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Claremont had a banner year in arts and entertainment

Arts and culture were once again in abundance around Claremont this year.

In January, acclaimed local singer/songwriter Rick Shea returned to the Folk Music Center for an intimate acoustic showcase of his distinct California influences of norteños, country, blues and Irish tunes.

In February, longtime Claremont resident Myrlie Evers-Williams, 84, widow of Civil Rights pioneer Medgar Evers, appeared  at her alma mater, Pomona College. We also reported on a lively give-and-take between Ms. Evers-Williams and Amanda Hollis-Brusky, associate professor of politics at Pomona College.

In March the COURIER sat down with Claremont Graduate University alum Becca Spence Dobias, who talked about the upcoming publication of her first novel, Rock of Ages.

April saw the release of Ellen Harper’s “Light Has a Life of its Own,” her sophomore album. The proprietor of Claremont’s Folk Music Center delves eloquently into the various stages of love and desire, or lack thereof, as well as the music industry, and even a plea for decent music at her own funeral on the disc.

Also in May, roots music royals Dave Alvin and the Guilty Ones sat atop the bill at the 34th annual Claremont Folk Festival at Pomona College’s Sontag Theater.

On a gorgeous June evening, the Los Angeles-based husband and wife country duo The Mastersons played Levitt on the Lawn at Scripps College, highlighting their new record, “Transient Lullaby.”

Claremont Museum of Art’s exhibit, “Intersecting at the Edge: Karl Benjamin, Heather Gwen Martin and Eric Zammitt,” a tribute to the late Mr. Benjamin’s ongoing influence, opened in July.

Pop and rock singer/songwriter Louise Goffin came to Claremont July 14. The daughter of Carole King of “Tapestry” fame, and the late Gerry Goffin, a legendary lyricist (“The Loco-Motion,” “Will You Love Me Tomorrow,” “Take Good Care of My Baby,” and more than 100 other hits),  played a well-received house concert.

In August, the COURIER profiled Myles Mellor, 67, one of the world’s most successful crossword puzzle writers. Mr. Mellor is syndicated in about 100 newspapers and is published regularly in some 100 magazines. He’s written puzzles for more than 600 magazines and published 45 puzzle books The COURIER was among the very first newspapers to run his puzzles.

Wckr Spgt, an ever-evolving conceptual art project that has veered off on innumerable tangents, was profiled in August in front of a show at The Press. The band that is so much more than a band got its start in 1982, right here in Claremont.

With summer in the homestretch, we talked to 28-year professor of environmental analysis at Claremont’s Pitzer College Paul Faulstich, whose research engages ecological concepts and translates them through art and digital media in a multidisciplinary approach called “visual anthropology.” He has installed about a dozen remotely operated trail cameras in and around the Claremont foothills and has caught images of a host of wildlife.

Writer, editor, cultural historian and critic Greil Marcus was in town September 13 for a free lecture as part of Pomona College’s “Fail Better” series. Mr. Marcus spoke on “How Failure Makes History.”

With fall around the corner, The Claremont Colleges Library hosted a festival celebrating renowned avant-garde composer John Cage. Mr. Cage attended Pomona College from 1928 to 1930, and is considered one of the most influential composers of the 20th century.

Performers included British experimental/improvisational pianist Tania Chen; former Sonic Youth guitarist and songwriter Thurston Moore; London College of Communication professor and member of minimalist 1970s pop group The Flying Lizards, David Toop; and Jon Leidecker, aka Wobbly, respected San Francisco experimental musician and composer.

In October we reported on a new music venue, the Canyon Club, which will soon open its doors at the Montclair Place mall. The club will boast a $1 million audio/video system and have a capacity of 1,300.

Local Native American flutist and songwriter Steve Rushingwind won his third Native American Music Award October 12 at the Seneca Niagara Resort and Casino in Niagara Falls, New York.

Dazzling guitarist and “songster” Jim Kweskin, 78, played Claremont’s Folk Music Center November 3, and had the capacity crowd in his hand with his endearingly folksy songs and stories.

Later that month the Folk Music Center celebrated its 60th anniversary with a rollicking party that saw performances by a number of performers, including owner Ben Harper, his mother Ellen, Chris Darrow and others.

Former Pitzer College student Tom Freund, now 50, returned to the scene of his musical awakening for a December show at the Folk that leaned heavily on his latest, “East of Lincoln.” Local percussionist Ray McNamara and Lucinda Williams’ drummer, Butch Norton, joined him.

The new year promises to be another eventful one for arts and entertainment in Claremont, and as always, the COURIER will be there keep you in the know. Happy New Year!

—Mick Rhodes

mickrhodes@claremont-courier.com