Last Friday evening, Anne and I headed out to Modern Art, one of the coolest, funkiest, and most creative spots in Lancaster City, to catch a “Tiny Modern Concert” called Evolution of Sound. The show was presented by Series 42, a local Lancaster concert promoter who regularly books events at the space. There’s a lot to unpack here!

Modern Art is the art and design studio of Libby Modern located at 529 West Chestnut Street in Lancaster. Libby is a Princeton grad who cut her design teeth in San Francisco, before landing in Lancaster and opening Modern Art around 2012. In addition to using the space for her own creations, Libby and her collaborators host all kinds of interactive projects, workshops, and events.

One such collaborator is Series 42, a concert promoter made up of Fritz Schroeder and Scott Bookman, who have produced original shows all around the region. One of their favorite spots is Modern Art, where they host the “Tiny Modern Concert” series. Why are they tiny? Because the studio has a limited capacity of somewhere around 50 if everyone is standing and getting to know one another. The capacity is much less for seated shows. So the concerts are small, but that makes the shows intimate and really cool.

One such cool concert is the annual Evolution of Sound, which is a little different from their typical selections of local, regional, or national roots music. Evolution of Sound is a concert format where ten musicians perform two at a time, in a round robin fashion changing partners every five minutes. After everyone has cycled through, all ten musicians rejoin the action for a grand conclusion.

I was lucky enough to co-produce some of the early versions of Evolution of Sound with Scott Bookman back in 2014. We hosted several of these concerts right here at The Candy Factory, and later Tellus360 before they found their current home with Series 42 and Modern Art, where the shows are mostly acoustic in nature.

The latest installment of Evolution of Sound happened last Friday, March 15th. This set of musicians seemed particularly comfortable with the art of improvisation and quickly found the zone with each other as the players tagged in and out. The order of musicians is randomly selected and only revealed moments before the performance keeping everyone on their toes. This evening’s performance started with drummer Stew Bradley which bookended nicely as he returned to the stage to perform the final duet with Liz Fulmer playing an African drum. In between those slots were a mix of guitars, upright bass, synthesizer, trombone, accordion, a solo vocalist, and even a singing saw.

With the “let’s throw a bunch of people together and see what happens” nature of these shows, nobody literally knows how the performance will unfold. This particular show was less experimental and a bit more conventional, keeping the audience entertained for the entire hour-plus seamless concert. Next time, well, who knows how the sounds will evolve!

Evolution of Sound at Modern Art
  • Stew Bradley – drums
  • Steve Davis – guitar
  • Liz Fulmer – African drum
  • Jackie Hynes – upright bass
  • Andrew Pauls – guitar
  • Emily Ann Siegrist – synth
  • Aaron Spangler – saw
  • Karen Smith–accordion
  • Maddy Sue – vocals
  • Sam Yoder – trombone