Monday, September 30, 2013

Places of Beauty at the Dutot

The Antoine Dutot Museum and Gallery in Delaware Water Gap, PA held an Artists’ Reception for their exhibition titled, “Here and There: Beautiful Places We Live Near, Beautiful Places We Have Visited” featuring the work of Gordon and Jean Perry along with that of Norbert Scanlon on Friday September 27th. With nearly 100 pieces displayed throughout the modest sized gallery, one can’t help but to be impressed by the enormity of the exhibit. The beautiful landscape images and the array of colors they encompass further impressed the numerous gathering of art lovers who came to experience an exhibit that lived up to its title more than adequately.

The images created by Gordon and Jean Perry along with Norbert Scanlon varied in their locations and the medium in which they were created including those of watercolor, acrylic, oil, and photography. Many conversations evolved not only around the vivid beauty of the images but of the memories they inspired within those who have visited the sites depicted within each frame. While some of the sites included those located in distant surroundings such as the European Continent, most were of areas depicted were located within the United States particularly around the Pocono region of PA.

In either case, the entirety of the work allowed the viewer to travel with their mind to a world full of places whether they were part of one’s life journey or of a place where they would like to visit before their journey ends. The exhibition made the road a beautiful one through the considerable talents of the artists who paved it with their undeniable love for the subjects they shared through the exhibit. You’ll find more photographs taken during the Reception in The Dutot 2013 Gallery at

Gordon Perry recently retired from the teaching of various undergraduate and graduate level biology courses at Fairleigh Dickinson University in Madison, NJ. His background in science allows him to utilize the methods it employs to enhance his creative approach in the art of photography. Mr. Perry has won numerous awards for his talents and has been published in several magazines, calendars, and books.  Mr. Perry believes that serious photography is an art form that temporarily removes one from the everyday world and provides inner peace.

Jean Marie Perry is an Art teacher, professional artist, and art historian who teaches students from the primary to the tertiary level of education the inner beauty one can discover through the arts. While Ms. Perry finds her inspiration in the work created by the American Impressionists of the early 20th century, her creative renderings does more than reflect their approach by transcending them through her considerable talents. Ms. Perry is a member of the Pocono Arts Council, the Palmerton Photo Club, and the Warren County Arts as well as an assortment of historical, nature and animal organizations and art museums. She believes that art comes from the heart and there is something in art for everyone. You can learn more about Gordon and Jean Perry by contacting them at for more information.

Norbert Scanlan grew up in Ebensburg, PA and was surrounded by farms and sensational landscapes which provided the visual drama that is captured in his work. Mr. Scanlan studied at the School of Arts and Architecture on the campus of Penn State University and developed a passion for travel as reflected by the variety of subjects he captures through his talents. As a retired teacher, Mr. Scanlan continues to work with young adults by encouraging them to explore their creative talents while recognizing and appreciating the amazing natural beauty that surrounds us everyday and everywhere. You can learn more about Norbert Scanlan and his creative world by exploring his Facebook Page at

The Antoine Dutot Museum and Gallery originated as a brick school house built c. 1850 by Antoine Dutot who founded the town of Dutotsville before it was renamed to Delaware Water Gap, PA. In addition to the exhibitions presented at the gallery, the museum offers tours and educational opportunities for those who would like to learn more about the area. The current exhibition titled, “Here and There: Beautiful Places We Live Near Beautiful Places We Have Visited” featuring the work of Gordon and Jean Perry along with that of Norbert Scanlon will be on display at the gallery until October 13th. The gallery’s final exhibition for 2013 will be their “Beyond a Reasonable Doubt” exhibit featuring the work of Allen Higbee and will take place on October 19th and 20th. Please Explore The Antoine Dutot Museum and Gallery Facebook Page at for more information.

A Sherman Excursion

The Sherman Theater in Stroudsburg, PA held an Open House on Wednesday September 25th. The event served to showcase the venue’s newest improvements to its structure as well as to share information about the process in which the theater decides who will be presented upon its stage. A modest number of musicians along with some artists attended the event which began with sharing a conversation with the theater’s owner, Rich Berkowitz, and Booking Specialist Cheryl as they answered questions about the venue over Pizza and Beer.

One of the main topics discussed during the conversation surrounded the controversy of a practice known as “Pay to Play.” The theater has been accused of utilizing this practice and sought to set the record straight. It was explained that “Pay to Play” meant a band would be required to guarantee a minimum attendance through pre-show ticket sales before they could perform in a venue. It was maintained this practice does not occur at The Sherman Theater.

Instead, The Theater says it encourages bands with a small to medium sized fan base to self promote themselves by selling tickets prior to their performance in order to help the band to build a following and to be assured that an audience will hear them play. Selling tickets is also necessary in order to cover some of the cost of putting on a show in a non profit venue as large as the Sherman Theater. The Sherman Theater’s distinction between the “Pay to Play” concept and their criteria of presenting bands with a small to medium sized following seemed to satisfy those who were present for the event.

The Open House event included a tour of the theater’s lobby, balcony, dressing room, and performance space along with a visit to its adjacent Living Room Venue which the Sherman acquired in 2012. This venue serves several functions including a space for performers and VIPs to meet and greet one another prior to or after a show, Art Exhibitions which are free to the public and does not charge hanging fees or commissions to the artists who participate in them, concerts which are modestly priced and allows musicians to perform without pre selling tickets to it, and the weekly presentation of their Open Mic Nights which are free to anyone who would like to attend and/or participate in them. It was mentioned the venue is ideal for bands with a small fan base as the funds to present a show is considerably less than those required to stage a performance in the main Sherman Theater.

As the tour came to its conclusion, a number of side conversations took place in which musicians sought information on how to book their bands either at The Sherman Theater or The Living Room. The event proved to be an informative one with an emphasis repeatedly being made in regards to the Sherman Theater’s desire to help bands and other artists present their work at the venue and the care they put into every show they present. You’ll find more photographs taken during The Sherman Theater’s Open House event in The Special Events 2013 Gallery at

The Sherman Theater in Stroudsburg, PA first opened its doors on Monday January 7th, 1929 and was presented to the public as “a paradise of architectural splendor.” The first evening program included a live performance given by Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy and a screening of the film titled, “Synthetic Sin.” The theater continued to showcase both live Vaudevillian performances and film presentations until the theatrical form of Vaudeville came to a close and film screenings dominated the programs. This continued until December 28th, 1983 when The Sherman Theater closed its doors.

A few live theatrical productions were presented at The Sherman Theater by local companies from the late 1980s until the mid 1990s but the venue mostly laid dormant until 2005 when Richard Berkowitz bought the building and endeavored to restore it. The venue has presented a variety of performances including concerts given by performers of national and international renown, local bands and musicians who have progressed significantly in their careers, and theatrical productions by local companies. Upcoming events to be presented at The Sherman Theater includes the 3rd Annual Sherman Cage Rage MMA fights on Saturday October 5th, a concert featuring the progressive improvisational band known as Umphrey's McGee on Thursday October 24th, the Annual Screening of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” on Saturday October 26th, and Gregg Allman of The Allman Brothers Band on Tuesday October 29th. You can learn more about The Sherman Theater, their upcoming events, how to perform on their stage, and all they have to offer the community by exploring their website at

Thursday, September 26, 2013

An Autumnal OMN

The creative commemoration of a change in seasons greeted those who attended and participated in another installment of The Living Room’s weekly Open Mic Nite Series on Sunday September 22nd. The Stroudsburg, PA venue, known for it’s welcoming atmosphere, opened their doors as the first hint of Autumnal colors touched the trees lining the streets of the town. Soon, guitars began being tuned by their owners and excitement filled the air as anticipation grew while waiting the for evening’s entertainment to begin.

The hour finally arrived when Co Hosts AP and Jessie Roth (aka JR) welcomed the gathering and introduced the first performer. BRAMBY (aka Brad B.) took to the stage, signaled the co host to turn on his music, and began to dance with moves that mystified and amazed all who were witnessed to them. He was followed by Melissa whose vocal performance engulfed the room with her magnificent voice leaving a profound silence in its wake except for the eventual applause and very vocal show of praise by those who heard her. She was followed by co host AP who amused the gathering with the vocal manipulations all have come to love.

AP was followed by Harold Jenkins whose reading of his literary works instilled a profound silence among his listeners who took the words and the experiences they conveyed to their hearts. Harold was followed by The Duet known as Woodrow who consists of Theresa Ratliff and Brian Bramkamp and who never fails to bring some good vibes to whatever venue they play. This was especially true of The Living Room where they played a mixture of songs dating back to the 1960s along with some tunes recently released and played on the radio. In either case, they bought a relaxed hippy like style to the songs which proved to inject a wonderful contagion of happiness into the audience.

Woodrow was followed by several solo guitarists who performed their songs each with an unique style that enhanced the evening. They included Rob Lytle whose voice flowed gently through the crowd, Kes Lyman whose familiar presence pleased the audience once again, Nick Fuentes whose congenial disposition was reflected in every song he played, Vinnie Huevos whose kick ass interpretation of the music he played rocked the room, and Michael Welten who elicited numerous comments regarding the sexiness of his voice and, although every seat is a front row seat in the venue, Melissa (who sang earlier that evening) made a special front row seat for herself during his performance. The front door had to be opened to cool the place down.

