Small Potatoes - 'New' fashioned folk music for today

Final Folk Friday's concert tomorrow night

BALDWIN -- The duo known as Small Potatoes will return to the Lake County Historical Museum's Folk Friday's stage with their witty, funny and entertaining music, at 7 p.m., Aug. 21, at the open barn doors of the Lake County Historical Society and Museum, 915 N. Michigan Ave., Baldwin.

The Chicago-area based folk duo of Jacquie Manning and Rich Prezioso say it has taken them years of careful indecision to develop a repertoire they describe as "Celtic to Cowboy."

Superb musicianship and showmanship, award-winning songwriting, and a strong sense of tradition has made them, as Dirty Linen Magazine once said, "one of the most polished, inventive, and entertaining shows on the circuit."

Rich and Jacquie's varied background forms the music they play today.

Rich turned to bluegrass during high school, studied classical guitar in college, then played in rock 'n' roll and blues bands for years. After moving from New Jersey to Chicago, he began writing radio and television jingles.

Jacquie launched her folk music career as a singer/guitarist and became a regular at Earl of Old Town, Somebody Else's Troubles and Holsteins in Chicago. She switched gears and experimented with country and rock 'n' roll, then Celtic music. For years she was a member of an Irish band and played at Renaissance Faires.

The two combined their talents to play as a duo in the late 1980s and began their journey of making their own special brand of eclectic music. The early days were sometimes tough - Jacquie saying during one performance at a restaurant where the crowd wasn't paying any attention to them, that they should call themselves Small Potatoes. She thought that if they "ever became famous it would be a joke, if not, it'll be true."

Almost 40 years ago they quit their jobs, bought a house, bought a car, and became full-time folk singers.

As they have said, "Not exactly the greatest combination, financially speaking, or what most people would call a sound business model. We didn't throw darts at a map, but we might as well have."

Speaking of darts on a map - all these years later they have traveled over a million and a half miles sharing their music with folks all over the United States and Ireland.

They have been listed as a favorite act at many coffeehouses, clubs and house concerts and have made repeat appearances at major folk festivals including the Kerrville Folk Festival, the Walnut Valley Festival and the Philadelphia Folk Festival.

Their music today ranges from country, blues, and swing to Irish and more, and their songs have been said to "make 'em laugh, make 'em cry, make 'em think."

Warren Nelson, Big Top Chautauqua/WI Public Radio, Bayfield, WI said, "They don't sound like anybody else. I like that. They lay out a blanket and every song is a picnic."

Small Potatoes has shared the performance stage with many folk greats, including Tom Paxton, John McEuen, Greg Brown, John McCutcheon, Peter Rowan, Bill Staines, Willie Porter and James Keelaghan.

Small Potatoes' song choices combined with Rich's extraordinary guitar playing make for concerts that dazzle audiences.

"If there is anything we want to share with the world, it's a love of music," Jacquie says. "All we're trying to say is lighten up, listen to this. Isn't it great?" And - yes, it is!

Make plans to attend the concert to be entertained with their special brand of "new" fashioned folk music.

This is an outdoor concert, free, and open to everyone. Parking area opens at 6 p.m., concert at 7 p.m. Bring your own lawn chairs or remain in your car for the concert. Social distancing and face coverings are required.

This concert is funded in part by grants from the Michigan Council of Arts and Cultural Affairs and the Village of Baldwin Downtown Development Association.

For more information, please call the museum at (231) 898-6500.