With the goal of creating a gathering space to enjoy music, the Shawnee Mission Unitarian Universalist Church in Lenexa plays host to a music series featuring nationally renowned musicians as well as local talent.
Green Guitar series
Here’s a preliminary list of upcoming shows over the next few months:
Oct. 12 — 3rd annual “Common Ground of Justice for All” show
• Main stage performer: Amy Speace
• Opening performer: Joy Zimmerman
• Main stage performer: Victor & Penny and their Loose Change Orchestra
• Opening performer: Gipsy Fingers
• Jonathan Byrd and the Pickup Cowboys
Mike Paget, a church member who organizes the series, said he hopes to create a secular experience for music lovers. He added that the church’s goal through the music series is to provide a service to the greater community.
“The goal for me is building this community,” he said, adding that audiences at each show are mostly comprised of people outside of the Shawnee Mission Unitarian Universalist Church. “It gives people a wonderful music experience. It’s a space to come get to know each other.”
The Green Guitar Folk House music series, which began in June 2015, is entirely secular, Paget said. Attendance for the show has slowly grown, Paget said; it started out with about 70 tickets and now draws a crowd of about 115. The almost-monthly music series (they usually skip December and September) features folk music singers/songwriters, typically ones who are touring nationally.
“There are so many incredible musicians that will never go to the big companies and be on the commercial radio,” Paget said. “Occasionally, one of them finds their way into that, but that’s not what they seem to be. It seems to be a more authentic group of real troubadours who want to tell their stories in song.”
Folk music artists who have made appearances at the Green Guitar Folk House have hailed from Canada, California, New York, Texas, Minnesota “and everywhere in between,” Paget said.
Paget said he first got the idea to start the music series after he helped organize a similar series at his former church in South Carolina.
“It’s not uncommon for Unitarian churches to have music series,” Paget said. “I think there’s some kind of a connection to a sense of human voice, of social justice that is connected to that voice.”
Chad Elliott, an Iowan folk musician, performed last weekend as the featured artist in August. Sissy & Earl, a folk Americana musical duo from Lawrence, opened the show.
“When you start talking like genres, I’m very guarded to tell people that we are a folk music series because that word means so much,” Paget said. “Folk music is just its roots: It’s Americana, it’s country, it’s blues, it’s bluegrass. It’s basically words to song. That’s what we feature here.”
The church sponsors the show, which is operated entirely by volunteers, Paget said. Tickets are suggested donation only, and refreshments are also offered for suggested donation. Revenue generated from the series pays for the musicians’ expenses and also cover the church’s costs to host.