By WILLIAM PAINE
For The Patriot
For the first time ever, the Fine Arts Center for the New River Valley held its First Friday’s concert event at the Max on Main coffee shop on Pulaski’s West Main Street. The interior of the new coffee house/restaurant treats the customer to a remarkably imaginative décor, which relies heavily on dissembled wooden pallets.
Max on Main is conveniently located just across the street from the Fine Arts Center for the NRV and more convenient still is their stage, which is located at the window facing the street.
It’s no wonder then how the FAC decided to expand their First Fridays musical offerings to the coffee shop across the street.
The featured performer for the Friday, Nov. 5 event was Jim Lloyd, who played the banjo, guitar and an antique accordion during his lively show. Lloyd was accompanied by his wife, Angeline who took the first seat at the front of the stage and smiled at her hubby throughout his performance.
As one might expect, many in the audience were linked to the Fine Arts Center, including the new FAC Director Becky Lattuca, FAC President John Ross, longtime board member Donia Eley, county supervisor Joe Guthrie and Carol Smith, who organized this First Fridays event.
What kind of music does Lloyd play?
“Well, I’ve been told it’s dyslexic … or eclectic, but I think they’d qualify me more as Americana than anything else,” said Lloyd.
There were a goodly number of board members/instructors of the Greater Pulaski Junior Appalachian Musicians (GRAPeJAM) in attendance at this First Friday’s event, as well.
This stands to reason, as the music that these GRAPeJAM instructors are teaching their students is not dissimilar to the tunes that Jim Lloyd sung and played in his performance. Perhaps even more importantly, Lloyd works as the Program Director for all 55 Junior Appalachian Musicians (JAM) organizations.
The pandemic effectively shut down the JAM program, which teaches children how to play traditional Appalachian music with traditional Appalachian instruments. The Greater Pulaski Junior Appalachian Musicians (GRAPEJAM) is one of the few JAM programs that has again begun instruction.
“We’re beginning to get moving again after the shutdown,” said Lloyd of the JAM program. “Your Pulaski County JAM got started again and we’re hoping to get everybody online soon. Hopefully we’ll start up the Wytheville JAM program by the first of the year.”
When the Wytheville JAM program starts up again, Lloyd intends to teach students to play banjo, guitar and fiddle, as that organization’s sole instructor.
Jim Lloyd, who played from 6 till 8 that evening with only a brief intermission, kept the crowd engaged with his expert musicianship and his trademark witty banter between songs.
By the end of the show, the crowd was well pleased to have heard Lloyd’s one of a kind performance at Max on Main, the latest business to open on Pulaski’s revitalized Main drag.
‘The acoustics are good and the crowd was great,” said Lloyd of his Friday evening venture to downtown Pulaski. “Good company and good food. You can’t beat any of that. It’s a wonderful place to play.”