GARDINER — If it works for art hanging in businesses, why not with music?

That’s the thinking of the organizers of a night of public music in downtown Gardiner on Friday.
The free event, called Walking the Beat, will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. and will feature musicians playing in nine downtown businesses. For the last hour, there will be a group jam in the public park next to Johnson Hall.

“We’re just trying to find a way to get people to poke their head into a place they haven’t been before and also get people to maybe listen to some new music, too,” said Michael Miclon, executive and artistic director at Johnson Hall Performing Arts Center.

Miclon said he and local business owner Lisa Liberatore thought of the idea after the last Gardiner art walk, in May.

He said art walks bring in people to see a variety of art, and he hopes the music walk can do the same with different genres of music.

“It was just such a great night,” Miclon said of the art walk. “It’s nice to see people out. It’s nice to go in the spaces and see the types of art. That’s really the inspiration behind this, seeing if we can duplicate that with music.”

Liberatore, owner of Lisa’s Legit Burritos in downtown Gardiner, said she couldn’t pull her husband away from listening to a group of musicians playing during the art walk. She thought it would be a good idea to create an event around just public musical performances.

Liberatore said she and other business owners expect the event to help boost business, as art walks do.

“We always have extra staff on, and we’re always extra busy,” she said of nights with art walks. “So events are a very good thing for us.

Miclon said he sought out musicians for the event, and most of them are from the Gardiner, Hallowell and Augusta area.

The businesses will feature a variety of genres, from rock and gypsy jazz, Miclon said, to a solo pianist, folk music and even a drum circle.

Liberatore said she would like to see the event continue in the future and complement the art walks, usually held in May, August and December, and other downtown events.

Even though it’s a free event, Liberatore encouraged people to tip the musicians, who are not being paid.

“They’re talented musicians who have given up their Friday night to be part of this,” she said, “and (they) think it’s a really cool idea and want to be part of the downtown, which is nice.”

Paul Koenig — 621-5663
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