By Lauren Schiavone
Hometown Weekly Staff
Hale Education Inc. in Westwood is known for being a hub of summer camp, youth based-education programs and culture. To that end, a semi-outdoor concert recently took place on Thursday evening, July 14, featuring three different acts: Erin Ash Sullivan, Steve Robb, and Three At Home. The concert was part of Hale's summer Live at Hale series, which features a variety of musical acts on the second Thursday of each month during the season.
Guests grabbed drinks, some bug spray, and a seat in the Andrew Cucchiara Learning Center, a repurposed barn with floating acoustics. Hale Artist in Residence Will “Will C.” Chalmis emceed the show, and explained his personal mission: “It’s about what social change can we make, what communities can we build, and what professional skills can we enhance through the arts. I say at the end of every show, if you come here and you don’t meet anybody new, you’re doing this wrong.”
First up, Erin Ash Sullivan strummed and sang acoustic originals as a solo act. Self-proclaimed as the girl with the sensible shoes, Sullivan writes about human emotion in a simplistic, relatable way, with chords that embellish the message. Sullivan’s wildcard was a fresh ukulele song. She admitted she reluctantly started playing and writing ukulele tunes due to being married to a ukulele player. Her song, “Fireflies” was a quirky number about the oddities of her everyday life. Sullivan’s lyrics about motherhood, relationships, and emotion perfectly captured what it means to enjoy the ride of life.
Next, Steve Robb sang from his own experiences as a small-town artist. A folksy, honest song entitled “Faded Blue Dreams” featured Robb’s poetic lyrics about themes of self-doubt and hardship. “Waves,” on the other hand, explored the beauty of finding a wave of happiness unexpectedly. Robb’s somber lyrics, coupled with clever picking patterns, showed a certain level of vulnerability, which went over well with the relaxed, but supportive crowd. Teaching a line or two, Robb had the audience singing along to his finale, “Could It Be Love”, a perfect tune to accompany the sunset.
Three at Home, comprised of a brand-new drummer, guitarist Dann and pianist Mary, used haunting vocals and full sound to tell their heartfelt stories. Beginning with a singalong of “ahhs” for the opener, the energy captivated the audience immediately. Clapping along, audiences listened as the songwriters shared the deep meanings beyond the music. Mary’s song, “Magnificat,” a response to religious symbolism and womanhood, for example, had audiences hanging on every word. Dann’s “Athena”, meanwhile, was inspired by a trip to Nashville and used mythology, along with charged drums and reverberating chords, to tell a story of loss and transformation.
Hale presents educational and entertainment programming year-round, and is currently seeking artists and audience interest for Steam Kettle on September 10, an outdoor music festival that Will C. described as “Porchfest meets pavilion.” More Information can be found online through www.hale1918.org.