Fortunate Daughter Tells Musical Stories
Alex Sesenton and Heather Watson, who will perform as Fortunate Daughter at Wellfleet Public Library on Saturday, Jan. 13 at 3 p.m., describe their music as fundamentally “Americana,” with a love of pretty harmonies and a blend of guitar and banjo. Their sound, though flexible and ever-changing, is inspired by their roots in the Northeast and the South: Sesenton is from New York City, and Watson is from Oklahoma. They met in Greece on the island of Syros while singing classical music at the Festival of the Aegean in 2016. They realized they had something in common: their deep appreciation of music outside the classical realm.
The two now live on the Outer Cape, Sesenton in Wellfleet and Watson in Truro. When they first started playing together, Watson says, she appreciated the intimacy of making music in a way that was so different from her classical career. Now, the musicians appreciate the fluidity their collaboration affords them.
“I am definitely a music nerd,” says Sesenton. “I love to know the history of songs.” She especially appreciates the folk traditions of Northern Appalachia, she says, where a capella vocals play an important role alongside banjo and guitar. She describes such roots music as “one of the purest forms of storytelling out there.” As a first-generation American, Sesenton is also influenced by her Balkan and Latin American cultural heritage. Those sounds emerge especially in her solo music. With Watson, Sesenton says, “We’re both discovering new things every time we play together.”
Watson agrees: storytelling, she says, is the biggest overlap between both musicians’ native regions. “Country music has a very honest way of telling a story,” she says, “as does roots music.”
At the Wellfleet library, Fortunate Daughter will perform “a lot of what we love,” says Sesenton. That means one or two songs they’re currently writing and covers of country and folk songs that have “withstood the test of time.” Whatever they play, the two always encourage the audience to sing along.
The concert is free. See wellfleetlibrary.org for information. —Dorothea Samaha
Celebrating a Vision of Inclusion, Equity, and Justice
This month, Wellfleet is honoring the vision of Martin Luther King Jr. with a series of free community events.
Currently on view at Wellfleet Preservation Hall (335 Main St.), the annual MLK Community Art Show for Racial Justice features work by students from Wellfleet Elementary School, community members, and several Outer Cape-based professional artists, including Robin Joyce Miller, Jo Hay, and Kurt Reynolds. There will be a reception for the artists at the Hall on Thursday, Jan. 11 from 4 to 6 p.m., and the show is on view until Jan. 29.
On Monday, Jan. 15, the ArtPeaceMakers collective holds its 21st annual “walking meditation” to honor Dr. King. Walkers gather in the parking lot next to Wellfleet Town Hall (300 Main St.) for a drumming circle beginning at 12:30 p.m., and the silent walk begins at 1 p.m. Donations of nonperishable items for the Wellfleet Food Pantry will be accepted in the parking lot until 1:45 p.m. The all-ages event will be held rain or shine.
After the walk on Jan. 15, Wellfleet Preservation Hall hosts a performance of NEIGHBORS, a new play exploring themes of racism and community engagement on Cape Cod written by Judith Partelow, Robin Joyce Miller, Mwalim Peters, and other contributing writers. First produced in December 2023, the play is returning to the Hall thanks to the support of the Wellfleet Racial Justice Study Group. The performance is free.
In addition to donations for the food pantry at the walk on Monday, cash donations will also be accepted at all events. See artpeacemakers.org for more information.
Art That Reveals the Process
“Sketchy: Revealing the Process,” a member’s juried show at the Cape Cod Museum of Art (60 Hope Lane, Dennis), features 55 pieces along with the original sketches used to create them. The exhibition is curated by Jackie Reeves, who lives in Sandwich and works out of Chalkboard Studio in Barnstable Village.
“One of my greatest joys when looking at art is getting up close to see how a work was made,” says Reeves. “I’m drawn in when I see evidence of the artist’s hand in the form of an unfiltered and direct touch on a surface.” Reeves selected the works in the show from a pool of 192 pieces submitted by 106 artists.
The pieces reveal process and beauty in raw, unpolished works. Bill Evaul submitted a woodcut print titled Provincetown. He made the print in 1981 but has not exhibited the deeply colored woodblock he used to create it until now. The scene depicts the long red wetsuit of a scuba diver swimming in Provincetown Harbor. Jagged shapes of buildings in the background jut out of the sand, and sharply rendered shacks on the pier look like they’re about to slide into the water.