As the gentle evening breeze calmed the room and the final resonance of the guitars’ strings dissipated, Dom White took the stage to bless the mic with his a cappella performance of hip hop that impressed the gathering to a great degree. He was followed by Tycho who was joined by Vinnie. Together, their guitars struck not only the chords of their instruments but the thoughts of everyone who heard them. As Vinnie and Tycho concluded their performance, it was announced the official list of performers for the evening had reached its end.

However, since the event had more time to spend before reaching it’s scheduled close, Woodrow was called back to the mic to perform a few last songs to finish the night. Their performance proved to be a fitting farewell to the evening as their finale was the Jefferson Airplane song titled, “White Rabbit” which was written by Grace Slick and was released as part of the band’s album titled, “Surrealistic Pillow” in 1967. The song’s lyrics utilizes imagery alluding to Lewis Carroll’s (aka Charles Lutwidge Dodgson) children’s books titled, “Alice's Adventures in Wonderland” and “Through the Looking-Glass” reflecting the psychedelic nature of the times the song was written while its music reflects the rhythmic crescendo of the classical composition written by Joseph-Maurice Ravel titled, “Boléro.”

Woodrow’s rendition of the song empowered the gathering as it’s final notes echoing the rallying call to “Feed Your Head” filled the imaginations of many with speculative wonderments about what would be in store for them during the next installment of the Open Mic Nite event. Denizens of The Living Room shared their good byes after the song while dreamingly moving along the town’s sidewalks toward their destinations waiting for the days to pass so they could continue their adventures through the looking glass for the soul found in the wonderland known as The Living Room. You’ll be able to find more photographs taken during the Sunday September 22nd Open Mic Nite in The Living Room 2013 Gallery Part 4 at

The next installment of the Living Room Open Mic Nite Series will take place on Sunday September 29th beginning at 7pm. Musicians, poets, writers, and anyone who would like to share something with an audience are welcomed to do so. You can learn more about The Living Room Open Mic Nite Series by Exploring their Facebook Page at

In addition to the Open Mic Nites presented at The Living Room, the venue also holds a Gallery which presents the work of visual artists from around the area. Their current exhibition is their September Exhibition titled, “Word and Text” featuring a group show showcasing the work of local artists. The work will continue to be on display until September 30th. The next exhibition will take place in October and will feature the works of Keyaira Daniel, Andrew Ozkenel, Shane Izykowski, and the artists of Inksplat 13. The Artists’ Reception will take place Saturday October 5th beginning at 6pm with the work being on display until October 30th. The Living Room is located on Main Street in Stroudsburg, PA next to The Sherman Theater who owns the building. Please Explore The Living Room Facebook Page at for more information on The Living Room, all they have to offer, and how to be a part of it all.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Photography Prime and Simple

A new Gallery in Stroudsburg, PA known simply as “Prime” celebrated its debut with an Artists’ Reception on Saturday September 21st. The gallery is located at the Stroudsburg Studios and their first exhibition was titled, “Simplicity” which featured the work of area photographers. A competition based upon each photographer’s proficiency in the aspects of the art was held with the three top winners awarded a prize during the event. Music for the event was performed by Jesse Morales.

A great number of photographers both participating in the exhibit and those who wanted to view their contemporaries’ work along with many who where present simply because they love the photographic arts filled the modestly sized space. The room was also filled with a sense of excitement as an optimism was shared by many of the attendees interpreting the existence of this gallery as part of a trend leading to a viable art community being established in the town. Those who had experienced the town when it had vibrant art scene a few decades ago, shared their memories with those new to the area. This led to an anticipatory communal speculation of what the future could hold if this was indeed the case.

During the early and mid 1990s, a plethora of galleries began taking route along the Main Street of Stroudsburg, PA. The Pocono Arts Council (known then as The Monroe County Arts Council) was a driving force in the art community and established monthly Art Walks which encourage art lovers to travel and partake of one gallery after another during the first Saturday of the month. The numbers of galleries were so plentiful and filled with lively conversation that many found it a challenge (if not an impossibility) to experience all the art in one night. This endeavor was further put to the test with the presence of musicians and street artists along with activities to enjoy like horse drawn carriage rides throughout the town vying for the attentions of the many attendees who visited the town.

However, during the late 1990s, a mass exodus of galleries took place which disseminated the cultural community. Much of this was due to the area’s lack of consistent leadership in the artistic community and the lack of support the area business community had for the endeavor. But mostly, the decline was due to the galleries’ economic dependence upon commissions form sold artwork to pay the rental fees so they could remain open. The fallacy in this reasoning was the fact those living in Monroe County have always experienced hard economic times and were (an remains to be) ill equipped to afford expensive pieces of art when they could barely afford to feed their families or pay their bills of necessity.

However, during the mid 2000s, The Sherman Theater was bought by Richard Berkowitz who revitalized the structure and the Artistic Community through the presentation of a variety of performances ranging from concerts by local bands to theatrical productions presented by local troupes. This encouraged others who lived outside the area to invest their time and talents to the local artistic community initiating several creative ventures enhancing the town’s aesthetic soul. Although much of The Sherman Theater’s reinforcement of the local creative community has given way to presenting national and international artists who are more likely to enhance ticket sales, the venue remains one of the epicenters of the arts.

It was during this time members of the business community began opening their doors to the artistic community by placing artwork on their walls. These venues for the arts proved to be advantageous outlets for the display of creative work as their economic wellbeing didn’t rely upon solely upon the art being sold. The most prominent of these businesses was Dreamland Creations which was owned by tattoo artist Myke Maldonado whose main source of income was the creation of body art upon the many who patronized his shop. Moreover, Dreamland Creations distinguished themselves among area businesses by not only inviting artists to present their work on it’s premises but presented themed exhibitions with Artists’ Receptions to celebrate their work.

However, this respite for the arts began to end during the late 2000s when the international economic collapse took place leaving Stroudsburg more financially devastated as ever and many of the local businesses housing art closed. The exception to this setback to the artistic community was Dreamland Creations who continued to thrive as many saw the venue as a vibrant alternative to what was perceived to be a stagnating conservative view of what is acceptable in the arts held among elitists. Still, this too came to an end when Myke Maldonado closed the shop for personal reasons in the December of 2011. The hopes of artists disenfranchised by those whom Dreamland Creations thought to be an antithesis to were deeply disheartened by the news. 

However, hope sprung back into the Artistic Community in the April of 2012 when The Backstreet Studios and Galleries, owned by past president of The Pocono Arts Council Andrea Robbins Rimberg, opened its doors. The occasion was noted by many to be the beginning of a re emergence of the arts in the area especially when Ms. Rimberg revealed her dream of establishing the part of town where her gallery was located as “The Stroudsburg Art District.” This hope was built upon when The Sherman Theater acquired the space known as The Living Room in April of 2012 which began presenting numerous local bands in concerts affordable to most citizens of the area. It was in this venue Then Living Room Gallery first presented exhibitions with Artists’ Receptions in a manner echoing those presented at Dreamland Creations.

In the beginning of 2013, Ms. Rimberg expanded her Back Street Studio and Gallery by moving portions of it to the vacant J. C. Penny’s building and soon transformed it to The So-Ho in The Burg Gallery. Both The Living Room and The So-Ho in The Burg Galleries have become the premier art establishments in Stroudsburg epitomizing the dichotomy of artistic expression in the area. The Prime Gallery at Stroudsburg Studios continues this pattern by providing hope to those who yearn for a creative renaissance in the Poconos through its egalitarian acceptance of quality photographic work in its establishment.

The photographic work presented at The Prime Gallery’s Simplicity exhibition proved to be an outstanding examples of the art form. The Artists’ Reception was well complimented by the delicately placed arrangement of food and the wine provided by The Tolino Vineyards located in Bangor, PA Music was provided by Jesse Morales who has become well known at The Living Room during their weekly Open Mic Nites. His energetic performance on both ukulele and guitar included many pieces found on his recently released EP titled, “Elephant Upwards.” As with the Open Mic Nites, those experiencing Mr. Morales’ exuberant delivery of his songs as well as those composed by others could not help themselves but to allow the smiles upon their hearts to be reflected upon their lips.

As mentioned earlier, the exhibition also served as a competition to recognize the best among the best of the participants. There is no doubt the quality of the work made the choice of the winners of the “Prime Selects” trophies which were specially designed for the awards a difficult one. This task was left to the Gallery’s owners, Shane Izykowski and Stephanie Troiani, and special guest judge Vinzon Lee who has gained a reputation of being one of the best photographers in the area. Each photographer’s work was evaluated as pertaining to his/her mastery of the photographic elements of lighting, composition, and creativity. Andrew Young received Third Place for his work titled, “Paper Cutter,” Don Manza received second place for his work titled, “Flower Fractal,” and Sean Turrell received first place for his work titled, “Poise.” A hearty congratulations were shared as the work of these phenomenal photographers were recognized by all.

In addition to the music, food, and photographic art, the reception featured a photo booth that consisted of dressing area similar to that of a theatrical dressing room with costumed accessories provided to enhance the experience. Attendees were invited to enter the area and play with the garb to create a style and setting to be photographed in. The laughter taking place behind the curtained area enticed the curiosity of many attendees with some brave enough to take a peek in order to learn of what escapades were taking place. Those who did so soon relished the thought of taking advantage of the photographic opportunity and quickly adored themselves in their alter egos’ attire.

