Curtain comes down on After Dark Music Series

MIDDLEBURY — After 16 years of lighting up local stages, Middlebury’s After Dark Music series has itself gone dark.

Series founders and coordinators Harvey and Carol Green explained that while they have enjoyed bringing numerous high-caliber folk, blues, jazz and other acts to Addison County’s shire town over the years, they are ready to retire from the physical strain and financial challenge of organizing a half-dozen shows each year.

“I suppose I’ll feel badly in the fall, but right now we’re at the end of the season,” Carol Green said last week. “We’ll certainly miss putting up the posters.”

The Greens launched the After Dark series 16 years ago with the goal of bringing back to Middlebury some of the performers at the annual summer Festival on-the-Green. The Greens are devotees of musical Americana, including folk and jazz.

Though it seemed like quite a chore, the Greens were up to the challenge.

“We decided, ‘Let’s do it,” Carol Green recalled, though she stressed that she and her husband received great helpers throughout the years.

“We had some good volunteers move away recently,” she lamented.

Green recalled staging the initial performances in the former Knights of Columbus Hall — before that structure was restored to its current state as the Town Hall Theater. After a few years, After Dark events moved to the Middlebury United Methodist Church at the corner of North Pleasant and Seminary streets. Recent years have seen performances divided between the church and Town Hall Theater venues.

The Greens are pleased the series attracted some excellent national, international and local artists throughout the years. The marquee has included such performers as Chris Brubeck’s Triple Play, Richard Thompson, Kate and Anna McGarrigle, Jimmy Dale Gilmore, Greg Brown, Iris Dement and the last act of this year’s final season — Hot Club of Cowtown — which closed out the season and the series at an April 2 performance.

“We had some really good people,” Green said.

People that like-minded music fans would travel miles to see. Green said roughly one-third of the spectators were from Addison County. The balance of the audience routinely hailed from throughout New England.

“We had people come from New York, Burlington, Connecticut and Montreal,” Green said.

Organizers provided lights meals and desserts for purchase before shows at the church, so customers could make an evening of it.

But Carol, 64, and Harvey, 68, are ready to ramp down their concert planning. They noted the After Dark series could be financially unpredictable. The performers, of course, had to be paid their fee, and there were times when the venues did not sell out. The organizers had to pick up the financial slack.

“We probably would have kept going if we had sold out every show,” Green said.

The Greens have not ruled out organizing occasional shows in the future, in fact they are working on booking a performer at the Town Hall Theater for next winter. But Carol Green said they will no longer stage a block of shows like the After Dark series.

Douglas Anderson, THT executive director, said the After Dark series proved a great addition to the community’s entertainment scene.

“(The Greens) were able to bring us acts that we might not have booked ourselves, but turned out to be sensational,” Anderson said.

He added the Greens possess a knack of recognizing musical talent and that the THT would make sure to use their talents.

“Carol and Harvey had such a great sense of what the community would like and turn out for,” Anderson said. “We will gently encourage them to keep doing it.”

Reporter John Flowers is at johnf@addisonindependent.com.


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