Eclectic music comes to Orient with ‘song swap’ program

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | Gideon D'Arcangelo practices at his Orient home on Saturday afternoon. He is coordinating a Song Swap program that will be done at Poquatuck Hall in Orient on April 16.

A group of musicians informally jamming together in someone’s living room isn’t unusual. But’s it’s not often that the venue moves to a performance hall.

That’s what’s special about the “song swap” program set for Orient’s Poquatuck Hall on Saturday, April 16. A number of local music-makers are inviting everyone into the “community’s living room,” according to organizer Gideon D’Arcangelo.

The program got its start last year as a fundraiser for the hall’s. It proved to be so much fun for musicians and the audience that it’s being carried forward as a way to raise money for the hall’s upkeep and the Oysterponds Community Activities fund.

“It will be a celebration of spring,” Mr. D’Arcangelo said. “The warmth and energy when everyone is sharing music is timeless.”

Poquatuck Hall is special to him because he and wife of two years, writer Liz Welch, held their wedding reception there.

When he was in his 20s, Mr. D’Arcangelo, now 46, worked with music folklorist Alan Lomax, which started his musical career.

Self-taught on the guitar, he played with Pete Seeger’s New York Street Singers and other groups, as well as performing solo.

He now makes his living as a professional designer of museum experiences, which he said has enabled him to travel worldwide and work with “a fantastic group of creative people.” He recently returned from completing a museum installation in China.

Last year’s song swap was more of a challenge for Mr. D’Arcangelo because he was relatively new to the Orient community and didn’t have many contacts with other area musicians, he said. But he collaborated with longtime Orient resident and musician Anne MacKay and she knew everyone, he said.

“This year, the connections had been made,” he said, adding that Ms. MacKay “gave me sage advice” in putting the program together.

“We became fast friends,” he said. The two played a program of sea shanties in February at the old schoolhouse on the Oysterponds Historical Society grounds.

Most of the musicians who participated last year will be back and the program has expanded to include a wider range of music and musicians of all ages.

Former Greenport Idol Desiree Freeman is on this year’s program with a song she composed, Mr. D’Arcangelo said. Ms. MacKay will perform on her homemade dulcimer. Singer-songwriter Nancy Baxter and fiddler Helen Hooke are also on the program.

Look for Glory captain Dave Berson of Greenport, who “whipped us into a frenzy last year” to perform with members of the Thursday night Whiskey Wind Irish music group.  Ellen Cone Bush, members of the Bull family and many others will also participate in what organizers say will be a freewheeling evening of music.

“There’s no shortage of talent,” Mr. D’Arcangelo said. “People of all different levels of experience can find their way into this program.”

He, of course, will bring his own vocals and guitar playing to the stage.

As for the audience, people are welcome to join in, sing along or just sit back and enjoy, he said.

Admission is $10, payable at the door. Light refreshments will be available.

[email protected]