With live music, sound carries into the air and disappears forever. Unless of course someone has a video camera and a good set of microphones. In that case, the music — the moment — lasts, and can be revisited again and again.
Forrest Marquisee, a 25-year-old local musician and video producer, sits at a desk in his Forest Floor Studios down Gid Brown Hollow Road, rewinding and combining snippets of video from two cameras, and laying them over a live recording from Dos Allen’s jazz trio recorded just hours earlier.
Forrest’s newest camera was purchased using money from a Claudia Mitchell Art Fund grant he received from the Rappahannock Association for Arts and the Community (RAAC). The $3,000 granted from RAAC on behalf of the fund will finance the filming, recording and production of a handful of music videos for local musicians — at no cost to the musician.
“In performance it is really fun and impossible to try and create the same set of circumstances and produce the exact same sound or feeling over and over,” Forrest said, taking a break from editing, relaxing in a rocking chair on the front porch of his recording studio, which sits in the heart of the forest at river’s edge. “I don’t think you can play the same thing twice. And that’s why making recordings is so much fun, because you can capture a set of circumstances and listen to it as many time as you want. You can slow down or speed up time and really study something, when it is recorded.”
RAAC established the Mitchell Fund in 2009, from a bequest by the late, longtime RAAC president’s estate.
“Mitchell had been president of RAAC for many years — a very strong supporter of helping artists, both professional artists and emerging artists. So this was the nucleus for us to get started,” RAAC president Joanne Hilty said, noting that Mitchell inspired her to become involved with RAAC when Hilty moved to Rappahannock 14 years ago.
“We’re excited about this fund because we can help — particularly the emerging artists — guiding them, perhaps in some instances, to various places where they’re trying to enrich their particular abilities, and helping them, financially, to receive extra training and exposure to various artists,” Hilty said. “The more exposure we get, the more that some of these young artists who are working their craft and want to do better will see these opportunities to come to us and ask for a grant.”
Forrest — who plays guitar for the Goldtop County Ramblers, and writes, sings and plays guitar in his newest band, Madonnas in a Field — submitted a grant application to RAAC last spring, defining his idea to make videos capturing live performances by local musicians playing original music.
“In Rappahannock County there are so many talented musicians that no one really knows about, or maybe people in Rappahannock know about, but the rest of the world doesn’t know about them,” Forrest said. “So we could make these videos, and then have a place where people can see them, showing off the talent in Rappahannock County. But also the idea is to set them in different places in Rappahannock that are scenic.”
Forrest expressed his excitement that local-grown Kiaya Abernathy and her dad are scheduled to perform for a Forrest Floor Productions video this month, once they decide on the original song they’ll play.
“Singing and writing original music with my father is a dream I have had since I was a young girl watching him perform,” Abernathy said about her dad, Bill Abernathy, who’s played with The OKs, The Lost Beatniks, Rococo Loco, Rhythm Method and other local bands. “He is a gifted musician and I am happy that we can share our music. We are thrilled to be involved in a project funded by RAAC for the benefit of showcasing the raw talent and spectacular views of our own Rappahannock County.”
Hilty is one of several members of the Claudia Mitchell Fund Committee, which reviews grant applications from local artists and evaluates whether helping that individual complete a project or a training series could benefit the community. Barbara Black is also on that committee.
“I think the arts make for a vibrant community, and so these grants enhance that vibrancy,” Black said. “The arts are known throughout the country to be one way that communities grow. So I think that economically, these grants help foster the arts in Rappahannock. And I think that the arts are one of the pillars of Rappahannock, as I perceive it — a pillar, like agriculture, on which Rappahannock stands.”
And while RAAC is looking for artists to nourish, Forrest is looking for musicians to feature — free of charge — by filming a live music video of local bands playing original music. To contact Forrest, call 540-522-8467.
“And the cool thing is, if these videos turn out to be really good, and they sound great and they look cool, then that service becomes appealing, and then people may want to pay me,” Forrest said. “So that’s how it fosters me, as an artist, to be able to go out on my own.”
RAAC’s Claudia Mitchell Art Fund has rewarded local artists with a total of $15,255 this year. Other 2013 Mitchell Fund grantees include Mandalele, Headwaters, The Studio School, Child Care and Learning Center, Kid Pan Alley, Nicole Espinola, Peggy Schadler and Sam Mullany.