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‘The Roaring 20s to Swing' opens June 15 at Museum L-A

LEWISTON – Live Jazz by The Steve Grover Quartet will launch “The Roaring 20s to Swing,” Museum L-A’s next exhibit in the Power of Music exhibit series. The Opening Reception begins at 2 p.m. on Saturday, June 15 and will include special honors for 97-year-old Carroll Poulin, whose significant contributions to music education and appreciation in Lewiston-Auburn have helped sustain music in the community to the present day.

This exhibit will cover one of the most fascinating and turbulent times in American history, when Jazz emerged as the first national, musical movement and spread throughout the country.  The rise of Jazz was bolstered by the concurrent evolution of music, technology and dance, while the Great Depression, Women’s Suffrage, Prohibition, World Wars I and II, and the 1918 Influenza epidemic left significant imprints on American culture and its music.

The effect of so many profound changes in American society gave rise to a “moral panic.” “Everything that went on in the 1920s was rebellious - from cultural, artistic and social perspectives,” said Kevin Callahan, chair of the Museum’s Exhibit Committee. “You’ve got a lot of deaths from the War and Influenza and women changing their roles in society.” The younger generation of the day rejected Victorian mores and “developed new attitudes toward music, sexuality, and daily life,” added Dale Chapman, Associate Professor of Music at Bates College and a member of the Museum’s Exhibit Committee. “At the same time, this youth revolt provoked a backlash among older generations. The implementation of Prohibition in 1920 was their response to a culture that they saw as having spiraled out of control.


“In the midst of this environment, there emerged a new music, Chapman said. “Jazz, with its driving rhythms, interwoven melodies, and challenging new sounds, was grounded in a spirit of improvisation, and came to represent the spirit of the age.

These themes and others, in their local and wider contexts, will be explored and introduced during the course of the exhibition, which is slated to run through April 2014. “We are presenting this exhibit in a new way for us,” said Rachel Desgrosseilliers, Museum L-A’s Executive Director.  “We will be rolling it out over time – beginning with the 1920s and early 1930s then moving into the World War II era with Big Band and Swing as the exhibit goes on,” she continued.

And, rumor has it that something new and extra-special will be coming to town soon as part of this exhibit. Details are remaining “hush-hush” for now, but will be revealed to those attending the June 15 event.

Museum L-A again invites the community to be “co-curators” by contributing their own music-related photographs from the 1920s - 1940s and the stories behind them.  “This is a great way to continue to involve the community and it helps us share the local history of this era,” said Kate Griffith, Museum L-A’s Exhibit Coordinator.

Poulin, who was born in 1916, operated Carroll’s Music Store for many years, first in Auburn, then in Lewiston, repaired instruments, taught generations of youngsters and helped establish many school bands. Poulin and his saxophone were active in local bands and orchestras over the years. He had his own bands and orchestras and played with the Fenton Brothers, Lloyd Rafnell, Cliff Lachance and many others.

Grover is a drummer and composer who was born in Lewiston and began studying with local jazz drummer Dick Demers. He notes that his first two drum sets and cymbals were purchased at Carroll’s Music Store when it was on Court Street in Auburn. After attending Berklee College of Music and the University of Maine, Steve played with guitar legend Lenny Breau periodically from 1978-82, learning from a master musician. As a jazz drummer, Grover has performed with many high profile jazz musicians, as well as with long-time colleagues. He is currently on faculty at the University of Maine at Augusta. Joining Grover as members of the Quartet are Marcia Gallagher, Tony Gaboury and Tom Bucci.

This exhibit is being made possible through the generosity of Museum supporters including Electricity Maine, Center Street Dental, and Rinck Advertising.

Meeting regularly with Museum staff to plan The Power of Music exhibit series are Kevin Callahan (committee chair), Chapman, Ed Boucher, Jim Brown, Mark Silber, Ralph Tuttle and Ted Walworth. For more information contact Museum L-A at 207-333-3881 or info@museumla.org.

Museum L-A is located at 35 Canal Street, Lewiston at the corner of Canal and Chestnut streets. Free parking is available on weekends in nearby municipal garages on Canal and Chestnut streets. There will be no admission fee to attend the June 15 reception. Regular museum hours are from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is $5 adults and $4 for seniors and students. For more information call 207-333-3881 or visit www.museumla.org.