The Stroudsburg Studios is located at 427 Main Street in Stroudsburg, PA and is owned by Stephanie Troiani and Shane Izykowski. The Studios offers photographic services specializing in infant and children's portraits, weddings, special events, maternity, headshots, senior portraits, commercial, and almost every photographic service you can imagine. You can learn more about The Stroudsburg Studios by exploring their Facebook Page at

The Prime Gallery at the Stroudsburg Studios is said to be the only fine art photography gallery in the Poconos and the owners curates the exhibitions. The Simplicity exhibition continues until November 30th with the theme for the next exhibition yet to be announced. You can learn more about The Prime Gallery at the Stroudsburg Studios by exploring their Facebook Page at for more information.

The Artists’ Reception at The Prime Gallery at the Stroudsburg Studios was an enjoyable one and it was good to see so many pieces of high quality work displayed. Being someone who endeavors to capture photographic images with some degree of professional quality, it was especially advantageous for me to partake of the opportunity to share conversations with other enthusiast about the art and the techniques it employs. I learned a lot from my first visit to the gallery and I look forward to learning more as I return to the gallery for their future exhibitions. I hope there will be many of those to come and I’ll see you there. In the meantime, you’ll find more photographs I took during the Saturday September 21st Artists’ Reception in The Prime 2013 Gallery at

Monday, September 23, 2013

Anne Hills at The Bookhouse

To a room filled to capacity with an audience able to sing along to the very first song she played, Anne Hills shared her melodies at The Eastern Monroe Public Library in Stroudsburg, PA on Friday September 20th as part of their Bookhouse Series. Those who frequent the series were pleased to recall Ms. Hills’ earlier visit to The Library’s Edinger Community Room on Friday October 28th, 2011 when she accompanied Steve Gillette and Cindy Mangsen during their Bookhouse performance. However, regardless to whether or not the attendees of this Bookhouse concert were familiar to Ms. Hills’ musical talents, the event proved to be a treat filled with laughter and solemn reflection as she touched the heart of everyone present.

Prior to her taking the stage, the event and Ms. Hills was introduced by Linnae Cintron of The Eastern Monroe Public Library who recited a litany of impressive musical experiences and awards attributed to the singer/songwriter. This recitation became evident during the course of the evening as Ms. Hills worthiness to receive such esteemed accolades became  apparent as one song progressed into another. An immediate rapport was established between her and the audience as her friendly countenance turned a community of music lovers into a gathering of friends.

The concert consisted of a mixture of original material along with some established songs well known among folk music lovers. She introduced each song with a story to add to the piece’s nuance and meaning. In regards to her own work, she relayed tales of how the song originated and what meaning it had for her during the time of its composition. In regards to pieces composed by other songwriters, she shared their biographies so the piece could be enjoyed with the insightful context of the life that created it.

Regardless whether the song was written by Ms. Hills or another, her genuine interpretation of the work as expressed through her uncanny performance made each song not only her own but became part of a shared memory of those who listened to it. This memory may or may not have reflected the factual experience of every individual who were touched by it, but the memory did register for many as the essential elements of many were those that of ancestors the human experience which transcends the happenings taking place in our day to day lives.

Ms. Hills repertoire also included a number of songs expressing a point of view in regards to political and/or social issues. Ms. Hill noted that these selections may contain themes not anticipated by some who came to the concert but, “I’m a Folk Singer and a Social Worker. So, what do you expect?” However, each song was sung with enough thought provoking humor and straight to the pointness to be enjoyable listening even to those who disagreed with her sung position on the issues which were few among the audience if any existed at all.

Anne Hills was born in Moradabad, India. She lived there with her two older sisters and her parents, who were educational missionaries, until the family moved to back to the United Stated where she eventually attended The Interlochen Arts Academy which is located in northwest Michigan. During her years there, she formed her first folk trio and later became the female vocalist with a Big Band whose repertoire consisted of songs associated with the musical art form known as jazz. In 1976, Ms. Hill moved to Chicago, IL and co-founded the Hogeye Music folklore center which is still an influential force in the Chicago music scene.

Ms. Hills released her first CD titled, “The Panic is On” in 1982 and has recorded countless others since then. While a number of her recordings are solo performances, many are result of collaborations with other Folk Artists such as Jan Burda, Tom Paxton, and Bob Gibson. She has received a number of awards for her musical talents including the 2006 Pennsylvania Partner’s in the Arts Project Stream grant award, the WFMA 2002 Kate Wolf Memorial Award, and The Kerrville Music Foundation’s Outstanding Female Vocalist of the Year Award in 1997.

In addition to her song writing endeavors, Ms. Hill is a poet who has won Second Place in the Atlanta Review’s 1999 International Poetry Contest and has performed in several theatrical productions including Buffalo’s Studio Arena and Chicago’s Northlight’s production of “Quilters” during their 1985-86 season and The Maureen Stapleton Theater production of “The Heartsongs of Opal Whiteley” during their 2007 season. Ms. Hill currently resides in Bethlehem, PA with her husband, Mark Moss, who is the editor of “Sing Out!” Magazine which is considered to be The Folk Music magazine. You can learn more about the publication and how to subscribe to it by visiting their Website at You can learn more about Anne Hills and her music by exploring her Facebook Page at

As mentioned earlier, the Anne Hills’ concert presented at The Easter Monroe Public Library on Friday September 20th was filled with laughter and solemn reflection as the songs she sung shared the essence of her heart. Her performance was like a whistle in a lonely night that comforted every soul even if it was 500 miles away from home. You’ll find more photographs taken during the concert in the EMPL 2013 Gallery at

The Eastern Monroe Public Library (aka The Hughes Library) Bookhouse Concert Series take place in the Edinger Community Room which is located on N. 9th Street (aka route 611) in Stroudsburg, PA. The Hughes Library is the main branch of the Monroe County, PA library system which includes their Pocono Township Branch in Tannersville, PA and their Smithfield’s Branch in Marshalls Creek, PA. The library offers access to numerous books, DVDs, Audio Recordings, and cultural programs free to the public. The library’s BookHouse series is part of its cultural programing designed to provide a venue for literary and musical events which are outside of the commercial and literary mainstream.

The next Bookhouse Concert will feature SheilaMark featuring Sheila Stratton and Mark Hamza on Friday October 18th beginning at 7:30pm with the doors opening at 7pm. Admission is free, but donations are gratefully accepted. Refreshments will be available for a small charge. Please Contact Linnae Cintron at 570-421-0800 x28 or explore The Eastern Monroe Public Library Facebook Page at to learn more information about the library, their Bookhouse series, and all the institution has to offer the community.

The Macabre Refreshes A Community

The Gallery at The Pocono Community Theater and Cultural Center in East Stroudsburg, PA held an Artists’ Reception featuring the work of Abigail Braman and Michael Parsons on Thursday September 19th. Both artists have become well known throughout the Monroe County Area for their macabre style and approach to the subjects they capture on canvas. This is often seen as a refreshing change to the “one size fits all” variety of art common to a somewhat predominately conservative community.

This refreshing vision was embodied in the exhibition presented at the theater’s gallery as the depth of each piece drew the viewer deeply into its dark world and often served as reflections mirroring an aspect of their personality they might otherwise shy away from; denying its existence. The work of these two artists confronts each viewer with their imageries leaving no avenue to escape from them or themselves. Yet, there is no sense of dismalness in the work as a certain beauty allows one to look upon the darkness without instilling a sense of dread in their being.

The work was presented in a unique fashion as compared to earlier exhibits held as the gallery. In previous exhibition, the work of the two featured artist were shown separately with one artist’s work hung in the theater’s gallery located in the lobby area while the other’s work was placed upon wall in the hallway leading to their 2nd and 3rd theaters. The work of Ms. Braman and Mr. Parson was mixed together allowing those who viewed the exhibit to better feel a certain commonality of their creative endeavors as well as bringing an ease in detecting the subtle contrasts in their styles.

The similarities and differences of these two artists along with the subjects they explore are well worth experiencing. However, it’s unfortunate there were only a sparse number of individuals who attended the artists’ reception of these artists who deserve more attention for their creative endeavors. It is hoped those who enter the theater to view a film will take some time to explore the work as well so they could benefit from its properties. In the meantime, you’ll find more photographs taken during the reception in The Pocono Community Theater (PCT) 2013 Gallery at

The Exhibition continues until November 17th with the artists featured in the next exhibition yet to be announced. In addition to hosting art exhibits, The Pocono Community Theater presents a variety of films both popularly current as well revivals of those films released in the past. They also host special events such as their Book Club which explore novels that have been adapted to the screen and are currently being shown in the theater. Please Explore The Pocono Community Theater Facebook Page at for more information.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

A Late Summer OMN

The vestigial stirrings of a Summer day flowed into the evening as The Living Room in Stroudsburg, PA opened its doors on Sunday September 15th for another installment of their weekly Open Mic Nite Series. After such a long time of arriving late or not at all to event during the Summer months, it was a refreshing experience for me to be at the venue prior to it being open to the general public. My good fortune in being allowed to enter at that earlier time afforded me with some insights to the care given as those who facilitate the event prepare for another extraordinary night.

Co Hosts Jesse Morales and Jessie Roth (aka JR) were eagerly setting up the microphones and testing their tonal qualities with the help of Andrew Oldfield. In order to further test the sound levels of the equipment, Jesse Morales gave a practice run of some of the selections he would play later that evening. A number of other musicians who planned to perform sporadically came by to practice as well after setting up some equipment of their own which they would utilize when their turn to bless the mike arrived. Meanwhile, Jessie Roth shared with me details on how the featured performer is selected to each event and that she may not part of the entire evening as her job’s extended work schedule has left her feeling exhausted.

