By Linda Kellett

FORT PLAIN — She said she had the best seat in the house.

In the fading light of a perfect June day, NPR-featured singer-songwriter Caitlin Canty addressed those present at historic Unity Hall for the second of the Mohawk Valley Collective’s 2015 summer concerts Saturday. Silhouetted against the golden glow of stained glass at the rear of the former Universalist Church sanctuary, her audience thunderously expressed their appreciation.

It was applause that reverberated again and again for the five groups fronted mainly by female performers who gave exceptional performances during their hour-long sets.

Besides Canty, Amsterdam native Sarah Bogran raised her rich, expressive voice in harmony with Canajoharie guitarist Joe Gyurik, Nelliston percussionist Devin Flynn, and Schenectady bassist Jesse Downing. New York City-based alternative folk musician Christie Belanger gave a soulful solo performance; and Indie-rock singer-songwriter Carrie Erving, whose voice resonated with a sometimes-mournful peal, was joined by Herkimer County flutist Leslie Kubika.

Rounding out the evening was the electronic music of Vermont-based Alpenglow.

In addition to the performers, Fort Plain Village Trustee Robert Perry was on hand with words of welcome and to promote the village’s free, upcoming music series. Each family-friendly program will be held in Haslett Park starting at 7 p.m. each Thursday, beginning July 9th. Go to for a complete schedule.

Others present during the MVC concert included Erie Station restaurant co-owner Angela Frederick, who was selling concessions and beverages; Dennis Warner and John “Spike” Brown, members of Spike and the Boys, who were working the sound board; and Arts Factory members Mark Brody and Michael Wright, who manned a display to generate interest in “barn quilts” for a quilt trail through Montgomery County.

The non-profit MVC has the mission of supporting arts and cultural events in Montgomery County. It is also dedicated to the restoration and adaptive reuse of Unity Hall and another of the area’s historic architectural gems, the former West Hill School in Canajoharie.

Fort Plain resident Shirley Smith, who lives across the street from the stately Romanesque Revival-style structure, supports the concerts and the mission of the nonprofit Mohawk Valley Collective.

A frequent attender of almost all of the concerts, she said, “I think it’s terrific what’s going on here and what people are doing to try to save the church. I give them a lot of credit. They worked so hard here tearing the old [adjacent] house down and planting trees.”

MVC founder Tolga Morawski was also acknowledged during the performance. Erving credited his tireless efforts to save the building and to bring the arts to Unity Hall. She said, “It’s a special thing, and it takes so much work.”


The next concert in the 2015 concert series will be held on June 28th, when German-based Stromorchester will energize the audience with their Electro-Iconic Bridge: 9th Symphony for Electrophonic Orchestra. This special, free concert bridges the city of Minden, Germany, and sister municipalities in the United States. 

Please go to for more information.

Anyone interested in supporting the concert series or the Aug. 8th River Through Time benefit in Haslett Park, which will feature raffles, a chicken barbecue, and local talent including Spike and the Boys, Rumpus, Cosby Gibson & Tom Staudle, Stone Soup, and Jocelyn Arndt, is asked to contact the MVC at [email protected] or by calling 518-993-5506.

To contribute to the nonprofit’s Kickstarter campaign to raise money for equipment and to support the ongoing concert series, please go to