Music fans in Downeast Maine may have heard that last year, Livingston Taylor — James Taylor’s brother — flew in his own airplane to Jonesport to give a concert and then flew home that night.
Carole Donovan, director of the Music in the Library program at Peabody Memorial Library in Jonesport, Maine, took over the music program in the spring of 2009. She believes in asking big names to come to Jonesport, a little town along the coast of rural Maine.
“Ask and ye shall receive — or maybe not,” Donovan quipped. “Never be afraid to contact any musician about doing a concert. They may say no, but they may say yes.”
In addition to Livingston Taylor, her concert schedule has included big names such as Gordon Bok, folksinger and writer of songs of the sea; Kate Callahan, folksinger/ songwriter and 2016 Official Connecticut State Troubadour; Noel Paul Stookey, of Peter, Paul, and Mary fame; and Paul Sullivan, jazz pianist and Grammy and Tony Award winner. Many local Downeast groups have also performed as part of Donovan’s music program.
“My volunteer job is to schedule concerts under the auspices of our non-profit library,” said Donovan, who retired from teaching French at Jonesport-Beals High School. “I work over the winter contacting and scheduling musicians to come either to the library or to our larger venue, the Community of Christ Church.”
The library can seat 65, but the church, located next door, can accommodate more than 200 people.
Donovan runs the music program with the aid of “two all-important, multi-tasking sidekicks.” These are Librarian Heidi Hinkley and Kiley Hinkley, who is the library board’s youngest member. She also graduates this year from Jonesport-Beals High School as valedictorian.
Admission to most of the concerts is free. However, sometimes the library must charge admission to cover the costs of the fees charged by musicians, she said. Once the musicians’s fees are paid, 10 percent of the profit goes to the church, which hosts the bigger concerts. Any remaining money benefits the Music in the Library program.
Fundraising, unsolicited donations and ticket sales “bring in enough profit to stabilize the Music bank-account each year,” Donovan said. “Our musicians are usually understanding about the non-profit status of Peabody Memorial Library and the music program, frequently adjusting their fees to fit our ability to pay them.”
Concerts are well attended. “Less than full house is an extreme rarity,” she said.
Donovan said her volunteer position is “the most gratifying job I’ve ever had.” It’s also one of the hardest jobs she’s ever had but she said she wouldn’t trade it for anything.
The 2016 Music in the Library program kicks off at 7 p.m. June 24 with Pete Kilpatrick, who has shared the stage with The Dave Matthews Band, Barenaked Ladies, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals and many others. Ticket prices are $10 for adults and $5 for those ages 13-18. Those under age 12 get in free.
Kate Chadbourne will perform Irish traditional instrumentals and vocals 7 p.m. July 29. This concert is free, however a $5 per person donation is suggested.
Simons and Goodwin will perform soft rock, familiar tunes and original songs about Downeast Maine 7 p.m. Aug. 4. This concert also is free but a $5 per person donation is suggested.
Paul Sullivan, jazz pianist and winner of Grammy and Tony awards, will perform 7 p.m. Aug. 12. He will share the stage with 12-year-old Noah Carver of Beals, Maine. Noah, blind from birth, is a piano student of Paul Sullivan and is an amazing singer. Also, Laura Mazza-Dixon, on piano and strings, will perform with Paul and Noah. TIckets are $10 for adults, $5 for those ages 13-18 and free for those 12 and under.
Paul Sullivan (top left), Noah Carver (top right) and Laura Mazza-Dixon will perform Aug. 12.
For more information or to purchase tickets, call Heidi at the library at 207-497-3003 or visit www.peabody.lib.me.us.