Best Bets This Week

Paul Diblasi & Janie Meneely perform in “A Chesapeake Christmas” Friday, December 14 at the Historical Society of Talbot County’s Auditorium.

Holiday musical offerings continue this weekend with a number of family-friendly events. Highlights include Friday night’s, “A Chesapeake Christmas,” at the Talbot County Historical Society Auditorium. Talented singer-songwriters Janie Meneely and Paul Diblasi, will be joined by their musician friends William Pint and Felicia Dale, and students from Meneely’s recent songwriting workshop. Songs are themed around the Bay in winter and sailors abroad during the holidays. A Christmas Shop set up in the lobby will have  musician’s cds for sale as well as First Night Talbot buttons.

Sunday afternoon, the Avalon Theatre presents  the premier of The Santa Diaries, a musical comedy written specifically for the theatre by St. Michaels authors Laura Ambler and Mela Burt. The  Avalon’s website describes the plot: ” When a successful and self-absorbed Hollywood actor is forced to return to his small hometown and direct the community holiday play, he rediscovers the joy of Christmas and learns to embrace his inner Santa.” CeCe Davis, assistant director of the play, said there were close to 50 cast members in the performance. Perfect family entertainment and you’re sure to see some friends and neighbors in the cast.

If you’re sans kids and  in the mood for some witty songwriting, check out Dan Bern at the NightCat Friday.  Described as, “a modern musical Lenny Bruce,” he puts on a great live show.

Friday, December 14 – 7 pm: “A Chesapeake Christmas”  Benefit for First Night Talbot and Talbot Partnership. Advance Tickets $15 adults & $5 students –  Call 410-819-8067.   OR $20 adults & $10 students at door. Talbot County Historical Society Auditorium. 17 S. Washington St., Easton, MD 21601.

Audacious singer-songwriter Dan Bern takes the stage Friday, December 14 at the NightCat in Easton.

Friday, December 14 – 8 pm: Dan Bern at the NightCat   Recommended if you like John Hiatt, John Prine, Jackie Greene. 5 Goldsborough St., Easton, MD 21601

Sunday, December 16 – 2 pm: The Santa Diaries at the Avalon Theatre  Additional performances Dec. 20-22 @ 7pm, Dec. 23 @ 2 pm.$20 adult, $10 student. Dinner theatre Dec. 17 & 18 @ 6pm, $100


Best Bets This Week

Beth McDonald and Joe Holt perform Christmas classics and jazz standards Saturday at the Avalon Theatre.

Ducks of the Shore, a banner by Easton Elementary School teacher
Jeremy Joseph, with help from

We’ll  bet downtown Easton will be one happening place this Friday. Not only is it the First Friday Gallery Walk, but also the 11th Annual Arts in Easton banner auction; always a highlight of the season. Supporting  local artists while enjoying an open bar, yummy hors d’oeuvres and live music – what’s not to like?

‘Tis the season for holiday music; this weekend’s choices include jazz at the Avalon on Friday with the impeccable vocalist Beth McDonald and pianist Joe Holt (whose trio played a terrific show there recently). Holt says of the upcoming performance, “Beth and I have worked up enough new material to fill a suitcase or two.”

It wouldn’t be the holidays without Handel’s  Messiah.  Saturday the BSO pays a visit to the Eastern Shore to perform the inspiring music at Chesapeake College, with Edward Polochick, conductor and harpsichord and concert artists of the Baltimore Symphonic Chorale.

Sunday afternoon, Christ Church Easton hosts a free concert with  the Westminster Ringers, a bell and chime ensemble. Perhaps a spot of tea is in order before or after the show?

Friday, December 7 – 7 to 9:30 pm: 11th Annual Arts in Easton Banner Auction  Preview hours 5 to 8. You can preview the banners here, and bid on them here, if you can’t be there for the auction. Waterfowl Festival Building,40 South Harrison Street, Easton, MD 21601

Banner; Mast Sultana by photographer Nanny Trippe

Friday, December 7 – 8 pm: Beth McDonald & Joe Holt at the Avalon Theatre  Expect standards,  Christmas classics and hopefully some of McDonald’s originals.  Stoltz Listening Room. Tickets  $20. 40 E Dover St., Easton, MD  21601.   410 822 7299

Saturday, December 8, 7:30 pm: Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Performs Handel’s Messiah With Sarah Coburn, soprano, Abigail Nims, mezzo-soprano, Sean Panikkar, tenor, Tyler Duncan, bass. Tickets $40, students $10.Todd Performing Arts Center, Chesapeake College, Wye Mills, MD  21679

Sunday, December 9, 4pm: Westminster Ringers at Christ Church Easton  Free. 111 South Harrison Street, Easton, MD 21601



Best Bets This Week

Delfeayo Marsalis plays Thursday at the Avalon Theatre in Easton.

