Cabaret comes to St. Andrew's in Kent

George Potts

Photo provided

Cabaret comes to St. Andrew's in Kent

Music in the Nave will again tap into local talent April 6 at 7 p.m. when its features George Potts in an intimate cabaret concert in the St. Andrew’s Church parish house.

Pott is a well-known figure in the community, both through his presence in the perennially popular Fife ‘n Drum, the restaurant started by his father-in-law, renowned pianist Dolph Trayman, and through his own career as a folk musician.

“When I came to Kent in 1976, Dolph would be at the Fife six nights a week playing,” Potts recalled. “He was looking for someone to play bass. I didn’t know his material and I had to learn all those great American Songbook songs. With Dolph, you really had to know what you were doing. He made me step up my musicianship a great deal.”

That was one side of the musical coin, but the other was his love affair with folk music. “We are all products of our generation. I’m 73 years old, and I have never lost interest in finding new music, but when I was young, I wanted to be married to Joni Mitchell and to write like Paul Simon. I tended to be more interested in folk singers.”

For more than 30 years he has played with Salisbury’s Joint Chiefs, an Americana group that has performed extensively throughout the region. “I’ve written some songs for the quartet, but others didn’t quite fit their style,” Potts said. So, when the whole world shut down for Covid, he retreated to what had once been his daughter’s bedroom and started writing and recording his first solo CD.

“I wrote eight of the songs on the CD, but two other songs are already well-known, ‘Your Lying Eyes’ by the Eagles and ‘I Meant to Go to Memphis,’ a song about people who reach an age where they look back at the things they never did.”

Potts completed composing and recording and released the CD in 2022, where it climbed to 20th on Folk Music charts. “When I first heard the album, I completely fell in love with it and I thought we need to let people hear this,” said Matt Harris, chairman of St. Andrew’s Music Commission and the Concert Series.

“This album is very intimate and has a breadth to it that would never make you think he had done it by himself in a little room,” Harris said. “His song ‘Lonely Town’ speaks to this age of anxiety, while ‘Travel Dream Motel’ is about chambermaids — something no one writes about. It is completely fresh. I feel the songs together make an artistic statement.”

Harris said Music in the Nave, which previously focused only on classical music, has widened its scope, starting with another cabaret evening with Kent resident Steve Katz, a founder of Blood, Sweat and Tears.

“When we had Steve Katz, we had to turn people away and this is another guy of same generation with years of history of playing rock and folk. When Steve Katz appeared, we decided people sitting in pews was not the right vibe for this kind of performance. Our pastor suggested a cabaret feel with wine and cheese.”

Guests will again be seated at tables that can seat eight people. “It’s a good size,” said Harris. “If you are coming by yourself or with a friend, you don’t feel forced to mingle, or you can have a table for a whole party. And we are having it early enough so you can have dinner before or after.”

It will be the kind of “listening room” that artists crave, said Potts, who reports that he had to adjust as a young musician to playing in restaurants where the focus was on dining and visiting rather than listening to the musicians.

“You have to get used to that,” he said. “Before I moved here, I worked full-time as musician and when I was younger, it would bother me. But then I realized I would rather be playing than sitting at home.

“One thing about Music in Nave is that it’s totally about listening,” he continued. “There were clubs like Amazing Grace that were listening rooms, where people went to hear amazing music and everyone was into listening.”

Such experiences are harder to find today when music can literally be carried around in your pocket, he said. “Before recordings, people had to sit and listen. Even in the '70s everything was played on a record or tape, or you listened to it live.”

Similar changes have taken place in the recording industry. Sometimes artists never see each other as they collaborate on a recording, sending around soundtracks that each player adds to. Potts said there are advantages both to having a group of artists in one room and being alone.

“Each time I play with different band, it’s like different parts of my brain are firing. It creates I don’t know what in your brain — you are in the moment and, if you are playing with musicians you enjoy, you are always throwing musical sparks. It’s like we finish each other’s musical sentences.

“But I don’t think of it as apples and oranges,” he said. “When recording as an individual, it comes down to making your own spark.” Modern software allows a musician to be “as inventive as you want. Recording at home is like going down a rabbit hole,” he said.

On “Ends and Odds,” he collaborated with mandolin player Gordon Titcomb, who has performed with artists such as Arlo Guthrie and Paul Simon. Titcomb will perform with him April 6.

“It will be fun,” Potts concluded. “We will be doing mostly my own material. I’ve written things since the CD that I will perform. I don’t know any musician who doesn’t enjoy that experience.”

Tickets for the evening are $10 and can be purchased online at https//bitly/georgepotts or at the door.

Kent Good Times Dispatch

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