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‘Little Couch Concerts,’ fundraising for The Little Theatre and Cafe on Sunday; in memory of Jack Garner

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Sunday, July 25th, The Little Theatre is hosting a virtual concert fundraiser that they’re calling the “Little Couch Concert.” Since the pandemic and resulting shutdown, The Little has effectively been closed.

While they have offered virtual concerts and popcorn pickups, movie showings, the bustling cultural center that is The Little screeched to a halt, but you can relive some of the artists that played at The Little Theatre Cafe during the Youtube streaming event. You can donate during the show, or any time, here.

The first of three planned concerts starts at 7pm. It will feature about an hour of music from local favorites — like guitarist Kinloch Nelson, Heather Taylor, Benny Bleu, Sarah Eide, Connie Deming, Tyler Westcott, Tasty Parker, the Laura Dubin Duo, Bob Sneider with Andrew Williams, and Kristen Shiner McGuire with David McGuire — as well as some touring acts that have a made The Little Theatre Cafe their home away from home: Joe Crookston, Debbie Kendrick, and Paisley Fields.

To “keep the music playing,” the Little Couch Concerts takes inspiration from their virtual shows, when artists would livestream a set from their homes. Instead of a full set though, each artist recorded one song, along with their own thoughts about The Little, and then it was edited together, and is presented in a livestreamed format.

Of course, since The Little is primarily a theater, the concert will also feature messages from various film series that have been featured at The Little.

The Little Couch concerts are dedicated to the late Jack Garner, who died earlier this month. Garner was working with the The Little on this series, and was slated to be the original host.

Mona Seghatoleslami, The Little Theatre Cafe’s music coordinator somberly is filling in the role of host, but recognizes that Garner’s presence will be felt.

“He is missed,” said.

MORE: Adam Interviews Jack Garner

The dates for the remaining Little Couch Concerts have not yet been announced.

Seghatoleslami has been working for The Little Theatre as the music coordinator three years ago, shortly after NPR affiliate WXXI partnered with the theater.

“They said they were looking for someone to do it, and I said: “I’ll see which of my friends might be interested,'” she said. “When I started, a million bands reached out to me, and you can’t hire them all.”

Under Seghatoleslami’s banner, The Little Theatre Cafe has become a bonefide Rochester institution. Some very familar faces often grace the stage — Watkins and the Rapiers, Connie Deming, Bob Sneider, the Djangoners — but the cafe always seeks to bring in new and different music.

“People can discover musicians, have a great evening, and someone because of the gig at The Little, gets an opportunities,” she said. “That’s such a cool thing.”

Seghatoleslami says the secret is in the atmosphere — a mix of American togetherness and European cafe culture — something she hopes can be replicated in this virtual setting.

“The Little is so much about community, and a community that appreciates all different kinds of art,” she said. “You can go there, and you might be going to see a movie, but you stop in to see a few songs from whomever is playing… You look around and there’s art on the walls, there’s a striking painting or photograph. That synchronous feeling of all the arts is really part of what makes it special.”

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