Monday, September 15, 2014

Before, During, and After COTA

The 37th Annual Celebration of the Arts (COTA) Jazz and Arts Festival was held from Friday September 5th to Sunday September 7th throughout the town of Delaware Water Gap, PA. The event has become a haven for those who not only enjoy the qualities of the musical form of Jazz but of the many creative offerings those who participate each year share with the many who attend. These include a Music Motif exhibition held at The Antoine Dutot Museum and Gallery along with Classical Music, Dance Performances, and Theater presented at The Presbyterian Church of the Mountain. In addition to this, the festival offered the works of several artists and artisans throughout the Saturday and Sunday portion of the event in which attendees could leisurely peruse the booths and make a desired purchase.

Although the festival officially began at the town’s The Antoine Dutot Museum and Gallery, my adventures began a bit earlier. These were at The Castle Inn Art Gallery which is located within The Shoppes at The Castle Inn Complex in Delaware Water Gap, PA The gallery held an Artists’ Reception on Friday September 5th for their exhibition titled, “Listen With Your Eyes” featuring the work of Emilio Arostegui, James Chesnick, Laurinda Faye Rubin, Clavertis Miller, and Susan Molina-Washington. The work was as varied as the artists who created it and the entirety of the show enticed the many who attended the reception to experience each piece from within.

After exploring the work and sharing a great number of thoughtful conversations with the artists and others, I left The Castle Inn Art Gallery to partake of the official commencement point of The Celebration of the Arts festival at The Antoine Dutot Museum and Gallery. Upon arriving at the gallery, I was greeted by the Classical Musical Trio known as Calliope playing in the parking lot. The ensemble consists Gina Bertucci and Barbara McMahon on Flute along with Laura Goss on Bassoon. It was a delight to be bathed in their musical renditions of Classical and Americana melodies until the desire to experience the art within the gallery grew too strong to resist.

The Antoine Dutot Museum and Gallery in Delaware Water Gap, PA held their Artists’ Reception for The Delaware Water Gap Celebration of the Arts Music Motif Show on Friday September 5th. The incredible work consisted of pieces created by local artists, photographers, and sculptors who imagery blended with the exhibit’s musical theme. Colors and images flowed through the gallery like familiar melodies allowing the multitude of art lovers who were present to experience their own visual songs anew. The exhibit was a juried one with prizes award to those whose creative skills exceeded those of the contemporaries. I was not present during the award ceremonies but I could surmise the selection of the winners was a difficult one as the caliber of the work made the task a daunting one. The jurors for the show were Rick Chamberlain, W. Andrew Worthington, and Bill Lowenburg. The exhibition continues to be on display until September 21st.

I left the gallery to continue my festival journeys to The Presbyterian Church of the Mountain which is located across the street of the Dutot. The program presented at the church was titled, “The Other Arts” which featured an evening filled with classical music, theater, and dance. The evening began with some welcoming remarks given by The Reverent Sherry Blackman who will be installed as the new minister of the church on Sunday September 21st, 2014. Her words delighted the sizable audience who eagerly anticipated the night’s offerings.

The conclusion of Rev. Blackman’s words brought The Marsha Cahn Ensemble to the stage. The trio of classical musicians consisted of Marsha Cahn on viola, Linda Kistler on violin, and Dan King on cello. Together they played a selection of serenades that wooed the audience with their  beautiful melodies ranging from the jovial to the thoughtful. The performance moved the audience’s dreams as they learned the realities of their imagination through each measure.

The Marsha Cahn Ensemble were followed by The Totts Gap Dancers who are from The Totts Gap Arts Institute (TGAI) located in Bangor, PA The dancers consisted of Laura Buzzard and Maeve Godshalk who performed a piece titled, “Celebration” which was choreographed by Angeline Wolf Gloria. The work was danced to the music of the Cello Suite in G. Major, BWV 1007, by J. S. Bach which was performed unaccompanied by Max Watkins. The performance brought a profound sense of joy to the audience as the movements of the dancers created a soaring sensation within each soul who experienced it.

The Totts Gap Dancers were followed by The Sounds of Strings Quartet who was introduced by Carlena Back. The group consists of Olivia Reed and Joe Snyder on violin along with Emily Geiger on viola and Sophia Rostock on cello. The foursome enchanted the audience with their selection of recently composed pieces which are often heard on classic rock radio stations. Their insightful musical interpretations allowed the modalities of classical arrangements to manifest themselves into the essential elements of each piece. The performance proved to be a delight especially for those who chose to quietly sing along.