Jazz alert! One of the Marsalis clan, Delfeayo, (how many are there?) will be  at the Avalon Theatre this Thursday. Considered one of the top trombonists, composers, and producers in jazz today, Marsalis will be performing with his quintet. In January 2011, Delfeayo and the Marsalis family (father Ellis and brothers Branford, Wynton and Jason) earned the nation’s highest jazz honor – a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters Award.

Join the fun in St Michaels this Saturday for Midnight Madness. Shops are open until midnight with great deals;  purchases earn you  chances at over $15, 000 in prizes.  Even Santa is rumored to participate in the revelry. Be sure to stop by St Luke’s to check out their Christmas Boutique and purchase some yummy baked good(s) for dinner that night – or Sunday brunch.

The Easton Choral Arts Society continues their holiday tradition with Handel’s Messiah; performances Friday and Saturday at Easton High School. The Society’s website says, “It is reputed Handel completed this stunning score in just twenty four days, going without much food or sleep, announcing at the end how he thought he saw “God and Heaven” along the way.”

 Thursday, November 29 – 8 pm: Delfeayo Marsalis at the Avalon Theatre .  “…one of the best, most imaginative and musical of the trombonists of his generation.” (Philip Elwood, San Francisco Examiner.) Tickets $45. 40 E Dover St., Easton, MD 21601 410 822 7299.

Easton Choral Arts Society’s annual holiday concerts of Handel’s Messiah are this Saturday and Sunday at Easton High.

Saturday, December 1 – 8 pm  & Sunday, December 2 – 3 pm: Easton Choral Arts Society Presents Handel’s Messiah Concerts sold out last year- best get tickets now. $20/ students $5.  click here for online or 410 200 0498. 723 Mecklenberg Ave, Easton, MD 21601.

Saturday, December 1: St Michaels Midnight Madness ( Drawings start at 11:30pm and you DO need to be there to win.)


Best Bets This Week

Cutting edge comedy is on tap Friday night at the Avalon Theatre with the Upright Citizens Brigade.

Regardless of whether you’re a Shop Small or Black Friday shopper (or both), the Avalon is providing some comic relief Friday night with the Upright Citizen’s Brigade, the next wave  of  comedy superstars. It’s a great way to get those guests out of your house for an evening as well.

Additionally, the annual Festival of Trees, which  benefits the Talbot Hospice Foundation,  kicks off the holiday season this weekend with events for everyone.  Highlights include the holiday trees displayed in the Tidewater Inn’s Gold Ballroom,  Candy Cane Lane – crafts, games and Santa at Easton Elementary and the not-to-be-missed Homes Tour of six distinctive Talbot residences. Who doesn’t like oogling gorgeous homes? (Perhaps best to leave the kids behind.)

The Wye House, considered one of the finest examples of late 18th Century Palladian architecture in the United States, is on the Festival of Trees Home Tour this weekend.

Friday, November 23 – 8 pm: Upright Citizens Brigade at the Avalon Theatre “[The UCB Theater] is doing the type of manic, original, inventive stuff I’m always interested in.”  Conan O’Brien. “When SNL and The Daily Show need comics, they turn to the Upright Citizens Brigade.” Larry Getlen, New York Post.  Tickets $30/25/20.  40 E Dover St., Easton, MD  21601.  410 822 7299

Saturday, November 24 & Sunday November 25: The Festival of Trees  

Holiday Trees are on view this weekend at the Tidewater Inn as part of the Festival of Trees activities.

Holiday Trees 10am. $5 for adults, $4 for seniors over 62, $1 for children under 12,free for children under one. Tickets may be purchased at the door.
The Homes Tour is on Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. click here for Homes Tour info

Saturday, November 24:  Small Business Saturday  Shop Local !



Best Bets This Week

This Friday, the Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy hosts the Third Annual Wild and Scenic Environmental Film Festival at the Avalon Theatre – including a free afternoon program for children from 2 pm to 3:30. Evening program features
local food, free wine and beer, a silent auction, and an array of films from 3 minutes to 25 minutes in length, culminating in a local film: “Menhaden: The Most Important Fish in the Bay.” Support your local river advocacy program!

