Music series brings quality to Elkins

Once again, on Friday, Dec. 15, at the second concert of Randolph County Community Arts Center’s Winter Blues Series, it became abundantly clear that Elkins and nearby communities draw on a pool of musicians of world-class quality and broad experience.

Focusing on the Duke Ellington/Billy Strayhorn arrangement of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite, under the direction of trumpeter James Moore, the program also included several nods to the holiday season, including a heated rendering of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” at the conclusion of which combo leader Moore observed, “Well, there wasn’t much resting in that!”

The ensemble was made up of trumpeter and leader James Moore, trombonist D.J. Stout, multi-reed players Scott Green, Rick Matt, and Rich Norwood, guitarist Seth Maynard, bassist Tony DePaolis, and drummer Kyle Andrews. Incidentally, in addition to their very active involvement as professional musicians, all of them are educators. In fact, James Moore was recently appointed Dean of the Faculty at Wesleyan College.

Besides the opening movements of the suite, the sold-out house was treated to several more that had been wittily renamed by Ellington, namely, “Peanut Brittle Brigade,” “Dance of the Floreadores,” and “Volga Vouty” (originally, “March,” “Waltz of the Flowers,” and “Russian Dance”). The evening closed with a medium-tempo, and blistering, “Blues in E-Flat.”

For the past several years, thanks to Arts Center Executive Director Kurt Barkley and his staff, numerous volunteers, series organizer Seth Maynard, and the generous support of Colonial Motors, Propst Realty, Elkins Auto, Citizens Bank, and other sponsors, Elkins-area music lovers have enjoyed monthly nightclub outings featuring essential genres of American popular music.

The series continues on Friday, Jan. 19, with an evening that will showcase “Pittsburgh’s Lady of the Blues,” Miss Freddye Stover.

W. Royal Stokes, Ph.D.