Music series

Sauquoit’s Free Thursday Night Music Series Features Pepper & Sassafras

The Thursday Night Music Series at the Paris Hill Barn and Café in Sauquoit continues July 14 with the spicy American sounds of Pepper and Sassafras.

The duo features the masterful guitar work of Jeffrey Pepper Rodgers with multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Wendy Sassafras Ramsay adding flute, clarinet, guitar, accordion and her own original original songs to the ensemble. Rodgers won the grand prize in the international competition John Lennon Songwriting Contest in 2008, with his country-winning song “Fly” – although he admits he never really considered himself a country songwriter. He is also the founding editor of “Acoustic Guitar” magazine.

Based in Fayetteville, Pepper and Sassafras were finalists for Best Duo at the 2015 FreshGrass Festival in Massachusetts and were featured on the public radio show “Folk Alley.” They’ve taken their energizing folk-rock on the road to venues across the Northeast, including Club Passim in Massachusetts, Ripton Community Coffee House in Vermont, Stolz Listening Room in Maryland, and the Turtle Hill Folk Festival near of Rochester.

“We’re an American duo with a much more diverse sound than you’d expect, with close harmonies and an instrumental mix of acoustic guitar, clarinet, flute, accordion, strumstick and more,” Rodgers said. “The setlist will certainly include the latest single, ‘Hippie Hair (for the First Time)’ – a true story of the pandemic.”

He complimented Ramsay as a “fantastic harmony singer” who adds so many sweet instrumental colors and is a live wire on stage keeping him on his toes.

All concerts in the weekly summer music series take place from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Admission is free, but the series is funded by donations from the public.

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Rodgers said he loved both the audience and the atmosphere.

“The barn audience has been so warm and responsive and the hall has a special rustic elegance to it,” he said. “We feel lucky to have found this place off the beaten path and connected with its community.”

“There are plenty of tables and chairs inside, or bring a chair and sit outside,” added concert series publicist Paul Chard, who launched the series this season as one half of the show. Soulshine duet with Betsy Laporte. “Pop’s Kitchen food truck will be operating at 5:30 p.m. and you can still bring your own food, snacks and legal drinks.”

There is also a paid snack bar, the proceeds of which are donated to Three Steeples United. The Paris Hill Barn and Café is located behind Three Steeples United at 2817 Old Route 12 in Sauquoit.

Mike Jaquays is the community reporter for the Mid-York Weekly. Email him at[email protected].