The Sounds of Strings Quartet were followed by the return of Laura Buzzard and Maeve Godshalk of The Totts Gap Dancers who performed an improvised piece titled, “Just Like in Church” with music composed by Eric Doney and performed by pianist Mitchel Cheng. The flowing gestures of the dancers touched the audience with their truths as their soulful originations echoed those found within the experience of each viewer. A quiet serenity was felt as the final steps of the dance were taken leading the audience to a journey further on.

The Totts Gap Dancers were followed by The Water Gap Players Theater Group consisting of Denny Carrig, Dave Hymes, and Greg Back. The one act play they presented was titled, “Waiting for Bar O” which was written by Greg Back. The work was a satirical piece based upon the classic play titled, “Waiting for Godot” written by Samuel Becket in 1948 and debuted in 1953 at The Théâtre de Babylone in Paris, France. This variation of the original work explores numerous political issues of the day. The performance was a very amusing one encouraging each member of the audience to seriously contemplate the far reaching consequences of the national political system if things remain they as they presently are.

The Water Gap Players Theater Group were followed by another return of The Totts Gap Dancers who consisted of Sophia Villano, Amanda D’ Orsi, and Kristen Stopfer. The piece they presented was titled, “Kansas City” which was performed on tape by BJ Micheal and Pattie with the dance choreographed by Duane Gosa. The theatricality of the performance delighted the audience with its energies and enthusiasm. Each movement accented the song’s joyfulness and inspired numerous smiles from those who followed the dancers on their quest to go to Kansas City.

It was at the conclusion of The Totts Gap Dancers number did the evening at The Presbyterian Church of the Mountain come to a sudden end. It was at this point did the flavor of the first day of the festival embrace those who partook of its qualities. Like many, I went home with a heart filled with fond memories of the day coupled with an excitement as I anticipated the start of a new day in which I would continue my experience of The 37th Annual Celebration of the Arts (COTA) Jazz and Arts Festival in the morning. I was surprised by the relative ease in which I found myself asleep and I awoke afresh with a invigorating readiness to begin another day.

This day began at 8am on Saturday September 6th as I arrived at the festival site to learn what duties were to be performed in my capacity as a member of the COTA Security team. The site was nearly empty except for a few vendors who were completing the placement of their merchandise and members of the COTA Stage Crew who were making the last preparatory adjustments to the technical aspects of the concert. I greeted a number of friends whom I had made during the years as I journeyed to the Security Command Center located in the back stage area to meet with my fellow members.

Once there, I was partnered with a woman named Fran and was told our first shift would be at the front gate area where people who would purchase their tickets to enter the festival. The start of our shift was set for 9am and was scheduled to last until 11am so I had enough time to stop by The Presbyterian Church of the Mountain’s food booth to purchase an egg, ham, and cheese sandwich on a croissant which has become a traditional breakfast on mine every year I participate in the festival. It was as delicious as I remembered.

After I munched on the small feast, I met my partner at the command center prior to our traveling to our first post of the day. The festival wasn’t scheduled to open it’s box office until 10am so those who were assigned to work the point of sale spot busied themselves in preparing for the arrival of the many festival goers who were expected. This included positioning a tarp to protect those purchasing their tickets from the rain that threatened the day. The 10am hour soon came close and the box office crew finalized their preparations as the final vendors drove out of the festival site after unloading the last of their merchandise in their tent.

A sizable crowd of music lovers gathered at the booth eagerly awaiting the words, “Can I help You” to be spoken by the Box office Staff. A quiet joy was felt among the company as the first of many tickets was purchased and a wrist band was affixed to the happy buyer so they could enter the festival and  begin their day of bliss. It was then that my partner watched the exit to make sure no one snuck in without paying while I stood at the entrance greeting people of which many I had gotten to know throughout the years at the festival while handing out programs. It was a pleasurable shift that was enhanced by the distant echoes created by the sound checks that were taking place as our time at the front gate was coming to an end.

