Becket’s own Bobby Sweet, the singer-songwriter and violin maker, will be appearing with his BSweet Band in a special concert to benefit the Becket Arts Center on Saturday, September 9, 8 pm. The concert is taking place at Papa Bob’s, the newly redecorated bar and eatery at 71 Chester Road. Tickets are $25 per couple, $15 for an individual.
“We are thrilled that Bobby is coming to sing for us,” said Concert chair Ruth Rosenthal of Sherwood Forest. “His appearance will help us make the repairs that our Becket Arts Center so badly needs, and will help us complete the wonderful new chair lift we are installing this fall to take folks who can’t make the stairs swiftly and safely up to the second floor gallery.”
Sweet comes from a family filled with musicians. His great grandfather “Pop” Sweet was a fiddler and square dance caller and a locally famous storyteller in the Hilltowns. Recognized as a true master of American roots music, Pop played for FDR at Constitution Hall and hobnobbed with Serge Koussevitsky, conductor of the Boston Symphony and founder of Tanglewood. He taught the Virginia Reel to the great poet Edna St. Vincent Millay as well as to Ted Shawn, the classical dancer and founder of Jacob’s Pillow.
Bobby’s grandfather and his late father, Robert, continued the family musical tradition.
“I started singing with my Dad’s band when I was 7,” Bobby recalled. “My sisters Deb and Tina sang with him, too. I remember falling asleep to the sound of the music and the people clapping along. I’d wake up when the band was packing up and Dad was carrying me out to the car. I was one of those lucky kids who had a house full of musicians jamming all the time. A lot of them are gone now. But they are still my heroes.”
All through those singing Sweet generations, the Becket Arts Center has stood as a cultural center for the town of Becket, a performance space, an exhibition hall, a place for learning. Bobby learned woodworking through an Arts Center program, a skill that underscores his success as a violinmaker. And it was at the Arts Center that he developed his gift for playing the guitar. Now an established entertainer who sings with his own band and often with Arlo Guthrie, who has written songs for TV soundtracks and who has seven albums to his credit, Bobby Sweet still cherishes his memories of fun and music in the venerable old building at 7 Brooker Hill Road.
“My most vivid memory of the Becket Arts Center comes from the years when they used to host the Halloween parties there,” Bobby said. “I guess that I was 6 or 7 years old. They had a haunted house, bobbing for apples, costume judging. In one of the contests, all of us kids lined up next to each other on our hands and knees with a marshmallow on the floor in front of us. I was wearing a leopard costume, with a long tail. At the sound of the whistle, we had to push the marshmallow, using only our noses, the full length of the gallery upstairs. And I won! Man, did I feel cool!”
“Bobby Sweet and the Becket Arts Center are both cultural icons in our town,” said Ruth Rosenthal. “They kind of go together naturally. And we love his music!”
Tickets for the September 9th concert may be purchased by calling 413-623-6635 or 413-238-1060.