Tuesday, March 04, 2014

The Music of The Living

On a day that mirrored the welcomed week long respite of a harsh wintry season, The Sherman Theater’s Living Room Gallery in Stroudsburg, PA held an Artists’ Reception for their “Music and Album Art” exhibition on Saturday March 1st which featured the work of area artists. The images filling the room with depictions of musical artists and gentle renderings of the songs their souls inspired them to remember created an additional warmth among the many who ventured into the venue. The gallery quickly grew to symphonic proportions as conversations flowed throughout the room creating a rhythmic resonance that built it’s crescendo until the measured beat that could be felt by all who experienced it became a common song sung by a chorus of dreams made vivid through each imaginative perception that was expressed. Over 100 pieces were on display with each work exploring the musicality of the individual artists through their ability to creatively transcribe the audio aspects of music and its soul touching qualities into a translatable visual image that allowed each viewer to see.

While the images inspired by the musical form touched the eye of the multitude of the art lovers who gathered to partake of their beauty, The Living Room Gallery honored its well regarded reputation by presenting some outstanding musicians whose talents epitomized the nature of music itself. The evening also included an opportunity to celebrate the art of music through a dance competition which inspired a great deal of glee among spectators and participants alike. An art raffle which has become an anticipated event in and of itself throughout the many months (nearly 2 years) since The Living Room Gallery opened its doors to artists and art lovers who found in it a venue which encourages a creative spirit that transcends the social and community norms was also held.

The musical performances began with some welcoming words that were shared by the gallery’s curator, Shane Izykowski, which included a great number of appreciative sentiments leading to some introductory remarks relating to the first musical guest. It was at the conclusion of his statements when Ms. Chelsea Carlson took her place before the microphone with her guitar in hand to prepare singing her first song. The vibrational touch of her fingers upon her instrument was quickly echoed by the chords within the audience’s thoughts as her mesmeric voice soon cast an enchantment upon their dreams with each lyric weaving a mosaic pattern from which the essentials of life could been discerned. Ms. Carlson eventually placed her guitar aside to perform a number of songs upon a keyboard with a similar effect upon those who heard her. She concluded her much endeared performance with a piece sung A Capella which amplified the harmonic qualities of her voice leaving its auditory mark upon each being who were fortunate enough to be tapped by it.

After years of playing in a number of bands, Chelsea Carlson began her solo career on June 11th during the Jakestock 2011 event in Doylestown, PA. She then continued pursuing her musical dream by performing acoustically throughout the New York and New Jersey area at Open Mic Nites. This led to her becoming a favorite of the many music lovers who frequented the variety of musical venues she headlined. Her extraordinary talents were rewarded in 2013 when she received that year’s Jersey Acoustic Music and Asbury Music Awards. You can learn more about Chelsea Carlson and her music by exploring her Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/cecmusic.

The effects of Ms. Carlson’s were still felt among the crowd when the band known as “Son Of The Blues” prepared to take the stage. After some introductory remarks given by the gallery’s curator, Shane Izykowski, which included note of the band’s lead singer and guitarist Renard Cohen performed at the very first Artists’ Reception at the gallery. It was soon afterwards did the first notes rang out of the powerful group of musicians like a fractured bell sounding an alarm to alert those who encircled them to prepare themselves for a musical onslaught of some bluesy Jazz riffs that will kick them in the ass.

An energy filled the room which was intensified with every chord change and lyric that was belted out like the punch of a boxer whose adrenalized   fervor prevented him from stopping. The power of Mr. Cohen’s delivery of each song was reinforced by Brian Ratti on drums, Sam Cassidy on Bass, and Joe Crowley on Harmonica. Dancing ensued as the beat moved many of the forms surrounding the band into a frenzied state. This sense of abandonment was embraced by the audience that repeatedly called for more of the same. Damn they were good. You’ll be able to learn more about Son Of The Blues by exploring their Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/pages/Son-of-the-Blues/412836085403255.

The heat of the performance given by Son of the Blues was still dissipating when the announcement was made that the Dance Off Competition was about to begin. However, those who wished to place their names among the competitors as well as those who would have liked to purchase a raffle ticket and have not done so prior to that time was afforded the opportunity to do so. Some time elapsed and it was time to begin the contest and the rules of engagement were pronounced.

There were two squares marked upon The Living Room’s floor; one blue and one yellow. Audience members were given cards corresponding with each color. Each contestant was given 30 seconds to dance in their specified square and the spectators were asked to vote for the dancer they liked best through their colored cards. There were three rounds with contestants in two of the three rounds dancing alongside one another while the final round would allow the audience to see each contestant dancing separately before determining who would be the winner. The grand prize was two tickets to see The Jefferson Starship perform at The Sherman Theater in Stroudsburg, PA www.facebook.com/ShermanTheater?ref=ts&fref=ts on Saturday March 22nd and $30 Gift Certificate to a music store known as Moe'st Everything Muse in Stroudsburg, PA www.facebook.com/moesteverything?ref=br_tf and could be used toward securing a rehearsal space for a band or store credit. It was after these announcements did the contest begin.