Our relief team arrived so I took leisurely strolled back to the command center while visiting the many artists, artisans, and merchants who shared their talents and merchandise with those who entered their booth. These included a number of vendors outside the festival grounds who were able to utilize spaces granted to them by shop owners who populate the town. I visited an author of a newly published book who was offering copies to interested readers for purchase and a gentleman who created sculpted pieces out of slate rock which included insignias of local fire departments. Those whom I visited inside the festival grounds included Patrice Jiunta (The Jeweler’s Workbench Jeweler’s Workbench, Susan Bradford and Anita Bondi (Madala Design Works), Don Conklin (Music Lamps), Tim Helman (mixed media), David Coulter (Photography), Linda Newswanger (Git Lit Stained Glass), Bud Nealy (Knives), Susan Lange (Massage Therapist), Jim Smeltz (Artist), Elizabeth Smeltz (Jeweler), Wish Designs (Festival Sportswear), and The Shoppes at The Castle Inn who were also present to share their wares and endeavors. It was great to visit them all.

It was during the delightful conversations I shared did I hear the welcoming words of the announcer declaring the 37th Annual Celebration of the Arts Festival was about to begin. The soothing melodies Nancy (on bass and vocals) and Spencer Reed (on guitar and vocals) are well known for gently woke the festival goers with their harmonies. They were accompanied by Drew Siciliano on drums whose rhythmic beats moved the essence of each selection’s tempo among the audience and covered each member with a warm welcoming sensation. It was during the performance of Nancy and Spencer Reed when I finally made my way back to the Security Command Center to check in and to learn where my next station would be and, as I did, I went to my chair which I previously set up to partake of the wonderful effects of their enchanting stylings.

It was prior to the completion of their set did my second shift as a member of Security of the day began. I returned to the command center and was reacquainted with my partner who joined me in one of the golf carts made available for transportation so we could travel to our assigned station known as “The Intersection.” It is there where members of security help direct traffic assisting those who are musicians and other participants where to obtain their festival credentials and parking spaces along with helping festival goers determine where to park their cars.

The Intersection is a good spot to be as it affords the opportunity to greet a great number of people. However, its proximity from the stage makes it an impossibly to hear the music being played it. So, unfortunately, I missed the performances of Najwa Parkins and The After Hours Trio with Najwa Parkins on vocals, Tal Shtuhl on tenor saxophone, Dan Hanrahan on guitar, Justin Sekelewski on bass and most of The Evan Gregor/Matt Vashlishian Quartet with Evan Gregor on bass, Matt Vashlishian on saxophone, Vic Juris on guitar, and Jeff Hirschfield on drums. Still, the ephemeral essence of the music was in the air and I enjoyed its sensations when I returned to the park from my shift.

It was while I bathed in the musical aroma did I feel a hunger touch my stomach. So, I explored the food court to determine which of the wonderful choices of delicious cuisines would touch my lips. There were many to choose from which included offerings from Buddy’s Barbeque, Zoe’s Ice Cream Emporium, The Delaware Chamber of Commerce, The Presbyterian Church of the Mountain, and The Notara Dance Theatre along with newcomers to the festival such as Quench who offered a variety of wraps and other health conscious dishes and the Girl Scouts who offered a variety grilled sandwiches. Leon’s Fireside Café was also there to serve their Middle Eastern cuisine and whose presence especially touched the hearts of those who visited the festival as the passing of Chef Leon Shiner was made known. The decision what to eat was a difficult one to make but I eventually decided upon a bowl of Black Bean and Rice with Chicken mixed with some sour cream and hot sauce I got from The Willow Tree Inn

After my meal, I met up with The Dixie Gents who were strolling around the festival grounds entertaining people while the musicians set up for the performances on the main stage. The joy of toe tapping Dixieland Jazz filled the air as Bob Levie on Trumpet, Ken Foy and Rick Chamberlain (one of the festival’s co founders) on Trombone, Ray Schweisguth on Banjo, Paul Hubble on Soprano Saxophone, and Jim Daniels on Tuba played to a delighted crowd. It was soon after their performance did Bob Dorough and Friends take the stage which consisted of Bob on piano and vocals, Steve Berger on guitar, Pat O’Leary on bass, Jimmy Mcbride on drums, Chris Persad on trumpet, and Michael Hornstein on alto sax. The bippity bop rhythms Mr. Dorough is known for filled the festival with smiles and dancing as youthful hearts and feet moved to each beat of the songs he played.

It was after the performance of Bob Dorough and Friends did I return to Security Command to meet with my partner to begin our final assignment for the day which was at the much coveted area known as “The Steps.” This area is next to the stage and the duty of those stationed there is to make sure only those individuals authorized to go back stage are permitted to travel up the steps to go there. This is a very desirable spot as it affords one not only the opportunity to see and hear the performances during the shift but to meet the performers as they go back stage to prepare for their set.

