Art Notes: Nexus Festival reaching out to families

By ALEX HANSON

Valley News Staff Writer

Published: 08-09-2023 8:42 PM

In planning this year’s Nexus Festival, Lebanon Opera House Executive Director Joe Clifford wanted to expand the roster of Upper Valley-based acts and the offerings for children and family.

When the free, three-day festival kicks off on Friday, Clifford also will have achieved something else: a lineup of talent that seems conspicuously young. It wasn’t intentional, Clifford said.

“I think it’s just kind of how things came out,” he said.

Among the young performers are some with local ties, notably singer-songwriter Hans Williams (see related story) and jazz singer Grace Wallace. Williams grew up in Norwich and Wallace moved here from England.

The festival also includes acts from the Twin States. Burlington-based country and Americana duo Jaded Ravins and singer-songwriter Ali McGuirk perform on Friday, and the Soggy Po’ Boys, a New Orleans jazz outfit based on the New Hampshire Seacoast, performs Sunday. And BlacKLisT, the Afro-punk and soul project of Orford native Senayit Tomlinson, performs on Saturday.

Last year, Clifford said he was surprised and pleased at how many families came to the festival on Saturday, where they could camp out in Colburn Park for the day and wander among the festival’s three stages. This year, the festival offers multiple family-friendly performances on Saturday, including the circus-y duo of Liam and Ripley, a family-friendly version of the Silent Disco, and the New Hampshire-based Mr. Aaron, who writes and performs clever music for kids.

That leads into one of the festival’s headliners, the Nashville-based singer and music therapist Kyshona, who brings to her trio’s roots and soul music an emphasis on healing and on hearing the voices of forgotten people.

Her face has been on the back of Advance Transit buses for the last month or so, Clifford said, which took her by surprise.

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“Her voice and her command of the stage,” he said, “I think will really shock people.”

This year’s festival is the third and is one of the best outdoor entertainments to emerge from the shadow of the coronavirus pandemic. Clifford expects to continue to tweak it every year. This year, he sought out more food trucks, including one to park near the main stage, behind the opera house.

“We’re finding it’s a format that really works,” he said.

For more information on the Nexus Festival, including a full schedule, go to lebanonoperahouse.org/nexus.

More free music

Lake Morey Resort in Fairlee is holding a series of free Thursday night concerts. This week’s features Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band, a Midwestern five-piece unit that plays down-home blues and Americana. You have to appreciate a band that promises equal parts divinity and blasphemy, right in its name.

The show starts at 8 and while the music is free, there will be food (from the resort’s kitchen and a wood-fired pizza oven) that won’t be. The resort also is booking bands on Friday and Saturday nights in its Steamboat Pub. Go to lakemoreyresort.com for more info.

A little chamber music

The Central Vermont Chamber Music Festival is underway at the Chandler Center for the Arts in Randolph.

A performance this Saturday includes string trios by the lesser-known composers Sergei Taniev and Pedro Saenz, and a Brahms sextet. The festival runs through next Saturday. For more information, go to chandler-arts.org.

Herd dispersal

The dozens of paint-by-number cows on display at the Main Street Museum in White River Junction will be together for only one more week, through Aug. 18. Some of the cows are for sale to benefit the nonprofit museum.

The best time to visit the MSM is on Friday nights, when the player piano is in use, but it’s also open by appointment. Text 802-356-2776 at a reasonable hour, say after 11 a.m., to set up a time to visit. For more info, go to mainstreetmuseum.org.

Alex Hanson can be reached at ahanson@vnews.com or 603-727-3207.