Saturday, December 13, 2008

Acker Night 2008

I suspect that the J.S. Acker Musical Showcase, dba Acker Night, is a quite unusual festival. For one evening during the Christmas holiday season, downtown businesses stay open, playing host to musicians and performers, as well as crowds of local folk. It's cool.

A small bit of official history: When J.S. Acker, a local businessman died in 1955, he left a number of parcels of land to the City of Prescott, to be used for parks and music programs for children. In 1988 Prescott resident LaVon Anderson, who was a strong advocate of children's music program herself, had a dream to mesh music and Prescott's historic downtown together in a memorable event. Music and the Christmas holidays was a natural pairing and she used that marriage to spearhead the J.S. Acker Musical Showcase in December 1988. The J.S. Acker Musical Showcase was quick to take off. The event now features over 80 Prescott downtown businesses with over 100 musicians. The web site is being nice; as a matter of fact, the city fathers sat on the Acker bequest for years, either not knowing what to do with it or, just as likely, hoping to be able to cash in on the growing demand for Prescott real estate. Some of the real story should be available even in the Courier archives.

I began this year's short Acker excursion at the Galloping Goose, where there was a good crowd looking at their wares waiting for the music break to be over. And then I headed to the Old Firehouse Plaza...

...for folk and rock guitar...

...and a folk dancing group. Too bad, the belly dancers were taking a rest when I popped into their venue.

And members of the children's choir were turning in their haloes. Too bad -- I would have enjoyed those young voices, but I did hear traditional Christmas carols from the group below.

A singer in the beauty salon...

...rock and folk in the bakery...

...and jazz in the restaurant.

And the highlight of the evening for me -- flamenco guitar and dancers, small and grown-up.

Still at the Firehouse -- the MadriGals who reached deep into history for their repertoire.

This year's showcase reached well beyond the Square: the cello duo were in the lobby of the big new condo building at Gurley and McCormick and Georgene sang carols and folk songs in Bashford House at the museum. Batterman's, Porky's and the Chase bank also were host to musicians.

Other highlights of the evening important to local bloggers-- 1) catching a pic of Rich in front of one of his HDR prints at the Ian Russell Gallery and 2) seeing several of Miligirl's sensuous oils at the Grayleaf Gallery.

A Couple of Sour Notes: One was a VERY VERY LOUD heavy metal band that ruined the music at two adjacent venues, where the musicians simply gave up.

The other is a rant from this god-fearing agnostic about the campaign against Christmas, (which in my experience is one of the loveliest holidays of the year). And I'm not talking about the gross commercialization, either, though that's bad enough. No, at one of the settings, a young girl, maybe 12 years old, sitting with grandparent was obviously getting quite antsy. Finally, this bright kid requested a Christmas song that she knew, like Jingle Bells. Turns out she was totally unfamiliar with Away in a Manger ... It Came Upon a Midnight Clear ... The First Noel ... Joy to the World, any of the traditional songs. Didn't. Recognize. Them. At. All. She did take part in her local school's generic winter program where they sang a Hanukkah song (and a Palestinian piece to balance the ticket) but the 12 Days of Christmas was played as an instrumental; that way, none of those un-PC words had to be spoken out loud. This in a Prescott-area school. Need I say that I am absolutely appalled. I suppose that any of the Bach cantatas are now verboten in our schools hell bent on destroying any tradition in the name of diversity or extreme separation of church and state. Grump. GRUMP. G*R*U*M*P.


Antipodean Curmudgeon said...

I concur with your most valid grump.
Greetings to Kate, I hope you have a dandy visit.


Catalyst said...

That looks like OmegaMom in the first picture at the Firehouse Plaza. Is it?

Lucy said...

Christmas carols are, I think, one of the best things that the English-speaking peoples, organised religion and Protestantism in particular, none of which are things I am unequivocally admiring of, have given to the world.

Looks like a fun evening, makes me feel quite Christmassy!

Warren said...

Looks like a fun event to attend. I especially like your pics of the people down below and the MadriGals.

Anonymous said...

Great post, GJ, all of it, including the Grump.

"Christ the Savior
Is born!
Christ the Savior
Is born!


~Anon in AV.

Lori Witzel said...

What a fabulously eclectic bunch of home-grown music and dance! I especially liked the pic caught in the beauty shop.

And, as ever, thanks for stopping by -- it's so nice to have wrapped the semester and not be wordsmithing thoughts on lit ALL weekend.


Granny J said...

bro -- it's good to have family on my side!

cat-A -- nope, dotter didn't arrive until Saturday evening.

lucy -- our musical heritage from Protestantism goes well beyond Christmas carols & it's all well worth celebrating -- and introducing to our young people

warren -- Acker Night is a very warm and wonderful event & I just wish I had spent more time at the various venues. For instance the Yavapai College brass or the Salvation Army band, which is always one of my favorites.

anon av -- that'll tell 'em!

lori -- it's amazing how much talent there is out there in our small city...

TomboCheck said...

Great shots. I feel like I was there. :)

Granny J said...

tombo -- you missed a great show! Too bad you weren't there...

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