Stone Soup Concerts was set up in 2010 by Susan Savia to give small audiences a chance to listen to a wide variety of musicians in an intimate setting. Savia—a professional solo acoustic singer and instrumentalist herself—set up the series within four months of moving to Wilmington. This week Richard Smith and his wife, conservatory trained cellist Julie Adams, will hit the stage with the Stone Soup Concerts for their third time.
Savia first started the series after trying to expose Wilmington to Swedish blues performer Robert Lighthouse. She quickly found herself against a brick wall in finding a concert promoter to agree to host the singer. This prompted Savia to upstart her own venture to help promote new talent in our port city. Thus far Stone Soup has been quite successful, and takes place a couple of times throughout the year. Many performers even return for an encore.
Savia has introduced tribute concerts and songwriter showcases, featuring acts like Sol Roots, Kate Gaffney, The Alexandria Kleztet, Rupert Wates, Grenoldo Frazier SupperClub, Greg Trooper, Angela Easterling, Roy Zimmerman, Danny Ellis, and Jay Ungar and Molly Mason Family Band.
Adams and Smith will be performing in the MC Erny Gallery at WHQR studios on January 17th. “Feedback [for them] has been extremely positive during and after every show,” Savia details. “Everyone leaves their concerts inspired, delighted and in awe of their talent and performance. I have a gentleman who drives his family up from Murrells Inlet, SC, to see them.”
Savia became aware of the duo through a friend who works as an entertainment consultant, and invited them to Wilmington in 2011. “Being a musician, when I heard their music, I was blown away,” she enthuses.
Adams, who grew up in Ohio, trained at the Interlochen Center for the Arts and the Cincinnati Conservatory. After Adams’ sister started playing, sibling rivalry set in; she wanted to prove she, too, could be a musician. “I soon took a shine to the [cello’s] sound in general,” she says. In the late ‘90s, Adams performed in orchestras in some of the major cities in North America, and later branched into folk music and Nashville session-playing.
Smith, from Kent, England, has been finger-picking the guitar since age 5. As well, he has performed with some of his early influences, such as, Chet Atkins, Les Paul and Mark O’Connor.
Smith and Adams met in 1999 at the Chet Atkins appreciation society convention in Nashville, a yearly event that Smith had been performing at since 1991. The two got married and decided to combine their music.
“The cello adds some nice low end to what I already do,” Smith explains. “But it can soar on a melody, or play great harmony or counter-melody to what I’m doing.”
The two fused a mix of Adams’ eclectic lyrical style and Smith’s guitar-picking technique. For their upcoming performance, the duo will play a mix, from Bach to Scott Joplin, swing, fiddle and pop tunes.
“Hopefully [the audience not only] goes home inspired, but has a fun evening of foot-tapping music among other things,” Smith expresses.
According to Smith, their favorite part of any show is interaction with the crowds. It leads to magic moments and reactions as they play certain tunes or licks. Also, Savia enjoys watching Stone Soup audiences connect to new sounds and performers.
“I appreciate the opportunity to offer a smaller, intimate, listening-room performance for mature audiences and discerning musical tastes,” she tells. “[Stone Soup offers] a place for these musicians to be heard.”
Smith and Adams have won many awards for their work over the years and thus far have released two albums together. Smith received the Winfield national finger-picking championship, Thumbpicker of the Year, induction into the Thumpicker’s Hall of Fame and the Golden Thumbpick award. Adams was the winner of the Cincinnati conservatory cello competition.
The upcoming performance by Richard Smith and Julie Adams at WHQR is limited to 65 seats only. No talking is allowed during the show and no ear plugs are needed. Savia encourages people of all ages to attend the concert series to experience “the finest and highest caliber of music,” not to mention free desserts during the intervals.DETAILS:
Richard Smith and Julie Adams
WHQR Studio’s MC Erny Gallery
254 N. Front Street, Suite 300
Fri., Jan. 17th, 7 p.m.