The Easton farmers’ market has plenty of fall vegetables and fruits for your Thanksgiving repast; open 8am to 1 pm on Saturday; the sweet potatoes are looking especially good this year. Hopefully you remembered to order the turkey.

NightCat favorites Steel Wheels band play Saturday.

And we would be remiss in not mentioning the stellar lineup of Americana artists this weekend at the NightCat, beginning with a double bill on Friday of Holy Ghost Tent Revival(Dixieland- and ragtime inspired folk rock mixed with horn-fueled electric rock) and Yarn

Holy Ghost Tent Revival play Friday night at the NightCat in Easton.

(Grammy-nominated roots rockers and an Andy’s favorite). Saturday, the blues and bluegrass, old-time sing-alongs and foot-stompin’ fiddle tunes of Steel Wheels will entertain the almost assuredly packed house. NightCat promoter Mark Mangold says the shows are already more than half sold out- best to order tickets now.

Friday, November 16 – 6 pm: Third Annual Wild and Scenic Environmental Film Festival $50 ticket includes an open bar & food, as well as the silent auction and films. Proceeds go to support the work of Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy. 2pm – free children’s program.  To view online auction items, click here. Avalon Theatre, 40 E Dover St., Easton, MD  21601

Friday, November 16 – 7 pm: Holy Ghost Tent Revival at NightCat    Energetic, tightly crafted music. Tickets $12. video. 5 Goldsborough St, Easton, MD  21620. 410 690 4544.

Friday, November 16 – 9:30:  Yarn at NightCat   With charismatic lead singer Blake Christiana Tickets $15. 5 Goldsborough St, Easton, MD  21620. 410 690 4544.

Saturday, November 17 – 7:30 pm:  Steel Wheels at NightCat Recommended if you like Old Crow Medicine Show, Avett Brothers, Adrienne Young. Tickets $20. 5 Goldsborough St, Easton, MD  21620. 410 690 4544.




Best Bets This Week

Whether you’re an avid outdoors-man or connoisseur of wildlife art, November means Waterfowl Festival – at least in Talbot County. Along with the art exhibits, decoy auctions, calling contests, sporting clay tournaments, retriever and fly fishing demos are events appealing to those perhaps not quite so sports-centric; a wine and beer tasting pavilion and evening concerts. The Spy’s favorite feature (and we suspect we are not alone) is  the Dock Dogs.

This is an exceptional weekend for music as well. The Avalon Theatre boasts local favorite and former Manhattan Transfer jazz vocalist Erin Dickens on Friday;  Saturday night Boston-based band Session Americana perform an acoustic repertoire of country, folk, blues, rock, and pop.

Sunday, the NightCat hosts one of Rolling Stone’s “breakout bands of 2012,” Field Report.  Chris Porterfield’s music is described as  as crafty, lyrical and poignant. Fans of Bon Iver take note,  Porterfield played in a band with Justin Vernon prior to Vernon’s striking out on his own. They are still good friends; the debut cd was recorded in Vernon’s studio.

Friday, November 9 – Sunday, November 11: Easton Waterfowl Festival  Exhibitions & events held in and around Easton.  Click here for list of events; click here for Dock Dogs info,

Friday, November 9 – 8pm:  Erin Dickens at the Avalon Theatre  Tickets $20  40 E Dover St. Easton MD 21601.   410 822 7299

Session Americana performs Saturday, November 10 at the Avalon Theatre in Easton.

Saturday, November 10 – 7 & 9:30 pm (two shows): Session Americana at the Avalon Theatre  Tickets , 7 pm $20, 9:30 pm $20 or $10 with a 7 pm purchase.  40 E Dover St. Easton MD 21601.   410 822 7299

Sunday, November 11-7 pm: Field Report at the NightCat Recommended if you like Scud Mountain Boys, Bon Iver.   Video Tickets $12. 5 Goldsborough St., Easton, MD 21601


Best Bets This Week

Plenty of places  to celebrate  dodging the brunt of Sandy this weekend, starting with Easton’s First Friday Gallery Walk from 5 to 9 pm. Don’t miss the  “Fur, Feathers & Scales,” Talbot County Visual Arts Center Members Show and Sale opening Friday and running through the month of November, which  celebrates the upcoming Waterfowl Festival, Nov. 9, 10 and 11.