It was during our shift did Phil Woods and The COTA Festival Orchestra begin to play. The orchestra was conducted by Phil Woods who is one of the co founders of the festival and consisted of a large number of who’s who in the Jazz Community. The power of the sound emanating from the orchestra and its musical qualities was only surpassed by the caliber of talent embodied in the musicians who played each piece with the graceful precision a big band is known for. Phil Woods and The COTA Festival Orchestra was followed by The Diva Trio who consisted of Sherrie Maricle on drums, Noriko Ueda on bass, and Tomoko Ohno on piano whose melodies and sense of fun proved to be a contagion no one in the audience sought a cure for. The trio was joined by vocalist Sue Giles whose voice and gentile demeanor further enhanced the qualities of the music as she moved her stylings from her being which were favorably reminiscent of those employed by Jazz Great Ella Fitzgerald.

Our shift ended during The Diva Trio performance and we returned to the Security Command Center to share our farewells to our comrades and to express our eagerness to return the following day to participate in the festival. It was then I returned to the festival to continue enjoying the music presented by The Diva Trio and Sue Giles. It was at the completion of their set was an announcement made that the storm that threatened the day was expected to arrive shortly and, if it was accompanied by a great deal of lightning, the concert would be halted and attendees would be able to take refuge under the back stage tent. This was being done to safeguard the audience and musicians from any hazardous effects of the oncoming storm. It was after this announcement did the final performance scheduled for the day take the stage.

When Miss Ida Blue took the stage, she TOOK the stage with her bold and sassy countenance and shook the audience with her sultry rendition of some honky-tonk jazz reminiscent of the compositions heard at the best of the New Orleans Juke Joints and Bordellos where one would devilishly dare to enter. Her straight forward interpretations epitomized the bluesy wisdom of her songs and created the feel of the venue where they were first played. Miss Ida Blue was accompanied by Lil Jim Fryer on trombone, John “Showboy” Gill on guitar, Dan “Choppin’” Block on clarinet and saxophone, and Moanin’ Jay Rattman on bass saxophone. Their instrumental finesse enhanced the performance and added a great deal of atmosphere to the set.

But, alas, the performance ended much too quickly as torrential rains began to fall and I left the festival site to gain the safety of an automobile to take me home. It was there where I removed my drenched clothing and fell into my bed in order to rest up for the final day of the festival while allowing my dreams to fill my soul with the wonders I experienced through the music and the conversations I engaged in. The rhythm of the raindrops touching my window aided in my sleepy endeavor as I drifted off toward another morning.

I awoke refreshed and arrived at the festival site around 9am on Sunday September 7th. I met with my comrades at the Security Command Center where my partner, Fran, and I received our first assignment of the day. We were scheduled to begin our first shift at 11am at The Children’s Area of the park in which parents with school age children leave their little ones to be playfully occupied while in the care of loving adults. However, since we had time before our first shift began, I ventured down to The Presbyterian Church of the Mountain’s booth where I obtained my customary Ham, Egg, and Cheese Sandwich on a croissant prior to the beginning of the festival’s Annual Jazz Mass.

The Annual Jazz Mass has become a favorite among festival goers for the music and for the meaningful messages conveyed through the insights shared by the clergy who participate. The service began with a call to worship led by The Reverend Karen Nickels (Retired from The Presbyterian Church of the Mountain) who served as Worship Leader along with Reverend Sherry Blackman (The Current Pastor of The Church of the Mountain) and Bill Cohea (former Interim Pastor of The Church of the Mountain) who served as Liturgists. The music for the Mass was composed and conducted by Rich Chamberlain (co Founder of COTA). The orchestra’s performance given by numerous Jazz greats roused the spirituality of the sizable audience as did the songs rendered by  the Jazz Mass Choir under the direction of Teresa Marino along with solo performances given by Michele Bautier, Denny Carrig, and Bonnie Childs. The days meditation (aka Sermon) was given by Reverend Karen and took note of how the musical art form of Jazz reflects God’s Kingdom with every musician’s creative gift is allowed to come to the fore under the direction of a loving conductor.

I took my place at the Children’s area while the Jazz Mass was coming to an end but left the area when the mass concluded in order to join with my fellow members of security in the customary act of asking those attending the service to leave the site so the front gate would be able to meet the festival’s financial needs to determine who paid to enjoy the rest of the event. While the process was being enacted, The Lost Ramblers performed near the front gate area entertaining everyone with their well known renditions of bluegrass and country music making the necessary process of waiting in line an enjoyable one. The Lost Ramblers consists of John Updike on the Five String Banjo, Neil Morris on Guitar, Jim Schaffer on Bass Fiddle, H. David Husic on Fiddle, Anthony Hannigan on Mandolin, and Jillian Bronsan on Flute and Pennywhistle.

My partner and I returned to the Children’s Area in order to help keep a watchful eye on the little ones so their safety could be assured while being available to the vendors in the food court who may have a need for a security personnel to help in their endeavors. It was during our shift did the first performance of the day begin. From a distance, I heard the gentle sounds of The Bill Mays Trio with Bill on piano, Tim Horner on drums, and Dean Johnson on bass. The flavor of their performance reflected that of the previous day’s beginning presented by Nancy and Spencer Reed but the trio’s nuanced approach to their music created a different feel that was embraced by the audience. I could not see or hear the group clearly from my vantage point, but the essence of their renderings touched me as it did with all who listened.

Soon after the performance given by the Bill Mays Trio concluded, so did my shift at The Children’s Area. The trio were followed by Co-Op Bop who consisted of Alan Gaumer on trumpet, Nelson Hill on saxophones, Tom Kozic on guitar, Rick Chamberlain on Trombone, Craig Kastelnik on Hammond B3 organ, and Gary Rissmiller on drums. The group was joined by Vocalist Pat Flaherty whose powerful phrasings transfixed the audience through every syllable she shared. Co-Op Bop was followed by a performance given by COTA Cats Volume XXXIV.

The COTA Cats is a big band consisting of high school students attending area schools who have an interest and proficiency in the musical art of Jazz. The COTA Cats were established in 1981 through the efforts of COTA Co Founders Phil Woods and Rick Chamberlain who sought to inspire and mentor local area high school musicians in the fine art of big band performance. Although each COTA Cat possess exceptional talent, there are some who are recognized for having special promise and are awarded scholarships so they may continue their musical education. This year, the recipients of these scholarships were Anna Speer who will be attending Elizabethtown College to study music therapy, Ian Denny who will be attending Penn State University to study Music Education, and Elijah Denny who will be attending Kutztown University to study Music Education.

It was during the COTA Cats Volume XXXIV did the time for my second shift of the day was scheduled to begin and I went to The Security Command Center to discover my partner and I were assigned to the Front Gate Area as we were the previous day. From my vantage point, I was able to hear the distant sounds of Expansions: The David Liebman Group with David on saxophones, Bobby Avey on piano, Matt Vashlishan on saxophone, Tony Marino on bass, and Alex Ritz on drums. Although I could not see or hear them clearly, the musical effect of their auditory wanderings could be experienced through the countenance of the people whom I observed who were well within listening range.

As my shift ended, The Vic Juris Trio were about to perform with Vic on guitar, Jay Anderson on bass, and Adam Nussbaum on drums. However, I felt the urge to eat and I traveled to the food court area to explore the culinary delights that were offered. My hunger and I decided to splurge so purchased and ate a quarter rack of ribs from Buddy’s Barbeque. Although I couldn’t see or hear clearly The Vic Juris Trio from the food court area, their musical echoes made the meal all the more enjoyable.

When I completed my meal I was about to leave to become a part of the audience so I could partake of the music more fully. But, I was soon joined by a member of security who wished to share a meal so we went to the tent inhabited by Quench where I bought and consumed a Chicken and Rice dish that was delicious. I had eaten enough to keep me filled for the next couple of days. It was during the completion of this second meal did I notice Drummers Sherri Maricle and Skip Detrick setting up for their Drum Fun Session at The Children’s Area. I quickly moved closer to enjoy watching the drummers and children bang away on various forms of percussions in joyous abandonment. I then returned to finish my meal with my fellow security person as The Vic Juris Trio was concluding their set.

We finished our meal as the announcement Nellie McKay was about to perform. The delight in the prospect of hearing her sing flooded my senses as I eagerly awaited her arrival on stage. She did so wearing a yellow Kimono outfit that moved gently as she made her way to the piano to begin her first song. Laughter and thoughtfulness filled the eyes and hearts of all who heard her as she alternated between piano and ukulele utilizing each instrument’s modalities to enhance the qualities of her songs. Every word she uttered was an enchantment that touched the magic within every audience member who partook of her musical potions.

It was during Ms. McKay’s performance did it become time for me to return to the Security Command Center to meet with my partner so we could begin our third and final shift of the day. I was delighted to discover it would be at the area known as “The Steps” where I could continue to fully hear and see Ms. McKay’s performance. Yet, soon after we arrived at our station, the set had come to an end before it was scheduled to do so and, like a wisp of scented smoke reminiscent of a whisper from the divine, she was gone.