The minutes passed and soon it was time for those who would perform for the evening to sign in. Expectations and excitement filled the sheet of the laminated paper as names appeared one after another in rapid succession. Cups of coffee were poured and excursions to a nearby Asian Takeout Restaurant were made as conversations answering inquires what friends will be doing and invitations to those who would establish a collaborative endeavor behind the mic were shared among the eager. The excited intricacies inherent in these overheard intercourses made it a good day to be an eavesdropper.

Almost suddenly, it was time for the first signed in performer to take the stage. Vinnie Huevos and his guitar kicked some ass with a repertoire of songs similar to those that delighted the gathering in the past and would prove to do so with the sizeable crowd that were in attendance that night. He was followed by The Juggernaut String Band consisting of Peter Taney on Banjo and Vocals, his daughter Joy Taney on vocals and Trombone, Carolyn Burbage on Drums, and Vid Larrison on Base Guitar. Together, the band played a lively assortment of world music which included Cajun and Zydeco music along with some African folk songs that transformed those who echoed the ancient calls into members of a universal tribe transcending all geological and social boundaries. The arousing nature of the performances given by Vinnie Huevos and The Juggernaut String Band were tempered through the soulful voice of poetry as delivered by Amy Burawski who stood before the mic. Her words touched the heart. A break ensued after Amy left the stage so thoughts her words inspired could be absorbed and the tears they coaxed could be dried.

The break ended as the evening’s featured performers took their place before the mic. Christian Diana has performed several times during the Living Room’s Open Mic Nite in the past and has become a favorite among the gathering. His return as a featured performer along members of his band, Foxfire who consists of Christian Cordero and Jason Avery DeLima (who stood in for the band’s regular member Billy Welsh), proved to be a special treat for those who frequented the event as well as those who partook of it for the very first time that evening.

A mood was established by the musicians as a dream catcher (which originated from the Ojibwe Peoples as a charm to change a person’s dreams and protect them from nightmares) was hung to adorn the performance area along with a small fire in a shell lit to encourage the spirit world to join in the song. The musicians performed their songs on Guitars whose tonal qualities resembled that of bells ringing their resonant chords giving each member of the audience the sensation they were listening to a dream. An enchantment touched the gathering as each song moved deeply among and within the inhabitants of the living room making it truly a living room.

Christian Diana and The Foxfires is said to be a band that plays (according to their Facebook Page) “Psych-Indie-Tribal-Surf-Pop Stuff All The Kids Love.” Well, the band is all that and much more. With a variety of multiple influences easily heard in their musical performance, the group has an uncanny ability to transform the complexity of their creative heritage so the harmonic essence of the work can be absorbed into the subconscious of each listener and made simultaneously available to the conscious level so a sense of joy while hearing the piece could be experienced by simplifying their essential elements. This sense of enjoyment was evident throughout their set as the souls of each person in attendance were reflected through the eyes of each attendee.

Christian Diana and The Foxfires is from West Nyack, NY and has recorded several EPs since the group began in 2012. The first is titled, “Detached” and was recorded at Red Stripe studios. The most recent EP is titled, “Decoded” and was available for free during the performance and can be downloaded for free as well. You can learn more about Christian Diana and The Foxfires and their music by exploring their Facebook Page at

A break ensued after the performance so the nuance of the moment could be fully digested. Prior to the break, long time host A. P. to share the duties of co hosting the event with Jesse Morales in order to provide Jessie Roth with a well deserved break. It was soon after the Living Room break did the evening’s co host Jesse Morales take the stage to perform his much loved High Octane Premium Gas rendition of his original songs. Jesse was followed by Guitarist Sunshine Shading whose iconic Panda Hat was offset by a very dashing suit of clothing he wore for the night. The music he performed was the same caliber of fun and laughter as previous times at The Living Room but seemed a bit more debonair due to his attire.

Sunshine Shading was followed by a guitarist simply known as Tycho who sang some truly thoughtful songs. Tycho was followed by an electric guitarist known as Joe whose instrumentals flowed around and through the audience leaving behind an aura upon which could be sensed an enhancement in the life of those who listened. Joe was joined by the evening’s co-host A. P. who lent his talents as a Rapper to dance along with the note with his words.

Joe was followed by guitarist Kes Lyman whose performance never fails to bring a smile to those who experience it. Kes was followed by Jason Avery DeLima who performed earlier alongside members of The Foxfires but added his talents as a solo artist to the evening’s lineup. The evening concluded with a performance given by A. P. whose vocal manipulations where enhanced by a pair if gloves lit at the fingers. It was difficult to photograph the performance as the room was darkened to accommodate its full effect, but it proved to be an enjoyable one as laughter filled the heart.

As the last goodbyes ensued which included a group hug shared by those remaining in the venue, a reflection of the music and poetry that was offered filled the thoughts of those who left the venue. An anticipation instilled in a desire to return to The Living Room enables the weekly Open Mic Event to not only survive but to thrive time and time again. This staying power encourages performers to bring to it their very best and this standard also ensure an audience who appreciates great talent to return time and time again. You’ll be able to find more photographs taken during the Sunday September 15th Open Mic Nite in The Living Room 2013 Gallery Part 4 at

The next installment of the Living Room Open Mic Nite Series will take place on Sunday September 22nd beginning at 7pm. Musicians, poets, writers, and anyone who would like to share something with an audience are welcomed to do so. The featured performer for the evening is yet to be announced. You can learn more about The Living Room Open Mic Nite Series by Exploring their Facebook Page at

In addition to the Open Mic Nites presented at The Living Room, the venue also holds a Gallery which presents the work of visual artists from around the area. Their current exhibition is their September Exhibition titled, “Word and Text” featuring a group show showcasing the work of local artists. The work will continue to be on display until September 30th. The next exhibition take place in October and will feature several local artists whose name are yet to be announced. The Living Room is located on Main Street in Stroudsburg, PA next to The Sherman Theater who owns the building. Please Explore The Living Room Facebook Page at for more information on The Living Room, all they have to offer, and how to be a part of it all.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Shine COTA Shine

Where shall I begin? While I was a student at East Stroudsburg University of PA, one of my professors distinguished himself by utilizing actual author composed books to teach his course rather then the conventional text books clinically written and designed to be frequently “updated” so students would have to constantly purchase the new editions at the inflated prices. The professor began his course by assigning us to read the preface of the books before venturing into their first chapters. He answered the unasked question of “Why?” by explaining the preface of a book often creates the mood of the work and allows the reader to explore insights he or she may never had considered without the additional passages introducing the words one was about the read. So, I began my adventures of  the 36th Annual Celebration of the Arts (COTA) Jazz and Arts Festival held in Delaware Water Gap, PA on the weekend after Labor Day from Friday September 6th through Sunday September 8th not with the official beginning of the event but prefacing the experience with the Indie Fridays event held at The Shoppes at The Castle Inn on Friday September 6th.

The Indie Fridays event is held at The Shoppes at The Castle Inn the first Friday of every month. The event is designed to help promote the businesses that are part of the shopping complex while providing art and entertainment to those who come to visit. Along with the many vendors who shared their creative endeavors along with the offerings of the established shops, The Chuck Cooper Trio with Erin McClelland on Guitar, Ryan Leaver on Base Guitar, and Chuck on Drums performed a number of songs from the genre of music known as Jazz to enhance the gathering and prepare many for the official festival offerings yet to be enjoyed. You’ll be able to learn more about The Indie First Fridays by exploring their Facebook Page at

The monthly events are always an enjoyable occasion to partake of but what made this month’s installment of the series even more so is the realization The Castle Inn hosted the very first Celebration of the Arts Festivals upon their steps prior to the grand resort suffering from a fire that destroyed most of its structure during the late 1970s. In fact, one can see remnants of the Castle Inn and it’s part of COTA’s history upon the steps leading to the festival’s back stage area. The remaining structure is now owned by Theresa Veltri and Frank Paccione who continues their endeavors to bring the Inn back as an asset to the community and all who visit it. Beginning my COTA journey at The Castle Inn and reflecting upon its contributions to COTA’s beginnings proved to be an insightful preface to the festival I was about to enjoy. You’ll be able to learn more about The Shoppes at The Castle Inn and all they have to offer by exploring their Facebook Page at

So, after leaving The Castle Inn, I walked down the street until I reached The Antoine Dutot Museum and Gallery who were about to open their doors so the many art lovers who gathered in it’s parking lot could experience the Artists’ Reception of their Music Motif Show which feature the work of numerous artists who shared their love for music and the festival through their creative endeavors. Those who were awaiting entry to the gallery were treated to a number of classical pieces performed by the ensemble known as Calliope which featured Gina Bertucci and Barbara McMahon on Flute along with Laura Goss on Bassoon. Their presence enhanced the elegance of the event and prepared many for the wonders they were about to experience.

An overwhelming amount of wonderful colors and images met each visitor to the gallery once its doors were open. The modest sized venue was almost instantly filled with artists, musicians, and art lovers who shared loving conversations with one another about the incredible work being presented along with memories of past festivals with the anticipation of the one about to be fully experienced flavoring each word. But, beyond these conversations about the art and the festival that inspired it, there was also a noticeably profound joy heard in the voices and seen in the eyes as established friendships were renewed and new ones were made.