Girl Standing, by Richard Pawlak, is a fresco painting on board. Pawlak takes photos of street scenes with his phone and creates imagery using pigmented plaster. The fresco reveals subtleties in color values and simple shapes.
Teresa Baksa’s Garden of Compassion is an oil painting of a statue of a serene goddess surrounded by a bright garden in full bloom. Dreamlike figures emerge from the garden’s greenery. In the charcoal study that accompanies it is the figure of a man in the background — but Baksa decided to leave him out of the final painting. (Maybe she didn’t feel like dealing with him that day.)
Sea Stories is a woodcut print by Andrea Moore depicting three voyagers and a dog navigating their way to safety while a sea monster cradles the water beneath them. “Moore was living in England for 20 years and slept in a bed with a carving from the 1500s on the bedpost,” says CCMoA director Benton Jones. “She created this piece of art from the carving.” The wood block she worked from is arguably even more beautiful than the final print.
The exhibition features three-dimensional works as well. Roe Osborn’s Maquette for Triangular Spiral is a leaning tower of wood triangles that looks like the rib cage of a body bending backwards. Osborn spent 15 years as a carpenter, boat builder, and contractor, and the experience is apparent in his work.
Reeves will choose three pieces for awards during the gallery talk and reception at the museum on Thursday, Jan. 11 at 4 p.m. The exhibition is on view through March 14. See ccmoa.org for more information. —Pat Kearns
A Musical Medley at the Truro Public Library
Cellist Chanthoeun Collins met pianist John Thomas when they played together in a 2019 production of Sweeney Todd at the Provincetown Theater. Collins was a pit musician, and Thomas was the music director. They’ve played together many times since then — in other Provincetown Theater productions and in the Great Music on Sundays @5 series at Provincetown’s Unitarian Church — and they will perform at the Truro Public Library (7 Standish Way) on Saturday, Jan. 13, at 2 p.m. as part of the library’s Winter Music Series.
Collins, who will graduate from Westfield State University as a music education major this spring, says he’s been playing the cello for “going on 17 years.” In the past, he’s mostly performed in theater productions on the Cape and in ensembles at his school. This is his first time performing solo for an hour with just piano accompaniment. “I’m really excited,” he says. “And a little nervous, but that’s how it goes.”
Saturday’s program is a diverse mix of pop, classical, and film scores, including “Yellow” by Coldplay, “The Sound of Silence” by Simon and Garfunkel, “What Was I Made For?” by Billie Eilish (from the Barbie movie soundtrack), the first movement of Johannes Brahms’s Sonata in E minor, “Gabriel’s Oboe” from the film The Mission, and a medley of songs from the film Cinema Paradiso.
The performance is free. See trurolibrary.org for information. —Eve Samaha
Conjuring the Alchemy of Mary Heaton Vorse
When Local Journalism Project fellow Amelia Roth-Dishy reported for the Provincetown Independent last year, she lived in the former home of novelist, journalist, and labor activist Mary Heaton Vorse (1874-1966) at 466 Commercial St. After purchasing the house in 1907, Vorse spent the better part of the early 20th century there writing, raising a family, and collaborating with a rotating set of creative peers. When she died in 1966, she left a prolific archive, from journalistic articles to personal correspondence to short stories. (The building is now the home of the Provincetown Arts Society.)
Roth-Dishy will return on Saturday, Jan. 13 at 3 p.m. for a reading from that archive. She says she chose selections that struck her as current in their concerns.
“Vorse was an indefatigable writer and reporter and genuinely radical in her politics and worldview,” says Roth-Dishy. “I hope the mix of readings draws out Vorse as both an immensely important, overlooked historical actor on an international scale and as a woman who weathered many seasons of life in the very rooms we’ll be gathering in.”
Three other women will read excerpts from Vorse’s writings: Michelle Axelson, owner of Womencrafts in Provincetown; Debbie Abbott, president of the Friends of Eastham Public Library; and Dr. Nicola Moore, a physician focused on women’s reproductive health, who lives in Truro.
“I think there’s some special alchemy that’s conjured when you read Vorse’s words in her own house,” says Roth-Dishy. “I felt it last year when I read her memoir Time and the Town, and I’m curious how hearing her sentences spoken aloud will enhance that feeling.”
While the in-person event is fully booked as of press time, the event will be streamed on the Independent’s YouTube channel. See youtube.com/@theprovincetownindependent1934 for information. —Aden Choate