By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
Hudson – Singer, songwriter and musician Gregory McConnell of Hudson interacts with a network of performers while actively participating in the region’s open mic circuit. Now, he’s inviting them to perform at a weekly entertainment showcase known as Market Music in conjunction with the first season of the Hudson Farmers’ Market. The collaborative effort will debut Tuesday, June 6, from 3 to 6 p.m., behind Town Hall at the Avidia Bank Financial Center parking lot.
McConnell expressed appreciation for being asked to organize the entertainment by the farmers’ market managers Kelli Calo, sanitarian at Hudson Health Department, and Pam Helinek, conservation agent and planner at Hudson Community Development.
“I’m viewing this as a great opportunity for me to introduce my hometown to a musical community that has given me so much,” he said.
He credits teachers at Hudson public schools for instilling his appreciation of music. It began while attending the formerly-named John F. Kennedy Middle School. There, he learned music fundamentals from the husband-and-wife educators Dr. Miller and Nancy Jamrog.
“The two of them are the reason I’m a musician today,” he declared. “Nancy would play records of very complex classical or jazz pieces and deconstruct the music for us. Miller was an accomplished musician, who played drums for a lot of shows in the Boston theater scene and a number of big bands. They opened up that world of music appreciation for a lot of kids.”
Those educators also taught him about stage performance as they produced and directed the middle school musicals. A young McConnell portrayed King Arthur in “Camelot” and Tevye in “Fiddler on the Roof.”
His music and performance education continued at Hudson High School (HHS) with Paul Johnson, the HHS choral and drama director for 32 years.
“Paul is a gifted guy and he’s loved by everybody,” McConnell said. “Paul directed all the choruses, jazz ensembles and bands – I was involved in just about everything that he did.”
After graduating from HHS in 1979, McConnell performed in a trio with gigs ranging from nightclubs to weddings. He took a hiatus from playing music while working another job and continued to write songs. Feeling ready to perform again a few years ago, he participated in an open mic at Firefly’s BBQ in Marlborough. Now, he performs regularly at several area open mics.
“This community of performers is very supportive,” he said. “It has been the source of many wonderful experiences for me over the past few years.”
Fittingly, the Tuesday, June 6 debut of Market Music will be hosted by Amanda Cote, who McConnell first heard at Firefly’s. She hosts a weekly open mic at Legends Grille & Sports Bar in Fitchburg.
“Amanda sings from a place that connects with people immediately,” McConnell said.
Each week, a different host will be joined by several performers. Among the open mic venues that will be represented in addition to Firefly’s and Legends are Main Streets Market & Café in Concord, Medusa Brewing Company in Hudson, Nobscott Café in Framingham and Slater’s in Bolton.
Assisting McConnell with the entertainment are Peggy Pickford as coordinator and Emily Joy Ashland as visual marketing designer. Market Music sponsors are Medusa Brewing Company, S&F Concrete Corporation and Rail Trail Flatbread Company.
“Musicians are important to the community,” McConnell added. “These people that make a commitment to perform music fulltime do it from the heart.”
Market Music is scheduled with the farmers’ market Tuesdays, June 6 through Oct. 31 except July 4. It will be held rain or shine except for severe weather. Helping to fund the farmers’ market is a grant received by the health department from MetroWest Moves. For information on Facebook, visit www.facebook.com/hudsonsfarmersmarket and www.facebook.com/Market-Music-1123712047773180.