October 10, 2016
Rock Hall, MD
On the second Saturday in October, the small Chesapeake Bay town of Rock Hall holds its annual FallFest, A Celebration of the Oyster. It’s a small town festival that’s as much for the locals as it is for visitors to the town.
One of the highlights of the festival is the many musical acts that come to the town to play a set that day. This year, as in many, there are two stages, each at one end of the business block on Mainstreet. On this FallFest Saturday the acts were local to the area, with many of the performers living and working in the small county of Kent.
This year, as it has a couple of times in the past, it was held under overcast skies with a light gentle rain falling for most of the day. And the acts that generally play on the street in front of the Mainstay moved inside.
As described on their Web site, “The Mainstay is a warm friendly place with great sound and sight lines. With only 120 seats, there’s not a bad one in the house. It’s a listening room that’s almost as comfortable as your living room.”
When I walked into the Mainstay the first act, The Banjoman and Bill, were already playing. Tom McHugh, the founder of the Mainstay is the Banjoman and he and Bill Matthews have been playing together for years. Joining them was Tom Anthony on Bass, Bill’s son Guthrie on guitar and a young Sax player Sam Scalzo. Sam is young at heart. He often joins in at the Kent County High School working with the students.
Next up was the talented American Songbook vocalist Sue Matthews. Joining her was Tom Anthony on Bass, Guthrie Matthews (no relation) on guitar and Joe Holt on piano. Joe has a regular Monday engagement at the Mainstay where he brings in others to play with him on Mainstay Mondays.
The A Cappella act Sombarkin, Lester Barrett Jr, Karen Sommeville and Jerome McKinney, brought their mixture of folk, gospel, blues, and jazz to the stage. They were joined by the very busy Tom Anthony who joined them on Bass for a few numbers. I have know Lester and Karen for what seems like forever since we went to school together.
The mood changed after Sombarkin. The more subdued jazz and blues turned into full tilt Rock and Roll. First was Vic Vaccum and the Attachments, lead by Bassist Mike McBride. McBride spent many years as a session musician in Nashville and was part of the Johnny Paycheck band for years. For one song they were joined on stage by an audience member, Mary Simmons. Mary is part of the musical Simmons Family who perform throughout the area.
Capping the afternoon was an early appearance of the night’s headliner at the Mainstay, Daryl Davis. Davis plays old time boogie woogie Rock and Roll. He was joined by members of Vic Vaccum and the Attachments and Guthrie Matthews. Matthews was also a busy man also playing three times during the day.
For me and the 100 or so odd folks, many who like me was there for the full five hours, we didn’t care that it was raining outside. We were grateful that the FallFest committee and the mainstay brought so much great, and local, music to our ears. In short it was a great day to be a music fan.This past January Tom Mchugh, founder and up until the time the only Executive Director turned the reigns over to Rory Trainor.
As I was leaving I heard one of visitors to the area say that she was definitely coming back, stay at one of the local Bed and Breakfasts and enjoy a show. She also mentioned that she didn’t want to tell her friends, because she wanted to keep the one of a kind venue to herself. I doubt that she will, I have a feeling she’ll be bringing a few close friends with her.
More photos by SG Atkinson of the performers can be seen on the ChesaDel Crier’s Facebook page.
5753 Main Street
Rock Hall, MD 21661
Phone: (410) 639-9133