A letter from our Executive Director

Dear Friends,

2013 was a banner year for the Narrows Center for the Arts. We had over 30,000 people visit the Narrows for a concert, art show or community event. With tremendous support from our patrons and the Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund, we were able to install a state-of-the-art cooling system that will provide comfort and quiet for many years to come. This year we expanded our educational outreach programming hosting students for docent led gallery tours, an art show with Diman Regional Vocational Technical High School Photography Club, and interactive visual and performing arts experiences for students of all ages. We expanded our community outreach with two new successful events, Block-a-Palooza and Kids-a-Palooza. We also produced another successful Arts Festival (our 12th Annual) and conducted a very successful canned food drive that helped many Fall River families in need.

In 2013, we hosted over 138 concerts featuring the world’s finest musicians. Musical legends Little Feat, John Mayall, Dr. John, Joan Osborne, Los Lobos, Bettye LaVette, Nick Lowe, Bela Fleck, and Rosanne Cash played remarkable shows in 2013. Up-and-coming acts like Lake St. Dive, Amy Helm, Sarah Jarosz and Girls, Guns and Glory also played some killer shows. The Narrows has a respectful and knowledgeable audience that makes our venue a favorite tour stop for so many musicians.

The visual arts component at the Narrows continues to expand and evolve. The two preeminent art galleries offered 11 different exhibitions of fine art from both locally and nationally renowned artists. The Narrows continues to showcase and promote the visual arts by exhibiting works from emerging and established artists in all mediums.

In November, we hosted Little Feat’s Bill Payne for both a concert and an exhibition of his photography. After his concert, Bill spoke to his fans about his photography and his music. It was a very special event that showcased the intersection of the visual and performing arts. It also highlighted the symbiotic relationship between artist and audience.

This is what we try to do every day at the Narrows. Create special moments for the artist and you, our patrons. Making the arts accessible and important is our day-to-day mission. Support from our patrons is essential for our long term stability and vitality. Whether you are a current Friend of the Narrows ready to renew your support, or you are a frequent concert or gallery attendee, please don’t let the year end without making a contribution.

On behalf of the Board of Directors, volunteers, Deb and Kathy, I thank you so much for your friendship, support and patronage. We look forward to serving you for many years to come.

Sincerely,

Patrick Norton, Executive Director

 

 

Joe Ely

He sings of distance, about rivers and ranches, of smoldering passions and sad laments, of faraway longing and unrequited love.’ Everybody else romances the road. Joe Ely lives it. Call him what you want – a wandering minstrel, gypsy cowboy, visionary song poet, or houserocker on fire – whatever he is, Ely’s covered a lot of ground in his time. He really has ridden the rails (in a circus train, no less), thumbed his way across the country, hopped boats to exotic foreign lands, and ridden horses across the prairie. All part of the relentless quest for revelation that only a journey can satisfy. The first milestone was a band called the Flatlanders, formed in Lubbock more than twenty years ago by Ely, Hancock and Gilmore. Their visionary melding of country, rock, and fold immediately pegged them as three singer- songwriters who were ahead of their time and way too experimental for Nashville. Next came the Joe Ely Band, Joe’s own ensemble who once again mixed country and rock elements into something new and completely different, proving to anyone that heard them that an accordion or pedal steel guitar really could pack the same sonic punch as an electric guitar. In England, the Panhandle poets and his pickers were embraced by the Clash, the standard bearers of the nascent punk movement, who might not have shared the same cultural values as the West Texans, but who certainly knew integrity when they heard it. Since then, Ely has gained the respect of his friends and his peers, including such kindred spirits as Bruce Springsteen, who contributes vocals on his latest album, along with old friend Jimmie Dale Gilmore, and new friend Raul Malo of the Mavericks.

A Cabinet of Wonder

‘A Cabinet of Wonder’ is a large scale installation mixing imagery from the realms of Science, History, Literature, Industry as well as personal narrative. The installation is comprised of three sections: One mimics the display formats of Libraries and Museums of Art and Natural History and depicts a variety of natural specimens. The second transforms several of the walls into a garden of vines and flowers. The last section is a meditation on the history of mills in Fall River. Using the names of some of the mills of the city, Randal Thurston creates a river of words that touch on a significant part of our history. The total effect the artist seeks is one that encourages us to look at the world with a sense of wonder: wonder at nature, science and the history we share.

