FAIR HAVEN – Everyone loves a good cover song, but for those hungry to hear something new, there’s an upcoming new music series focused on showcasing original works.
It all starts Friday at the Scotch Hill Brewing Company with local singer-songwriter and music teacher Phil Henry.
The series is the brainchild of George Nostrand, a popular local musician, former Rutland Herald employee and owner of A Sound Space in Rutland.
“I just had a really good vibe when I walked through the door,” he said of Scotch Hill Brewing, located at 71 Main St. “I got to meet the owners and to talk to them a bit, and I’m just a shameless promoter, so I couldn’t help but think this would be a really good place to have some live music.
Scotch Hill is owned by Jon Meigs and Rachel Meigs who have spent several years preparing the space, fusing Jon’s love for craft beer with Rachel’s interest in historic renovations.
“The timing was perfect,” said Rachel Meigs. “We played George last Friday and it went very well. We had already started the conversation about the possibility of having other musicians and his show has just confirmed it to us.
Nostrand said musical acts playing in taprooms, bars, pubs and beer halls often play cover songs to please crowds and throw their original tunes here and there to see how well they’re doing. This series will encourage original songs.
“I have nothing against people doing covers because that’s how I make a living most of the time,” he said. “I just think talking with (the owners) and looking at the small space and just thinking about the needs and the opportunities, I thought it would be a good chance to have musicians writing original material for give them a chance to show it off in a comfortable space and encourage them to go out and do their business.
Nostrand said one of his mentors once told him that the best way to release an original song was to play it and then, depending on the crowd reaction, mention that it was an original song. or not.
“I’ve been doing this for a long time, and even I get nervous when I try an original in different places,” he said. “And usually they go very well.”
Henry, the first in the series, is also a music teacher and lives in West Rutland.
“He’s an amazing singer-songwriter, he’s won a lot of awards, he’s traveled and he’s kind of a little-known secret around here,” Nostrand said. “I worked with him on many projects. He released a record not too long ago, which is cool. He’s a really good storyteller. His songs tell a story and paint a picture. He’s the first person I thought of when I thought about doing this series.
Nostrand himself will play at Scotch Hill on May 20. Before him, on May 13, it will be Breanna Elaine. Nostrand said he mentored her on the business side of the music industry at A Sound Space.
“She’s feisty, a really good singer-songwriter who can definitely get along with anyone and works hard to get out there and do her thing, and she does a lot of originals,” Nostrand said.
Krishna Guthrie, grandson of Arlo Guthrie, who has made a name for himself in the region, will play on May 27.
Nostrand said the live music scene is steadily recovering from the pandemic. People want to go out and hear live performances allowing places like Scotch Hill to take inspiration from the small towns in the area.
“The only challenge I’ve seen is that it’s still hard for bands to come out. I think people are a bit shy about paying money for bigger bands” , Nostrand said. Venues are also closing earlier.
“I think there’s a lot of desire to see live music, and a place like Scotch Hill is a great place where families can come and people can meet their friends there, they can chat and it’s a relaxing atmosphere. It fits well with what I’m trying to do,” Nostrand said.