Chesapeake Musicians to Appear at River Artsfest on June 11, 2005

What do Tom Wisner, Joseph Norris, Magpie, and Grace Griffith have in common? Three things: 1) they are all professional musicians, 2) they all care deeply about our environment, and 3) they are all going to appear at the Charles County Arts Alliance’s River Artsfest on June 11, 2005 on the Village Green in the Town of Indian Head!

Tom Wisner is a singer, songwriter, environmental educator, and recipient of the 2002 John Denver Memorial Award (established by the World Folk Music Association to acknowledge Denver’s music and the many contributions he has made to make our planet a better place). Through art, song and story, Chesapeake-born Tom Wisner has devoted himself and his work to preserving the Chesapeake Bay. "I believe that the songs we sing have the power to make us who we are. They can help us redefine our relations with all things, deepest of which is the water that makes this blue planet what she is," says Mr. Wisner whose music has been used by National Geographic and is included in the National Smithsonian Folkways collection. A few song titles from his most recent CD, Made of Water, include Chesapeake Born, Made of Water, and Freedom is a River. Tom Wisner has partnered with the Charles County Arts Alliance in planning and kicking off River Artsfest 2005!

Joseph Norris has been singing and writing songs since he was a teenager. Hailing from the Chaptico area of St. Mary’s County, his songs are often inspired by the lakes and rivers of Southern Maryland. They tell of real history and real people, lighthouses, riverboats, and green fields. Back in 1993, Mr. Norris performed with legendary folksinger Pete Seeger. In 2004, he was a participant in the Smithsonian Institution's July 4th Folklife Festival, at which he represented the life-ways of the Mid-Atlantic regional waters. Some of the song titles from his most recent CD, Mariners Compass, are The River of Love, The Thomas Point Light, and The Waterman. His style of entertainment is perfect for all ages.

Magpie, the fabulous world-renowned duo of Greg Artzner and Terry Leonino, will also be sharing their musical talents with all who attend this year’s River Artsfest! These performers have been featured presenters for environmental education associations around the country, and supporters of the work of organizations such as the National Audubon Society, National Wildlife Federation, the National Wildlife Refuge System, and the National Park Service. Not only have these two sung together for over 30 years, their success has also led them into other areas of the arts as well, having recently written and performed a musical for the Smithsonian's Discovery Theater called "Tales of the Blue Crab". They are master artists with the Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning Through the Arts, and are strong advocates for utilizing music as a tool for early childhood education. Recipients of the 2003 John Denver Memorial Award, Greg and Terry’s love for the environment comes across loud and clear through the lyrics of their songs, delivered by such beautiful voices and accompanied by a wide variety of instrumentation.

Grace Griffith, a Charles County native singer, has won numerous Washington Area Music Awards ("WAMMIE"s), and records for the Blix Street Records label. Her repertory draws from celtic and American folk roots, with a focus on the beauty of nature. In her biography on her website, Grace states, “It has always been important to me to support the work of trying to protect our environment, to further understanding and to live with compassion. I feel fortunate to have had the chance to be the minstrel that I have been--touching many different people in different ways through song.” Several excellent players will join her for her River Artsfest appearance, including pianist Paul Nahay, and Accokeek’s own “Hollyfield & Spruill,” duo of singer/songwriters Lynn Hollyfield and Nina Spruill.

In addition to Tom Wisner, Joseph Norris, Magpie, and Grace Griffith there will be a variety of other local professional as well as amateur performing groups throughout the day: The Nanjemoy Creek Boys, the Chesapeake Choral Arts Society, the Port Tobacco Players Encore Kids and Encore Teens, Solid Brass Jazz Ensemble, Seahawk’s Jazz Band, Judy’s Studio of Dance, the Hard Bargain Players, the Chesapeake Bay Floating Theatre, Mark Giufridda, the Southern Maryland Dance Collective, Mike Callahan with Raptors Rule, the Piscataway Spirit Dancers, Almost Recess, and more. Continuous entertainment will take place on two stages (one indoor stage and one outdoor stage), and roving entertainers will be present as well.

Yes, a wonderful day of entertainment is planned, but that’s not all. Over 25 visual and literary artists will be on hand displaying and selling their artwork; 15 or more environmental organizations will be present with exhibits on how to care for our rivers and environment; and 3 vendors will have delicious food available to purchase. Interactive art activities for children will be ongoing throughout most of the day plus a few other surprises as well.

River Artsfest is the Charles County contribution to “The Year of the River” and is part of its “grand finale” celebration in June 2005. “The Year of the River” is sponsored in part by SMECO as a means to encourage Southern Marylanders to appreciate and value our waterways. So, plan on attending River Artsfest on the Village Green in Indian Head on June 11, 2005. Hear the sounds of Chesapeake musicians Tom Wisner, Joseph Norris, Magpie, and Grace Griffith among others; admire the work of local visual and literary artists, perhaps even obtaining some for your home; learn what you can do to preserve the environment in which we live and to improve the waterways that are so vital to our Southern Maryland lifestyle; bid on works of art at our Silent Auction; munch on a variety of foods; visit with friends and just have a good time! See you there!

Founded in 1987, the Charles County Arts Alliance promotes and supports ALL the arts in Charles County: music, visual art, drama, dance, and literature, through grant programs, workshops, community events, and its publication, the Arts Insider. The CCAA additionally manages 4 galleries, including the Commissioners' Gallery, the Clark Senior Center Gallery, the Morgan Stanley Dean Witter Gallery, and the CCAA Gallery. More information about the CCAA can be found by visiting their website at

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