a series like this is to keep the current audience, build that audience by attracting new fans and not price people out."

Though no seat tops $42 this year, some of the bigger bands in the genre, like Del McCoury and Rhonda Vincent, who appeared in the past, are too expensive nowadays.

"Bands that come from the South in a big bus that gets three miles to the gallon started raising their rates when gas prices started going up," said Fleischer.

Many of the bands on the circuit don't tour full time, so when they cross the Mason-Dixon Line, they often combine bookings.

"Usually, they buzz in and buzz out with no interaction, but we've talked about sponsoring ancillary activities that would keep them here a little longer, like school programs," said Reilly.

Audiences at the concerts are enthusiastic. During a show last year by Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver, an established group that appears on National Public Radio's "A Prairie Home Companion," attendees refused to let the band leave the stage. The group obliged by playing an extended second set and delivering several encores.

For the first 20 years, Mautner underwrote the series, but he attributes its long-term success to Tuchman and Fleischer, who, he said, "are able to get involved in the industry, forge strong friendships and bring world class artists through at attractive prices."

Also, "there is a nucleus of bluegrass fans in the area," he said, "but the other aspect is that the people in and around Mamaroneck are adventuresome and they'll go for a night out to the Emelin and once they hear bluegrass, they get hooked. I've never met anyone who heard the music and doesn't like it."

Upcoming Concerts:
March 11 – Michael Cleveland and Flamekeeper
April 15 – Dailey & Vincent

To purchase tickets online, please visit the Emelin Theater website here.

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