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MUSIC ON MONDAYS AFTER THE PHENOMENAL SUCCESS OF 'MUSIC ON THE STEPS,' THE LIBRARY BRINGS MORE SWEET TUNES TO THE 'BURG

March 12, 2009 2:06 am

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BY LAUREN ORSINI

Thank a lucky scheduling coincidence for Music on Mondays in March. It all started in December when Central Rappahannock Regional Library program coordinator Linda Baer was looking for an opening at the theater for a band to play.

"I saw there was a Monday night, and the more I looked through the schedule, I noticed that only Mondays were available--in fact, four Mondays in a row--and it came to me: Music on Mondays in March," she said, heavily enunciating the M's.

Baer jokes that she is finally giving Fredericksburg what it has always clamored for: an extension of the library's popular Music on the Steps program.

That program, free and open to the public every Monday from June to August, invites local musicians to play a casual hour-long concert on the library steps.

"People absolutely mob Music on the Steps," Baer said. "People bring picnic baskets and lawn chairs, little kids dance to the songs. It's just one hour, so it's still light outside when it ends and you can go do something else, or have done something before you came."

Baer said she has run the program since "before we gave musicians bottled water and instead gave them glasses of water"--for 23 years. She even collects stories that show people's devotion to the program.

"There's only ever been one time that a band had to cancel, so I went outside and tried to tell people before they walked all the way across the parking lot (it was a parking lot instead of a garden back before the renovation--hard to imagine).

"One man I tried to stop said, 'I came all the way into town for this, I want to hear some music!'

"And I said, 'I'm sorry, the lead singer is really sick.' And he's getting mad saying, 'I want to hear some music!'

"And I say," she composes herself into a perfectly straight face, "'I guess I'll just have to give you your money back.' And then we both start laughing and he says, 'I'm sorry, I'm just frustrated.'"

"People always want more of it. In summer, people are always saying, 'Why don't you have Music on the Steps in September?'" she said.

Baer may have drawn the line at September, but fans will get a sneak preview of the summer program this month. She lined up four musical acts to play in the Headquarters Theater--the same place Music on the Steps is held when it rains.

Music lovers can look forward to Appalachian-style bluegrass and jazz on March 16, when Driftwood Fire comes to visit. Baer says Driftwood Fire is the band that started it all.

"In December I got a letter from their manager in Colorado that said the group would be in Virginia in March, and would play for very little money. So I listened to the CD, liked it, and decided to set up a date for them to play," she said.

The performances started on March 9 with a performance by Quintessential Brass, a local quintet.

On Monday, March 23, visitors can get ready for classic American folk musician Sean P. Harris.

Harris, who works at the library as a reference assistant, says he is looking forward to playing music for kids during the concert.

"It's always great to play for kids because adults are often jaded about music. When you've got a 3-year-old dancing to the music, you know you're doing something right," said Harris.

Rounding off the series on March 30 is the Fredericksburg Saxophone Quartet, which describes its music as "classical to jazz."

Baer has planned musical events for the library since she started working there in 1985, but music has pervaded her life much longer and more fully than that.

"I come from a very musical family. My husband, Bill, plays trombone in the community orchestra. My son and daughter both sing in choirs. After we moved here and when we had no other furniture at all in our house, we had a piano," she said.

Baer said she does not personally sing or play a musical instrument.

"I just appreciate music, and with my position I make it so others can play," she said.

Even so, Baer has no plans to make Music on Mondays in March a yearly thing like summer's Music on the Steps, saying, "What better way to end something than to have them wanting more?"

"Music on Mondays in March will make June seem like it's not that far away," she said.

Lauren Orsini: 540/374-5000, ext. 5617
Email: lorsini@freelancestar.com




What: Music on Mondays in March Where: CRRL Headquarters Theater, 1201 Caroline St. When: March 16 (Driftwood Fire--Appalachian bluegrass and jazz), March 23 (Sean Harris--classical folk and rock) and March 30 (Fredericksburg Saxophone Quartet--classical to jazz). All concerts run 7-8 p.m. Cost: Free Info: 540/372-1144, arts point.org




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