West Side Folk is again offering a bountiful fall season, one that will bring back Connie Dover and Roger Landes as well as Greg Greenway.
If you're a fan of acoustic, folk, bluegrass or Celtic music, the West Side Folk concert series is the ticket for you this fall.
Founded by KANU-FM 91.5 disc jockey Bob McWilliams, the West Side Folk series has brought in big names from the folk and bluegrass world during the past four years.
Most concerts previously have been held in churches and in some cases, to accommodate a larger crowd, at Liberty Hall, 644 Mass. That tradition will continue this year.
The series, named after West Side Presbyterian Church, originally began as a series of house concerts at McWilliams' and other people's homes and moved to the church as crowds grew.
Later, to acquire a wider scheduling latitude and to share the benefits from the nonprofit concerts with other churches, the series was expanded to St. Margaret's Episcopal Church and Ecumenical Christian Ministries at the Kansas University campus.
According to McWilliams, churches are the perfect venue for folk and similar types of acoustic music.
``They're really pretty, they have great acoustics and they provide a no alcohol/no smoking environment for the music,'' McWilliams said. ``It's a different ambience needed for quieter music.''
However, just because it's quiet and located at churches, doesn't mean the concert series is just for the older crowd. In fact, McWilliams estimates that more than 20 percent of audiences is made of KU students and expects even more students to show up this year.
He says the types of students who usually attend the shows can be broken down into two groups.
``You have your Winfield regulars, the students who are really into roots country and bluegrass music,'' McWilliams said. ``There's been a big surge in that. And the other group is a lot of singer-songwriters or students interested in singer-songwriters, especially the female artists. Both groups tend to be in the `90s version of hippie counterculture.''
Students can lend a hand to the folk series by volunteering time to work concessions, collect tickets and offer hospitality to concertgoers.
Sales from concessions, which consist of soft drinks and homebaked goods, go to Lawrence charities such as Head Start, Habitat for Humanity and LINK. Ticket proceeds help support the performers and the churches where the concerts are held.
This has been a general format for underground folk concerts everywhere, McWilliams says. The artists are on smaller labels like Rounder or Sugarhill Records, and have no interest in being big rock stars. They often play nonprofit shows and enjoy the personal contact with their fans.
``The industry is known for spitting people out after a few years,'' McWilliams said. ``These are people who want to play their whole lives. Their lyrics go beyond the banalities of Top 40 music, and they share the mindset that they're not going to be part of the corporate mainstream. Folk music shares ideas closer to punk in the `70s and `80s.''
Some of the highlights of this fall's West Side Folk concert series include return performances by the Carrie Newcomer Band, contemporary singer-songwriter Greg Greenway, the Celtic acoustic duo Connie Dover and Roger Landes, and Kim Forehand, a Lawrence folk sensation.
Christine Lavin, a legendary folk artist known for her wit and humor and described by McWilliams as ``the funniest woman in folk,'' will be playing Lawrence for the first time, as well as Dan Crary, bluegrass guitarist and Winfield legend.