August 23, 2019

MAAC announces fall concert series - Daily Leader Extra : Top Stories

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MAAC announces fall concert series

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Posted: Wednesday, August 14, 2019 2:10 pm

Good food is good food; that's indisputable. But, sometimes a meal is so pleasurable, even the memory is savored.

Maybe it's the ambience of the restaurant, the way the food is presented, or the companion and dinner conversation. Maybe an indefinable combination of factors creates a dining experience that can't be replicated, only treasured.

Those are the experiences to which Chris Francis, president of the Madison Area Arts Council (MAAC), compares a performance at the BrickHouse.

"It's like having a chef cook for you instead of going through a buffet," he said.

The BrickHouse, once part of a garage, but used in other ways prior to becoming the home for MAAC events, is an intimate concert venue, one hallowed by singer/songwriters for the past decade. Francis said artists are often taken aback when they enter because they are accustomed to performing in larger spaces. However, when the chairs are filled and they begin performing, they discover they have stumbled into something entirely unexpected.

"There's an atmosphere in that building that's special," Francis said.

He isn't sure area residents appreciate the caliber of artists he books for the BrickHouse. The singer/songwriters he books tour the nation. The Talbott Brothers, for example, are performing in Minneapolis, New York City, Washington, D.C., Seattle, Wash., Nashville, Tenn., and Denver, Colo., among other places, as part of the tour that includes Madison.

"The artists who play at the Grand Ole Opry play on our stage," he said.

They play in jazz clubs in Chicago, Francis indicated, providing another example.

"Some are a once-in-a-lifetime like Peter Mulvey," he said.

Mulvey, who performed at the BrickHouse in November 2017, is known internationally. This year, Francis has Dan Rodriguez on the roster. While folks may not know the name, if they've seen the Budweiser commercial with the yellow lab, they have heard him sing.

Francis said he isn't surprised any more by the kinds of comments he hears after a concert.

"I get pulled aside often -- `You should bring him back.' `You should bring her back'," he said.

Part of a BrickHouse concert experience is the access concertgoers have to the artists themselves. At intermissions and after the concerts, they can talk to the musicians, learn their stories and get more details about anecdotes they share on stage.

"With our facility, they have to interact with the audience; they can't get around it," Francis admitted.

In hiring musicians, he said he looks at tours and rosters to see who is available. He also strives for variety.

"There's something on the schedule that appeals to everyone in the community," he said.

The fall concert series will kick off on Aug. 23 with Izabel Crane. She performed earlier this year and is back by popular demand.

"She had a good rapport with the audience," Francis said.

Crane is a self-professed introvert who connects with people through her music. For her earlier performance, she drew from a variety of musical traditions, including country, blues, folk and jazz, to create a unique sound that combined a finger-picking guitar style with a lilting and lyrical voice.

"The second set was French, cafe-style stuff, French bistro songs," Francis said. "It will be a good show."

Rodriguez will perform on Sept. 11. Francis said his songs are soft and warm -- "a lot of wedding, love songs."

Trevor Sensor follows on Sept. 21. In trying to describe Sensor, Francis hesitated before saying he's a mix of Roy Orbison, whose Top 10 hits in the 1960s included "Only the Lonely" and "Oh, Pretty Woman," and jazz and blues musician Tom Waits.

On Oct. 19, Annalibera will be performing. Francis said her music can best be described as alternative, a "college radio" sound.

The Talbott Brothers wrap up the fall season on Nov. 13. Francis described them as a country-folk duo. With acoustic guitars and easy harmony, they create a sound as inviting as a friend's embrace, he said.

Francis encourages people to check out YouTube videos to sample the artists if they are unsure about attending one of the scheduled concerts.

All of the concerts begin at 7:30 p.m. They are free and open to the public, though a freewill donation is welcome.

Last year, freewill donations from concerts enabled the MAAC to donate $1,100 toward the cost of new band uniforms for the Madison High School marching band and to purchase three guitars for the Madison Middle School music program.

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