Devotion brought them to the church.
Just after 6:30 p.m. on a Saturday, Terry Toon and Elva Bontrager were readying Resurrection Lutheran Church for the opening show of the Gold Street Music Concert series’ 14th season.
Both women have had a hand in the long-running series since it began. Ellery, a dog who appears to be a Chinese crested mix and serves as a sort of mascot, is a more recent addition, but he sat with practiced patience on a fuzzy blanket during setup.
“Sometimes it’s been pretty tricky,” Bontrager said. “One time, I had four sets lined up, and three sets cancelled with three days to go. You can’t blame them. They’re volunteers, but it was a little tricky.”
Toon had a simple answer for what makes the trouble worthwhile.
“It’s the music,” Toon said. “It’s the music. It’s the community.”
Bontrager was part of an initial core four that included the late Buddy Tabor and retired Terry and Frederick Hoskinson.
Libby Stringer, who emceed the opening concert, and Mike Truax, who covered Willie Nelson’s “Vote ‘Em Out” to provide a topical lead-in to intermission, rounded out the organizing group.
“We call ourselves Gold Street Music because that’s where we started,” Bontrager said. “We were at Holy Trinity Church. Then that place burnt. We were footloose for a while.”
But the first-Saturday-of-the-month concerts found a new home at 10th Street and Glacier Avenue.
All the organizers praised the acoustics of Resurrection Lutheran Church.
“It all sounds great,” Bontrager said. “We sat in the front, the back and the sides.”
Admission to the concert is a suggested $5 donation for adults, but kids can take in the show for free. Proceeds are donated.
Organizers explained free admission for children is to allow youngsters to have open-age shows to attend and to get them excited about the arts.
“This appeals across all age groups,” Bontrager said.
Some shows draw in a few dozen people, but organizers said the right combination of acts and dreary weather can drum up crowds in excess of 100.
By 7:40 p.m., it was mostly a full house Saturday.
“I know it can be hard to get out of the house this time of year,” Stringer said to the audience. “This wouldn’t happen if you didn’t come and keep coming year after year.”
Acts tend to skew toward acoustic folk, but all genres are welcome, and a marimba band is already slotted to be included in next month’s show.
Performers are allotted 20 minutes, but organizers said there’s a about five minutes of wiggle room in either direction for acts that go long or short.
“It’s a little open-ended,” Bontrager said.
The most recent iteration included Tom Locher with singers Heather Mitchell and Allison Holtkamp, Henry, Emma and Erik Hopkins, Laura and Abigail Zahasky and Tony Tengs with an assist from Stringer.
Organizers said they’re always looking to hear from new acts and both new and polished musicians are welcome.
“We’re looking to make some connections in the (Mendenhall) Valley,” Bontrager said. “I’m sure there’s artists we don’t know.”
They can be contacted at (907) 500-4550 or (907) 364-3398.
Know & Go
What: Gold Street Music Concert.
When: 7:30 p.m. the first Saturday of the month until March.
Where: Resurrection Lutheran Church, 10th Street and Glacier Avenue.
Admission: A $5 donation for adults.
• Contact arts and culture reporter Ben Hohenstatt at 523-2243 or email@example.com