The Performance Series takes place at the Patricia M. Kuran Cultural Arts Center also known
as "The Old Carriage House". The Arts Center faces Watson Road; however, it is part of the Fanwood Borough Hall property
and the actual address is 75 North Martine Avenue, Fanwood, NJ 07023. Please go to our Directions page for in depth directions, maps and photos at:
directions, and our Venue page to learn more about this beautiful historic building.
Mayor Colleen Mahr and The Fanwood Arts Council Present
Milkweed - www.milkweedtheband.com
Swearingen and Kelli - www.swearingenandkelli.com
Milkweed is a band that was born on Main Street in the quiet post industrial city of Binghamton NY. It is the collaboration of three
artists - Joseph Alston, Jacqualine Colombo and Peter Lister. Without committing to one genre Milkweed has pulled from many of the great
aspects of American music and created their own brand of American song and story telling. Whether it is blue grass guitar flat picking,
Chicago blues harmonica, Irish ballads or Jersey shore folk songs, Milkweed weaves together the sounds that make up the rich tapestry of
American music history. With their lyrics they set themselves apart from the norm, taking the simple stories of everyday people and telling
them through the lens of dreams and what it means to be a human. The root of the bands sound is in the use of three part harmony to impart
a sense of importance and depth to their lyrics that brings the listener into their songs and feel invested in it.
Milkweeds debut full length album, Dream of An American Family, was released in November of 2015. It consists of thirteen original songs
ranging from fingerpicking ballads, up tempo picking tunes, to a piedmont blues inspired song. It was recorded by Don Sternecker at the
great Mixolydian Studios and was crafted to be like the great folk albums of the past, predominantly live and in front of great microphones.
Songs from the album have received praise and radio play throughout the Northeast and East Coast and has gotten Milkweed onto larger theater
and festival stages over the last year. Upon the arrival of a new tour van the band has been on the road prolifically, playing more then
160 shows a year. With the advent of a new album close at hand, longer tours booked nationally and collaborations with other musicians,
Milkweed shows no sign of slowing down.
Swearingen and Kelli
“Do you believe what you write?”
This is the question sometimes posed to husband-and-wife duo Swearingen and Kelli which they address full-throttle on their upcoming
sophomore release, The Marrying Kind (out July 21, 2017). Unafraid of spilling their guts in their music, the Florida-based twosome of
AJ Swearingen and Jayne Kelli presents 12 songs that challenge the listener to explore life’s hard questions while embracing what you have
in the moment. It’s not your normal, run-of-the-mill set of love songs.
“This was the first album I've worked on that I actually choked up with emotion while recording,” says Kelli. “Several of these songs came
from a powerful emotional body when I was writing, especially ‘Leaving Yourself,’ ‘Trying to Try,’ and ‘Devil From the Hills.’ They weave
through, respectively, fear of losing your soulmate, that deep internal grief that almost turns to complete apathy when hitting rock bottom,
and anger mixed with futility on witnessing controlling love.”
The Marrying Kind is an album steeped in the sounds of Americana and country-folk with rich harmonies and character voices that are a modern
echo of the singer-songwriters of the ’60s and ’70s. Organic, honest, and real, their music springs from a connected, closely shared life.
“The creative process is very vulnerable and we trust each other completely,” says Swearingen.
Drawing from influences and inspiration unique and shared, they trade off lead vocals, showcasing the strengths of both members. Says
Swearingen: “We really dialed in our Americana country sound on this album. I used lap-steel on many of the songs. I was very inspired by
the sounds of David Lindley (Jackson Browne) and Jerry Douglas (Alison Krauss). I even used a 1936 Rickenbacker to replicate some of those
early sounds from the ’70s.” Kelli gave up a pull towards perfection for the sake of genuine, emotional performances.