The Annual Exhibition is a juried one with representatives from the Music, Educational, and Visual Arts Community who have shown a great degree of distinction in their fields serving as Jurors for the exhibit. This year’s jurors were Sylvestre Leon who has shown his work in numerous galleries and is the owner of the Zen Fusion Restaurant and Lounge which is located in Delaware Water Gap, PA, Susan Frantz who has taught art to every grade level in the Stroudsburg, PA School District for the past 26 years and Jose Sanatmaria who is the curator of The Castle Inn Gallery located within the Castle Inn in Delaware Water Gap, PA. Awards were given to artists in several categories touching upon a wide variety of style and artistic approaches reflecting the overall beauty of the exhibit.

As with previous years, the task of selecting the recipients of the awards must have been a daunting one as the quality of each piece was astounding. These Award recipients included Jim Gloria who received The Bob Doney Award for his work which was considered “The Best of Show.” Many of the awards included prizes of cash and merchandise contributed by Andrew Moore's Stone Bar Inn, Carbon Oral Surgery Associates, A. C. Henning Enterprises, Judith A. Magann, DMD, Marshall Anders, Esq., McKeown Real Estate, Michael Cooke Carpentry and Contracting, The Minisink Hotel, Morning Glory Gardens, Inc., Sarah Street Grill, Shear Design Salon and Spa, Stone, Trembly, and Associates - CPA's, and Stroud Television and Appliances.

Along with the visual arts being presented during the reception, the culinary arts were well represented by a number of local restaurants and eateries who delighted the palate. Appetizers were again provided by Andrew Moore’s Stone Bar Inn and The Deer Head Inn who have become favorites to gallery goers throughout the years were present while The Garlic Restaurant and Bar, Peppe’s Bistro, The Quench Café and Juice Bar, and The Zen Fusion Restaurant and Lounge introduced those who have frequented the Music Motif Artists’ Receptions of the past to new flavors to add to their lifelong culinary adventures. Tasty morsels were also provided by Christine Trembly (who also serves on the COTA Board of Directors and as the Music Motif Director), Susan Wilson (who serves The Antoine Dutot Museum and Gallery), and Mountain Savage - American made Custom Furniture. While much of the food was placed upon a table adorned with flowers provided by Donna Mason, several culinary temptresses flowed through the room offering more delights to those who eagerly picked out something good to eat while enjoying a conversation with those around them.

The Artists’ Reception proved to be a very satisfying one both aesthetically and gastronomically. A great deal of thoughtful work was put into the planning of the event which enhanced the presentation of the work. This presentation did much to showcase the individual qualities of each piece and created an artistic flow enabling each visitor to gently travel from one work to another while absorbing the beauty and essence of each object. Along with Christine Trembly, a staff of volunteers helped in the many aspects relating to exhibit including the placement of the work. They include Diane Fienemann, Sue Predl, Diane Marcus, Kelly Emley, Thomas Levy, Adon Reish and Melissa Stratton.

The Antoine Dutot Museum and Gallery in Delaware Water Gap, PA serves the area as an Art gallery and museum of local history housed in a charming brick school house which was constructed around 1850. The Music Motif exhibition completes its showing on September 22nd. The Gallery’s next exhibition features the works of Gordon and Jean Perry which opens with an Artists’ Reception on Friday September 27th and will continue to be displayed until October 13th. Please Explore The Antoine Dutot Museum and Gallery Facebook Page at  for more information in regards to their exhibitions and all they offer the community.

The first day of the official 36th Annual Celebration of the Arts (COTA) Jazz and Arts Festival continued across the street of The Antoine Dutot Museum and Gallery in The Presbyterian Church of the Mountain with a program titled, “The Other Arts” featuring an evening filled with classical music, theater, and dance. As the program’s title implies, the performances at the church allows the festival to honor these artistic forms prior to the commencement of the predominantly Jazz portion of its annual celebration. The church was filled to capacity as art lovers lent their ears and hearts to the particulars of the program’s offerings.

After some welcoming remarks given by the evening’s host and Friday Night Production Coordinator Denny Carrig, The Marsha Cahn Ensemble featuring Marsha Cahn and Chris Souza on Violin along with Agnieszka Rybska on Cello took the stage. The music of Mozart and other classical composers filled the church’s sanctuary along with the souls of those who listened to it. The performance inspired a great deal of appreciation from the audience as demonstrated through a well deserved standing ovation.

The Marsha Cahn Ensemble was followed by a theatrical performance presented by Ann Mathews and Jim Gloria of The Water Gap Players in a piece titled, “You Need Me.” The work touched the audience with laughter along with some reflection on the nature of relationships as they transition from flirtatious desire to dominance and later to independence. There were many noteworthy moments in the piece but the most significant one was that the presentation marked the theatrical debut of Jim Gloria who teaches art and serves as secretary to the Board of Directors at The Totts Gap Arts Institute (TGAI) located in Bangor, PA Mr. Gloria’s performance proved to be a very impressive and believable one.

The Water Gap Players were followed by The Totts Gap Dancers who originate from The Totts Gap Arts Institute in a piece titled, “Celebration” choreographed by Angeline Wolf who currently teaches dance at Totts Gap Institute with music from the Suite in G Major for unaccompanied Violoncello BWV 1007 by J. S. Bach as arranged for Viola. The selections presented from the suite were I. Prelude, II. Sarabande, and III. Gigue and were performed by Donald Dal Mazo on Viola. Dancers Laura Buzzard and Maeve Godstalk filled the stage with joy as every step and boundless leap expressed the exuberance of youth that proved to be quite contagious among those who experienced the performance. 

The Totts Gap Dancers were followed by The Sounds of Strings Quartet who made their debut during the 35th Celebration of the Arts Festival and were a welcomed addition to this year’s event. The quartet consists of Olivia Reed and Joe Snyder on violin along with Emily Geiger on Viola and Sophia Rostock on Cello. A number of complex classical pieces were played by these young musicians which moved the audience to a state of awe as they marveled at the precision displayed by their incredible talents. This sense of awe moved to surprised pleasure as the ensemble presented a piece composed by Van Morrison (born George Ivan Morrison) titled, “Moondance” which first appeared as the title track on an album released in 1970 but was not released as a single until 1977. The audience who attended experienced the performance given by The Sounds of Strings Quartet did not wait as long to release their singular expression of delight as an overwhelming applause accompanied by a standing ovation quickly ensued as the final notes were played.

The Sounds of Strings Quartet were followed by another performance given by The Water Gap Players. This time, David Hymes and Denny Carrig took the stage to present a classic Abbot and Costello comedy routine titled, “Who's on First?” The sketch is premised upon the once common practice of players on a baseball team adopting or being given unusual nicknames. The imaginary team in this skit has a first baseman named, “Who,” a second baseman named, “What,” and a third baseman named, “I don’t know” all of which could be interpreted as non-responsive answers to inquiries about the players’ identities. The humor of the piece mounts as the frustration of the person asking about the team increases throughout the course of the routine.

The origins of “Who's on First?” can be traced back to the late 19th and early 20th century’s theatrical forms of variety entertainment known as burlesque and vaudeville. The sketch was performed by Bud Abbot with a partner he had before meeting Lou Costello during the mid 1930s until they began performing it together after their pairing in 1936. The sketch was a mainstay in their routine pleasing the live audiences they encountered in the Vaudeville circuit. The sketch gained national attention when they performed it on The Kate Smith Hour radio program in 1938. It has since been performed countless times by the comedy team in a variety of mediums including radio, film, and television throughout the 1940s and 1950s.

With anything as well known as the “Who’s on First?” sketch is, it’s very difficult to present it in a fresh and relevant manner to an audience who either heard it many times before or to an audience who may not understand the timely references the piece refers to. However, the timeless elements of the skit along with the considerable talents of David Hymes and Denny Carrig renewed the piece and the laughter that it inspires. The duo deftly managed to make the skit their own as each word uttered seemed as if it was spoken for the very first time.

The Water Gap Players performance of “Who’s on First?” was followed by another performance given by the theatrical troupe. It featured a return of Ann Mathews to the stage accompanied by Betsy Jackson in a piece titled, “Two Women Talking.” As the titled suggests, the play explored the dimensions and aspects embodied in the state of womanhood and proved to be an enlightening duo monologue to both genders inhabiting the audience. A thoughtful applause accompanied the final words spoken in this piece well written by the performers.

Ms. Jackson’s and Mathew’s performance was followed by the return of The Totts Gap Dancers in a piece titled, “Invitation” choreographed by Angeline Wolf with music by Edgar Meyer and Mark O’ Connor. Laura Buzzard and Maeve Godstalk returned to the stage fluttering like the birds they represented themselves to be while teasingly inviting their fellow dancer Sophia Villano to join them in flight. The audience who witnessed the winged escapades soared along with the performers as the timid attempts by the younger fledgling were met with a loving ridicule until the strength of the wind lifted her up above the ground.

The performance given by The Totts Gap Dancers was the final one presented during “The Other Arts” program at The Presbyterian Church of the Mountain. As Mr. Carrig noted in his closing remarks, the choreographed piece served as an appropriate invitation to everyone present to continue enjoying the festival during the upcoming weekend. Many eagerly embraced the invitation as the music, theater, and dance entreated them to continue the sensation of flight these and other elements of the arts inspires the soul of every living being to do. The Friday Night Production Coordinator was Denny Carrig who was assisted by Mike Collins, Jim Gloria, and Jonno Rattman.

