This past Thursday night, February 25th, some friends and I presented the first 4th THURSDAY event at Centreville’s Creamery Cafe Bistro.
By most accounts, it went pretty well.
Conceived as an opportunity to showcase local storytellers, my friend Fred McNeil and I happened to be at the county seat bistro when our conversation veered into the topic of expanding our community’s exposure to the writers in their midst. A small swerve of the conversational wheel – “Somebody ought to do something” and suddenly the only way to get back on the road is: “I’m going to do something!”
We knew that though available for private events, the bistro wasn’t typically open at night. Since we were sitting right there, and one of the owners, Val was standing nearby, we asked her if they’d be interested in hosting an experiment.
Thankfully, Val was open to the idea.
I drafted Steve Hazzard. Back in December, I’d seen Steve in a performance of the comedic mystery Accidentally Wealthy at the Church Theater, written by local playwright Earl Lewin. After the show, Steve, a friend of a friend, mentioned that not only he acted in many productions, he’d also had a long career in hosting events and public speaking.
I knew without a guy like Steve 4th THURSDAYS would never work.
Next we got Wendy Mitman Clarke and Josh Willis on board. Wendy is a distinguished author and an award winning poet, while Josh is an extremely talented singer-songwriter who recently released his first CD as J. Coursey Willis.
Then I reached out to George Harvey at QACTV. Not only was this a good opportunity to promote local creative types to the audience of the popular county operated television station, we could also promote local businesses and help bring something a little different to the community’s arts and social scenes. George was enthusiastic, and his participation adds layers of possibility to our original concept of what 4th THURSDAYS could be.
I asked other prominent county authors to be on hand for the inaugural, for lack of a better word, ‘show’. Peggy Jaegly, Kenton Kilgore, Nick Hoxter, Michael Potts, and Jack Shaum took me up on the offer, and their presence was a extra pleasure for the audience and for those of us who pulled the event together.
Steve was a top-notch emcee – relaxed, entertaining, and inclusive. Wendy read some of her outstanding poetry and was interviewed by Steve, and I followed up with a short piece I wrote about how life on the Chesapeake Bay’s Eastern Shore can influence storytellers. Interspersed between the wordplay, Josh performed cuts from his album and as we wrapped up, discussed with Steve some of his influences and techniques. One attendee told me Josh was “a total revelation; just amazing.”
Our hosts, Val and Rick, served from an awesome special menu and bar service was available. They were very kind and adventurous to give our idea a try, and I hoped it paid off for them.
Feedback has been very positive.
We hope to present at least a couple more shows over the coming spring.
We thank everyone who supported us in these efforts, whether you made it out to the event or not. If you were there, we hope you had a great time and will come back; if you weren’t there, we hope you’ll give us a try in the future.
I think we’ve got some pretty cool stuff lined up.