Canvassing for fansSusan Goodwin promotes music for the right reasons.
June 9, 2008 · Updated 3:47 PM
"Everyone has a favorite band and balladeer, but not everyone founds a music series to share those musicians with friends.That's what Susan Goodwin did when she invited singer/songwriter Peter Rowan to the island in 1998, a series that continues May 6 when Tom Russell performs with Andrew Hardin.The series started because I liked Peter's music so much, Goodwin said. I had seen him many times, I had told friends about him. Bringing him here was like getting to take your friends to your favorite restaurant. Goodwin already had the perfect music venue - the Port Madison Canvas Company, her 2,000-square-foot factory on Day Road East. Until last year, Goodwin made boat covers, upholstery and canvas bags in the space, which features a cathedral ceiling,live acoustics and a small stage. Goodwin rents folding chairs for the 35 to 150 people who turn out to hear the music. The tickets support the series, but only once have I broken even, Goodwin said. My husband is very supportive. He says it's a cheap hobby - and compared to his sailboats, it is.Goodwin said the advantage of not having to rent a hall was offset by losing a day and a half of work. Other expenses include renting chairs and hiring people to do the sound.I'm doing this because I'm a fan, Goodwin said. A lot of people are doing it to make money. At the beginning of last year, Goodwin closed her factory. She rented the building to an Internet-related business, with the understanding that she be able to hold concerts there for one more year. By luck, I got a tenant who knew they would underuse the space, Goodwin said. They've been very cooperative. They do a great job of getting the place ready. There is less preparation, now that Goodwin's business is out of the space. Where her sewing machines once stood, a small stage stands. With the smells from the well-tended garden wafting in through the large, open windows, the warmth and informality of the plywood flooring and the eclectic flotilla of small boats suspended from the ceiling, it's as pleasant a spot to hear music as one can imagine.The intimacy of the setting mixes well with Russell's musical storytelling. I like wonderful stories, Goodwin said, really good music and songwriters.Russell and Hardin, she said, have a huge following in Norway and Ireland, where people especially revere storytellers.Goodwin tries to fill the factory for the performers, putting up flyers even in some dubious spots - like the ferries without permission, hoping that they last 24 hours.She anticipates no problems filling the hall for Russell's show, though, since his August appearance brought fans from as far away as Salt Lake City.Goodwin's property on the north end of the island once was a dairy farm. The 75-year-old barn is being renovated by her husband and a friend. Although she claims the remodel has no particular goal other than to restore a building that merits attention, Goodwin can't help but think it might make a permanent space for the series.We took out the wall that had closed off a little room at the end of the barn, she said, and I thought, 'Good, we can seat 25 more.'* * * * *Tom Russell and Andrew Hardin perform at the former Port Madison Canvas Company 7:30 p.m. May 6. Tickets are $12/advance, $14/at the door, kids under 6, free. Call 842-6835. "