In addition to lending its sanctuary Annually to The Celebration of the Arts Jazz and Arts Festival, The Presbyterian Church of the Mountain in Delaware Water Gap, PA offers a weekly Summer Gazebo Concert Series presenting secular music in a variety of forms. They also offer a variety of spiritual programs for those who practice the Christian faith. These include worship services and missionary endeavors to the nations of Kenya and Cuba. They also have retreat facilities available for those hiking the Appalachian Trail which has a section of its route nearby. Please explore The Presbyterian Church of the Mountain Facebook Page at to gain more information about the church and all it has to offer the community.

When I went home after the first night of the festival, my mind wandered among the many sights and sounds I’ve experienced. These wanderings were coupled with the growing anticipation of beginning another day at the festival. Although I knew I would begin my day as member of the festival’s security staff during the early hours of the morning, I’ve found little desire to sleep as memories of the event thus far mischievously entreated my consciousness to relive it over and over again. Yet, after an hour’s sleep, my alarm clock rang to half awaken me so I could continue my festival adventures at the outdoor site.

I arrived at the festival site to find it vacant except for a few vendors finishing their preparations for the number of people they hoped would venture into their tent. I moved my way backstage to meet with my fellow members of the security team of whom I was eager to become reacquainted with as well as to discover who has been added to the roster of volunteers. I found the table to be empty except for a box of donuts that traditionally was made available to the staff. So, while I waited for my comrades to arrive, I gave a quick look around to see if the Doctor who forbids me to eat such sugary morsels was around before I opened the box to partake of one. There were some coated with white sugar while others were clearly dipped in chocolate. I sought to eat of the white ones as the others are known to be more fattening.

The opening of the box seemed to sound off a signal as it wasn’t a moment after did many of the security team arrive. The look each had in their eyes moved me to place the box of donuts down. It was fortunate that I did as I might have lost a finger if I hadn’t placed the box at a safe distance. After discovering the work schedule for the day was not yet completed, I left the backstage area to venture toward the food court to partake of my annual treat of a ham, egg, and cheese on a croissant made at The Presbyterian Church of the Mountain’s booth. My Doctor was nowhere in sight which was fortunate as I had no desire to share.

When I returned to the security table (aka command center), I was introduced to my partner, Kate, and we were given our first assignment for the day. It was at a place known as the intersection which is located in a rectangular area near what is known as the back parking lot. The station requires one to direct those who come to the festival as to where to park their cars. Those who are musicians and other authorized personnel are directed toward the back gate area while those who come to enjoy the festival are directed to the back parking lot where other security personnel are waiting to guide them to spaces for them to park. It was great being able to help those (especially new comers to the festival) to find areas in which they could park their car so they could enjoy the festival. I met a lot of nice people. However, from my vantage point, I could not experience the opening performances of the day.

The first group to perform was The Generation Gap who were new to the festival. The group consisted of Paul Hubbell on Saxophone and Clarinet, Ray Schweisguth on Guitar, David Lantz IV on Piano, David Lantz, Jr. on Bass, and Alan Hubble on Drums. The second performance of the day was Kim Parker and friends which featured the vocal stylings of Kim Parker along with Spencer Reed on Guitar, Skip Wilkins on Piano, Evan Gregor on Bass, and Bill Goodwin on Drums. As I mentioned earlier, I could not experience the performances due to my vantage point. However, with line ups like the first two act had, it would be difficult to imagine the experience of hearing the music they played would be anything less than a stellar one.

When my first shift of the day concluded, I eagerly returned to the festival site to enjoy a performance of The Eric Mintel Quartet which consisted of Eric Mintel on Piano, Nelson Hill on Saxophone, Jack Hegyi on Bass, and Dave Mohn on Drums. It was during their performance that my second shift began but I and my fellow COTA Security staffer was able to listen to their performance as we were stationed at the front steps leading up to the Stage.

This position requires a great deal of vigilance as it entails only allowing those who are authorized to enter the back stage area to do so. These individuals include musicians, stage crew members, and other security personnel. Personally, this is one of my favorite stations as it not only helps the back stage area from becoming so congested no one can function creatively with so many people interrupting their ability to practice their craft, but it allows one to experience what is occurring on stage as well.

However, the vigilance the position requires often supersedes the ability to focus one’s attention upon the music being performed not alone every nuance the musicians bring to the pieces they expertly play. So, I didn’t hear all that much of The Eric Mintel Quartet as I felt their gentle and soul soothing performance. This feeling the musical effects coupled with the memories of the performances I’ve experienced in the past of the group brought something to my being that enhanced my existence and proved to be very satisfying.

The same lack of attentiveness on my part that I’ve experienced at the front steps continued for the remainder of my shift. The bands that played included newcomers to the festival Sui Generis featuring Joe Lovano on Woodwinds, Judi Silvano on Vocals, Jerome Harris on Bass and Guitar, and Michael Stephans on Drums, The Jazz Artists Repertory Orchestra (JARO) with its numerous musicians paying tribute to the big band era of the 1930s and 1940s, and The Hal Galper Trio with Hal Galper on Piano, Joris Teepe on Bass, and Bob Meyer on Drums. Each performance gave off a sensation of intricacies little known throughout the course of ones life which could be easily embraced even by those who, like me, could not be attentive to their musical talents.

It was soon after The Hal Galper Trio performed did my shift at the Steps come to an end and I could devote my full attention to the upcoming performances. Tom Whaley and The Marlers took the stage with Tom Whaley on Drums, Billy Drewes on Saxophones, Bill Washer on Guitar, and Greg Eicher on Bass and I was eager to partake of the musical delights. I did for a time and during that brief respite I experienced improvised beats that inspired my mind to move with them. Yet, as I was listening to the music, my stomach began to growl so I decided to go visit some of the many food vendors at the festival grab some lunch.

The most difficult decision I or anyone else has to make during the festival is to choose from which food vendors to partake a meal from. There were restaurants such as The Willow Tree Inn who offered salads, wraps, and rice and bean dishes, Leon’s Fireside Café who offered a Middle Eastern cuisine, Buddy’s Barbeque who offered some great ribs, and Zoe’s Ice Cream who offered, well, Ice cream along with a newcomer to the court offering a Japanese Cuisine that includes Sushi known as The Wabi Sabi Kitchen There were also several non profits organizations who offered their variety of foods such as The Delaware Chamber of Commerce, The Presbyterian Church of the Mountain, The East Stroudsburg Lions, The Notara Dance Theatre, and Scout Troop No. 84. Although the decision was a difficult one, I was assured by past experiences that I would be eating something good no matter whom I chose my meal from.

After my meal of Black Bean and Rice with Chicken mixed with some sour cream and hot sauce I got from The Willow Tree Inn (at this point, I didn’t care if my Doctor was watching over me or not), I walked over to the children’s area to watch Rick Peoples perform on his guitar. I then went back to sit upon my chair for the first time during the festival and found The Dixie Gents with Bob Levie on Trumpet, Rick Chamberlain on Trombone, Ray Schweisguth on Banjo, Paul Hubble on Clarinet, and Paul Scott on Tuba playing in front of the hill where the majority of the audience congregated enjoying some toe tapping Dixieland Jazz.

As soon as my toes let me, I sat down as the to capture the current performance that was taking place on stage. But, instead, I’ve become the captivated one as another newcomer to the festival enchanted the stage. A Brazilian Jazz Siren by the name of Clarice Assad who cast a spell upon me and everyone in the audience with the first note uttered from her incredible voice. She also played Piano while performing alongside her friends which included Adam Niewood and Sue Terry on Saxophone, Bill Washer on Guitar, Adrian Moring on Bass, Richard Burton Piano, Bill Goodwin on Drums, and Nancy Reed who vocally accompanied Ms. Assad for several songs which were enhanced by their combined talents. As beautiful the duo  was, the solo performance of Ms. Assad either standing in front of a microphone or sitting behind a Piano moved throughout one’s being until the essence of each song become one with the person who is fortunate enough to embrace it. Established lyrics flowed with some scat singing (a vocal improvisation consisting of wordless vocables, nonsense syllables, or no words at all) so seamlessly one needed to bring one’s attention to the reality where words matter to tell when a lyric ended and a scat began.

For me, although the performance ran the allotted time all other sets were given, the time Ms. Assad spent on stage was too short a time. Her performance left me spellbound and I stood up from my chair to join several others in applause. It was during that putting together of my hands did I develop a desire to visit the artists and artisans who adorned the runway leading from my seat in front of the outdoor stage to the gate where entry to the festival is provided.

