Village Band wraps up summer concert series at Aztec Museum's Pioneer Village

Medley of material by African-American composer will highlight peformance

Mike Easterling
Farmington Daily Times
  • The concert, which is presented by the Connie Gotsch Arts Foundation, will take place at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 9 in the Pioneer Village.
  • Admission is free.
  • Call 505-608-0943 for more information.

FARMINGTON — The music of a century-old musical that became one of the first Broadway productions written and directed by African-Americans will be featured in the season-ending edition of the free summer concert series this weekend at the Aztec Museum's Pioneer Village.

Organizer Hoyle Osborne said the series has been very successful in its second year, with improvements to the "shed" — which consists of a stage and covered viewing area — paying off in the form of larger crowds.

"It's a really comfortable space now," he said, explaining that during most concerts this summer, the crowd has been so large it has spilled out onto the grassy area surrounding the facility.

"And every show has been so different," he said, noting the diversity of the groups that have performed.

Osborne will be leading the Village Band during the season finale, an eight-piece, all-star group of well-known local musicians that will be performing its third show together. He said the group has found a groove during preparations for this concert.

"We feel like we really know how to play together now," he said.

The Village Band will conclude the free summer concert series this weekend at the Aztec Museum's Pioneer Village.

The band consists of Osborne on piano, along with Tennille Taylor and Cathy Pope on violins, Sandy Kiefer on cello, Mick Hesse on cornet, Connie Schulz on euphonium, Don Allen on trombone, and Jane Voss on vocals and guitar.

The program will include a medley of tunes written by Eubie Blake, a 19th and 20th century African-American composer and ragtime pianist held in high regard by Osborne. Blake wrote the songs for the 1921 Broadway musical "Shuffle Along," an all-African-American production.

"It was a huge hit and full of beautiful music you don't get to hear very often," Osborne said, adding that he has arranged nine of the songs from the production into a medley for this performance.

The group also will perform Osborne's tune "Eutopia," a song he wrote in 1990 for a production at Albuquerque's Vortex Theatre. He said his idea was to create a song that would depict a peaceful, quiet, small Western town with a name that reflected its special status as "the good place."

Osborne said he wrote the song shortly before he and Voss, his longtime partner, moved to northwest New Mexico.

"I've often thought that vision is what led us to living in Aztec," he said.

Osborne said he regularly performs the song as a solo pianist, but he is looking forward to hearing it with the backing of a full band this weekend.

The program also includes a performance of an early 20th century piece called "Admiration: Hawaiian Idyl" by William H. Tyers. Osborne has created a new arrangement of the tune, which he said evokes the feeling of relaxing on a beach amid tropical breezes.

The free concert, which is presented by the Connie Gotsch Arts Foundation, will take place at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 9 in the Pioneer Village at 125 N. Main Ave. in Aztec. The entrance is through the west gate on Park Avenue, near the splash pad. Call 505-608-0943.

Mike Easterling can be reached at 505-564-4610 or measterling@daily-times.com. Support local journalism with a digital subscription: http://bit.ly/2I6TU0e.