EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

August 1, 2013

The sounds of a celebration

Close to 100 groups perform music during Yankee Homecoming

NEWBURYPORT — Today is “Americana” day on the three music stages of Yankee Homecoming, save for the fact that Beatlejuice, which plays Brit covers, is performing at night on the waterfront.

So be it. Close to 100 groups will have played here this week, and somehow it all seems to blend into a “something for everyone” experience.

“We have a wide range, with more professional musicians than in past years,” said Connie Salerno, a volunteer and music instructor who manages the ambitious schedule. “With professionals there are fewer cancellations, and we haven’t had to plug in too many groups.

“Many bands are getting used to coming here, and they like Newburyport as a destination. They are great to come and perform.”

Music is a key feature of Yankee Homecoming, in part because it’s free. Tunes emanate from 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day on Inn Street, Market Square and on the waterfront stage.

The term “free” is the operative term because listeners aren’t charged and (day) performers do not receive paychecks. Those playing the night session on the waterfront are recompensed.

One group that appeared to enjoy its session yesterday was Cuppa Joe, a collection of musicians associated with the Musical Suite at the Tannery.

“Playing outdoors with the sunshine and a little breeze is a great thing,” said Chuck Walker, who heads the talented swing and blues band.

The band is playing tonight from 7 to 10 at Andiamo Restaurant on Winter Street, he said.

Assigned to the Market Square venue yesterday was Paul Prue, a veteran blues guitarist who performed songs from the ’30s (Robert Johnson) to the ’70s (protest tunes from the demonstrations against the nuclear plant at Seabrook).

“I started at the Grog four decades ago, and I consider Newburyport my second home,” said Prue, an engaging musician who runs summer music presentations in Bradford.

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