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Arts in the Middle fine art festival due June 3-4

Arts in the Middle, Hewick Lane

MIDDLESEX—Chocolates and champagne, does that sound enticing? Well, add that to the work of 100 juried artists, quality musicians and talented foodies for Arts in the Middle (AIM), Middlesex County’s spring fine arts festival. This year’s 3rd annual event will take place on Saturday and Sunday, June 3-4, on the grounds of the bucolic 17th Century estate, Hewick Plantation, on Old Virginia Street near the waterfront village of Urbanna. Old oaks shade the artists’ displays, and large tents provide visitors with seating and shaded areas for food, drink and listening to music.

AIM is again drawing artists from all along the eastern seaboard. “That talent brings art lovers and festival fans from northern and western Virginia to see the creativity, hear quality music, and taste local cuisine,” said AIM chair Celane Roden. “Our own area artists, professionals and students, also are part of the show, adding to the enjoyment.”

Middlesex Economic Development Coordinator Michelle Brown said, “Visitors and artists help the local economy through shopping in our stores and visiting restaurants, which in turn contributes to our tax base. It’s also true that once visitors see our beautiful area they are more likely to come again.”

The show will be open to the public 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday. Signs directing visitors to Hewick will be placed along area roads, and Middlesex Kiwanis Club volunteers will aid in parking in an adjacent lot, a short stroll from the action. A trolley will shuttle visitors between the show site and nearby Urbanna for those wishing to shop and dine. More details are at

Volunteers from throughout Middlesex spend months planning and producing the show with financial support from the Virginia Commission for the Arts, Middlesex County and individual donors.

Popular local musician Clayton Neal has arranged a lineup of 10 musical groups ranging from “funky blues” to “Celtic classical.” The music has a fascinating professional family lilt with four separate duos: a mother-daughter, a husband-wife, and two father-daughters.

Local musician lines up sounds for Arts in the Middle festival
MIDDLESEX—Organizers of the Arts in the Middle fine arts show on Saturday and Sunday, June 3-4, at Hewick Plantation near Urbanna called on Clayton Neal, the popular and long-established musician of Middlesex County and the region, to produce a variable and enjoyable music program. 

On a small stage near the center of the long, oak-lined drive entering Hewick will be Jeff and Sherry Wagner, an Americana duo from Richmond; Paige Melton of Shacklefords, a soloist in the Judy Collins /Joni Mitchell tradition; Amy Henderson, a folk singer-songwriter from Richmond; and Neal himself.

Local musician Clayton Neal put together an excellent lineup of bands and solo performers for this year’s festival.
An intriguing mix is promised by from “Spencer and Beane,” a Celtic and classical fusion duo that combine the timbers of violin, guitar, tin whistle, viola and voice in original arrangements. The Kilmarnock residents’ broad repertoire ranges from Gregorian Chant to Vivaldi to living composers.

Groups on a larger stage near the historic plantation house will include Richmond’s sophisticated “Monument City Jazz Trio”; the “Something Different Duo” from Gloucester playing a mix of blues, bluegrass and pop; the Northern Neck’s “Itchy Dog” playing funky blues; and the “Just Us” pop musicians from Urbanna.

An unusual aspect of the art show’s music is the number of relatives: The Wagners are married; Paige Melton will sometimes join her father Randy as “The Meltones”; Something Different is a father-daughter duo; and Just Us is a mother-daughter team. Perfect for a family outing.

Something Different is a duo of Brad Sindle and his daughter, Ashley Wenner. The pair takes its name from their method of adding variety to their show. Their songs vary not only in genre, style and era, but also in instrumentation. They range from the occasional a-cappella song, to synthesizer numbers that “pull out all the stops.”

Itchy Dog combines a mix of carefully selected covers along with their own original material featuring Joe Merolli on guitar, Jimmy Gallon on bass and Art DeMario on drums.

Visit for specific times the musical groups will be performing.

Arts in the Middle is from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. on June 3 and 10 a.m.-3 p.m. on June 4.

posted 05.25.2017

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