Music and song filling the summer evening air

August 05, 2004|by ANDREA ROWLAND

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. - The Massacoustics will bring music to the mountains this weekend during a free concert at Berkeley Springs State Park.

The sibling duo's concert on Saturday, Aug. 7, is part of the 18th season of the Morgan Arts Council's free weekly summer concerts series. The series began July 10 and continues through Saturday, Aug. 28. The National Endowment for the Arts, Middle Atlantic Arts Foundation, West Virginia Commission on the Arts and local hotel/motel tax revenues provide funding for the shows in the downtown Berkeley Springs park.

Concerts start at 5:30 p.m. and if it rains are held at The Ice House on the corner of Mercer and Independence streets.


"I'm tremendously excited. I think it's one of the most incredible seasons we've had," said Ice House Director J.W. Rone, noting "amazing" recent performances by blues masters John Cephas and Phil Wiggins, and award-winning songwriter James McMurtry, who is the son of novelist Larry McMurtry. "The entire series this year has been very challenging to our audience, bringing new ideas."

Rone, who's in charge of lining up the series' entertainers, said the Morgan Arts Council is pleased to host an event that bolsters Berkeley Springs' most lucrative business - tourism. Out-of-towners accounted for about 65 percent of the audience at the Cephas & Wiggins concert on Saturday, July 24, he said.

Matt Thompson of The Massacoustics said he and his brother, Andy Thompson, enjoy the dynamic audience mix that Berkeley Springs offers.

"It's a great place. It's kind of an interesting place because you have locals mixed in with people from other places," Thompson said. "We love playing there."

The Massacoustics - featuring Andy Thompson on guitar and vocals and Matt Thompson on bass, percussion and vocals - have performed at Tari's on West Washington Street and at the Morgan County Fair. Boston area natives who now live in Nashville, Tenn., the Thompson brothers enjoy a familiarity that makes making music together easy, Matt Thompson said. He and his brother write their own songs, and describe their acoustic rock as having the "energy of (Paul) McCartney's melodies, the confident vocals of Crowded House and the depth of Al Green," according to their Web site at

"We're known for being real high-energy," Matt Thompson said. "We try to put some energy into it, as much as we can with two guys."

As individual musicians, the Thompson brothers have shared the stage with such notable performers as Rolling Stone Bill Wyman and the Rhythm Kings, Nickel Creek, Bad Finger and Willie Nelson. The Massacoustics' newest CD, "Hit Me Hard," will be available for sale at the concert.

Concerts that will round out the 2004 season series include:

  • Cathy Fink & Marcy Marxer on Aug. 14. "We sing in harmony and often invite the audience to join us," Fink said. She described her duo's music as "eclectic," a mix of traditional and contemporary folk and country music, swing music, "and, of course, a wide variety of songs for family audiences." In addition to selections from Fink's and Marxer's children's recordings, grown-up audience members in Berkeley Springs also will hear folk and bluegrass tunes.

    The Takoma Park, Md., residents earned a 2004 Grammy award for Best Musical Album for Children. The entertainers - who have been performing together for 20 years - blend elements of music and comedy, instrument making, history lessons, creative conflict resolution and trick roping into one of the most contagiously high-spirited children's and family shows around, according to their Web site at Fink - who in 1973 began incorporating children's programming in her folk music touring schedule - is a renowned banjo and guitar player and world-class yodeler. Marxer - who trained in theater arts at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and Ringling Brothers Clown School - plays guitar, mandolin, hammered dulcimer, steel drums, percussion and other instruments. She's also a top-notch trick roper. Fink's and Marxer's latest CD is "Bon Appetit! Musical Food Fun."

  • Randy Barrett on Aug. 21: Virginia-based songwriter, vocalist, guitar and banjo player Barrett has garnered five Washington Area Music Awards for Best Male Vocalist in Bluegrass and Traditional Folk and the 2002 Bluegrass Album of the Year for his latest album. He's performed at such distinguished venues as The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, The Birchmere and The Library of Congress, according to his Web site at

  • The Woodticks on Aug. 28: Hailing from Morgantown, W.Va., the Woodticks - Keith McManus on fiddle and vocals; Karen Wade on guitar and vocals; and Jeff Bush on banjo, tenor guitar and vocals - will bring their traditional mountain music to Berkeley Springs for the first time.

    "We play high-energy, old-time Appalachian music," Bush said. "Everybody likes it. It's a fun time."

    The group's brand new self-titled CD will be available at the show, he said. To learn more about The Woodticks, go to on the Web.

For more information about the concert series, go to on the Web or call 1-304-258-2300.

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