Vermont’s troubadour opens Old Firehouse series

By JANELLE FAIGNANT
Arts Correspondent

“As eclectic as it gets,” Jon Gailmor said, describing his musical style. Folk, rock, country western, Motown — he writes and plays them all.

“Music that grabs me, I grab it in return,” Gailmor said. “My own tastes are varied because I get bored with one style of music.”

Gailmour, 69, has five CDs out and is well known for not just his music, but his way of helping others through it. At 7:30 p.m. Friday you can hear him in person, as he opens the Old Firehouse Concert Series in Tinmouth as the headlining act.

Gailmor’s original songs are marked with the whimsy of childish illogic, humor, and often profound feelings, like the lyrics of his song “Long Ago Lady,” an ode to Vermont: “For the freedom she shares with the souls of the land, where the gentle belong, where to feel is to be strong.”

A professional musician since 1972, Gailmor sang in bars for many years, and after one night in particular of what he calls “childish and immature” songs, he was asked to consider singing for kids.

“I said I could try,” Gailmor said, and it opened the door to his artist-in-residence gig, teaching students from preschool through college how to write songs, what he calls a “natural instinct.” He was once even hired to be the final exam at a college, in which students wrote a song about European history.

“Every time I sing (people) come up to me saying, ‘You came to my school when I was in third grade and we wrote the song about so and so,’” Gailmor said. “That means a lot. They’ve done so many studies on how it enhances the brain for kids to be exposed to the arts; test scores are higher.”

“I feel very fortunate to have discovered my purpose on earth,” he said. “To sing to people and help kids discover themselves. I always wished I’d had someone who came in when I was in school. There was no such thing as an artist-in-residence.”

Nelson Jaquay, 73, a Tinmouth resident and part of the production committee for the concert series said, “I had Jon for my 60th and 70th birthdays. We’re glad he’s coming; this is his first firehouse concert.”

The Old Firehouse Concert Series has been running for almost 20 years now and Jaquay says it has developed an audience.

“We never have to hunt for people because people come to us,” Jaquay said. “We try to have half of our groups crowd favorites, and the other half new acts, and people from all over New England and further.”

“We started the fire department in this old building 50 years ago this year,” Jaquay said. “When we built the new building, the old one sat empty for a number of years. (After) it was put back together we discovered it had amazingly good acoustics. Which was not planned, but we’ve had a number of bands do live recordings there because it’s so good.”

Gailmor’s show is for all ages. “Prenatal through prehistoric,” he joked. “It’s family oriented. I know I’m not singing in a bar so I’m not going to be suggestive or naughty … although I do have that in my repertoire.”

Performances are at 7:30 p.m. at The Old Firehouse, Mountain View Road and Vt. Route 140, in Tinmouth. Admission is by donation ($10-$15 suggested); go online to www.tinmouthvt.org/events or www.facebook.com/TinmouthOldFirehouseConcerts. Homemade desserts, coffee and tea will be available.

 

Janelle Faignant

Janelle Faignant is a freelance writer living in Rutland.

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