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TGIF Brown Bag Series draws crowd to Chambersburg square

August 06, 2005|By BONNIE H. BRECHBILL

bonnieb@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - LeRoy S. "Tucker" Maxwell Jr., an attorney in Waynesboro, Pa., came to Chambersburg's square Friday to hear a Celtic musician he met in Hawaii.

Maxwell said he and his wife, Judy, a Latin teacher in Greencastle, Pa., attended a slack key guitar concert while vacationing in Hawaii recently and met Jamie O'Brien, who also was in the audience. The Maxwells attended a Celtic Aloha festival a week later to hear O'Brien. The men talked about where they were from, and discovered they both live in central Pennsylvania.

"He said he's playing Chambersburg in early August. I wasn't going to miss this," MaxweIl said. "I really enjoy his music."

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"It's a small world," he added.

O'Brien, a full-time musician from Carlisle, Pa., performed in the Chambersburg Council for the Arts' TGIF Brown Bag Series.

Now in its 14th season, the series of free, outdoor performances on the borough square was one of the first things the council instituted, Council Director Anne Finucane said.

Both professional and amateur artists perform. Attendance varies from 30 to 200, with the higher numbers turning out for high school choral presentations, when parents and grandparents attend, Finucane said.

Sometimes the summer heat hurts attendance, "but there are seats in the shade," she said.

"Retired people and moms with kids attend," she added. "Working people walk by, stop, listen awhile and go on."

Although Friday was hot and humid, a breeze blew as about 40 people listened to O'Brien. Born and raised in England, O'Brien played an electrically amplified acoustic guitar and sang contemporary and traditional Irish music as traffic rumbled through the busy intersection. Some listeners sat on benches around the square, while others brought lawn chairs.

When Greencastle resident Brian Sword, 32, finishes his volunteer work at King Street United Brethren Church on Fridays, he likes to come over to the square to eat lunch and listen to the music. He said that he "really likes" the Celtic music, and also has enjoyed dancing and Civil War music at other TGIF performances.

Elaine and John Kriner of Waynesboro attend occasionally.

"It's so nice to have something like this," Elaine Kriner said. "It gets people out."

The Hanover Street Neighbors drive from Carlisle to attend TGIF every other week and eat their lunches while listening to the music.

The Neighbors is a community-based group for young adults with disabilities who do volunteer work, eat out, go bowling and attend movies and other cultural events, according to activities instructor Courtney Hills.

Jackie Hogan, 26, works at Goodwill two days a week, and attended TGIF for the second time. She said she enjoyed watching the dancers last week.

After the performance, O'Brien said that he "just loves" community performances.

"This is what these squares were for," O'Brien said. "They used to be the center of the town. People are outside. It's glorious, having that for a backdrop," he said, gesturing to the Franklin County Courthouse.

Along with Hawaiian musicians, O'Brien plays gigs called Celtic Aloha: Oceans Apart, Islands Together. The two styles of music have a lot in common, such as an expressive droning, ringing style, he said.

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