I’ve met with many friends who’ve presented their talents at the festival in previous years along with several newcomers to the event. The vendors who shared their talents and skills with those who come to the festival included Ingrid Blackert (Jewelry), Patrice Jiunta (The Jeweler’s Workbench), Susan Bradford and Anita Bondi (Madala Design Works), Rachel Val Cohen (Polymer Clay and Knitting), Don Conklin (Music Lamps), Tim Helman (mixed media), David Coulter (Photography), Linda Newswanger (Git Lit Stained Glass), Bud Nealy (Knives), Lynette Rodriguez O’Brien (Lynoopie Creations), Penny Ross (Artist), Susan Lange (Massage Therapist), Daniel Shaffer (Handmade Ceramics), Shawn Queenan (Artist), Andrei Protsouk (Artist), James Lilly (JML Clayworks) who share their talents and insights to their endeavors with those who visited their space. There were also representatives from The Al Cohn Memorial Jazz Collection, 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 while I was in conversation did I hear one of the announcers introduce the final band to perform for the day. So, I made my adieu and made my way back to the stage to enjoy some dancing. I arrive just as another newcomer to the festival known as Funk Xpress welcomed the crowd saying when Phil Woods, one of the festival founders, asked them to come play at the festival, he wanted them to play some dance music. “So,” continued Bass player Gene Perla, “I wanna see some asses moving.” A cheer rose up from the gathering as Mr. Perla was joined in music by Clay Jenkins on Trumpet, Adam Niewood on Saxophone, Bill Washer on Guitar, Jon Ballantyne on Keyboards, and Vern Mobley on Drums. And, the you know whats began to move as the music was wild and loud and great and, and Funky.

I moved among the dancers taking pictures and occasionally joining a woman or two in a few steps. I also came upon some children who brought a smile to my heart as they jumped up and down in their youthful excitement. It was a fun way to end the day and I eventually departed from the festival to make my way home to sleep in preparation for another day at COTA.

Once home, I again experienced a night filled with thoughts and reflections of my day at the festival. Some of these thoughts centered around the weather conditions of this year’s festival. The Friday and Saturday segments of the event were rain free containing many moments of warmth and sunshine. The forecast for Sunday’s festival called for the same. In this recounting of the meteorological conditions, I recalled many who have been with the festival for quite some time share how it took place over a twenty year span without a drop of rain until five years ago when it rained at least one day of the festival causing the stage to be flipped over and the concert continuing under the large tent that houses the backstage area. It was hoped by some the current conditions will set off another twenty year trend of glorious weather so the festival can be enjoyed fully as it was intended throughout its three day duration. It is during these and other thoughts did I fall asleep until the my alarm clock rang to begin another festive day.

After arriving at the festival site and obtaining my customary Ham, Egg, and Cheese Sandwich on a croissant made at The Presbyterian Church of the Mountain’s booth, I met up with my co-patriots at the Security Command Center where my partner, Kate, and I received our first assignment of the day. We soon discovered it was to be at the Front Steps area during the Annual Jazz Mass. We arrived at the station as the Jazz Mass Choir were gathering and performing vocal warm ups in preparation to the service.

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 Gregorian Chant arranged by Wolfgang Knittel who composed, conducted, and orchestrated much of the service which translates from the Latin to read “The Just shall spring as a Lily and shall flourish forever before the Lord.” The service continued 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 Bill Schram (Interim Pastor of The Church of the Mountain) who served as Liturgist and presented music composed by Rich Chamberlain (co Founder of COTA).

The service is also loved for it’s multitude of harmonious voices found within the JazzMass Choir who are too numerous to mention but are inspirationally directed by Teresa Marino along with choral coordinator Robert Hartman (Choral Director Emeritus) who assists her. Michele Bautier, Denny Carrig, and Bonnie Childs also offered their voices in solo performances enhancing the service a great deal. Musicians contributing their talents to the worship service were Nelson Hill, Pat Turner, and Richard Barz on saxophones, Jonathan Searfoss, Vanessa Meggiolaro, Peter Hyde, and Danny Cahn on trumpets and flugelhorns, Rick Chamberlain (who also composed a number of pieces in the mass) on trombone and euphonium, Jim Daniels on bass trombone and tuba, Spencer Reed on guitar, Tony Marino  on bass, and Bob D'Aversa on drums along with Ed Hudak and Bud Nealy on percussion.

As enjoyable and uplifting as the music was, the days meditation (aka Sermon) given by Reverend Bill was more so and was titled “I Dreamed Last Night” exploring how the issues facing the modern ages such as healthcare, gun violence, war, and others are “Kingdom Issues” as ascribed in the words of the 8th century BCE prophet Isaiah ben Amoz as recorded in the Bible in the Book of Isaiah which, if these admonishments were adhered to, predicted the nations of the world “shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” Isaiah 2:3-4. The funds collected during the mass went to benefit Linda Kozic who survived the violent tragedy that took place during the Monday August 5th, 2013 Ross Township, PA Supervisors’ meeting when a gunman entered the building it was being held and began indiscriminately shooting those who were present. It was noted Jazz Pianist Jerry Kozic moved to protect his wife during the shooting and was killed in the act while Linda received multiple severe injuries and continues receiving medical attention for them. A Facebook Page created for those who would like to help her in her time of need at

As the Jazz Mass came to an end, 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. I left my post at the steps to join my security colleagues to help in the process. 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 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, and Anthony Hannigan on Mandolin. Later in the day, the group was joined by Jillian Bronsan who lent her wonderful voice along with her talents upon the Flute and Pennywhistle to enhance the musicians’ performance. Those who reentered the festival site regained their seats upon the wonderful hill that serves as a natural amphitheater to await the first notes of the day’s lineup begin to play.

The first performance of the day was The Bill Goodwin Four Plus One which consisted of Bill Goodwin in Drums, Adam Niewood on Saxophone, Bill Washer on Guitar, James Weidman on Piano, and Adrian Moring on Bass. The group proved to be a gentle beginning of a sun filled day allowing its beats and rhythms to shine its energies throughout the souls of those sitting upon the hillside. It was during this performance that I took my mother to the food court so we could enjoy a meal with one another (I could be a good son at times). I then traveled to the Security Command Center where I learned my next assignment would be the Back Gate Area.

The Back Gate area is a point of reception for the musicians and a few other designated individuals who are authorized to park behind the main stage. Kate and I sat and chatted with the Back Gate workers who welcomed those who drove up by providing them the proper credentials allowing them to park and go back stage along with Tee Shirts to wear during their performances. We also welcomed festival goers who were walking to the Front Gate from the Back Parking Lot where the majority of music lovers left their car.

Among these individuals was my Kindergarten Teacher who somehow recognized me and commented upon the photographs I have taken which were on display at The Pocono Community Theater and Cultural Center located in East Stroudsburg, PA. It was a treat seeing her and we chatted briefly as I recalled the experiences I had in her class. It was there I was introduced to the Beatles as “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” came to be what I perceived at that young age to be “our song.” I was also smitten by a classmate named Vicki Taylor with whom I shared my Oreo Cookies with during the daily brake time. I still enjoy Oreo Cookies as well as taking naps which were also part of the Kindergarten Curriculum. It was nice to look back upon those times and to reflect upon all that happened since.

During my time at The Back Gate, there were a number of performances taking place upon the main stage I could not experience due to my vantage point. The first was The Dave Lantz Trio with David Lantz IV on Piano, Raviv Markovitz on Bass, and Jimmy MacBride on Drums, The second performance I couldn’t see were given by COTA Cats Volume XXXIII who were formed during the 4th year of the festival in 1981 by COTA Co Founders Phil Woods and Rick Chamberlain who saw a need for area high schools to develop their music programs to include instruction in the art of Jazz.

COTA Cats Volume XXXIII were directed by Ryan Churchoe, Tom Fadden, Kayte Clogg, and Lance Rauh and were hosted by The East Stroudsburg High School South. The compositions performed included “Bluz for U” written by Jumaane Smith, “How Can You Lose?” written by Benny Carter as arranged by Bob Curnow, “I‘m in the Mood for Swing” written by Benny Carter as arranged by Dave Wolpe, “The Schizophrenic Squirrel” written by Andrew Yozvia, “There’s a Boat Dat’s Leavin’ Soon for New York” written by George Gershwin as arranged by Bill Potts, and “While I’m Away” written by David Springfield. The clinicians for COTA Cats Volume XXXIII were Matt Vashlishan, Vanessa Meggiolaro, Rick Chamberlain, Jim Daniels, John Olscese, Sherrie Maricle, Spencer Reed, and Bob D'Aversa along with invaluable guidance given by Patrick Dorian, Bob Dorough, David Liebman, and Phil Woods. The students participating in the orchestra were Patrick McGee, Henry Cable, Christina Huddleston, Elias Frantz, Willy Mullen, and David Marachi on Saxophone, Mike Brown, Jason Feakins, Amanda Hopsom, Megah Kaplan, Jonathon Searfass, Andrew Sorton, and Shinaya Torres on Trumpets, Ian and Ilijah Denny, Charlie Peeke, and Shannon Rosser on Trombones, Chayton Woods on Guitar, Mollie Burns and Stephanie Fritz on Piano, Anna Speer on Bass, and L. Tyler Williams on Drums. 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 were Kaitlyn Weiss who will be attending Chester University to study music, Mitchell Cheng who will be attending The Manhattan School of Music to study Jazz piano Performance, and Chris potter who will be attending Duquesne University to study music technology and composition.

When I returned to the festival site, Skip and Dan Wilkins Quartet featuring Skip Wilkins on Piano, Dan Wilkins on Saxophone, Scott Lee on Bass, and Jeff Hirshfield on Drums were on stage while the students who performed as COTA Cats were backstage excitedly reliving their experiences through their conversations. This collection of chatterings contrasted with the gentle chords being played by the Quartet creating a calm within all who heard them. They were followed by Expansions: The Dave Liebman Group with David Liebman on Saxophone, Matt Vashlishan on Reeds, Bobby Avey on Piano, Tony Marino on Bass, and Alex Ritz on Drums.

