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For Mountain Green, answers may be blowin' in the wind

April 11, 2002|BY KATE COLEMAN

katec@herald-mail.com

Mountain Green Concerts series will wrap up its 12th season Saturday with a performance by an icon of English folk-rock - Fairport Convention.

The band never was Top 10 popular - "that's to their credit, perhaps," says David Fitzwater, who's been the main man and the quiet force behind the concert series for the past 12 years.

Fairport Convention is amazing because its members have managed to keep a band in that name and in that tradition for a long time, Fitzwater says.

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As Fairport Convention celebrates its 35th anniversary by looking ahead, Mountain Green also is looking to the future, although the view is a little unclear right now.

"There's a possible change in the wind for Mountain Green concerts," Fitzwater says.

Inconsistent audience participation has affected the organization's financial bottom line as well as spirit, he explains.

Mountain Green began as the Prospect Coffeehouse Concert Series in October 1990 at the Women's Club at Hagerstown's Prospect Street auditorium. Fitzwater has confessed that his own desire to play music was part of the reason for starting the series.

The behind-the-scenes work involved has grown along with the budget - a little less than $27,000 this season. For several years, Fitzwater has been on stage only to introduce performers and thank supporters.

To make it to the Mountain Green stage, a performance "has to represent some traditional music or dance form, and it has to be of a certain quality or artistic merit," Fitzwater has said.

There have been some big names - no, not chart- topping stadium-filling superstars - but wonderful and well-respected performers: Cajun-rooted BeauSoleil, Tom Chapin, Robin and Linda Williams, the percussive dance troupe Footworks and Cherish the Ladies, as well as their cousins in Celtic music, Solas.

The audiences are as eclectic as the programs - a wide range of ages, appearance and attire. But often, there are not enough people in the seats. The performance also has to be something that people will come out for, Fitzwater also has said.

You may never have heard of some - or any - of the Mountain Green artists. But it's always worth a try.

There's something about a live performance - fingers flying on acoustic instruments, percussion that spans several cultures, creativity that makes old arts new - that's worth the venture.

"Take a chance," as Fairport Convention's Simon Nicol says.

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