After some time had passed, the final band of the night and festival took the stage. The Shocknaw Mountain Boys consisted of John Skehan on mandolin and piano, Andy Goessling on guitar, banjo, and dobra, and Johnny Grubb on bass while featuring Tim Carbone on violin and guitar. The wild country and bluegrass sounds the musician made delighted the crowd as the creative energies of the audience made for the most artistically performed hoe down dancing I have personally ever laid eyes on. A number of guest musicians joined the group as the conclusion of their set approached. It ended with a crescendo of appreciative applause that were echoed in the final words of the announcer who thanked the band and the audience for bringing The 37th Annual Celebration of the Arts Jazz and Arts Festival to a memorable end.

During the festival, a number of awards and presentations were shared. These included the 2014 Sterling and Dorothy Strauser Award which honors an individual’s contribution to the visual arts, The 2014 Joanne Mayer Award which honors the endeavors of an individual COTA Volunteer, and The 2014 Fred Waring Award which honors an individual’s outstanding contributions to the arts and the community. The festival also introduced its new Executive Director, Kathyn Rudolph, who has assisted Tim Helman (who designed this year’s poster) and other members of the COTA Board of Directors in obtaining grants. The passing of members of the festival’s community were also mentioned and these individual were musicians Richy Barz and Peter Phillips along with (as mentioned earlier in this article) Chef Leon Shiner.

In addition to its annual festival, The Celebration of the Arts presents Camp Jazz which is offered every summer to those who seek an intensive, week long immersion in jazz music and technique mentored by renowned jazz greats. Camp Jazz was formed in 2007 by Phil Woods and Rick Chamberlain (co-founders of COTA) as an extension of the festival and its educational arm to foster and encourage local talent in a more relaxed environment than that found in a school offering a staff of mentors who are well established in the national and international Jazz community. Scholarship are available to those who wish to attend but are unable to afford the participation fee. These include the newly established Richard (Richy) Barz and the Stanley Kay Scholarships.

The Celebration of the Arts (COTA) Jazz and Arts Festival began in 1978 by Phil Woods, Rich Chamberlain, and the late Ed Joubert and takes place every year the Weekend after Labor Day. From its humble beginnings which consisted of a 4 hour concert held on risers near the steps of an Annex of the Castle Inn with an audience of just over 500 people which was mostly made up of friends, family, and some ardent jazz fans, the festival has evolved to become a Mecca for jazz enthusiasts throughout the world. The three day festival is presently presented in cooperation with the Borough of Delaware Water Gap, PA, The Castle Hill Development, Inc., and the Delaware Water Gap, PA Joint Toll Bridge Commission. Music presented at the festival is recorded by Chiaroscuro Records for later release. In addition to it’s annual festival, The Celebration of the Arts (COTA) also supports the arts and the music of jazz in all its forms and historical breadth through youth education, performing arts presentations, scholarship opportunities, and community outreach throughout the Pocono area.

Those who would like to lend their time and talents to The 38th Annual Celebration of the Arts Jazz and Arts Festival are welcomed to attend COTA’s Volunteer Meetings. They are held at The Deer Head Inn in Delaware Water Gap, PA during the Spring and Summer Months. The festival and all its functions is organized and run by volunteers. Numerous volunteer positions are available and they include Back and Front gate workers along with Security and Stage Crew personnel. I hope to see you at a future meeting so we can serve the festival together while creating some wonderful memories. Please feel free to explore The Celebration of the Arts (COTA) Facebook Page at or visit their website at for more information about the festival, what the organization has to offer the community, and how you can be involved in all they do.

Just as I began my adventures in COTA before the official event commenced, it didn’t end for me when the final notes and farewells were shared at the festival site. As the many music and art lovers were traveling to their cars to make their way home to relive their memories, I traveled across the street to partake of the COTA After Party that was being celebrated at The Deer Head Inn with a Jazz Jam led by Bill Goodwin. Numerous musicians and singers joyfully demonstrated their profound talents through the sheer joy of playing together. It was a delight to see and listen to the love these individuals expressed for one another as the music they embraced bonded them together. It was a wonderful end to a fantastic festival and I look forward to coming back next year. You’ll find the photographs I took before, during, and after the festival in The COTA 2014 Gallery at Thank you for reading this article.

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