Fans of Americana/folk and well crafted songs should get tickets now for  Grammy-winning singer songwriter Nanci Griffith at the Avalon Friday night. She has always been hard to categorize, a combination of  60s folk, Texas country, a hint of pop overlayed by more than a hint  of rebelliousness (which may be her greatest appeal). Opening up for her are regional favorites Pete and Maura Kennedy, ““Byrdsy jangle, boy-girl harmonies…irresistible” (Rolling Stone).

Saturday is the much-anticipated OysterFest at Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, with plenty of family activities along with the live music, boat rides, cooking demos and oyster stew contest.

Looking ahead-Monday night the NightCat hosts Grammy nominated David Mayfield and his band. Formerly of Cadillac Sky, he has become an Avett Bros favorite and a rising star in his own right. As they say, catch him now while he is still playing small, intimate venues.

Friday, November 2 – 8 pm:  Nanci Griffith with The Kennedys at Avalon Theatre Griffith was called, ” one of the most important voices in Americana” by the BBC.  And the Kennedys songs have, “More hooks than Marilyn Monroe’s closet” -Chicago Sun-Times. Tickets $55  40 E Dover St., Easton, MD  21620.   410 822 7299

Grammy winning Nanci Griffith performs Friday, November 2 at the Avalon in Easton.

Saturday, November 3 – 10 am to 4 pm: Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum OysterFest  Featuring the premiere of the Rosie Parks Oyster Stout.  $15 for adults, $12 for seniors, and $6 for children between the ages of six and 17.   213 N Talbot St., St Michaels, MD  21663.  410-745-2916

Monday, November 5 – 7:30 pm:  David Mayfield Parade at the NightCat  video with Seth Avett  $12.  5 Goldsborough St., Easton, MD,  21620


Best Bets This Week

We would be remiss in not mentioning the SULTANA Downrigging  in Chestertown this weekend, one of the largest annual Tall Ship and wooden boat festivals on the East Coast. Friday’s kick-off events include music and fireworks over the river, and a lecture by noted author Mark Kurlansky. There are spaces open for public sailing on seven of the ships both Saturday and Sunday. For a full list of events, see below.

Once again, it is time for the annual St. Michaels Fire Department All-U-Can-Eat Pig & Crab Feast. Saturday’s menu includes delicious pig, hot steamed crabs,  homemade sides and desserts, sodas and beer. Happy eating!

If  you’re in the mood for some comic relief, we hear that “Red Herring,” the Tred Avon Player’s (TAP) current show, is a delight. A spoof on the Cold War era spy thrillers, the play is set in the early 1950s during the “red” scare, with scenes taking place on a boat, in a morgue, a fishing pier, a confessional, and a government house.  Running weekends through November 4.

Friday, October 26 – Sunday, October 28:  SULTANA Downrigging Weekend   Ships, schooners,  wooden boats; performances by world-class musicians; lectures by nationally recognized authors and filmmakers. click here for schedule Chestertown, MD 21620

The cast of the “Red Herring” perform weekends through November 4.

Friday, October 26 & Saturday, October 27 – 8pm: TAP’s Red Herring  at Oxford Community Center   October 28 at 2 pmNovember 2 & 3 at 8pm, November 4 at 2 pm. 410-226-0061 Oxford, MD

Saturday, October 27- noon to 6 pm: All-U-Can-Eat Pig & Crab Feast  at St. Michaels Fire Department




Downrigging Profile: “Cold Mountain” Composer Tim Eriksen

Tim Eriksen is a curious guy. Punk, rock, traditional folk, jazz, Sacred Harp  (acapella), Bosnian folk/pop – he’s done it all. And he’s well regarded in the music world; he’s hung out with Garrison Keillor on Prairie Home Companion, played at Carnagie Hall and the Blue Note Jazz Club. He contributed to the soundtrack to “Cold Mountain” and sang at the Academy Awards. The Boston Globe has called him, “….among the most influential figures in the neo-primitivist movement that is rejuvenating American traditional music.”

In addition to putting out 3 solo cds in the past ten months and recording material for other projects, Eriksen also teaches, tours, is in graduate school and has two small children. He should probably teach a course in time management as well as singing and songwriting.   He’ll be stopping at  Chestertown’s Garfield Center for the Arts on Saturday of Downrigging Weekend for a performance you don’t want to miss.

The Spy spoke with him by phone recently to discuss his upcoming Eastern Shore gig, where he’ll be showcasing tunes from his just released cd, “Josh Billings Voyage.” Eriksen will accompany his distinctive vocals (“one of the best voices in music” – T Bone Burnett) with banjo, guitar and fiddle. Joining him on stage are longtime bandmate Peter Irvine on percussion and fiddle player Zoe Darrow.

