Entertainment, Reviews

Review of a Concert to benefit the Greensboro Nursing Home

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by David K. Rodgers

GREENSBORO – This past Sunday evening at the Greensboro United Church of Christ, Roy MacNeil, Alice Perron, Mavis MacNeil and Andrew Koehler gave a delightful concert to benefit the Greensboro Nursing Home, with excellent selections from the American Songbook, country-western tunes and the jazz repertoire.

All skilled musicians, they demonstrated the impressive ensemble playing that can come from growing up in a family that has always made music an important part of their lives. With Roy on the violin, Mavis on banjo, spoons and vocals, Alice (their mother) on guitar and vocals, and Andrew (Mavis’ husband) on piano, their enthusiasm was contagious as they performed one beautiful melody after another.

They started off with a lively hornpipe dance, followed by a French piece entitled “Sur le Route à Dijon, with Alice singing. Roy gave a short excerpt from one of Bach’s solo violin works that then morphed into variations and additional tunes as the others joined in. “Waltz Across Texas” (changed to “Across Hardwick”!) had fine duet vocals from Mavis and Alice with Andrew accompanying on piano and washboard.

Mavis and Andrew then rendered memorable performances of Cole Porter’s “Night and Day” and the classic “Moonlight in Vermont”, which should be a candidate for the state anthem.

Mavis and Alice sang together about lost love in the traditional “Wildwood Flower”, and Roy was featured on violin in imaginative variations on an English hornpipe. Mavis’ pure, natural voice was evident in the humorous lyrics about a woman who loved many things regarding a young man, “but most of all I love your automobile.”

A familiar traditional song, “Au Claire de la Lune”, brought Mavis and Alice back again in well blended harmonies. Another French song, “Monsieur Jonah” was about Jonah and the whale, having an upbeat, bouncy rhythm with which the audience participated by adding heartbeat sounds.

A second piece in French was about a tireless woman dancer, with Alice doing some fancy footwork.

Mavis sang an original piece of her own with poetic images of nature in the lyrics, about a relationship suffering when the partner is not near. A New England fiddle tune, “Old Joe Clark” had some appropriately animated dance rhythms.

A particularly engaging melody, Hoagy Carmichael’s “The Nearness of You” highlighted Mavis’ voice and some fine piano improvisations by Andrew. Another humorous tune from Pink Martini had a well developed melodic line with variations on the phrase “Je Ne Veux Pas–” (I Don’t Want to–).

“Fly Me to the Moon” was a familiar classic that provided an opportunity for Roy and Andrew to create musical permutations on the initial theme.

“Your Cheatin’ Heart”, Hank Williams’ ever popular 1952 hit, brought everyone together in a well coordinated performance, while “Why Don’t You Love Me Like You Used to Do?” combined humor with melancholy in its lyrics.

“Ashoken Farewell” had a very haunting melody, which Roy played with real feeling. The last number of the evening was the Beatles “Oh, Darlin’”, by John Lennon. The appreciative audience then rose to give the group a standing ovation. Let’s hope this amazingly talented family returns to give many more

concerts in the future!

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