Small Potatoes at Concert Conversations June 19

Staff Report

The duo Small Potatoes will be interacting with the audience at 6 p.m., Tuesday, June 19, at Emerson House, 420 N. Main St., Rockford.

The concert is part of the Concert Conversation series, a series of concerts consisting of 60- to 75-minute sets recorded live for broadcast. Seating is limited to 80 people, and cost is $10 per person.

The mission of Concert Conversations is to give the artist a comfortable (and acoustically delicious) space with professional sound and lighting in which to share with an attentive and intelligent audience, the passion of their art.

Nineteen years ago, Jacquie Manning and Rich Prezioso, the Chicago-area duo known as Small Potatoes, decided to hit the road. “In one year, we quit our jobs, bought a house, bought a car, and became full-time folk singers — not exactly the greatest combination, financially speaking, or what most people would call a sound business mode. We didn’t throw darts at a map, but we might as well have.”

What they did have were great songs and musicianship, and the ability to put on a show. Eighteen years, more than a million miles, 3,000 shows and five Dodge Caravans later, they are listed as a “favorite act” by many coffeehouses, clubs and house concerts across the U.S.

They have appeared at major folk festivals, including the Kerrville Folk Festival, the Walnut Valley Festival and the Philadelphia Folk Festival.

From the start, they’ve called themselves eclecto-maniacs and described their music as “Celtic to Cowboy.” Their range of music includes country, blues and swing, Irish, and songwriting that touches on all these styles and more. Both sing, both play guitars and an array of other instruments. They even yodel.

Their performances include some fine guitar playing and a touch of tin whistle, flute, mandolin, bodhran and other percussion toys. Together, they present a rare blend of vocal and instrumental abilities, award-winning songwriting and arranging talents. They adapt to the style of music they happen to be playing, and they also pay attention to the little things, the warmth, humor and a rapport with the audience that makes for a memorable performance. They say the eclecto-maniac business began as an accident, but they have turned it into their own unique brand of music that keeps audiences coming back for more.

For more information, call (815) 964-2238 or visit

From the June 13-19, 2012, issue

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