The Athenaeum Music & Arts Library in La Jolla is a cultural treasure for many types of artistic and musical expression. This month, it will be stepping into the world of acoustic music for a series of concerts. These shows will take place on April 8, April 22, and April 29 and will be presented by local roots musician Jefferson Jay, with the spotlight on three local acoustic music acts each night. Featured performers include Tolan Shaw, Mark Goffeney, Eve Selis, Trails and Rails, and others. The shows are at the library in the Joan and Irwin Jacobs Music Room, 1008 Wall Street, La Jolla, all at 7:30 PM. For members, the series of three concerts is $30, for nonmembers, $45. Individual concerts are $12 for members, $17 for nonmembers. Further details are at the Athenaeum website.
The library is one of only 16 non-profit membership libraries in the United States. Welcoming 100,000 visitors a year and presenting 150 programs that include concerts, exhibitions, lectures, and galas, it houses a unique collection of art and music books, CDs, DVDs, and special collections. The Athenaeum also presents an eclectic, year-round schedule of art exhibitions, concerts (classical, jazz, and new music), lectures, studio art classes through its School of the Arts, tours and special events.
The Acoustic Evenings series got its start in Fall 2008, when Jay was involved in a Master’s Thesis project about the Athenaeum, studying its history back to the beginning days of La Jolla in the early 20th century. He was a key to the production of several Acoustic Evenings shows in the spring and fall in subsequent years, booking and producing shows that the Athenaeum promoted.
“The series is an opportunity for some of the finest San Diego acoustic musicians to get to know an audience a little more personally in a stunning, intimate environment for music.” Jay has intimate knowledge of the facility and past featured performers, which have included Jack Tempchin, Jeffrey Joe Morin, Mike Keneally, Wes Davis, and many others.
“There have been many incredible shows and many moving events. One of the most meaningful shows for me was when I booked a talented performer named Don Truesdail. He played a show we had with Mary Dolan and Carlos Olmeda. All four of us, including myself, did a medley at the end. Unfortunately, Don passed away just a few months later, so it was very special that Don got to participate. You’ll see that his widow, Nancy Truesdail, is one of our performers this year.”
All of the April shows will feature Jay as the presenter and emcee, also doing a couple of opening songs. On April 8, the spotlight will be on Mark Goffeney, Israel Maldonado, and Raelee Nikole. This is quite an eclectic mix; Goffeney is featured in the band Big Toe, and is internationally recognized for his ability to play guitar with his feet (he was born without arms). He has been nominated for a Grammy, plays all over the world, and is both amazing and inspirational. Maldonado is an accomplished classical guitarist from Tijuana who has a three-decade background playing Spanish, Brazilian, salsa, and gypsy guitar styles. Nikole is only 20 years old but has years of experience under her belt as a pop singer, she snagged a San Diego Music Award nomination following her 2015 debut album.
For the April 22 show, Eve Selis will perform; the veteran country/blues/folk/ rock singer is a winner of seven San Diego Music Awards in the Americana and Adult Alternative categories. Over a career that has spanned over two decades she has sung with energy, emotion, and power. For some cowboy and train songs, Walt Richards and Paula Strong, also known as Trails and Rails, will be on hand. They have enjoyed performing together for over 25 years in various formats. Their deep, organic harmonies are unique, and, in 2005, they won the Duo Harmony competition at the Western Music Association’s annual gathering. Rounding out the show will be Guiro Grass, a duo featuring a flat-picking guitarist with deep roots in Appalachian music, and a WWII Veteran that is a master of rhythmic patterns on the guiro. This notched, hollowed gourd instrument promises to blend with other traditional bluegrass sounds for some unique sounds.
The final show on April 29 will again blend genres. Tolan Shaw has made his mark in the San Diego music scene as a pop/soul singer-songwriter, both a solo acoustic troubadour and the front man of his four-piece band. Shaw’s music is catchy and soulful, bluesy and melodic, funky and sincere. After harvesting a batch of local songwriting awards, he traveled to Central and South America, to return and record a debut album that was SDMA-nominated. Also on the bill is Charbra, a combination of the musical talents of Charlotte James and Barbara Tolbert. The sound is acoustic rock with a funk beat, something refreshing and vital. Also appearing is Nancy Truesdail, a pianist who has studied and performed internationally. In addition to playing the classics of such composers as Prokofiev and Chopin, she has composed and performed original music. She has been a featured guest artist, and has played at the Athenaeum previously as had her late husband, Don. She hopes to carry on his legacy.