Sunday, June 13, 2021

Pomerance orchestrates drive in

Eddie Rock

More than 600 — that is how many articles Benjamin Pomerance has written for Lake Champlain Weekly, a weekly magazine that covers The North Country. The topics range from interviews, to concert reviews and previews, to the history of the Lake Champlain area.

Pomerance began writing for Lake Champlain Weekly his senior year of high school when he gave the magazine a press release of a show he was participating in at Strand Center Theatre. This led to him writing a few articles for them — the rest is history.

Over the years, Pomerance has interviewed several famous musicians, actors and athletes.

Right before the pandemic, in 2020, he interviewed William Shatner.

“William Shatner, I had been told, and warned, was notoriously difficult to interview. So I’m thinking ‘Okay, how do I get William Shatner to speak to me?’ Because I was told ‘You have 10 minutes and then he’s done. And if he’s not done by that point, we’re gonna come on the line and cut you off,’” Pomerance said.

Pomerance thought to himself, “how do we get past this?” He started researching William Shatner and found he was born, raised and attended college in Montreal.

“I said ‘Okay, well maybe he has some stories about the old days,” Pomerance said. “Well I hit the jackpot because I began the interview and I said, ‘We’re gonna talk about Star Trek of course in a little bit. But Mr. Shatner, I want to start by talking about what you recollect from your days growing up in Montreal.’ It was like opening the floodgates, I didn’t have to ask another question for the next half an hour because he told me story after story after story.”

Pomerance went on to explain some of the stories that William Shatner told him.

“It’s stories like those that are the fun ones because it humanizes the person, we’re not writing obituaries here,” Pomerance said. “These are people who are flesh and blood and have a lot of interesting real life stories to tell beyond a recitation of their top 20 hits or their top 20 movies or theatrical roles. It’s trying to find the right question to elicit those stories that is one of the most challenging aspects of this and one of the most rewarding.”

Last Summer, Pomerance organized a series of concerts here in Plattsburgh called ‘Curbside at Harborside.’

“Where it came from is, being both a music writer and music junkie, I was missing concerts something wicked. Covid ended live music and that to me was one of the many tragic aspects of the pandemic. And I figured that I was not alone, that there were a lot of people who were missing the live music experience and all that it brings,” Pomerance said.

“My parents and I went across the lake to Vermont to see a drive in movie one night. We went and it seemed to be this great, safe socially distant setting. The next day, we’re on our back porch, my mom and I are talking, and the topic came up of ‘Well, drive in movies are nice. What about drive-in concerts?’ And this was before all the big names started doing drive in concerts, we were just thinking, ‘wouldn’t that be cool.’”

After emailing the Plattsburgh mayor and gaining his permission, Pomerance began to email several  musicians. He asked wheather they would be interested in performing on the concert series for a percentage of the gate fee that concert goers would be paying per carload. Pomerance was surprised when several groups responded saying they would like to perform for the concert series.

“One of the things I wanted it to be, and it became this way, was to have the most diverse possible variety of genres of music,” Pomerance said.

The concert series included The Adirondack Jazz Orchestra, blues legend and hall of famer Joe Louis Walker, bluegrass band Beartracks and High Peaks Opera.

Much like the drive-in movie theater that inspired Pomerance, concert attendees pulled up in their cars and watched the concerts from inside their vehicles or in a chair outside. The series’ sound engineer even set up an FM transmitter so that concert goers could listen via the radio in their vehicle.

“It was unusual and it was unconventional, but it worked,” Pomerance said.

 

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