In my humble opinion

Do I hear a waltz?

Posted 8/9/23

No. No, I don’t—but I wouldn’t be surprised if I did, since it’s summertime, and the hills are literally alive with the sound of music.

In the last week or two, …

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In my humble opinion

Do I hear a waltz?


No. No, I don’t—but I wouldn’t be surprised if I did, since it’s summertime, and the hills are literally alive with the sound of music.

In the last week or two, I’ve been meeting up with friends and neighbors at a variety of outdoor concerts—many of which were part of an ongoing series. I’ve yet to run across said neighbors waltzing, but it’s only mid-August, so dancing in the streets could be happening just down the road.

Live music has a way of bringing people together. Here in the Upper Delaware River region, we have a wealth—a vast pool if you will—of superbly talented folks, who provide musical sustenance for the rest of us. When we gather outdoors to enjoy live music, something special occurs.

It’s not just the music. There’s something about these events in the open air; they provide an opportunity to mingle, to schmooze and to have a shared experience that (IMHO) transcends the traditional indoor concert setting.

Before heading out to hear the insanely talented musicians who make up the band known as Forever Ray—which played in Vera’s Story Garden at the E.B. Crawford library last week—I did some research to back up my theory of shared music.

An uncredited article on concurred.

“Experiencing music with others generates oxytocin, which is what enables us to feel a sense of belonging,” it stated. “A growing body of research confirms that experiencing music in nature positively engages the brain, builds social cohesion, and creates the conditions to build harmonious communities.”

Honoring the music of Ray Charles, Forever Ray is much more than a tribute band. Known simply as Whitley, the singer brings the sound of Ray to life. The man struts and wails, embodying the spirit of Ray Charles while infusing Ray’s chart-topping hits with his own personality and style.

Backed by an insanely talented band and equally gifted back-up vocalists, the show was amazing. I’m looking forward to the next: The Little Big Band Group, described on the library’s website as a band that includes horns and a rhythm section led by Bruce Dedrick. Their “extensive repertoire” includes music from the Big Band era, Latin, polkas and classic rock, “all to entertain listeners and dancers alike.” Hmmm. Do I hear a waltz?

Recalling the article I’d read online, I gave it more thought the next day. I was heading off to hear a Sullivan County favorite, the Johnny Jules Band, which was performing at the Rock Hill Summer Concert series, also held in a park.  

“Experiencing music in outdoor settings promotes community engagement and greater individual happiness as it relaxes, soothes, and feeds the soul.”

As I pulled into the lot, I was thrilled to see that in addition to my soul being fed, I could take advantage of the fact that UPcycle Brews & Bites’ Val Lang was on hand to cook up some delightful snacks to be enjoyed outside. “Our mobile food trailer is more than just a place to grab a quick bite and an ice cold craft drink,” Val told me. “It is also a place to share a cultural mix of flavors and stories that bring us all together, making us part of your local travel experience.” My point exactly.

Johnny Jules lives in Hurleyville, NY, and the band’s sound is described as “pure Americana, folk, blues and rock.” I ran into old friends but didn’t have time to make any new ones, as That Dog Named Gidget was acting like a puppy (go figure!) and I had to escort her from the park, lest she disturb the crowd.

I left folks behind who had brought lawn chairs, blankets and an appetite for Val’s delicious food, which they’ll enjoy while listening to the band’s fantastic renditions of songs by Bob Dylan, the Grateful Dead and The Byrds. I was sad to leave early, but the concert series runs through the end of August, so I still have time to teach that dog some manners.

Speaking of sad, music is known to stir emotions as well as enhance mood, stimulate appetite and improve our health, so I delved into that before checking out another local favorite band—Jaketown Road. The band is also highly regarded for its renditions of classic ‘60s and ‘70s Southern rock, blues, soul and a little Grateful Dead as well.

“Music can boost the brain’s production of the hormone dopamine,” Playcore’s article informed me. “This increased dopamine production helps relieve feelings of anxiety and depression. Music is processed directly by the amygdala, which is the part of the brain involved in mood and emotions.”

Truth be told, I became a little emotional before Jaketown began to play, in part because they were performing as part of the Bethel Lakeside Music series. It’s held weekly through the month at Gazebo Park overlooking beautiful Kauneonga Lake, right in my own backyard.

In addition to knowing some of the band members, I ran into a bunch of friends, including jewelry designer Lori Rae Silvers and music series organizers Debbie Fisher Palmarini and Moreen Lerner. They were all disappointed that I’d left that dog at home, but when I explained my puppy-induced stress, Debbie reminded me that music relieves stress.

Back to the experts: “Research has found that listening to music can relieve stress by triggering biochemical stress reducers,” the unknown know-it-all wrote. “It reduces stress and relieves symptoms of depression. When you’re feeling down in the dumps, music can help pick you up—much like exercise.”

“OK, fine,” I rasped at Debbie. “Since I have no plans to exercise, I’ll bring Gidget to Steve’s Music Center [also in Rock Hill] on Thursday the 10th. I heard that you’ll be there with the Sunshine Bus, and that Cris Cirillo Spinner will be performing outdoors. I love her,” I added. “Plus Joe’s Devil Dogs will be available  in the lot. I love hot dogs, too!

“If music be the food of love, play on,” I said in conclusion, as Jaketown Road began to do its thing.

“It’s Shakespeare,” I whispered to Fisher, in a weak attempt to appear smart. “I think I’ll email Cris before I get there,” I added with a smirk. “Maybe she knows a good waltz.”

A final note from the internet: “Outdoor music spaces engage people of all ages, races and musical ability to experience and share their creative expressions of tones, rhythms and melodies.” All of the abovementioned music series are free to the public.

Fun Fact: “Do I Hear a Waltz?” is a musical with a book by Arthur Laurents, music by Richard Rodgers and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim.

For more info, check out

Music on Broadway:

Bethel Lakeside Music:

Rock Hill Summer Music series:

Forever Ray:

live music


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  • barnhllo

    Hear a waltz??,,,,,I do:


    I learned to waltz many, many years ago

    In local fire halls, community centers and a gin mill, or two.

    Adult friends and relatives were kind enough

    To teach this kid how to dance.

    I had relatives who were foxtrot champs,

    But I was drawn to the waltz.

    My Grandpa and my mother could really waltz,

    And I followed in their footsteps (literally).

    But, it was when I met the love of my life…

    The girl who would become my wife…

    That I really felt the magic

    Of the waltz….

    ‘Light on her feet!”

    Was an inadequate description of her dancing…

    She literally flowed with the music of a waltz,

    And she carried me along with her….still does!

    Though now old, we still love to waltz;

    She still moves like a graceful princess.

    And, moving with her, I’m a prince….

    I look forward to waltzing with her forever…!!

    Lloyd Barnhart

    Sunday, August 13, 2023 Report this