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Tennessee Walt to Stage Fifth Internet Concert for Region’s Libraries
As the libraries of Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester Counties begin the process of reopening, one aspect of their operations remains on indefinite hold: live programs at libraries. The country singer Tennessee Walt has stepped into the breach with a monthly series of live internet concerts celebrating the libraries, the fifth of which will stream live at 2 p.m. on Saturday, August 1.
“The libraries still can’t host their usual lectures and concerts,” explained Gayden Wren, the Garden City native who performs as Tennessee Walt, “and the audience in the greater New York area is still deprived of theater, movies and live music, so this is a way for us to remind people of how much libraries have contributed to our communities—and how much they’re contributing right now—and let people kick back and enjoy some of America’s greatest music.”
The program will feature live performances of songs associated with Hank Williams, Roy Acuff, Bobby Bare, Bad Blake, Johnny Cash, Mac Davis, Buck Owens, Mac Sledge, Red Stovall and more. Audience requests will also be included, along with a few Walt originals and, as always, a mix of anecdotes about the songs and the artists who created them.
“This series started back in March, when Marialisa Arnold of the Baldwin Public Library asked me if an online performance was practical,” Wren continued. “I figured that, if I was going to be performing in my living room for one library, why not invite another one to the party? Why not another 10, another 100, why not all of them? There are some drawbacks to online performance, but one big plus is that you have an infinite audience capacity. Before this series started, I’d never played to an audience of more than a few hundred people. Now I’m playing for thousands.”
The show’s primary purpose, he said, is to entertain its viewers, whether they see it live on August 1 or view it later on via Facebook or YouTube.
“This may not look or sound like your idea of country music—it’s one guy at a piano, no steel guitars or fiddles—but the songs are some of the best ones ever written,” Wren said. “I’ve sung everything from Gilbert & Sullivan to rock ‘n’ roll, from Episcopal church music to Broadway, and these songs are as good as anything I’ve ever tackled. I love Gilbert & Sullivan, Stephen Sondheim and Lennon & McCartney, but, I promise you, Hank Williams belongs right up with those all-time greats. People tell me they love hearing me sing these songs, and I say, ‘Not half as much as I love singing them.’
“A great song is a great song, that’s all there is to it.”
“A Distant Country 5” (the series title evokes the Book of Luke and a famous quote by Samuel Johnson, but also the current necessity of social distancing) will be presented live on Facebook.com/TennesseeWalt on Saturday, August 1, at 2 p.m. Admission is free, and no masks are required! (Those not on Facebook can see the show on YouTube within 24 hours afterward.) For further information, visit www.TennesseeWalt.com.