The lead-off, title track highlights the power of Kelli’s vocal, while telling the story of someone accustomed to her freedom and life on
her own terms who second-guesses her aversion to settling down. “Annalise” uses a haunting, Appalachian feel to bring to life a tale of
a man holding onto a memory of his true love that will never die. Tracks such as “Trying to Try,” “Survival,” and “Why Wait” are both
contemplative and encouraging and promote taking risks, while not discounting the uncertainties that face us all. Kelli’s vocals perhaps
do not shine brighter than on “Leaving Yourself,” a song that is part Norah Jones, part Paul Simon and offers an interesting perspective
on the story of love. All the way to the final notes of the closing track, “Satellite Friends,” a song that confronts the struggle of
truly connecting with others, the artistic benchmark has been set high with The Marrying Kind.
The path that led to The Marrying Kind, began as two independent tracks that converged several years back at The Hideaway Café in St.
Petersburg, Florida, when they heard each other perform at a writer's night. “I knew the first time that I heard Jayne perform her songs
that she was incredibly gifted both vocally and lyrically,” says Swearingen. Since that moment, they have been partners in music, and
AJ Swearingen, born in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, grew up in a house where the classic country records of Kris Kristofferson, Merle Haggard,
Johnny Cash, and Willie Nelson were always spinning. “I love that music, but the folk records of the early ’70s like Gordon Lightfoot and
Simon & Garfunkel are what really fueled my desire to pursue a life in music.” He began playing at 13 and started performing professionally
in his late teens. His acoustic guitar finger style echoes his influences - James Taylor, Paul Simon and Lindsey Buckingham - but his silky,
soulful baritone voice is definitely his own.
Jayne Kelli’s voice is both husky and sweet, tender and bluesy. Kelli was born in the small country town of Lapeer, Michigan. She grew up
listening to her parents perform songs by John Denver, Jim Croce, and Glen Campbell around the campfire. Jayne began writing and recording
her own songs at the age of 15. Her first release garnered praise from critics, calling her “a formidable talent with elegantly poetic and
emotionally charged songs.” Jayne’s song “Sweetness” was chosen as an anthem song for the domestic violence foundations Victim Services
International and Angel Wings International in 2015.
This partnership has led to some extraordinary things over the past few years; including writing and producing their own symphonic pop shows
of music from the writers that inspired them from the ’70s - Cat Stevens, Gordon Lightfoot, Carole King, James Taylor, the Eagles, Fleetwood
Mac, and more - with performances alongside orchestras in Edmonton, Dayton, and Cleveland. Their song “You’re Not Here With Me”
(from their debut album) was recorded by folk icon, Tom Rush and is available on his album What I Know. “Give Everything Up,” also on their
debut album, was licensed by DMX for restaurant airplay.
Swearingen and Kelli, together and separately, have shared the stage supporting Kenny Rogers, Crystal Gayle, Livingston Taylor, John
McCutcheon, and Dave Mason, among others. They plan to continue a heavy touring schedule in support of the new album. Hopefully, along
the way, their music will help others cope with their own tough situations. “I think the best way to sum up The Marrying Kind is to say
that finding your soulmate isn't always easy or pretty,” says Swearingen. “In all the dark places life can take you, fighting for love
is worth it,” agrees Kelli.
And yes, for the record, these two partners in life and in music believe they are soulmates.
As usual we will be offering refreshments for sale, during the intermissions. We ussually make some home made cookies, have a variety of chips, and
various other finger foods donated by our volunteers and regular attendees. (Please feel free to bring along something for our intermission food table!)
Our newest sponsor is Ahrre's Coffee Roastery in Westfield and Summit! Ahrre's has graciously offered to donate both decaf and regular coffee, as well as
train our vollunteers how to brew and dispense their carefully roasted coffee correctly! We will be brewing up Ahrre's delicious coffees and offering it to
you in our brand new, commercial, insulated dispensers!
Snapple has generously donated beverages for our intermission. They have also donated a new tent to cover the food tables, and 2 great new coolers on wheels to keep
the beverages that they are donating cold.
Nicks Deli and Pizza will be adding some of their favorite appetizers and pizza samples to our intermission food table. They
are famous for thier New York Style large slices and delicious garlic knots....
Great performances in a historic setting right in your own back yard!
Suggested donation is $15, $10 for seniors and students.
This program is made possible in part by a HEART (History, Education, Arts Reaching Thousands) Grant from the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders.