The Concert View virtual series

By Christopher Blagg

We feel so fortunate to be able to offer virtual concerts through our Concert View music series. Already, we’ve featured world-renowned classical artists like the Parker Quartet, pianist George Li, and violinist Chee-Yun, and are looking forward to the cello-piano duo of David Finckel & Wu Han. Sandwiched between all these outstanding classical musicians, we’ve brought in two local luminaries that will undoubtedly make quite a virtual impression. To use the term “local” does a disservice though, as these musicians transcend that loaded term. They are both brimming with artistry. They just happen to be local, and we are very lucky to have them so close.

Coming up on August 14, we will showcase Gloucester’s own Rum Runners String Band, led by singer-songwriter/guitarist Joe Wilkins. Back in February, the Rum Runners played our Upstairs on Main series and enchanted the packed room with their incredibly tight musicianship and charming performing flair, mixing bluegrass, old time, gypsy jazz, country, and rock and roll into their rich folk stew. Wilkins is a bit of a Zelig character around the North Shore, lending his prodigious skills to a staggering number of bands of all different persuasions.  He’s in a funk band (Funk du Jour), an Afrobeat ensemble (Poppa Cigar), an acoustic duo (Chris & Joe), an Americana group (Wood & Bone), a Grateful Dead cover band (Live Dead), and many other side projects too numerous to name. But the Rum Runners String Band has taken the lead of late, with Joe front and center on guitars and vocals alongside fiddler Joe Kessler, standup bassist Luke Conlin, and mandolinist Justin Quinn—all  phenomenal musicians in their own right.

The following week (August 21) we bring back the remarkable songstress Mari Martin and her band the Lucky Boys. They will be livestreaming their performance, providing the audience with a taste of that spontaneous, in-the-moment energy of a live concert (remember those?). Mari is a North Shore musical hero, her powerful voice belting out in clubs throughout Cape Ann and beyond for more than a decade. With an impressively diverse repertoire that includes rock, funk, folk, blues, and the American Songbook, Mari and her versatile band hit all the sweet spots. Martin is from Rockport, but before becoming a local staple, Mari cut her teeth across the country, making a name for herself performing in and around Santa Barbara. Aside from her own gigs, she sang backup for Kenny Loggins and shared the stage with Tower of Power, WAR, the Moody Blues, Travis Tritt, the Average White Band, Alan Parsons, and many others. Thankfully for us, she now calls Cape Ann home again and we are grateful she landed back here.

Make sure you don’t miss these wonderful artists in the upcoming weeks, and stay tuned for more additions to the Concert View lineup in the fall! Concerts can be viewed on Vimeo (just added!), YouTube, Facebook, IGTV, and Rockport Music’s website.