Monday, February 20, 2012

A Freight Station Rides the Acoustic Rails

The Jacob Stroud Corporation hosted local Monroe County, PA musicians Renard Cohen and Cara Cara along with Mark Mandeville and Raianne Richards from Webster, MA on Saturday February 18th at The Dreibe Freight Station in Stroudsburg, PA as an initiation of their Acoustic Concerts at the Station Series. The well attended event took place in a welcoming space within station as pre concert conversations between musicians and music lovers filled the seemingly small venue until it grew as large as the feelings of good will that inhabited the hearts of all who came to partake of the evening’s entertainment.

After a few welcoming words given by Billy Mack, who books the performances for the series, Renard Cohen and his guitar took their place to start an acoustic ruckus. There was a joyful enlightening quality in his songs which touched upon the many issues confronting our environment faces in these challenging times. His song, “Fracken Shame” addresses the practice known as “Fracking” which attempt to extract oil from shale deposits by forcing toxic and flammable chemicals deep under the Earth’s surface. It has been claimed this procedure can contaminate sources of drinking water with some evidence to substantiate these claims.

There are those who dispute these claims but, regardless where one stands on the issue, Mr. Cohen’s performance filled the room with a good natured atmosphere with those he dedicated to the issues along with those reflecting the experiences which embodies the seemingly ordinary circumstances of our daily lives. The reality of some of the circumstances presented in song may not easily lend themselves to inspiring a smile, but Mr. Cohen’s presentation of these circumstances elicited such a response as we become aware of how surmountable they really are.

Renard Cohen is a singer/songwriter and Emmy winning producer who began writing and performing in the tumultuous 60s and still believes that music should entertain, inform and enlighten. He is currently producing a documentary on “Fracking” called “Groundswell.” More information on the film can be gained by visiting its website at Renard is also in the band called, “Son of the Blues and can be seen in the lead role of “The Thwarting of Baron Bolligrew” at The Shawnee Playhouse in Shawnee on Delaware, PA during the last 2 weekends in March. To learn more about Renard Cohen and all his endeavors, please explore his website at

Upon the completion of Mr. Cohen’s performance, a brief intermission was followed by the entrance of Mark Mandeville and Raianne Richards as they tuned their instruments to present songs whose roots who would grow deep within those who heard their enchanting tunes and insightful lyrics. Their musical stylings resonated throughout the room as head swaying and toe tapping became the norm along with moments of stillness created to absorb the meaningfulness of many of the compositions offered by the duo. The range of songs and the varied emotional responses they inspired filled the soul with solemn smiles which lingered long after the final note was played.

As mentioned earlier, Mark Mandeville and Raianne Richards traveled from Webster, MA to be a part of this initial concert at the Driebe Freight Station. Their style has been known to falls between the alt-country and folk music categories with comparisons to The Jayhawks, Uncle Tupelo, Gram Parsons, John Prine, Wil Oldham, and others made. Regardless of such esteemed comparisons, the duo has a voice all its own and that voice reaches out to those who hear it in ways their musical inspirations may seek to compare themselves to. You may learn more about Mark Mandeville and Raianne Richards by exploring their website at

The final performance of the evening was presented by Cara Cara. Her soft haunting voice echoed as the seemingly unfinished quality of many of her songs allowed it to be completed within each listener. There was a sense a spirit was dwelling and moving among the room leading many to listen for it with a feeling heart. There was a momentary touch felt upon the soul and it’s disappearance created a yearning only to be satisfied by experiencing another sensation embodied in another song. And, when the final song was played, one is left with the sustaining memory of the subtle effects all the combined tunes created.

Cara Cara is currently Studying Animal Behavior at East Stroudsburg University of PA but it‘s unclear whether or not she has joined a fraternity to do so. Although her life begun on February 27th 1990, her songs are of timelessness quality which last beyond the ages. You may learn more about Cara Cara by exploring her facebook page at

The evening ended as many reluctantly left their chairs with wishes the concert would never end. Yet, it was the lure of sharing their experiences with others through conversations which allowed many to be moved. A communal smile lit the eye as a reminder this concert was the first of a series and there are more to come. You’ll find more photographs taken during the first of Acoustic Concerts at the Station Series at The Driebe Freight Station 2012 Gallery at

The Dreibe Freight Station was built in 1882 and serviced shipments traveling along the New York, Susquehanna and Western Railroad. In now serves as an art gallery to showcase the collections of the Monroe County Historical Association. Special exhibits by local artists are offered throughout the year. Please Explore The Monroe County Historical Society Website for more information about the Station and to learn more about the history of the area.

The Jacob Stroud Corporation was formed in 1995 in order to revitalize the downtown historical heritage. They continue to establish a healthy downtown environment for residents and visitors to the area. The next performance in their Acoustic Concerts at the Station Series will feature The Christopher Bell at The Dreibe Freight Station on Wednesday March 14th beginning at 7:30pm. The Jacob Stroud Corporation also presents their Annual “Stroudfest” event in September featuring entertainment throughout the day along with opportunities to explore and purchase works created by artists, artisans, and crafters living in and around the Stroudsburg, PA area. To gain more information about The Jacob Stroud Corporation and all they have to offer the community as well as its visitors, Please Explore their Website at

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