Dragonfly Homegrown Music Zone lets artists be original

The members of the Chris Kirby Band, from left, Nathan Ames, Greg Wilson, Mr. Kirby, Chris Leslie and Rachel Flora, will perform at the first Dragonfly Homegrown Music Zone Sept. 12 in Townsend. (Submitted photo)

The members of the Chris Kirby Band, from left, Nathan Ames, Greg Wilson, Mr. Kirby, Chris Leslie and Rachel Flora, will perform at the first Dragonfly Homegrown Music Zone Sept. 12 in Townsend. (Submitted photo)

While most local bands make their money off of performing other artists’ material at area venues, many long just to play their own stuff.

The Sept. 12 Dragonfly Homegrown Music Zone in Townsend will give them that opportunity.
Eleven Delaware artists will gather at the Dragonfly Air Ranch for an all-day concert of solely original music.

“There are a lot of talented artists right here in our backyard. The hardest thing to do is to find a place that will let them play their original music and get paid to do it,” said Chris Kirby, of Wyoming, one of the event’s organizers and front man of The Chris Kirby Band, one of the musical acts slated to perform.

“It’s almost taboo for a lot of them to go out and perform original music. You just don’t do it. Ninety percent of the time they want you to play cover music. We think this the perfect place where they can do it in a professional atmosphere.”

Best Bets logo CLEAR copyDave Brenton, who will perform as Snarky Dave Sept. 12, owns the Dragonfly Air Ranch, which plays host to semi-regular blues jams.

“We both had the idea to kind of ramp up those events and make them larger. What better way to do it than host Delaware original musicians,” said Mr. Kirby.

Along with Snarky Dave and The Chris Kirby Band, the event also will feature headliner Shades of August, Old Baltimore Speedway, Toney Rocks, Covered Bridge, D Corridori Band, Justin McNatt, Greg Ellingsworth, Glynis Sampere and Hannah Sturtz.

Not just limited to music, more than 20 Delaware artists will be set up in the Dragonfly ArtZone, displaying and selling their own original creations.

There also will be a FoodZone featuring selections from Delaware eateries including Mojo Loco, Big Al’s Roast Beef and Tre Sorelle Dolce Ice Cream.

Mr. Kirby hopes organizers can make this an annual event.

“Putting this whole thing together has been a learning experience from the first time around. Once this first one is over with and the smoke and dust has cleared, we can figure out what we did right and what we can improve upon and start planning for next year,” Mr. Kirby said.

One thing he would like to see in the immediate future is opening it up to different genres of music.

“This year, we seem to have predominately artists in the singer-songwriter vein but we’d love to get bluegrass and country and even jazz represented as we move forward.”

The festival will be a rain-or-shine event as the grounds feature a large, enclosed hangar. Organizers ask that festivalgoers bring lawn chairs.

“At a lot of festivals the bands are protected but to the audience, they just say ‘Guys, you’re on your own.’ But if there is bad weather, folks can get out of the elements.”

There also will be a merchandise area where artists can sell their original music. Mr. Kirby plans to have his band’s new CD entitled “Distant Traveler” available.

It’s a follow-up to the group’s first recording “Whistling Past the Graveyard,” which was released last fall.

He describes the new album is a more stripped-down version of the first.

“There’s more guitar and less production. Less is better this time around and it turned out really well,” he said.

All veteran musicians, Mr. Kirby, who pens the songs, sings lead vocals and plays acoustic guitar, is joined in the band by Nathan Ames, guitar, mandolin, lap steel, Greg Wilson, bass; Chris Leslie, percussion; and Rachel Flora, mandolin, acoustic guitar and vocals.

“He hears stuff in sound mixes that I don’t until he points them out to me,” said longtime Dover-area singer-songwriter Jim Rezac of Mr. Kirby.

“All his years behind a mixing board, working with other musicians, as well as on his own music, has helped him develop not only his ear but his descriptions of what he hears.”

Originally conceived last year to just record music, The Chris Kirby performed its first concert Aug. 27 during Dover’s Concert on The Green series.

