When you’re tasked with booking artists for one of America’s most venerable folk series, you have plenty of options. Including by choosing yourself to open the season.
That’s what Mike Agranoff chose to do this evening, September 3, 2021, at Troubadour in Morris Township.
“I guess I’m a guinea pig in a way,” Agranoff admitted, with a chuckle.
This is the first live broadcast of the weekly series at Morristown Unitarian Fellowship since March 6, 2020, when the Italian flatpicker Beppe Gambetta carried out just before the New Jersey pandemic shutdowns.
Agranoff and the rest of the volunteers who run the association Folk project take customer safety very seriously.
All federal and state health guidelines will be followed. In addition, you will need proof of COVID-19 vaccination to be admitted and a mask.
Children under 12, usually cared for free, should stay home until they are eligible for vaccines. Performers should also be vaccinated; Agranoff said he rejected a headliner who didn’t get the hits.
A MERV 14 air filtration system is one of many renovations undertaken by the Unitarian community during the pandemic. The Folk Project went further by adding a pair of Corsi-Rosenthal box filters.
The precautions follow many anxious discussions over the summer, as the Delta variant made its presence felt across the country.
“We have lost beloved members of our Folk Project community to COVID, we have had others who were terribly ill but recovered, and I have lost my beloved boss for 10 years and a member of my husband’s family. So we take this very seriously, ”said Jean Scully, the volunteer fighter of the Folk Project.
In the end, the organizers felt that the benefits outweighed the risks.
“The joy and community spirit that surrounds creating and listening to live music will transport us through these dark times! Said Scully.
The Rev. Alison miller, Senior Minister of the Morristown Unitarian Fellowship, agrees.
“We are grateful and excited to reopen live music in a way that recognizes that the pandemic is not over,” Miller said.
“The pandemic has resulted in many losses and live music and singing together are part of it. We all need the power and expression of music in our lives, ”she said. The Unitary Community has been the home of the Troubadour (formerly known as The Minstrel) since 2005.
For those patrons who remain uncomfortable with gatherings, the Folk Project will be streaming their Friday Night Troubadour concerts live on Facebook, for a fee of $ 2.99. He will also continue to offer his free Tuesday Acoustic stay online shows, renamed Tuesdays streaming.
The next Troubadour shows will present Matt Nokoa (which Agranoff cites in the same breath as the sublime Susan Werner) and folk favorites Mad Agnes and Christine Lavin.
Now in his 46th year, the Folk Project has proven its resilience during the pandemic, revamping its website and broadcasting 150 live concerts and 300 music gatherings and workshops – raising more than $ 140,000 for artists who have found themselves out of work, said Mark Schaffer, in charge of special events.
Schaffer opened his Rockaway home this summer for several vaccine-only concerts, including the NJ Uke Fest.
Make no mistake, travelers on tonight’s Shakedown Cruise will not be wronged. Agranoff is a seasoned singer-songwriter and storyteller who has helped lead the Folk Project from the start. And the sparkling Annie Donahue’s trio will open the show.
Agranoff is eager to see a live audience, even a masked one. Zoom gigs were okay, he said, “but it’s not the same.”
“It’s like throwing in a styrofoam peanut. You give it all away, and it floats in nothingness and you don’t know where it went.
Scully has faith.
“We will survive this and come out on the other side,” she said of the pandemic. “I hope, with greater appreciation for what we mean to each other.”
The folk project weekly Troubadour the concert series returns in flesh and blood after a pandemic hiatus at 7:30 p.m. at the Morristown Unitarian Fellowship in Morris Township. Mike Agranoff will make the front page, after an opening set by the Annie Donahue’s trio. Admission: $ 10 at the door, $ 10.50 online; live broadcast, $ 2.99. Proof of vaccination required for the live performance; no children under 12 (until they are eligible for vaccination). At 21, route des Hauteurs de Normandie.