Downstate duo of Hench, Hudson in tune with Delmarva

Rick Hudson, left, and Tom Hench will perform at the Old State House on The Green in Dover Friday night in a free cocert.

Greenhead flies, horseshoe crabs and Delmarva moons.

Not only are those items familiar to most folks living below the C&D Canal, they are also fodder for the fertile singer-songwriting minds of Tom Hench and Rick Hudson.

Combining a mix of folk, Americana, blues and what they call “back porch” music, the two sing of the experiences of everyday life around here — from pets to driving in “Lower Slower” Delaware to First State history,

Mr. Hench and Mr. Hudson will perform a free concert Friday at the Old State House on Dover’s Green as part of the Delaware Friends of Folk annual concert series. The show starts at 7:30 p.m.

The pair, both retired teachers, met a couple of years ago through the Friends of Folk. Separately, they are both recent winners of the Friends’ Delmarva Folk Festival Folk Hero Contest and saw each other perform at the festival.

“He said ‘You want to get together and see if we can write some songs?’” Mr. Hench recalled.

“So we got together and did some songs and wrote some songs, and out of that, came two albums.”

Their first album “Delmarva Moon,” which came out in 2019 has songs with titles such as “Peninsula,” “Green Head Fly,” “Ride, Rodney, Ride” and “Lower Slower Delaware.”

Their second album titled “Dogs, Cats and Other Critters,” released this past summer has “The Horse Shoe Crab” and plenty of other songs about another one of their favorite topics, animals, including “The Best Darn People in the World,” which just happen to be about their pets.

Mr. Hench, who dabbled in music during his working days in Southeastern Pennsylvania, moved to Kitts Hummock a little over eight years ago. Meeting Mr. Hudson, who lives in Leipsic and is a transplant himself, was a boon to Mr. Hench as Mr. Hudson has been a longtime musician.

“It’s a good process between the both of us. He’ll have something. I’ll have something. Sometimes he’ll do most of it or I’ll do most of it. But have fun doing the songs. And we write about life, just different things about life. I think people enjoy it,” Mr. Hench said.

“Teaming up with Rick, who’s done this all his life, and just has a wealth of experience, has been good. He can show me stuff and I can run something by him and he can look at it and we can kind of work at it together. He’s also a very good instrumentalist — autoharp, banjo, harmonica, mandolin. He’s got a lot of different skills there,” said Mr. Hench, who plays the guitar, bass, mandolin, harmonica and tin whistle.

Mr. Hench said songwriting is a very collaborative process with Mr. Hudson.

“Sometimes there will be an idea or something. Like for example, horseshoe crabs. Let’s write a song about that. So, we both went off for a week and wrote some stuff and came back and said ‘OK, where does this fit in?’ And sometimes, as you’re writing the song, the lyrics will change the melody a little bit, or the melody may change the lyrics you want to put in a little bit,” he said.

“So once we come up with something, then we can look at it and say, ‘OK, what do we have to change, this or that?’ and it sort of flows better.”

Although neither men are natives to the area, they find life Downstate fun to write about.

“You have New Castle County, which is more upscale and then you have the beach area. And then everything in between is a little bit lower slower if you will. So there’s all kinds of things around here and we’re working on some songs now that have to do with some other things,” Mr. Hench said.

He points to tunes in process which are about Squagum Road in Leipsic and the DeBraak shipwreck in Lewes.

“Horseshoe crabs, greenhead flies, we try to write about stuff people can relate to. We do other songs as well but this was just a way of kind of getting things started and you can have a nice little set here that you can play that people will recognize and they might identify with,” Mr. Hench said.

Their song “Lower Slower Delaware” encapsulates a trip down through the area, whether it’s catching up with Great Aunt Myrna in Smyrna or no denying watching those stock cars flying at the Monster Mile, the duo offers a musical glimpse of the sights and sounds of the lower two counties.

On their first album, “Delmarva Moon,” both get to sing about their wives, whether it’s Mr. Hudson’s “Susan on the Farm” or “Lady of County Kent,” which tells of Mr. Hench’s wife Janice, who is an official lady, by virtue of a land purchase in Scotland.

“Basically my philosophy is you write about things you know. And that can be people, animals, places, situations, feelings, whatever you know. If you’ve known it or experienced it, that provides the grist to come up with a song,” Mr. Hench said.

This is the seventh season in the Old State House series, which is produced in cooperation with the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs and First State Heritage Park and is supported by a grant from the Kent County Fund for the Arts.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, seating will be by reservation only. Call 302-423-6052 to reserve a seat. Face masks are required.

For more information on Mr. Hench and Mr. Hudson, visit RickandTom.net.

Grant applications open

Speaking of the Kent County Fund for the Arts, nonprofit organizations throughout Delaware are invited to apply for grants from the fund administered by the CenDel Foundation.

Over $20,000 in grants will be awarded to qualified 501 (c)(3) programs and organizations that create art and produce artistic events in Kent County.

Grant requests must be submitted on a 2021 KCFA application form, available at www.cendelfoundation.org. Completed applications must be received or postmarked by April 3, 2021. Grant recipients will be announced in July of 2021.

The Kent County Fund for the Arts was created in 2008 through a generous contribution by Rosemary Twilley, in memory of Joshua Twilley, Esq. The KCFA is also supported by members of the Greater Kent Committee and art patrons across the state. The funds are managed by the CenDel Foundation, a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization, along with the KCFA advisory board.

CenDel is committed to helping people in central Delaware transform their communities through charitable giving. For more information, call 724-7538 or visit www.cendelfoundation.org.

Winter in Wilmington

Over 2,750 families have enjoyed the holiday spirit since The Grand, Riverfront Development Corporation, Light Action Productions and the city of Wilmington opened the Winter in Wilmington Light Show on The Riverfront on Nov. 27.

More than 450 cars per night have weaved their way through 40 lit displays to the holiday tunes of artists that have played The Grand Opera House in Wilmington over the years.

In total, over 4,700 car passes have been purchased to date, with the exhibits open now through Jan 3. Thanks to the early successes of the light show the organizations have added six new dates to the calendar, bringing the grand total to another 18 nights of lights. They are Dec. 21-23 and Dec. 28-30.

“It has been very challenging to be a performing arts organization that can’t open its theaters, so we really wanted to do this for the community,” says Executive Director Mark Fields.

“We are delighted by the response thus far. Not only are we still serving our mission by entertaining to our friends and neighbors in Wilmington, we are also making sure that The Grand maintains its vital presence in the community.”

Patrons are reminded that they can pre-purchase passes in advance to reduce contact day of or they can purchase on site using a credit card or cash.

Tickets are on sale now and are $25 per car; a portion of each sale will go to reopening The Grand after the pandemic. Tickets are available online only at www.TheGrandWilmington.org. Advanced online reservations/pre-purchased admission is strongly suggested. The Grand is not accepting any in-person purchases at the due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

‘Sweet Sounds’ this weekend

Possum Point Players will stage the musical revue, “Sweet Sounds of the Season” this weekend.

Directed by Kenney Workman and Music Director Stacey Hartman, Friday and Saturday evening shows are at 7:30 p.m. and matinees are scheduled at 2 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. Following COVID-19 protocol for seat spacing of audience members results in fewer available seats and smaller audiences for each performance.

The Players added Saturday matinees to ensure that more people can enjoy the show.

All seats are $22 and may be purchased at www.possumpointplayers.org or by calling 302-856-3460. Socially distanced seats will be assigned together for those who order tickets together. Face covering is required for all when they enter or when they are not seated and is recommended for those who are seated unless they are enjoying refreshments.