“The whole thing just evolved into all of us wanting to start playing again. The juices starting flowing. The music is pretty good. We just figured ‘Let’s see what kind of a response we can get,’ ” he said.

So far, Mr. Kirby said the response has been great. Last week’s Concert on The Green event drew a couple of hundred people.

“We had a great turnout and got a lot of good feedback. When you expose yourself to the unknown, you’re not sure how it’s going to turn out but it went really well.”

After the Homegrown Music Zone, The Chris Kirby Band and Shades of August will play the 100-seat Patchwork Playhouse on Roosevelt Avenue in Dover, home to the Kent County Theatre Guild for a night of original music on Oct. 16.

Ticket requests can be made by hitting the Contact button at www.chriskirbyband.com or www.shadesofaugust.com.

Tickets and more information for the Dragonfly Music Zone can be obtained by visiting www.dragonflymusicdelaware.com. They are $15 in advance or $20 at the gate.

The Dragonfly Air Ranch is at 1274 Caldwell Corner Road. Gates open at noon. The ArtZone runs until 6 p.m. with the music ending at 10.

Full fall for Friends of Folk

Keeping the local music theme going, the Delaware Friends of Folk are poised to begin a very busy fall season. This equates to a four-month stretch with one open-mic, three coffeehouses, four State House concerts, a two-day festival, and a total of 21 musical acts.

“We’re going to be very busy,” said Jan Crumpley, Friends of Folk media director. “But since our mission is to share the joys of folk music, more is better.”

The launch event occurs on Friday, Sept. 11, when the Friends of Folk will host their first of this season’s Winter Concert Series in the Old State House on the Dover Green.

Produced in partnership with Delaware’s First State Heritage Park, this concert series was piloted in the fall-winter season of 2014/2015, and received an positive reception.

The first four shows feature Jim Rezac in September (Americana music), Mike Plunkett in October (Civil War and Irish music), Chris English in November (blues), and John Flynn in December (folk). The concerts will then continue, with monthly performances, through March. Thanks to a grant from the Kent County Fund for the Arts, these shows are free.

The next event is the 24th Annual Delmarva Folk Festival, near Hartly.

Scheduled for Sept. 24 and 25, the program includes kids’ games, vendors, food, camping, a bonfire, and fireside jam sessions.

Friday night at the festival, the Friends of Folk will host the finals for this year’s Delmarva Folk Hero Contest, in which the audience will select this year’s Delmarva Folk Hero from six finalists. Last year’s winners, acoustic rockers Dan and James, will host.

The music resumes at noon Saturday and continues until 11 p.m., with a lineup including Shane Palko, Acoustic Stackabones, Frog Protectors, Sankofa, Andy and Denise, Free Range and Me and My Friend Phyllis.

The aforementioned Covered Bridge, the acoustic duo featuring Kevin Nemith and Joey Fulkerson, will close the show.

Along with these activities, the Friends of Folk will continue their traditional Coffee House Concerts at the Wesley Chapel in Dover. The Oct. 17 Coffee House has a jazz theme, with acoustic-jazz artist Sean Cheezum, and world-jazz musician Phyllis Chapel. Shawn Qaissaunee, a folk artist with Afghan influences, will perform at the November Coffee House on Nov. 21.

The final event of the season will be the Friends of Folk traditional Holiday Open Mic, during which the organization celebrates the year and the holiday season by sharing the stage with any performer wanting to play.

“All this activity is good for the Delaware Friends of Folk and good for the community,” said Friends of Folk Board President Jon Kidd.

“We’ve gained a lot of new members this year, and we’ve been able to help share all types of music and provide venues for numerous musicians.”

For more information about Friends of Folk activities, call (302) 827-FOLK or go to DelFolk.org.

Now showing

New this weekend in theaters is the Robert Redford adventure-comedy “A Walk in the Woods” and the suspense sequel “The Transporter Refueled.”

On DVD and download starting Tuesday is “The Age of Adeline” with Blake Lively and Harrison Ford and “American Heist” with Hayden Christensen and Adrian Brody.

Reach features editor Craig Horleman at chorl@newszap.com

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