Ledding Library is filled with music

'First Saturdays'
by: David F. Ashton, The Johnson Creek Brass play “standards” and classical music for the standing-room-only audience at Milwaukie’s Ledding Library.

The 'First Saturday' afternoon series at Milwaukie's Ledding Library, just south of Sellwood and east of McLoughlin Boulevard, has been going strong for eight years now.

For an hour or more, professional musicians, playing a wide variety of music, settle in the bay window at the north end of the building, and the audience settles in the aisle between the stacks of books. Every concert is free.

When we visited, on January 5th, the Johnson Creek Brass was playing classical and ragtime standards. Between the songs, a member of the band told the audience about each song and its composer.

'The goal of this program is to entertain and educate,' said the program's director, Carol Kay, who is also President of Friends of Ledding Library. 'The program presented by the Johnson Creek Brass well meets our mission.'

The library's monthly program started years ago, Kay explained, when the National Endowment for the Arts ran a pilot program, giving the library a matching grant to produce arts-related programs for the community. 'We began with all kinds of programs, and by trial and error, we narrowed it down to only musical programs.'

Years ago, it was more difficult to book musical acts to play at the library. 'But now, groups call us,' noted Kay. 'We ask them to send us a CD - we listen to see whether or not they'd be a good fit for our program. Many have been good, but honestly, some are terrible.'

Since the program started, they've booked bands, such as 3 Legged Torso, that have gone on to national fame. 'I try not to quibble about a group's asking fee; they're professionals. Most groups say they're enjoy playing here - and also, they can play here in the afternoon and still do a gig at night, too. It's beneficial for all of us.'

The Saturday Concert series - running through April this year is the library's main community outreach program, Kay added. 'People love the idea of a Saturday afternoon concert, in a suburban location, where they can hear good, interesting music.'

Judging by the standing-room-only audience, the formula is a success. 'Most of our audience members are locals, but we have people come from as far away as Hillsboro to enjoy our programs. We'll keep doing it as long as people keep coming in for the programs.'

What's on tap in this month? Check the Events and Activities Guide in THE BEE for the listing - or call the library at 503/785-7582.