November 15, 2019

RAA discovers the very best of how art networking in the community creates the sharing of talent for all to enjoy

By Mary-Therese Duffy

The Raymond Arts Alliance (RAA) is completing its second year as an organization and entering its third. We couldn’t be more grateful to the community for helping us close these last months with the realization of what has been the primary goal of the RAA:  someone in the community knows somebody else in the community, who knows another somebody, who will be visiting the community and thinks:  wouldn’t it be great if we could share them with our friends and neighbors?  This has been an RAA goal, a vision, a plea in our advertising and signup sheets and now, it’s a wonderful reality!
Joni and Olivia Harms with Don Roy and
Jay Young of the Don Roy Ensemble

It went like this:  Selectman Marshall Bullock, husband to Rhonda Bullock learned the marvelous Country Music duo, Joni and Olivia Harms, were visiting the area and spoke of it with an RAA volunteer and member. 

“Do you think we could have a show here, ummm - on a Thursday [October 24, 2019]?”  Not the best of nights to ask people to come out for an event, but given it was a community member’s idea, it was as they say, a no brainer. Then RAA learned who the Harms’ were. The duo are a seriously talented and deep hearted pair whose originals and covers have been bringing them to enthusiastic audiences, literally, all around the world. Joni, is a rancher, still devotedly homesteading her great, great grandfather’s Oregon land, and credits this as the source of her inspiration.  Indeed, it has also brought her to the Grand Ole Opry and to Carnegie Hall. 

A full discography of some 13 CD’s her work has been hailed by Country Music People Magazine as “some of the very best country songs of recent years” and Joni herself as “one of country music’s most underrated writers." 

Her daughter, Olivia, has been honing her own musical craft, with a deftness and talent that is clearly gaining traction. RAA were by turn, delighted, amused, introspective, and moved by their incredible harmonies, heartfelt lyrics, and true to the bone, authenticity. And honestly, Joni’s tribute to Merle Haggard, brought his presence right into the room.

But, of course, true to Country Music, this is not where the richness ends. Bringing it all back home: Rhonda Bullock, while visiting this mother/daughter dynamo some time ago, shared a tribute she had written to her own grandfather with them. Imagine if someone puts the most thoughtful, loving words about the enormous impact on themselves, family and community by a dearly missed and true giant of a man, then puts it to the simplest and sweetest melody, and gifts it to the most skilled harmonizers, who can not only deliver tenderness, but raise it unequivocally in an audience’s experience. Well, if you can imagine all of that, you have a taste of the sincerity, beauty and sweet joy that visibly moved our local audience.

All because, somebody knew someone who knew somebody else, who - and there it goes; and lucky for Raymond, right to the RVCC stage.

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