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July 31, 2012 by Blue Ridge Leader filed under Events, Lifestyle No Comments
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Franklin Park Arts Center Welcomes New Crop of Home Grown Musicians

By Andrea Gaines

The way music instructor Frank Keims effuses about the musicians known as “The Immortals” … you’d think he was doing an introduction for the latest inductees to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

The Immortals are a rotating group of young musicians drawn from Keims’ Loudoun Music Instruction business in Lovettsville.

In 2006, Keim began calling the parents of his most gifted students to push the idea of offering these young musicians the opportunity to challenge themselves with college-level music instruction and the chance to join with a real live band. This group of young men and women would be pushed hard. They would need to maintain certain grade levels at school. They would be tested like undergrads and be given the opportunity to write music, and jam with and exchange ideas with others as talented as themselves. His most promising students loved it. And, not because it was some kind of teenage indulgence.

These high school level musicians study things such as major scale theory, melody composition, modulation, vocal technique, inversions, stage presence, song writing and arrangement, and more. And, they travel and perform in professionally scheduled shows, including a signature local event at Franklin Park Arts Center on Saturday, August 4 at 7:00 p.m. 2012 Immortals members include Julia Hiser, a sophomore at Woodgrove High School studying piano, synth and vocals; Joseph Keim, a sophomore at Woodgrove High School studying drums, piano, synth, and vocals; Ryan McCall a freshman at Woodgrove High School; Travis Guyton, a junior at Woodgrove High School; Tyler Scheerschmidt, a freshman at Woodgrove High School; Erin Taylor, a freshman at Woodgrove High School; and Abbe Scheerschmidt a junior at Woodgrove High School.

Also … the Sun & Moon Come Out At Franklin Park on Sunday, August 5 at 8:00 p.m.

Maddy Curtis and Laura Keim are not strangers to the Loudoun County music scene. Both have been performing all around the county for a number of years, although not with one another. To change this unwanted trend, they are now teaming up as an unconventional duo for a wonderful afternoon of music. They are both outstanding musicians and singers, and they will fill your ears with beautiful melodies and harmonies that will provide one excellent concert.
For tickets and information for both performances go to www.franklinparkartscenter.org.

Old Times & New Times at Watermelon Park Fest

By Nora Kavaldjian

Nestled in the curve of the Shenandoah River in Berryville, VA., is a grassy park crisscrossed with dirt roads, peppered with old trees, and holding a handsome stage at the crest of a hill overlooking the water. While the park is filled with campers all summer, every September this stage is brought to life by Watermelon Park Fest, September 20–22: a festival celebrating traditional music. Bluegrass, country, jazz, old-time, Americana, and more coexist at the three-day festival, each taking their turn at the main stage, side stage, and dance tent – as well as in the sprawling camps that spring up in the park, where there is always another jam to be found even long after the sun has set.

Old-timers will remember Watermelon Park Fest when it hosted musicians like Johnny Cash and Patsy Cline, but more and more the festival is attracting younger fans. I have been going to Watermelon Park Fest for several years now, beginning when I was about 12 years old, and even through that time I’ve seen how much attendance has grown and how many people around my age – and younger! – have been taking an interest in the festival. Still, the question must be asked – what is there for a kid to do at Watermelon Park Fest? Quite a bit, as it turns out.

Watermelon Park is primarily a music festival, but it’s more like one gigantic party. The extensive camps house people of all kinds – musicians, music fans, hippies, vacationers, and many others – and no matter who you are, there’s bound to be someone like you. I remember, one or two years ago, when a family first came to the park and camped… in their gigantic, home-altered school bus. I could barely believe my eyes when I caught sight of the bus, light lavender with delicately painted green vines on its sides. In any case, the camps are certainly a place to have fun – the vast majority of families that come are hospitable and cheerful, and many will welcome another guest to their party, their dinner table, or their jam. The environment of WPF is perfect for the cultivation of new acquaintances and friendships, or the growth and development of old ones.

Another activity, particularly for the much younger crowd, is the kids’ tent. Though there’s already a play set built into the park, the WPF folks set up a special tent with kids’ activities running throughout the three days of the festival. Activities include art projects and live performances – I know this first hand, as my band the Polka Dots was enlisted to play a little concert at the kids tent one year; the next year we led a kids’ musical parade all around the camp! And another kids’ project, is the Watermelon Boat: Children would be given watermelons and a helping hand in creating hollowed-out boats, which were then set afloat in the Shenandoah River near the stage. I watched the boats floating as I performed, and I must say that I was a little jealous that I didn’t get to make one, because they were seriously amazing – floating down the river, a parade of green and red-pink.

Of course, the most important attraction is what the park is known for: the music! All through the three days and three nights of the festival music can be found everywhere, from the main stage to the camps. But one very important aspect of WPF is the casual, personal level on which everything is taken. Once, I even got to hug the headlining band, the Carolina Chocolate Drops, just because they were there! It had been late and I had nearly been asleep, but I still managed to grab an embrace from Rhiannon and Dom before they packed up their instruments. From jamming with the famous to just having fun in the audience, the music scene at WPF has something for everyone. And that goes for the entire festival as well – so full of life and energy, Watermelon Park Fest always leaves you with a smile on your face and a tap in your toes, already excited for next year’s festivities.

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