Local musicians will unite Monday to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Village Homes Performers’ Circle in Davis.
Twenty years ago this month, Peter Dyer founded the Performers’ Circle in his Village Homes living room. A longtime Davis musician and community activist who now lives in New Zealand, Dyer wanted to try something new to bring together musicians to perform for each other in a supportive and stimulating atmosphere. The gathering grew into a monthly tradition that today welcomes singers, instrumentalists, storytellers, dancers and other performers, and is held at the Village Homes Community Center.
For the anniversary celebration, Performers’ Circle co-hosts Craig Thomsen and Laura Sandage, together with Ray Frank, Ron Goldberg, George Haver, Jamie Knapp, Rick Palkovic, Agnes Perroud, Jan Peters and Jeff Simons, among others. The performers will take turns presenting songs written by Dyer.
A prolific songwriter, Dyer’s music reflects his opinions of politicians and the corporate power structure in songs such as “Chicken Hawk Blues” and “The Money Changers,” and his observations of the joys and sorrows of life, presented in classic country-gospel style, in “Wishing Well.”
Peters and Simons, who are performing this month, joined Dyer and other musicians in a historic musical exchange trip to Ukraine in 1991, after the city of Davis established a sister-city relationship with Uman, Ukraine. The Davis musical delegation, which also included well-known local musicians Bill Scholer, Sergei Shkurkin and Brian Knave, traveled as the Blues to Uman band, bonding with Ukrainian musicians and hosting a return delegation later that summer.
Dyer recalls in an email that the two musical groups put on a joint concert in Davis — it was a sellout — at the Veterans’ Memorial Theatre in August 1991, amid international interest in the Soviet Union. That same week the Politburo and the heads of the Soviet military and security services staged a failed coup attempt against Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in Moscow.
“Not only was it fun and exciting to be playing with these people, with whom we’d instantly bonded in Ukraine, but the background of ongoing history-making events in the Soviet Union gave the whole thing extra urgency and meaning,” Dyer writes.
After Dyer left Davis nine years ago, the Performers’ Circle carried on, thanks to dedicated volunteers. He specifically credits Gary Martin and Jean Jackman for their organizational help, as well as Thomsen and Sandage, who are the current hosts and emcees each month.
“It’s wonderful to know the Performers’ Circle is doing so well after so long,” Dyer writes. “Clearly, there was a need at the time, and just as clearly, there still is.”
The Village Homes Performers’ Circle is free, meets on the fourth Monday of each month (except December). Sign-up begins at 6:45 p.m., with sign-up performances from 7:15 to 8:15 p.m. The featured act performs from 8:30 to 9 p.m.
The event takes place at the Village Homes Community Center, 2661 Portage Bay Ave. East, Davis. For information, call 530-756-3611.