Fiddlers Fill Downtown During Maplewood ArtsWalk
Friday night in Maplewood was for fiddlers—with an occasional guitarist and banjo player thrown in for good measure—as the city celebrated autumn with ArtsWalk.
Residents who strolled through downtown Maplewood during the city's annual ArtsWalk were treated to a new twist on the event.
Fiddlers, guitarists and banjoists serenaded visitors on street corners, in front of shops and in restaurants. The city partnered with the Folk School of St. Louis to present Maplewood Fiddle Fest, which featured the school's own students. The Folk School offers educational programs and classes that teach traditional music and folk arts.
On Manchester Road, Steve Manion of Villa Ridge, a former student of the school, was fiddling up a storm with banjo players Eric Pitts and Mick McCutheon of Manchester.
McCutheon played down his and Pitts' roles in the trio.
"We're just backing up the fiddler," he laughed.
John Joyce of Chesterfield fiddled away in front of shops in the 2900 block of Sutton Boulevard. Visitors stopped to listen as he pressed the bow across the strings to the tune "Step Around Johnny." Ellen Welch of Pasadena Park accompanied him on the guitar. Both are Folk School students.
Lois Clay Quest and her husband Don Quest, Webster Groves residents who both take classes at Folk School, stopped by to enjoy the music and support the home team.
Further down the block Floyd and the Barbers, and a couple of guest musicians, were holding court with their tuneful bluegrass, folk and acoustic sounds in front of Gisele, a shop owned by Brenda Wolf, bass player Tom Wolf's wife.
During a break, one of the band members confided that guitarist and vocalist Matthew Mahaffey is a public defender by day and a picker by night.
"You never know when one of these guys might need one," Mahaffey quipped.
But not everyone walked through downtown for music Friday night. Others came for ArtsWalk, the periodic evening when central business district shops and restaurants welcome visitors with art, activities and specials.
Inside Taylor Maulin and Associates, photographer Steve Maulin was snapping photos of visitors under his professional lighting set-up and emailing them the photos afterwards.
Maulin said it was his fifth time working the festival. He used to simply discuss his photography with visitors, but he's tried something new for the past two years.
"I thought, 'Be more exciting, Steve,'" Maulin said. "People really have a good time with it, and they like it when I email it (the photo) to them."
Maulin was about to shoot a photo of Debbie and Matt Carter of Maplewood when Robert George of Robert George Fine Art Photography wandered in to visit with Maulin. He ended up helping pose the couple.
Marjie Brammeier of Maplewood was enjoying the evening with her sister Sally Ahsmuhs and mother Jean Ahsmuhs, both of south St. Louis County.
Brammeier has attended previous ArtsWalks, and wanted to introduce the event to her family.
"There's more music in the street than I remember before," she said.
Over at Roots Antiques, sister co-owners Nancy Kassabaum, Penny Dryer and Patti Brightfield were joking with their customers and enjoying the evening.
"It's a wonderful night," Kassabaum said. "It's really fun."
The sisters had sent out their own advertisement to their customers offering a sale that night.
Customer Vicki Lander of Clayton, shopping with her husband Jack Oglander, was thrilled with her purchases—a vase that used to be an old-fashioned inkwell and a vintage dresser scarf with hand-embroider cross-stitch design on it—both for the bargain price of $3.20.
Some people visited for the ArtsWalk, while others came for the Fiddle Fest, but everyone enjoyed the rousing good time and the unseasonably mild weather that the evening provided.