Eriksen told the Spy that he is interested in connections; in his latest cd, he is, “…exploring the deep multicultural connection between Native Americans and the culture of New England in the 17th and 18th centuries, as well as the influence of travels.” The songs tell the story of fictional character Josh Billings and his maritime voyages around the world.  Children’s maritime drawings adorn the cd cover.  All this is fortuitous; Eriksen is not known as a  “maritime” songwriter, it so happens that he had just finished the cd  when SULTANA came calling. As far as I can tell, “Josh Billings Voyage” is not yet available on line, hopefully he will have them for sale at the show.’

In addition to the trio performance, Eriksen will play two tunes earlier on Saturday during film maker David Conover’s talk , 5 pm at the Garfield Center. Conover’s discussion of our (America’s) cultural disconnect from the outdoor world will include outtakes from his upcoming documentary, “Behold the Earth,” in which Eriksen  is recorded live in the woods. Our conversation kept revolving around connections; his previous work with Conover and the fact that they are both in Chestertown for Downrigging, his new cd. Eriksen mentioned that his brother was currently on a sailing trip and  planning to  cruise up the Chester  for the gig.The Spy neglected to add a further connection; this is Eriksen’s second appearance in Chestertown, the first was at Andy’s many years ago with his band Cordelia’s Dad.

 Tim Eriksen

Saturday, October 27,2012

Conover Talk  5 pm

Concert  8 pm
Tickets $15
Call 410 778 5954 for tickets
Garfield Center for the Arts at the Prince Theatre
210 High St
Chestertown MD  21620


Best Bets This Week

L.P. Palmer and his Yorkshire Terrier, Jake, won both Best Look Alike and Best in Show in the 2011 Bark in the Park Dog Show.

Talbot county is hosting two events helping homeless people and homeless pets this Saturday:  the Shelter Century Cycling Event (supporting the Talbot Interfaith Shelter) originating in St. Michaels, and Bark in the Park in downtown Easton. And don’t forget another terrific outdoor happening, Tilghman Island Day – where you can still get crabs as well as oysters. You could do all three if you get up early enough.

The weather is looking perfect for riders in the Shelter Century Fall Foliage Tour – the Spy has it on good authority that you can still register for the 11 mile family fun ride, a 31 mile fitness ride, or go full tilt on a 62.5 mile.  Riders get free beer (courtesy Eastern Shore Brewing), free crab balls at St. Michaels Steak and Crab,  and the volunteers are making homemade pies; every rider gets a piece of pie when they finish. Yumsters. Hope they save some apple pie for me.

There is also still time to register Fido for Talbot Humane’s Dog Walk, and/or yourself for their 5k fun run or 10k race. (see below for links) If you just want to go and support the cause, there is live music, police K-9, search and rescue and agility demonstrations, a kids’ tent, raffles, food and carriage rides.

Tilghman Island Day begins at 10am; with the boat docking contest  at noon,  crab picking contest at 3:45, and oyster shucking contest at 4:15. In between you can feast on seafood, listen to live music, bid on auction items, and peruse the various vendors.

Lastly, the Academy Art Museum presents their annual craft show this weekend. Billed as the premier sale of original fine crafts on the Eastern Shore,  the show runs through Sunday, with a preview party Friday evening. The  65 national artists will be located both in the museum and the Waterfowl Building. Here is a perfect opportunity to pick up a unique gift or two- the dreaded holiday season is fast approaching- and you may just find something you can’t resist for yourself.

Wearable art will be one of the feature crafts at the Academy Art Museum Show this weekend.


Saturday, October 20 – 7 am to 3 pm: Shelter Century Fall Foliage Tour  St. Michaels School Complex in St. Michaels, MD.        Click here to register


Saturday, October 20 – 8 am to 3 pm: Third Annual Talbot Humane Bark in the Park  Click here to register for the dog walk.  Click here for fun run & 10k. Idlewild Park, Easton, MD  21601

The boat docking contest is always a favorite.


Saturday, October 20 – 10 am to 5 pm: Tilghman Day  All proceeds to go to the Tilghman Volunteer Fire Co. Tilghman Island.


Saturday, October 20 – 10 am to 5 pm & Sunday, October 21 – 10 am to 4 pm: 15th Annual Academy Art Museum Craft Show   Featured items will include  decorative home accessories, furniture and wearable art items. 106 South St. Easton, MD 21601