Stephan Tsapatoris and Adam Niewood were the first two contestants to share their talents and to vie for the prize. Stephan moved his body to the beat of the music while Adam moved to the best of his ability since he was recuperating from an injury and had a cane to help him walk. The winner of this match up was Adam. The next two contestants were Kevin Tails Moucha dressed as Captain Jack Sparrow from the Pirates of the Caribbean films and Paul Adam Smeltz (yeah that’s me). The beat came on, we moved, and (to my astonishment) I won that match up. The first round continued with a match up between Daniel Ferron and Bradley Bartholomew with both dancing wildly about with Daniel becoming the winner. They were followed by Vid Ryan and Brandon Kleinle. Although both men were able to dance up a storm, Brandon’s moves proved to be the more memorable as he was able to contort his body in all sorts of positions during his routine allowing him to win that particular match up. It was then time to begin the second round.

It began with a match up between Adam Niewood and myself. We stood toe to toe before the music began in order to give each other some intimidating looks in order to out machismo one another. Yeah, I know. Anyways, we danced as sensually as we could to the song “I’m too sexy” by Right Said Fred from his 1992 album titled, “Up” which is the only song I can remember from the whole competition. Adam won. We were followed by the pairing of Daniel Ferron and Brandon Kleinle. Brandon won again.

The final round came with a great deal of excitement and anticipation. “Who would win it all?” was the question upon everyone’s lips. The tension mounted as a pause was instilled in the proceedings before the music began. It was merely done in order to announce who would be dancing first but the moments it took to do so seemed unbearably long. The presence of the Brandon Kleinle on the floor allowed some were turning blue to resume breathing. The admirable showing of the dancer ended as Adam took his place to await the music to begin. Amazement filled the eyes of those who experienced his moves. I glanced over to a girl who was standing beside me from whom I noticed a trickle of a tear coming down her cheek as a result of me accidentally stepping on her toe. The song came to and end, the final votes were cast, and Adam was declared the grand prize winner.

A thunderous applause arose from the gathering with encouraging accolades were placed upon Adam for his accomplishment. Among them came the announcement that Adam Niewood can be seen every Thursday evening performing alongside Bill Goodwin at the Deer Head Inn in Delaware Water Gap, PA www.facebook.com/deerhead.inn?fref=ts during their weekly Jazz Jam. It was soon after this exuberant expression of praise did the Monthly Art Raffle take place.

The Living Room Gallery’s Monthly Art Raffle is a highly anticipated part of the Artists’ receptions that take place at the venue. The artists participating in its shows donate items to be raffled off allowing many to become owners of the work for a very affordable price. There is always a great deal of excitement as each ticket is drawn and its numbers are called out. A crescendo is built upon until a scream accompanied by the words, “I got it” rings out along with a chorus of congratulations from those who joyously join in the celebration. The evening of March 1st was no exception to this delightful phenomenon and it was a pleasure to see it all transpire.

As the final number was called and the last item on the raffle table was collected, a quiet moved among the gathering. A great deal of reflection seemed to take place as good byes and fare thee wells filled the hearts of those of bade them. Some left while partaking of the last morsels of cheese and grapes from the platter provided by the neighboring Shop Rite Supermarket or while taking a final sip of coffee sold by Brewmaster Steve Truglio whose Weevil’s Evil Bean Brew www.facebook.com/Weevilsevilbeanbrew was specially concocted for the event. But, regardless how one left the gallery, a love for the venue accompanied them along with a desire to return to it form the next reception. You’ll be able to find more photographs taken during the “Music and Album Art” Artists’ Reception in The Living Room 2014 Gallery at www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10152159666870421.1073741874.636000420&type=1 and The Living Room 2014 Gallery Part 2 at www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10152275669355421.1073741879.636000420&type=1.

The Living Room Gallery is located on Main Street in Stroudsburg, PA next to The Sherman Theater who owns the building. Shane Izykowski serves as curator of The Living Room Art Gallery. The exhibit titled, “Music and Album Art” will continue to be on display until March 26th. It was sponsored by The Main Street Jukebox which is located in Stroudsburg, PA and has been serving the community since 1994. They specialize in new and used Vinyl and CDs along with Collectibles and many rare and hard to find items.  You can learn more about The Main St. Jukebox by exploring their Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/mainstjukebox.

Throughout the “Music and Album Art” Artists’ Reception, Daniel Ferron filmed the event to be included in his documentary titled, "My life, My Story, My Tourette’s.” The evening served to demonstrate a part of Daniel’s life that he lives while suffering from Tourette Syndrome and he conducted interviews with several of the people who attended the reception including me. Peter Giunta served as the project’s camera person and seamlessly blended into the background in order to capture the flavor of the event through his chameleon like abilities. A future location that will be included in the film will be in Washington, DC during the Tourette's national conference at the end of March. Please feel free to join with me in wishing Daniel the very best in his endeavors.

The next exhibition at The Living Room Gallery will be held in April featuring several artists whose names are yet to be announced. This will be followed by their next group exhibition titled, “Art-ology” whose theme will be anything relating art and astrology. The exhibit will be held in May and local artists will be invited to submit their work. Please Explore The Living Room Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/pages/The-Living-Room/123978921059378 for more information about the venue, what it offers to the community, and how to participate and become involved with the art related work it does.

In addition to their exhibitions, The Living Room presents a weekly Open Mic Nite Series which occurs every Sunday Evening beginning at 7pm. Musicians, Poets, Writers, and anyone who would like to share their talents with an eagerly accepting audience are welcomed to do so through a sign up process that begins at 6:30pm. There is occasionally a featured band or performer scheduled designed to enhance the enjoyment of the event. You can learn more about The Living Room Open Mic Nite Series by exploring its Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/OpenMicAtTheLivingRoom?ref=ts&fref=ts.

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