Renowned Celtic musicians Connie Dover and Roger Landes will head a bill of West Side Folk regulars who are trying to help bolster the not-for-profit presenter's bottom line.
For West Side Folk founder Bob McWilliams, Friday night's fund-raising concert is a matter of reputation.
"We'd like to make (West Side) one of the premiere presenters of folk music in the country," McWilliams said.
Last year, McWilliams guided West Side Folk through the process of becoming incorporated as a not-for-profit corporation under Kansas law.
"We're trying to set up the structure so that we can be part of Lawrence's cultural life for a long time to come," he said.
All the elements are in place, McWilliams pointed out: location, talent and interest. All that's left to build is a financial cushion.
"We're well located; we're in the middle of the country. We think we present the very best performers there are," he said. "But the folk music business is fraught with danger. It would be nice to know that one 'bad' concert won't wipe you out."
So McWilliams turned to a few old "friends," who answered the call for the fund-raiser. World-renowned Celtic singer Connie Dover heads a bill of musicians who have entertained audiences at West Side Presbyterian Church a number of times in the past.
All are donating their time on Friday night, "with pleasure," Dover said.
"Bob McWilliams has made an absolutely invaluable contribution to the promotion of Celtic and folk music throughout the Midwest," she added. "He believes in this music; he believes in promoting it. Because of Bob and people like him, musicians have an audience to play for and audiences have live music to listen to."
Dover and Celtic instrumental musician Roger Landes will be performing selections from their new albums, Dover's "If Ever I Return" and Landes' "Dragon Reels." The duo has been entertaining at Celtic music festivals across the country and were featured in a special guest appearance on the "Prairie Home Companion" National Public Radio show.
The West Side Folk fund-raiser also will feature Manhattan singer-songwriter Ann Zimmerman, Lawrence singer Lisa Harris with singer and guitarist Bill Crahan and mandolinist Scott Tichenor in duets with Crahan.
In addition to their past West Side Folk appearances, Harris, Crahan and Tichenor have been regulars over the years on KANU's ``Goodtime Radio Revue.'' They'll perform a wide variety of traditional and contemporary vocal and instrumental music, representative of the wide variety of music presented by West Side Folk, McWilliams said.
Dover and Landes are among West Side Folk's most popular acts year after year, McWilliams said, performing to sold-out audiences and highlighting the need for capital to secure larger venues, like Liberty Hall. Several upcoming events have been scheduled at St. Margaret's Episcopal Church, which has a larger hall than West Side Presbyterian.
Look for Beppe Gambetta and Carlo Alonzo in a classical-folk concert of turn-of-the-century Italian music for guitar and mandolin April 17 at St. Margaret's and for singer-songwriter Christine Lavin and another "Celtic Cowboy Night" with Dover, Landes and Skip Gorman in the fall.
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