David Liebman’s long and illustrious career has led him to play along such icons as Frank Sinatra, Miles Davis, and Chick Corea while being presented with numerous awards including the National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters lifetime achievement award in June of 2010. Those who are fortunate enough to experience his performances upon the COTA Stage never fail to find themselves transfixed by his innovations and inventiveness as he goes beyond the harmonic boundaries of Jazz in order to delve deeper into its essentials and redefining the musical art form as evident in the performance this year. There are many ways he achieves this and it’s a sheer pleasure to be a witness to it all.

One method Mr. Liebman employs to achieve this effect is to incorporate musical instruments in a composition unrelated to what many associate with Jazz. The Bodhrán is a percussion instrument which evolved in the mid-20th century from the tambourine and is commonly played by Irish and Celtic musicians as it enhances the melodies associated with these cultures. However, Drummer Alex Ritz of the Dave Liebman Group utilizes the instrument to provide a nuanced quality to the music performed by the other musicians sharing the stage with him.

Another method Mr. Liebman utilizes is his sheer presence as he quietly sits while another musician gives a solo performance. One can sense a certain ethereal communication taking place in which a flow of unknowable information is being received and deciphered so it can later be brought together in a cosmic orchestration that will culminate into an unforgettable climax which will linger in the subconscious thoughts of those who experience it for quite some time. In other words, Mr. Liebman appears to allow the music play out as it will while simultaneously directing its flow so it can become something greater. I’m sure there are numerous technical terms for this but I prefer to call it, “Magic.”

It was shortly after Expansions: The Dave Liebman Group’s set did I return to the Security Command Center to learn of my next assignment. I learned my partner, Kate, and I were stationed at the Intersection as we were the previous day with the opportunity to assist those seeking information on where to park. During this time, newcomers to the festival The Organik Vibe Trio plus One featuring Dave Samuels and Joel Frahm with Dave Samuels on Vibraphone, Ron Oswaski on The Hammond B3 Organ, Marko Marcinko on Drums, and Joel Frahm on Saxophone. They were followed by Phil Woods and the COTA Festival Orchestra who whose huge cast of musicians performed selection from their new CD released by Chiaroscuro Records titled, “New Celebration.” Unfortunately, I was unable to experience the music of these two groups from my vantage point but I was able to see its wondrous effects in the countenance of those I met at the festival when I returned to the site after my shift.

I arrived just as Phil Woods and the COTA Festival Orchestra were playing the final selections in their performance. After their set, I decided to walk around the festival to take in its twilight beauty as the final performance of the festival was about to take place. An illuminating glow filled the air accompanied by a quiet hum of conversations evolving around reflections of the festival along with expressions of how it and those they were conversing with will be missed. It was then a clarion call rang out throughout festival site as an announcer announced the final band for the festival was about to take the stage.

Zen for Primates with T. Roth on Vocals, Mike Krisukas on Guitar, Pete Fluck on Saxophone, Jodi Maloney on Cello, and Shelaigh Maloney on Violin never fails the please the crowd with their standoffishness interpretations of the songs they nonchalantly hand down to the audience seemingly not caring if they’re liked or not. Their “You paid to see us. We didn’t pay to see you.” aura proves to be a delightfully refreshing one adding a sense of charm to their presence. There wasn’t much dancing going on during the final performance of the festival but a great deal of laughter and ahas were seen about those sitting upon the hill while they took every song and utterance made by the performers in.

It was during the Zen for Primates performance did I make my way toward home. The sounds, sights, conversations, and all the other aspects that can’t be retold as it’s too ingrained in one’s being to communicate moved freely between my conscious and subconscious thoughts. I’m sure many who are reading this have their memories to share and I invite you to share yours by adding a comment to this article. I look forward to reading them and in seeing you next year. In the meantime, I took nearly 600 photographs during the festival and they could be seen in The COTA 2013 Gallery at

In other happenings taking place during the final day of the festival, SheilaMark which consists of Mark Hamza playing accordion while Sheila Stratton on vocals performed throughout the festival site while musicians prepared for their performances. Accompanied by Mark’s deftly played accordion, Sheila belts out one song after another with her incredible voice. The children’s area also experienced some musical delights as children and adults participated in a drumming session orchestrated by Sherrie Maricle who collectively shared their joy for sound by banging away on plastic buckets and anything else that could be utilized as a percussion instrument. It was a joy to watch.

In addition to the music and art presented during the festival, there are many people who help make the event the wonderful asset to the community it is. These include the Board of Directors who constantly seek to make every festival even more memorable than the one preceding it such as Lauren Chamberlain, Bill Goodwin, Sherrie Maricle, Tim Helman, Rich Madigan, Karen Nickels, Sue Terry, Christine Trembly, Sue Terry, Garth D. Woods, and Kathryn M. Rudolph (Executive Director). They are often known to inspire those who attend the Volunteer meetings with their dedication and the knowledge they have obtained throughout the festival’s 35 year existence. However, they are inspired by an Advisory Board consisting of Susan Bradford, Rick Chamberlain, Carol Dorshimer, Shirley Gilmore, Jill Goodman, Lois Heckman, Allisen Trotter, and Phil Woods.

In addition to these outstanding individuals, there are a multitude of volunteers without whom the festival could not take place. Although they are too many to mention, COTA Volunteers were easily seen throughout the festival site performing various tasks and providing information to many festival goers to enhance their experience. As you well know by now, I’ve been a part of the Security team performing many of the functions the designation suggests since 2003. Every year has been more awarding than the previous one and I look forward to the 2014 festival as I’m sure many of the volunteers serving the festival in other areas are.

Those who have been with COTA as volunteers throughout the years can attest to the meaningful friendships they have developed during their time with the festival. Along with the joys inherent with the experiences of being a part of something truly incredible, there are times for tears to be shed. One of these times relates to the lost of some dear friends of the festival who passed away during 2013. These include Virginia Waring whose husband, Fred Waring, made numerous creative contributions to the art of music that still inspires music lovers to this day and, as mentioned earlier, Jerry Kozic who died of gunshot wounds received when a gunman entered the August 5th, 2013 Ross Township, PA Supervisors’ meeting and began shooting at the attendees. He and his musical skills will be missed. These wonderful people have done so much for so many all because they love the arts and those who come to the festival.

Those who would like to lend their time and talents to The 36th 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 Program Ad Sales Manager, a Program Ad Salesperson, Back and Front gate workers, Security, and Marketing/PR personnel. I hope to see you at a future meeting so we can serve the festival together while creating some wonderful memories.

In addition to supporting the community and the arts through its annual festival, COTA expands its mission as it seeks to recognize exceptional individuals who contribute to the endeavors COTA aspires to through their awards program. These awards are distributed throughout the festival. The 2013 Sterling and Dorothy Strauser Award which honors an individual’s contribution to the visual arts was given to Penny Ross, The 2013 Joanne Mayer Award was given to Constance Walck in honor of her Volunteer endeavors for COTA, and The 2013 Fred Waring Award was held in honor of Virginia Waring for her outstanding contributions to the arts and the community. Each of these awards reflect an intricate aspect of the spirit that moves COTA to be what it is to so many people.

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. One of these avenues of support is their Annual Summer Jazz Camp.

The Celebration of the Arts (COTA) Camp Jazz is offered every summer to those who seek an intensive, week long immersion in jazz music and technique mentored by renowned jazz greats. It 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. In addition to Phil Woods and Rick Chamberlain, the camp’s staff of mentors guiding the talents of  the campers include Sue Terry, Jay Rattman, Spencer Reed, Evan Gregor, Bobby Avey, Matt Vaslishan, Michael Stephans, Vicki and Eric Doney, Bob Dorough, Caris Visentin, Jim Daniels, and Sherrie Maricle. This year an Annual Scholarship has been established by the family of Ethan Mayer who attended the camp in 2007 and was killed in an automobile collision in 2010. COTA Cats Ian and Ilijah Denny were repaints of the scholarship and performed in this year’s festival. Enrollment is open to all aspiring musicians and information about the camp and all it has to offer can be found by exploring The Camp Jazz Facebook Page at

As you can see, The Celebration of the Arts is an organization that is more than it’s annual festival. I am pleased, honored, and humbled to be a part of what has been a life changing endeavor for me. In 1986, I went to my first festival and fell in love with it. However, every year after that experience, I had jobs in which I had to work during the time the festival took place. But, in 1999, I had an opportunity to attend the festival and decided I was too old not to experience things that enhance my joy. So, whenever I’m apply for a job, I make sure I share in the interview I need to take the Friday, Saturday, and Sunday after Labor Day off so I can go to the festival. I haven’t been employed much since then, but the opportunity to attend the festival every year more than compensates me.

As difficult it is to believe, this article merely scratches the surface of what happened during The 36th Annual Celebration of the Arts Jazz and Arts Festival and all the organization has to offer. More can be learned through their website but even more can be learned through the sharings from those of you who were there. So, please explore The Celebration of the Arts (COTA) Facebook Page 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 and feel free to share your comments and reflections of the festival. Thank you for reading this article.

Oh, and before I forget, this year’s poster design for The 36th Annual Celebration of the Arts Jazz and Arts Festival was created by Adiamarie who has had her work presented in the Hughes Library and was an awards finalist at the Pocono Arts Council’s 2013 Member's Exhibition. She is also a regular fixture at the annual Newark Arts Council's Strong Women Exhibit. The design appears not only on the festival’s poster but upon its brochure and program guide as well.