Go Blue Ridge Travel got a chance to sit down with local Young Artist Series’ (YAS) founder and artistic director Dominic Valentine on what visitors have the chance to experience this year from the musical group at Shepherdstown Street Fest!
Tell me about Young Artist Series: “What our non-profit is, is we provide mentorship and musical education to aspiring young artists. So students that either want to have a career in music education or music performance, we take them in and we pair them with professional musicians. We try to feature the local songwriters too, like a new songwriter every year. So if you’re a songwriter in the area, and you’re around 18, and you’re showing some potential, but you don’t necessarily have the connections to put a band together with great musicians, flush out your tunes, and present to your audience in the best light – that’s where we come in. We’re kind of like an incubator for young artists.”
“Sometimes we end up doing themed shows. The last two summers we did the music of Prince, David Bowie, Merle Haggard, and Glenn Frey because they had passed.” Proof of not only YAS’s respect to the music community’s loss, but a symbol of hope as they introduce some of the greatest classics and influencers of a generation to a younger set of performers.
“We believe in experiential learning. A learn by doing kind of thing.”
You can tell when Dominic is talking that this is something he is one hundred percent passionate about. He figuratively and literally has a lot invested in YAS, as his daughter, Lucia Valentine, is one of the main members in the group that will be performing this year at Shepherdstown Street Fest. “At the beginning of the summer we did some of the original music of Lucia Valentine, and we will be doing more of her original work as well at this show.”
He cares just as much for each performer who comes along through YAS as much as he does his own child. “And then we have different groups within the group. I have a horn group called the YAS Street Horn Crew,” he says, “they’ll play songs all a cappella with just horns and percussion.” With an interesting lineup including Adele’s ‘Hello’, Dominic explains that the crew “usually get with the audience and get right in your face and play.” The headliner will open with the Street Crew and then be followed up with the original music of Lucia Valentine, as well as some Stevie Wonder and other classic artist covers. “Within that band, there’ll be students and professionals.”
How did this collaboration come about? Did you approach Shepherdstown Street Fest, or did they approach you?
“Well, yes, I approached them. Festivals need audiences, and our group features anywhere from 11-15 kids in the area of the actual festival, so we come with a set audience of at least 180 people that are going to see; family, friends, those kinds of connections.” He goes on to say, “We pitched an idea to Street Fest because we thought first of all it was a great event, we have a great mobile draw, and the vibe is that you can get right there amongst the people – which is what we like to do, we like to get right in peoples’ faces and play music. And you know, it’s an all ages show, we’re an all ages act, we’re just like the perfect fit for them.”
Is there anything extra that you wanted to comment on regarding the Fest?
“This festival is all about community, and that’s what we are. We not only get to expand the opportunities for our young artists, but we also get to boost the quality of life in our community by being able to entertain them. I’m mostly looking forward to not just being a part of it but being able to go to the festival itself, because it’s full of great crafts, delicious food, and in addition to our music it’s packed with great musical talent from the beginning of the day to the end.” There you have it, directly from one of the headliners – the Shepherdstown Street Fest is not something you want to miss.
Come hear this amazing group’s music and enjoy 70+ vendors, great food, a kids camp, and much more at the Shepherdstown Street Fest!