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After Jack- Hot Folk Trio opens the Alfred Farmers Market as part of Cullen Foundation Grant

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By Mary Gardner-Ruch

The Alfred Farmers Market is excited to be one of 65 WNY non-profits to receive an “Expanding Access to the Arts” grant from the Cullen Foundation. The grant is a regrant program the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the Legislature and administered by the Cullen Foundation. One goal of this grant was to explore new ways to advance arts programming to new and underserved audiences specifically in Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie, Niagara and Wyoming counties. AFM was awarded the top prize of $5000 to support its project, Music at the Market, allowing for three special music events for the 2022-23 season.

The market’s first event, October 1, 2022 A Chinese Festival featured the beautiful sounds of Leah Oh’s pipa, a Chinese lute. Ms Oh was joined by our own Confucius Institute’s musicians Daisy Wu and MingRen Huang and our market manager Yimeng for an afternoon of Chinese Traditional and Popular music.

The second grant event, After Jack opens the 2023 season. After Jack hails from Ferrum, VA, in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The all-female trio performs music from, and inspired by, the rich musical traditions of the region. Founding members Rachel and Emily Blankenship-Tucker met in 2010, while working as professional actors in a regional theatre company, and its touring production, the Jack Tale Players. During their tenure with the company, they created original theatrical productions that highlighted a variety of traditional musical styles, produced favorite contemporary plays, and carried on the oral traditions of the Blue Ridge region through dramatizations of traditional folklore and songs. This experience served as a catalyst for the group’s creation, and a foundation for their current work. Songwriter Catherine Backus joined the group in 2019, rounding out the trio, and bringing sparkling instrumentals and her own powerhouse vocals to the mix. 

After Jack’s touring radius has spanned much of the US, including tours west as far as Colorado, north to New England, and south to Georgia. In addition to concert performances, the group also offers educational performances, which can include dramatized folktales featuring strong female protagonists and performed in story theater style.  The band will play at the June 11 market from 11:00AM to 3:00PM. Feel free to bring a lawn chair to enjoy the performance and of course visit the many and varied booths at the market. Combine your most beloved musical memories with a foot-stomping string band and top it off with harmonies that spring straight from the soul of the mountains, and you’ve got After Jack. 

After Jack will also be performing on Saturday, June 10 at 4:00PM in the Miller Performing Arts Theater as a part of AU’s Alumni Weekend.  Emily Blankenship Tucker is a 2003 alumna of Alfred University and the band is performing as a part of the Chamber Singers 25+  Reunion under the direction of AU Professor of Music Emeritus, Luanne Crosby.  The 4:00 PM concert will feature a choral performance by over 30 Chamber Singers alumni returning to sing together one more time, followed by a performance by After Jack.  The concert is free and the community is invited and welcome to come!

Look for news of the third Cullen Grant event in late August.  Chaz Bruce and the James Brown Experience will be performing for AFM’s “Soulful Market”, a joyful celebration of Motown music and most likely some dancing in the park! Alfred Farmers Market is the place to be this summer and fall! Connect with the market on Facebook!

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