Gill hosts uncommon concerts
Diatronic Duo and friend play in the First Congregational Church of Gill on Tuesday, the first in Gill's summertime Common People Concerts. Musicians, from left: Jason Koerber of Winchester, Vt., Greg Burnell of Marlboro, Vt. and Joe Hoye of Hinsdale, N.H.
GILL — Although ringed in by the Town Hall, Gill Congregational Church, Slate Memorial Library and Gill Tavern, the small common at the center of this town of long roads and far-flung farms isn’t particularly central, but it nevertheless draws a crowd once a week for a summertime concert series.
With no tickets, no roof and an eclectic lineup ranging this year from zydeco to Eastern European hymns, the Gill Common People Concerts are the brainchild of Steve Damon, a longtime area music teacher and recent founder of A Natural Music School.
Inspiration for the series came from the library’s summer reading program theme that year, which Damon recalls had something to do with music.
“So I talked to the library people and said, ‘Hey, we should have a music series,’” Damon said.
He has since organized seven years of free, open air concerts funded by the Gill Cultural Council and produce purchased from or donated by nearby Uppingil Farm.
The reasoning behind the series is simple enough.
“Because we always need a concert going,” Damon said. “That’s just life.”
The series features a lineup composed mainly of performers Damon knows and who are willing to work for in-extravagant sums, with partial payment in strawberries, cheese or, on this particular Tuesday, baking flour.
Last Tuesday was the first evening of the summer series and the concert was indoors and sparsely attended, likely results of the day’s unpredictable and unpleasant weather.
The Diatonic Duo and friend — normally a duo, they had temporarily become a trio — played 1960s and ’70s rock on souzaphone, acoustic guitar and a revolving selection of woodwinds for an appreciative audience of about a dozen.
Gathered inside the Congregational Church, the crowd was small enough for the performers to easily negotiate the timing of an intermission to visit the front room, where the Friends of Gill sold brownies and strawberry shortcake.
Strawberry shortcake with homemade biscuits is a fixture of the series, according to Friends President Veronica LaChance, also town tax collector and treasurer.
This week’s band is Zydeco Connection. According to Damon’s attendance tallies, the band’s Louisiana zydeco music last year brought 105 people, up from an average of 60.
The series runs through Aug. 13, every Tuesday at 7 p.m., on the common off Main Road, weather permitting, or in the Gill Congregational Church.
Future concerts this summer include indie folk and rock from Pioneer Valley native Dave Dersham June 25, a saxophone quartet and flute duet, barbershop vocals and Moldovan church music performed by Greenfield’s Moldovian Baptist Church Musicians. A full schedule may be viewed online with a link on the home page of the town website, www.gillmass.org.
You can reach Chris Curtis at:
or 413-772-0261, ext. 257