Cabin Fever music series heats up Bristol’s WalkOver Gallery
BRISTOL — Holiday-time is over, and it’s still weeks until Punxsutawney Phil tells us how many more days of dark, cold winter we have left. Yup, welcome to the winter doldrums, everyone. But before you go getting depressed, put this on your calendar as something to look forward to: The Cabin Fever Series kicks off its 12th season at the WalkOver Gallery in Bristol on Jan. 21 at 8 p.m.
Pete Sutherland and his Posse will perform their multi-generational roots music next Saturday. The series will continue with four more performances that will carry us through the end of April and into springtime.
Who had this brilliant idea to host a music series through the dark winter months? That would be Karen Lueders. It all started in January of 2005. “That was our first Schubertiade,” she said.
Wait, a what? A Schubertiade.
Typically, Schubertiades are informal events held to celebrate the music of Austrian composer Franz Schubert (1797-1828), but in Bristol all sorts of different music is celebrated. The Cabin Fever Series welcomes as many people as can fit (it maxes out at about 50) in the cozy upstairs concert room on Bristol’s Main Street to honor quality music and community.
“I think of it as a large living room,” said Lueders. “[The music series] is a lovely way of gathering around music. That’s the whole concept of this music room … And it’s perfect for acoustics … musicians can be nuanced but still heard.”
Like any living room, art decorates the walls. Local artists are invited to hang their work down the length of the 40-foot room and enjoy the natural light of a large, arched, north-facing window. This might seem strange, but go to the bathroom when you’re there and check out posters from past events at the WalkOver; it’s impressive, and — ahem — good reading.
Non-profits, theater groups, art students from Mount Abe and other artsy folks also use the space. “It’s mainly shared,” said Lueders. “The creative world comes through here.”
Off the back of the concert room, Lueders has an office where she practices law (that’s been her full-time gig since graduating Vermont Law School in 1985). But there’s a 1903 baby grand just outside her door in case the Boston University College of Fine Arts piano major feels inspired.
After graduating with her undergrad degree in ’79, Lueders cobbled together a livelihood in music. She taught music, repaired and tuned pianos and delivered singing telegrams. Indeed, this lady’s got some stories.
“I got to go all over Boston and see a lot of cultural diversity,” Lueders said. “People would invite me into their homes, you know, they love you! Sometimes you’re honoring someone, other times your embarrassing someone in a high-rise office. It was a fascinating social experience.”
After three years, Lueders realized, “I just wasn’t ever going to make my living in music.” With a strong social activism side, she segued easily into journalism and law.
She met her husband, Jim Dumont, while working in Burlington after law school. The two moved to Lincoln in ’86, got married on their front lawn that summer, welcomed their first of three children in ’87 and Lueders hung up her first shingle in Bristol a year later.
Lueders moved her practice a few doors down to the old First National Bank in 2003. Local artist Kit Donnelly drew an abstract mural of the safe on the floor that year, which spurred the WalkOver art gallery. Then Lueders bought the baby grand from Holly Weir, of Rocky Dale Gardens, in 2004. Once they had the piano, “we thought, ‘let’s have concerts here too.” And that’s how the concert room and Cabin Fever Series came to be at the WalkOver.
Year after year, Lueders did it all herself. But last year, local musician Rick Ceballos stepped in to help run the show. “Rick Ceballos has been a life saver,” said Lueders. “He has a committee to help with everything. He put together all the musicians for this series.”
“When Karen was getting kind of burnt out, I offered to help,” said Bristol resident and local musician Ceballos. “I book the acts. I help with the PR. I feed the musicians and put them up if they need a place to stay… I do what needs to be done.”
“The WalkOver Gallery is such a wonderful venue, and such an asset to the community,” Ceballos added. “We had a great year last year and are looking for another good year this year.”
Ceballos is most looking forward to the Lomax Project concert on April 29 with Moira Smilely. “Moira grew up in New Haven and has become a world famous musician,” Ceballos said. “They’re doing a remake of all the songs Alan Lomax had put together… that’s gonna have some real pizazz.”
“Sharing responsibility really makes this possible,” said Lueders. That and the Five Town Friends of the Arts, the non-profit that underwrites tuning the WalkOver Gallery’s piano and otherwise supports arts in Bristol, Lincoln, New Haven, Monkton and Starksboro.
If you need one more reason to come to this year’s Cabin Fever Series, Lueders reminds us of one of life’s tenets. Music, she says, is simply “good for your soul.”
Interested in performing or using the concert room? Call Karen Lueders at (802) 453-3188, x2.