Upcoming concerts will benefit NES – By Alex Nuti-de Biasi

Published in the November 23, 2016 edition of the Journal Opinion -Bradford, Vt-
above: George Seymour and Patrick Ross of Mountain Money
By Alex Nuti-de Biasi
NEWBURY — Mountain Money Concert Series will return this month in a benefit for a local school’s music program. George Seymour of Waterbury and Patrick Ross of Newbury will perform on Nov. 27 at 3pm at the Newbury Village Town Hall. All proceeds will benefit the Newbury Elementary School music program. A second concert will be held in December.
The Journal Opinion asked Ross a few questions about the upcoming benefit.
JO: Why Mountain Money? Who’s performing on Nov. 27 and Dec. 11?
Ross: The Newbury Village Town Hall will be the new venue for the ongoing Mountain Money Concert Series because we out grew The Stone Room at the Bradford Mill.  We at Rock Farmer Records are careful about establishing both the W. Newbury Hall and The Village Town Hall, each with a different series.  It’s all about branding.  George Seymour – Nov. 27 and Pappy Biondo on Dec. 11.
The following is a description of the concert series from the Rock Farmer Records website.  Mountain Money is a currency. It isn’t traded in the financial markets of the port cities, and doesn’t have much value down in the railroad towns or river towns. You can’t deposit it in any bank, and you can’t use it to buy a train or bus ticket to escape from an urban center to a mountain retreat.

     But to those carving out a living in hills and hollows of greater Appalachia, the value of Mountain Money is clear. Out in the woods for a long day of logging, sugaring, or hunting, the one who remembered to bring toilet paper has Mountain Money. During mud season, the guy carrying a chain in the back of his four-wheel drive pickup has Mountain Money. On a hot summer’s day, the one who knows the way to a secret swimming hole has Mountain Money.

     Truth be told, there are many who try to escape the hustle-and-bustle of the city life to live out their fantasies of a rural life. The ones that don’t make it past more than a few mud seasons are the ones who never learn how to trade in Mountain Money. The old-timers who know how to get things done in this-here-particular-neck-of-the-woods may not have much in the way of financial security, but are rich in Mountain Money. They’re the ones who tell the stories of the “flatlanders” who never quite figure it out. Those stories are currency. Those stories are Mountain Money.
The Mountain Money Concert Series is a celebration of these values. The melodies, chord progressions, and song structures are a currency long traded in logging and hunting camps, and in parlors and on porches of homes in mining and mill towns. Because hauling a piano up into the mountains makes about as much sense as building Fitzcaraldo’s opera house in the Amazon jungle, the fiddle and banjo are the instruments of choice for this celebration of Mountain Money. Both instruments are easily carried, project with equal loudness, and are complementary to one another—the banjo’s staccato pulse with the fiddle’s legato melody—and thus have a long tradition of being played in the places where Mountain Money is the only available currency.
We welcome you to our celebration of value that can’t be quantified, and invite you to join in: stomp your feet, clap your hands, and get up and dance if you feel like it. Or just sit back and enjoy the show. Just remember to take a little with you when you go, because Mountain Money is creative energy that grows in value as it is shared in community.
JO: what’s the goal of the benefit?
  Ross: To bring attention to what used to be primarily known as The Newbury Village Town Hall.
JO: Why Newbury Village Town Hall? And can you tell us what’s it like now and what it will be like after the coming benefits? How many people can fit in there for one of these shows?
Ross: Rock Farmer Records has had much success all around Vermont with lighting up town halls that are underused in terms of performances.  Right now the town hall is a basket ball gym with a stage built into one of the side lines. The proceeds will help buy materials to essentially box in the seating area with 10ft tall black curtains.  So as to take a bit of the basketball gym vibe and set it aside during a performance.  Think of it as a glorified type of shower curtain around 3 sides of the audience except the stage side. The school would own the materials and be able to use it for their own productions, to be set up on a per need basis.
The rear curtain will be able to be adjusted so as to fit up to 100 seats.  A performance is more enjoyable all around when there is the feeling of the space being maxed out. The rear curtain will be able to be brought forward as well for smaller crowds.
JO: Why is music education important?
 Ross: I see the place music has in our lives on a daily basis.  It is a keystone of every major life event from weddings to funerals.  Music can put a lion to sleep and prepare an army for battle.  It is an avenue for social change and an integral part of existence, particularly pertaining to the human heart beat. Learning an instrument helps cognitive skills, coordination, discipline, creative problem solving, teamwork, and most importantly, listening skills. Our ears are just as important as our eyes.
JO: Can you describe some of your own music education experiences in school? 
Ross: I grew up in Canaan, Vt.  I applied and was excepted to Lyndon Institute on a music scholarship after seeing a jazz band made up of Lyndon kids. John Paden was the music coach at the time.  I use the word coach because he created an atmosphere of self improvement through self examination. The training was rigorous and we knew why.  For us, the lens of self actualization was music. He taught us to set realistic goals and keep steady through the suffering of making mistakes, to then come out on the other end with tools for self expression underlined by the empowering feeling of accomplishment.
Working as part of a team when each team member is in the zone is one of the most inspiring examples of human capacity.  A team is a small community.  Music and how it pertains to community is something that Cindy and I feel very strongly about.
Published in the November 23, 2016 edition of the Journal Opinion -Bradford, Vt-

Patrick Ross Q & A

-By Shaun Machia
When you were 19 you moved away from Vermont, studied in Nashville and traveled all around the world playing music.   What made you want to come back to Vermont?
True,  I left Canaan at the age of 19 after living at home for one year.  During that one year between graduating high school and moving to Nashville, I toured with a Vermont band called, “Smokin’ Grass”.   A bluegrass band that blended elements of folk and roots rock.  I was asked to join the band on a cross country tour.  Needless to say, I was more than excited to participate.   It was a great way to see the massiveness and diversity of America while developing my skills as a young musician.  We started in Upper State New York and ended up at the High Sierra Music Festival in Quincy, California after many stops including Tennessee, Colorado and Nevada. After that,  I was offered a job in Nashville to play in a Celtic Rock band, “Ceili Rain” The fiddle player was bowing out, so she recruited me to replace her.  My audition was over the phone with the band leader, Bob Halligan.  I moved to Nashville and became room mates with another fiddle player (Casey Driessen) I had met along the way.  I lived in Nashville for 4 years practiced until my fingers bled and made lots of great connections while continuing to perform all around the U.S. and Canada.


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