Did You Hear? Acoustic Showcase Hits Milestone

It’s the little show that could.

In just four years, the San Diego County Library’s Acoustic Showcase series has become an award-winning spotlight of local music talent featuring performances by Gregory Page, Nathan James, Miss  Erika Davies, Jeff Berkley and dozens more.

The Showcase is celebrating its 250th concert this Sunday at 2 p.m. with a show by Berkley at the Fallbrook Library, 124 S. Mission Road. Since the series started in April, 2010, more than 12,200 library customers have attended a show.

“The community seems to really appreciate the series,” said Ross Moore, who coordinates the showcase. “People come up after every show and thank us.

“There are other libraries that do concerts, but to do a series when you’re doing this many shows is unique.”

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The series won a 2012 Achievement Award from the National Association of Counties honoring it as an innovative county government program.

“We are creating a model that can be replicated by other counties,” said Ross. “But it couldn’t be done without our community partners.”

The Showcase was launched when Library Director Jose Aponte asked Moore to reach out and create community partnerships to bring quality, free experiences that are family-friendly to the libraries.

The library asked patrons for feedback on what sort of programs they would like to see. The demand for local music performances was clear from the comments they received.

“That pointed me in the direction,” said Ross.

His search led him to Veronica Graciano at eliteAudience, the San Diego Bluegrass Society and a now-defunct San Diego folk music group.

“One of our dilemmas in the beginning was how do we know we are getting good, quality musicians?” according to Ross.

The Bluegrass Society and eliteAudience take care of that.

“I work with the library branches to get times and locations they would like to host the series and our partners find a performer to match that availability,” said Ross.

“Fortunately San Diego has a never-ending well of talented musicians, and we’ve been lucky to get some really, really good shows.”

There’s no limit to the style of music featured, although certain types have worked best and drawn big crowds.

“Our biggest single show was in Encinitas earlier this month for the Tail Draggers, a bluegrass group that drew over 130,” said Ross.

That’s the largest crowd for a single act. The series drew more than 400 to a mini-festival in El Cajon a few years back and drew 125 for a show celebrating Woody Guthrie’s 100th birthday in July, 2012.

“The show for Woody Guthrie’s birthday was in Poway and was very well received,” said Ross. “We’ve had some of our biggest audiences for bluegrass shows.”

The musicians are paid for their performances with funds provided by the Friends of the Library organizations and the host libraries. That helps keep the concerts free for the public.

In the past six months, the series has added three new library venues to their lineup: Lemon Grove, San Marcos and Vista.

“We will continue to grow and keep going as long as we can,” said Ross. “We get emails from groups that want to play all the time and we’d love to give even more people the opportunities to play.

“It’s about the joy of making music and sharing music.”

Check out a few of the past Acoustic Showcase performances:

Marjit Vingerui

Barbara Nesbitt

Nathan James – “No Baby Don’t”

Miss Erika Davies – “I Love You I Do”

Coco & Lafe – “Let’s Get Away”

Gregory Page – “Am I Blue”

Gregory Page – “That’s You”

Gregory Page – “Bon Voyage Mon Cheri”

Marie Haddad – “Obvious”

Dave Howard – “Into the Wind”

Tom Christensen is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact