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April 2, 2020

Stephanie Kuski/River News

Daleth Mountjoy plays original music during his final performance on the ‘In Progress’ stage Jan. 29, 2020 at ArtStart in Rhinelander.
Stephanie Kuski/River News

Daleth Mountjoy plays original music during his final performance on the ‘In Progress’ stage Jan. 29, 2020 at ArtStart in Rhinelander.
2/20/2020 7:30:00 AM
An evening of music and poetry at 'In Progress'
Stephanie Kuski
River News Features Reporter

The soft glow of incandescent aquamarine and amaranth dance to the tune of a single guitarist plucking his strings on stage, his ballad reverberating in the intimate space as the audience hangs on every last note. The cordial atmosphere welcomes all who are willing to share their works of art in progress, offering a safe space to venture out of the box and try something totally out there.

'In Progress' is an evening dedicated to sharing creative works of art, however finished they may be. The event, co-sponsored by WXPR, is hosted by ArtStart and gives local artists the opportunity to share their craft surrounded by other supportive artists who can provide feedback and a confidence boost to those who might need an extra push.

From start to finish, the Jan. 29 "In Progress" performance was filled with good company, bona fide laughter and genuine talent.

Performers have approximately 10 minutes to present their original poetry, prose, short stories, original songs or cover, but there is no limit on what type of art can be shared.

A poet named Mike kicked off the evening of inspiration and good vibes with a performance showcasing his original poetry and short stories. He sprinkled in prose both new and old, but kept the audience laughing throughout. He reflected on the simpler times of bygone days and stayed in the theme of WXPR's sponsorship with "Love on the Radio," but ended with a completely different tone in his spin-off of Stephen King's "It," leaving the audience with a bone-chilling cliffhanger.

In between sets, audience members made their way to the bar for refreshments and enjoyed instrumentals, the genial atmosphere allowing strangers to make a genuine connection.

Local singer/songwriter Daleth Mountjoy followed with a bittersweet performance. After many shows on the 'In Progress' stage, this was his last set before a planned move to Texas. He played original music on his guitar and his funky sound had a voice all its own. He ended with an emotional, original song he was hesitant to play, but it was my personal favorite of the night.

Together with his brother Cai and musician Evan Verploegh, Daleth was part of the local trio Boat Patrol which is now on "permanent hiatus," prompting Daleth's move to Texas.

Despite the bittersweet end of this venture, Mountjoy said he's grateful for the opportunity to perform on the ArtStart stage and others.

He said he's been coming to 'In Progress' since the event's inception and has been "wowed" ever since.

"I've seen so many different things on this stage," he said. "I've seen people play music and read poetry, but I've also seen someone bring in a painting they were working on. You never know what you're going to see, hear or experience."

Mountjoy said the ArtStart community is welcoming and open to supporting anyone willing to put themselves out there.

"There's a room full of people in there who are listening intently. They're telling the bartender 'shhh' be quiet, we want to hear this," Mountjoy said. "I've played in so many bars where nobody cares. But every time I've ever seen a band playing here, people are tuned in."

As the night continued, musicians Fox and Alex performed a duo act on the guitar and conga, respectively. Their low-fi, soft rock / indie folk jam session was exciting to listen to from start to finish. My favorite was "Queendom Come," a slow but catchy tune that had my foot bouncing to the beat.

Daleth's brother Cai Mountjoy played bluegrass on his guitar. His original songs told a story of its own, my favorite being "Ophelia," which featured strong emotions but was highly relatable. His sound in the beginning was totally different from the end and he wasn't afraid to try new things, even playing around with a new slider and producing some funky new beats.

He said he was blessed to perform with his brother on the 'In Progress' stage and others.

Nick, a talented guitarist, singer/songwriter and self-proclaimed bedroom musician, debuted with his first 'In Progress' performance. He had just put the finishing touches on his first original song, which he performed for the first time on the ArtStart stage. His performance was a beautiful rendition executed with breathtaking honesty.

Local sensations Brett and Amanda performed original music, harmonizing a slow but sensual melody.

Brett just finished recording his first album to be released in April and is a loyal "In Progress' performer. He and his partner Amanda performed a touching song Amanda wrote and Brett finished the set with a few solo notes featuring his original work.

The full house stayed to the very end to see a guitarist named Matt perform his original songs. His lyrics were witty and enjoyable to listen to, and he commanded the stage. Throughout the night, there was no rush to finish in the 10-minute time slot, only unyielding support to give it your best.

Nate Sheppard, the host of "In Progress," said the goal of the event is to creative a supportinve venue for artists to showcase their art regardless of whether it's completed or not. He said this monthly event is an avenue for different artists to connect, test the waters and gain confidence by being part of a supportive community.

"It's a supportive space for exploration and self-discovery," Sheppard said. "I've also found that it's a great space to collaborate with other artists to just experiment, and if it falls flat, well that's fine and everyone loves it anyway."

Sheppard said he was passed the torch by Verploegh, who started the event but recently moved away from Rhinelander. He said he has seen the event progress tremendously in just a short amount of time.

"It's exciting to see that progression," Sheppard said. "I think it's been instrumental for a number of artists."

Sheppard said hosting "In Progress' has jump-started his own career as a media artist, and it is his hope that other local artists will have a similar positive experience.

The next "In Progress' performance will be held on Feb. 26 (the last Wednesday of every month) from 7 to 9 p.m. at ArtStart in Rhinelander.

Admission is free, refreshments are available and support is welcome. Bring your friend, a piece of art or musical instrument and prepare yourself for a night of inspiring creativity.

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