Series continues:

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This article by Nicole Plett was prepared for the February 12, 2003 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

Telling Stories at Grounds

In recent years, the desolate abandoned site of the

New Jersey State Fairgrounds in Hamilton has gradually been transformed

beyond recognition into the widely celebrated Grounds for Sculpture.

The 35-acre art park, the brainchild of J. Seward Johnson Jr., now

sports two indoor museum facilities, a bijou office, studio, and visiting

artist complex, and the highly regarded Rat’s restaurant. Now Grounds

is emulating its fairground roots by expanding the number and variety

of arts and family programs designed to draw people back to the park.

For Valentine’s Day, Grounds for Sculpture hosts the second concert

in its new Saturday night music series, co-sponsored by Concerts at

the Crossing. Scott Cullen, the entrepreneur behind the folk series

at the Washington Crossing Unitarian Church, programs the series,

which made its debut in January with a sold-out appearance by Suzzy

and Maggie Roche.

At a lunchtime interview last week, right before his departure for

the National Folk Alliance meetings in Nashville, Cullen described

how he is partnering with the Grounds, and with its membership manager

Bonnie Brown, to bring a cabaret type mix of jazz, pop, and folk music

to the Saturday night series. It offers him a chance to complement

his own singer-songwriter series with a slightly more urbane bill

of fare.

For the Valentine’s Day weekend, the Grounds hosts the New York City

jazz, lounge, and pop group, Dave’s True Story on Saturday, February

15, at 7:30 p.m. In honor of the Valentine’s Day holiday, audience

members are being treated to complimentary coffee and dessert.

The music series performances take place in the Domestic Arts Building.

Home to two levels of spacious museum galleries and an upscale cafe

by day, by night the building becomes an intimate concert performance

space that seats 200. Cullen sings the praises of the Grounds cafe

and cash bar which also allows the audience to arrive early and enjoy

a choice dinner or a drink before the show.

Jazz guitarist Dave Cantor and vocalist Kelly Flint are Dave’s True

Story. Partners since 1989, the duo released their first CD under

the title "Dave’s True Story" and then adopted it as a suitably

quirky name for their act. They subsequently released two more CDs,

"Sex Without Bodies" and "Unauthorized." Now their

success is such that, eight years after the original CD debut, a new

edition has been released spotlighting two songs — "Sequined

Mermaid Dress" and "Crazy Eyes" — both of which were

featured in the movie "Kissing Jessica Stein."

Dave’s music has been described as hip and quirky. Its sound is fueled

by Flint’s gorgeous voice playing against Cantor’s soulful guitar

and powerful lyrics. Flint is credited with holder in listeners "in

thrall," thereby transforming the space where she sings into a

dream-like environment.

And the dream is a pleasant one. "There are no messages,"

insist Cantor and Flint. "This is simply entertainment with a

capital `E,’ baby." Winners of the 1995 Kerrville new music award,

the New York clubs where Dave’s True Story has appeared include the

Bitter End, Luna Lounge, Bottom Line, and the late lamented Tavern

on the Green.

Scott Cullen entered the presenting field as a former folk fan. He

and his wife, Julie, formed a presenting company called Saje Productions.

They produced their first Concerts at the Crossing show, featuring

Lucy Kaplansky, in 1996. Ever since joining central New Jersey’s presenters’

pantheon, Cullen says he has tried not to overlap with other venues.

Rather than go after the region’s most well-known artists, he prefers

to introduce new faces.

"Part of the fun of programming Concerts at the Crossing is bringing

people who haven’t been here before," says Cullen, " —

fun, but also risky." Some of the low-profile artists he has introduced

whose reputations continue to climb includeDeirdre Flint, Erin McKeown,

and Mark Erelli. Last year, his involvement in the business inspired

him to take the next big step. Now he is not only a presenter but

an artist’s representative for five up-and-coming groups.

Now, with an elegant new cabaret setting to program, Cullen is casting

his eye towards other types of musicians to draw on. Future attractions

at the Grounds include the ever-popular Christine Lavin, the cabaret

ensemble Boulevard East, and jazz man Guy Davis.

— Nicole Plett

Dave’s True Story, Grounds for Sculpture, Domestic

Arts Building, 18 Fairgrounds Road, Hamilton, 609-689-1089. In celebration

of Valentine’s Day, with coffee and dessert. $18. Saturday, February

15, 7:30 p.m.

Top Of Page
Series continues:

Bill Jonas Family Show, Saturday, March 8, 3 p.m.

Christine Lavin, Saturday, March 22, 7:30 p.m.

Boulevard East, Saturday, April 26, 7:30 p.m.

Guy Davis and Anne Rabson, co-sponsored with New Jersey

Shore Jazz & Blues Foundation, Saturday, May 3, 7:30 p.m.

Aiofe Clancy and Jennifer Erb, Saturday, June 14, 7:30

p.m.

Annette Cavallaro & Gary Funicelli, Saturday, July 19,

6:30 p.m.

Modern Man & the Lascivious Biddies, Saturday, August

9, 7:30 p. m.

DaVinci’s Notebook, Saturday, October 25, 7:30 p.m.

Rani Arbo & Daisy Mayhem, Saturday, November 22, 7:30

p.m.

Tony Trischka’s Banjo Cheer, co-sponsored by Concerts

at the Crossing, Princeton Folk Music Society, and Music You Can’t

Hear on the Radio. Saturday, December 13, 7:30 p.m.


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