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Folk music club looks to recruit new volunteers as it celebrates 44 years

Regional music makers offer several fall events, from a rock festival, to coffeehouses, to the symphony

Chuck Williams will be the feature performer in the South Shore Folk Music Club coffeehouse concert on Saturday, Oct. 22 in Duxbury.Karen Woodhall

Folk singer Karen Woodhall of Plymouth “swept the floor at the Beal House” in Kingston years ago, the original home of the South Shore Folk Music Club. Today she’s the publicity coordinator for the club, which is celebrating its 44th season of coffeehouses and concerts, now held at First Parish Church in Duxbury.

The folk music club may have found its inspiration in a musical trend that began more than a half-century ago, but this year it’s looking to the future. “We’re starting up something new,” Woodhall said, “a youth ‘All Open Mic’ Night coffeehouse.” The club’s welcoming format is wide open for youthful performers, including songs — “original or not” — instrumentals, poetry, spoken word, or ‘other’ performances.


The first youth open-mic night takes place on Friday, Oct. 7, at 7 p.m. A second all-youth coffeehouse is scheduled for Friday, Nov. 18. Admission is $5 at the door, paid by cash or check.

Woodhall, who has sung and played guitar at the club and elsewhere, performs in a duo with David Jackson, and sits in on club president Tall Richard’s band. She has also taken on many roles for the club over the years, including serving as emcee for coffeehouse concerts. She learned a useful lesson on playing that role from the longtime former host of GBH’s folk music show Dick Pleasants, who sometimes emceed the club’s musical events.

“He taught me,” Woodhall said, “that if you’ve said what you needed to say to introduce the performer, you don’t have to fill all the silence.”

But if you’re a long-term club member, you’re likely to have filled a lot of volunteer jobs. Karen Haffner of Rockland runs the club’s website, takes care of advance ticket sales, emcees, and ends the coffeehouse nights with a “traditional” murder ballad. Janet Alfieri of Plymouth handles the Facebook page, queries from musicians, and serves as the club’s photographer. Club members Glenn Thayer and Todd Nickerson help run the sound system.


“We need more new blood — younger, strong folk to take on the heavier duties,” said Woodhall, who also serves as the club’s treasurer. “This is an all-volunteer organization and we need help to keep it going!”

Chuck Williams will be the feature performer at the South Shore Folk Music Club coffeehouse concert on Saturday, Oct. 22.South Shore Folk Music Club

The club opened its season earlier this month with a concert by folk and roots music singer Gail Morrison of Rochester. The nonprofit plans to hold the year’s first “coffeehouse” format program, with table-seating and refreshments for sale, on Saturday, Oct. 22. The coffeehouse feature performer is songwriter Chuck Williams of Buzzards Bay, whose style the club described as “rooted in the American folk-rock tradition.” The program opener is CiCi Eberle, a regional singer-songwriter drawing on folk, acoustic-rock, and blues roots.

And well-known Berklee-trained blues singer Racky Thomas, accompanying himself on guitar and harmonica, will perform a concert at the club on Saturday, Nov. 12.

See the club’s website,southshorefolkmusicclub.org for schedule and ticket information.

Like the South Shore Folk Music Club, other regional music providers feel the urge to pick up the beat in the fall. The South Shore regional Atlantic Symphony Orchestra will perform in Braintree this month. The Plymouth Philharmonic Orchestra, which began its season with a September performance, has two concerts scheduled for November. The South Shore Conservatory hosts an outdoor “Mad Love Music Festival” for “rockers” this month, among other events. And a regional theater company will present a musical review based on the well-loved stage musicals of Rodgers and Hammerstein in Plymouth running from Oct. 6 to Oct. 9.


South Shore Conservatory describes its rock music festival as “a one-day celebration of music, life and community” held outdoors at the school’s Hingham campus on Sunday, Oct. 9, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The festival features local musicians, refreshments and what the conservatory describes as “activities for rockers of all ages.” The event raises scholarship money. See the school’s website, sscmusic.org, for ticket information.

Later this month the conservatory hosts its own “open mic night” on Friday, Oct. 28, from 7 to 9 p.m. The school also offers classes in rhythm fundamentals and drum circles for, separately, teen and adult “rockers.”

For music lovers on a different wave length, the Atlantic Symphony opens its 26th season under music director Jin Kim on Saturday, Oct. 22, beginning at 7:30 p.m. at the Thayer Center for the Arts, located at 745 Washington St. in Braintree. Described by the orchestra as “a dynamic evening of masterworks,” the concert program consists of Beethoven’s Overture to Egmont, Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto, and Haydn’s Symphony No. 4, known as “London.” Internationally acclaimed guest artist Luosha Fang is the soloist in the violin concerto. See the orchestra’s website, atlanticsymphony.org for tickets.

The Plymouth Philharmonic Orchestra, which opened its 107th season in September with a program of music by American composers, has two concerts planned for November. Music director Steven Karidoyanes leads “Perfect Pairs,” a concert consisting of Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel’s Overture in C; Simon Garcia’s Concerto for Amplified Double Bass (composed in 2020); and Felix Mendelssohn’s “Scottish” Symphony No. 3. Guest artist Susan Hagen is featured on the double bass concerto. The concert takes place at Plymouth North High School’s performing arts center, located at 41 Obery St., on Nov. 5.


The later concert, called “America’s Hometown Thanksgiving Celebration” will take place on Friday, Nov. 18 at Plymouth Memorial Hall, located at 83 Court St. It’s part of Plymouth’s annual pre-Thanksgiving Day celebration. The orchestra describes the program as a first half of “cherished American classics” including Aaron Copland’s “Hoe Down,” Florence Price’s “Adoration,” Samuel Barber’s ravishing “Adagio for Strings,” and contemporary American composer Nancy Galbraith’s “Midnight Stirring.” The second half features guest artist violinist Grant Houston performing with the orchestra in Mozart’s stellar Violin Concerto No. 5 and Vittorio Monti’s “Czardas,” a piece based on Hungarian folklore. Tickets are $30. For tickets to both these concerts see the website, plymouthphil.org.

The Americana Theatre Company turns its talents to music as well this month, presenting a concert based on the “beloved works” of the theatrical team of Rodgers and Hammerstein. The cast will perform songs from the duo’s best-loved shows, including “The Sound of Music,” “Oklahoma!”, “South Pacific,” and “Carousel” in performances from Oct. 6 to Sunday, Oct. 9 (shows at both 2 and 7 p.m. on Sunday) at Plymouth Center for the Arts, 11 North St.


Tickets for “The Music of Rodgers and Hammerstein” are $35 for adults, $30 for students and seniors, available in advance at americanatheatre.org/tickets.

Robert Knox can be reached at rc.knox2@gmail.com.