While Brian Melanson was earning a computer science degree at Bryant College, he frequently found himself turning from his technical studies toward his creative side. He began attending story and poetry readings. Eventually, a group led by Rhode Island School of Design poetry professor Tom Chandler helped Melanson to find his voice.
“My original works were more emotional, but I’ve kind of grown out of that,” he says. “I’m influenced by nature and a lot of it’s about New Hampshire and Main Street.”
Recently, Melanson seized on a way to blend his business and creative impulses by organizing a collaborative event at Fody’s Tavern in downtown Nashua: Seeding Thaw, which presents the work of five local artists combined with live music performances and poetry.
Musical guests include the rootsy Scott Barnett Band, singer-songwriter Russell Hill and guitarist Chuck Anastasiou. Among those exhibiting their art are abstract acrylic painters Carlo Ripaldi and Matt Pidgeon; Gary Destramp, whose watercolor cityscapes of his hometown of Lowell have drawn positive notices, Manchester tattoo artist/painter Ambitious Eva and Nashua glass artist Carla Sullivan.
The idea for Seeding Thaw came after an artist approached Melanson about painting an impression of a poem he’d written.
“I learned that there was a lot of local interest in cross-media collaborations,’ Melanson says.
“That’s when the first few steps were made to make this event happen.”
The effort is the first in a series planned by Melanson.
“I’m trying to represent small businesses, individual entities, and host events that bring them out into the mainstream,” he says. The festivities begin with a gallery in Fody’s downstairs function room, where patrons can peruse and make purchases. Wine and hors d’oeuvres will be served.
“There’s a typical art gallery audience and they’re different from music audiences,” he says. “So the first hour is to give them what they are used to.”
After the gallery, the action moves upstairs into Fody’s main room. Each artist is allotted a half-hour segment to discuss his or her work and show some favorite pieces. Each discussion is followed by music. Scott Barnett, says Melanson, has a gravelly voice reminiscent of Eddie Vedder’s and his band has a loose jamming vibe that will appeal to fans of Dave Matthews. Hill’s songs owe a bit to Jackson Browne, while Anastasiou specializes in atmospheric instrumentals.
At the end of each segment, Melanson will read from his collection of poems, The Lamppost. That’s also the name of his recently launched marketing company, and the evening will also feature slide presentations from local businesses he’s recruited as sponsors.
“I think there’s a need for enlightening everybody and highlighting resources in the area that we might not know about,” he says. The 35-year-old Melanson, who currently works for the medical website WebMD.com and spent several years as a computer analyst for Fidelity, hopes to build a web portal focused on local talent. “Rather than going to Google and finding a pair of slippers some lady made in Alaska, you could look local first and then branch out.”
Holding the event at Fody’s was a natural move, says Melanson. “I moved to Nashua the same year it opened, so I’ve been coming there for a long time,” he says. Noting that open-mike events and comedy shows have occasionally been accompanied by artist displays, he added, “I found them open to having a collaboration between music and the arts.”
City Room Café is the main sponsor of the event, which will also include a local business raffle and $4 burger specials. All proceeds will benefit Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Nashua.