Marsha Chartrand

Community provides great support for Riverfolk concerts

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Creole du Nord performed a wide variety of Louisiana music at last Saturday’s Blacksmith Shop Concert. Photos courtesy of Steve Rudner.

Cajun dance lessons paid off for those who attended last Saturday’s Blacksmith Shop concert featuring Creole Du Nord.

Two music-filled weekends in November helped to fill the coffers of the Riverfolk Music and Arts Organization (RMAO), as well!

A fund-raising House Concert at the home of Mark & Carol Palms on November 18 raised $1,000 to benefit the RMAO. About 35 musicians and attendees enjoyed an evening that included performers from a wide spectrum. Classical Americana string music provided by youthful musicians “Steamboat,” featuring Alden Rohwer and Tomas Ridley started off the evening, followed by country-folk from singer/songwriter Charly Markwart, who enchanted the audience with her haunting voice and lyrics.

Then everyone was in for a great time with the varied songs performed by the Palooka Brothers, a mid-Michigan based band that calls on Irish music as well as American roots music for its influences. All of these versatile musicians provided for a

remarkable evening of excellent music and congenial company!

This past Saturday, the hits just kept on coming with a sold out show headlined by local Cajun/Zydeco band, Creole du Nord, featuring Mark and Carol Palms, Mike Zivzac, Randy Markey, and Billy King. This concert was part of the popular Blacksmith Shop Concert Series, now in its third season. A prelude to the concert was a dance lesson provided by Greta VanDoren, teaching dances commonly found in Cajun dance halls of Louisiana.

“We are making history tonight at the Blacksmith Shop,” Mark Palms said as the concert began, with a nod to the Manchester Area Historical Society, who graciously host the Blacksmith Shop series. “I believe that tonight is probably the first time ever that there has been Cajun dancing here in this building.”

Close to 50 people danced, sang, and toe-tapped their way through the evening of enjoyable musicianship.

These events and more to come, are part of a year-end drive to raise $10,000 by Dec. 31 to support each of the RMAO programs:  the summer Gazebo Concerts, winter Blacksmith Shop Concerts and the year-around Cultural Arts Strings program with $3,300 each to support ongoing musical opportunities within the Manchester community.

Riverfolk Music and Arts Organization is fortunate to be a recipient of the Creative Economic Impact award from the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation for the third year in a row. They are also grateful to the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs (MCACA), and Arts Alliance for grants they have received, enabling them to continue providing high-quality music throughout the year. “Matching support from the community in the form of ticket sales, programming fees, and sponsorships/donations positions us as a viable organization for future grants,” adds Aileen Rohwer, RMAO board member.

Donations are accepted online at or by mail at PO Box 146, Manchester, MI 48158.

More upcoming events throughout the holiday season and beyond, include sponsoring music at the Thursday Pop Up Markets (Nov. 30, Dec. 7 & 14); Christmas In the Village appearances by CAS students during the day and a performance by the Dodworth-Saxhorn Band (who presented a concert at the Gazebo this summer for the Sesquicentennial Celebration), at the tree lighting ceremony at the gazebo at 7 pm. The Dodworth Duo will also be sponsored by Riverfolk to attend the Manchester Area Historical Society Christmas Sing-a-Long at 7 pm on Dec. 14.

The next Blacksmith Shop concert is set for 7:30 pm on January 27, featuring gypsy jazz by The Royal Garden Trio.

Riverfolk thanks the Manchester community for its generous support of all of these amazing programs!

House concert headliners, The Palooka Brothers, brought their versatile string sounds to the Nov. 17 fund-raiser for RMAO.

Alden & Tomas started the evening house concert with heartfelt string music.

Charly Markwart’s easy sounds and complex lyrics provided a great interlude at the RMAO fund-raising house concert.

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