Randal Thurston, a native of Somerset Massachusetts, teaches at the New England School of Art and Design at Suffolk University. He lives in Somerville, MA with his wife Alyson and children Alana and Owen.

The Melodic

The Melodic, whose young members hail from the South London melting pot of Brixton, are currently trekking across North America utilizing an assortment of exotic instruments including the charango, kora, and melodica. As Electronic Musician writes ‘these international instruments are what give Effra Parade its very British folk-pop flavor. For a band in their early 20s, the Melodic’s debut, Effra Parade, sounds aged and knowing. Paste says that the band ‘creates a blend of various musical stylings and spits them out as something fresh and sleek… Percussion shuffles along as the group’s harmonies intertwine, coalescing into a soft yet poignant timbre that evokes shimmering memories of careless days.’ No Depression recently described the band’s sound as ‘filled with globe-bouncing catchiness, young spirited harmonies, and melodically whimsical rhythms,’ while The Atlantic City Weekly writes ‘Saluting English ’60s folk heroes such as Bert Jansch, the Incredible String Band, Vashti Bunyan, Fairport Convention and Nick Drake while taking the baton from Scotland’s Belle & Sebastian for a stretch. Songs such as ‘Roots’ and ‘Runaway’ are perfectly plucked gems, while ‘On My Way’ could be a legit hit.’

Yarn

Brooklyn-based Americana/Alt-Country band Yarn’s sound owes as much to Gram Parsons and Earl Scruggs as to Jerry Garcia and Exile On Main Street-era Rolling Stones. Much like its name, the band Yarn weaves country, rock, blues and more into a genre-defying blend that has captured the attention of fans and critics alike. Following in a fine tradition that includes forward thinking roots bands like The Flying Burrito Brothers and New Riders of The Purple Sage. Yarn weaves roots music idioms into a fresh sound that turns on hipsters and fans of country music alike, with technically impressive song-crafting and universal tales from the road of life.

Tracing Footsteps: A Journal of Home and the Road – The Photography of Bill Payne

‘I was invited to a Veterans Day event in Calumet, Michigan. It was a privilege to have been there. We owe so much to those that serve’–Bill Payne
[Bill Payne, one of rock’s most talented keyboardists, will perform at the Narrows on Friday, November 1st. Gabe Ford, drummer for ‘Little Feat’, will be joining Bill for this performance.] Artist Statement: I have spent the last forty-one years traveling. I play keyboards with the band, Little Feat. My life as an artist is personified in my music, writing, and photography. My son, Evan, introduced me to photography in 2003. I had asked him to photograph me for my first instrumental solo CD, Cielo Norte (North Sky). I asked if I could try using the camera. I pressed the shutter; the feeling was like playing middle C on the piano when I was a child. Magic. I was hooked. My approach to photography and music is eclectic, born of myriad influences. Ansel Adams’ photo, Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico, 1941, reflects the complexities of life, death, beauty, sadness, continuance, the solitude and enormity of the west, and above all, our relationship with nature and the spiritual. It is simply an inspirational photo, and to my mind, analogous to a Symphony. I don’t separate myself from my art. It is a summation and continuance of what I am, what I was, and what I hope to be. The uniqueness of how we see the world and how we express that through our art is what gives weight and substance to our voice. Maintaining and developing that voice is an arduous task that involves trusting the instincts of exploration and discovery, commitment to a concerted regimen of discipline (which involves trial and error), and ultimately, once you have the tools in place, the art of simply letting go. I also don’t want to downplay the aspect of having fun. The worst we can do, as artists, is acquiescing to conventions that tie our hands. I refer to it as, ‘keeping the child alive.’ Art is the ultimate embrace of our being human, with all its repercussions. But it also allows us to transcend the familiar terrain and investigate worlds, relationships, experiences, we can only dream of, and live, though fleetingly, as the gods of our own realm. Magic indeed.