“I was surprised at the turnout of all my neighbors and people that I know and many people that I didn’t know,” Givens said. “It was just surprising and exciting.
“I thought, if they turn out for me, they’ll probably turn out for a lot of those local entertainers who live next door to them”
So Givens began organizing a new series of concerts at the Sandusky State Theatre, featuring local bands and musicians she selected. The concert series begins at 8:30 p.m. on Friday, Valentine’s Day, with a show from Norwalk’s Womack Family Band.
The series concludes with a Sept. 12 show featuring Givens herself and her Atlas Jazz Band. You won’t have to get a bank loan to afford a show — tickets for the Womack band are $10 — but Givens says she isn’t bringing in bargain-basement talent. All of the local acts are talented musicians who can compete with the acts that perform in arenas and charge big ticket prices, Givens said.
The Womack Family Band is known as an Americana band, drawing from roots in folk, country, bluegrass, rock, even a bit of jazz and blues.
The four-member band includes a brother and sister, Haley Heyman and Noah Heyman, as well as Tony Schaffer and Cory Webb.
Webb is the drummer; the other three sing and play multiple instruments. But none of them is named “Womack”
The name is a kind of in-joke, and it name-checks Americana musician Tommy Womack.
“It was just kind of a joke name that stuck,” Schaffer said. “He didn’t actually know we existed”
Sample tunes and a music store are available at the band’s website, womackband.com .
Givens said Denver, Colo., where she used to live, had a vibrant music scene, supported by the community and local media.
“There’s no reason why we can’t do that here,” she said. “We have a lot of talented professional musicians around town”
Schaffer said his band is honored to be kicking off the series.
“We’re really strong advocates for a local music scene” he said. “Anna Givens is quite an established musician herself”
Want to go?
Here are the shows booked for “An American Music Series — Presented by Anna Givens” at the Sandusky State Theatre.
•Friday — 8:30 to 10:30 p.m., Womack Family Band, Norwalk. Tickets are $10, Sanduskystate.com , 419-626-1950.
•March 14 — Sandtown Band, a Motown, R&B and Oldies band from Sandusky. Information: sandtownband. webs.com .
•April 11 — Two2Many, traditional Irish music band from Lebanon, Ohio.
•May 9 — Jeff McDonald’s Swingmania Big Band, Perrysburg. q#June 13 — David & Valerie Mayfield, bluegrass from Newton Falls, Ohio.
•July 11 — Christian Kaser. Country music from a Sandusky native. Information: ChristianKaser.com
•Aug. 8 — Travis Haddix, a blues artist from Bedford Heights, Ohio.
•Sept. 12 — Anna Givens with her Atlas Jazz band. She’s released three albums of standards and show tunes.