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Contact Info
Name: Tina Erskine
Email Address: terskine@wccc.me.edu
Phone: (207) 454-1002
Date Submitted: October 12, 2012

CALAIS _ They describe their sound as Vintage Acoustic Music and Ken and Jane Brooks will have toes tapping when they perform on Saturday, Oct. 27 at Washington County Community College.

The show starts at 7 p.m. and will be held in the lecture hall.

The Ken and Jane Brooks Homecoming Concert also will feature Phil and Ellen LaClaire. The LaClaire’s are primarily a gospel duo. “It will be country, bluegrass and variety,” Ken Brooks said of the music planned for the concert.

The couple has an interesting background that began long before they ever married. Their parents had been friends since before World War II. But Ken and Jane did not get to be friends until she moved to Robbinston with her family when she was 11 years old. Because they were the same age they were in the same classes at the Robbinston Grammar School and after that the high school in Calais. After they graduated they went their separate ways. It was their 20th class reunion that brought them together. They have been married for the past 25 years and live in Athens, Maine.

Ken Brooks has been performing for more than 45 years.

While in the military, Ken performed in California and other western states. After leaving the military he continued to play at clubs, fairs, concert halls and festivals throughout Canada and the U.S. including Nashville, Tennessee. In 1965, he regularly performed at the Jonesport Opry House. From 1988 to 1996, Ken was the lead vocalist and guitarist for Bluegrass Supply Company, one of the most popular and best known Bluegrass bands in the Northeast. Since that time he has performed with other Maine bands including Union River Band, Bob and Grace French, the Rainbow Valley Folks and Fox Hollow. He also performed with Paul Stookey of Peter, Paul and Mary fame. He is presently a member of the Katahdin Valley Boys, an award-winning bluegrass band.

He has recorded 10 albums and has appeared as a backup musician on others. In 2012 he was inducted into the Maine Country Music Hall of Fame.

Jane found her bluegrass roots when she and Ken were married in 1987. Seven years ago when Ken was not playing in a band, Jane decided to learn to play an instrument. But first she talked it over with Ken. “I said ‘if I learn an instrument would you continue to play music’ and he said ‘sure.’ So I said ‘what instrument do I have to learn’ and he said ‘well it will have to be the bass,’” she said with a laugh. She said Ken does all the toting of the bass when they travel.

The couple has been performing as a duet act since 2004.This year, they were nominated for the “Duo of the Year,” award by the Maine Country Music Association. They will know just days before the Calais concert if they won. Jane Brooks has also performed as a member of Fox Hollow.

In addition to the concert, the couple also is hoping to raise money to help make a difference in a WCCC students’ life through their scholarship fund.

“We haven’t lived in Washington County for a long time,” he said. “But I always wished we could do something for Washington County.”

Last year, then WCCC President Joyce Hedlund approached them about setting up a scholarship in their names. They agreed and established the Ken and Jane Brooks WCCC Scholarship Fund. In a short period of them, they raised some money. “I think it was around $200,” she said.

This year they sent out letters to prospective donors and to date they have raised $500 for the scholarship fund. “We received $200 from an anonymous donor,” he said.

The Brooks thank everyone that has already made a contribution to the scholarship. If you would like to make a donation, please make checks payable to the Ken and Jane Brooks Scholarship and send to WCCC, One College Drive, Calais. All gifts to WCCC are tax deductible. There also will be a donation box for those who wish to donate the night of the concert.

The couple also plans to donate a portion of the concert proceeds to the scholarship fund as well as to the Calais High School music program. They also will be holding a workshop at the high school prior to the concert. “We will take some of the proceeds and donate to the local school music program,” Jane Brooks said. The money will help students defray the cost of future music field trips.

The concert is co-sponsored by Greystone Bed and Breakfast and Wickachee Dining Room in Calais. Snacks will be provided by members of the St. Croix #1 Fire House Association, a non-profit group aimed at helping preserve the Church Street Fire Hall and turn it into a museum.

Admission is $15 at the door, $12 advance sale and $10 for WCCC students with student ID and children under 12 years old.