Several weeks before Harry Chapin died he did a solo performance in Jamestown, New York at the Palace Theater. I do not remember the actual date of the performance. (Jamestown is about 200 miles west of Binghamton, and perhaps it was prior to or after his performance there in June 81?)
During his performance at the Palace it started to rain (a downright downpour) and water began leaking through the roof backstage (almost as rapidly as it was outside.) When this happened there appeared to be a change in Harry’s performance. He became almost intimate with the audience by sitting down on the apron of the stage to continue singing.
He commented on the wonderful the acoustics of the old vaudeville theatre and said it should be saved before falling into complete disrepair. To passionately stress his instant love affair with the old Palace he volunteered (on the spot) to return to Jamestown and do a benefit concert to help raise funds for renovation.
Shortly after Harry’s concert things began rolling in the city of Jamestown and over a period of time the funds were raised and the renovation did take place. The theater is now called the Reg Lenna Civic Center (Reg being the major benefactor and an extremely weathty man in the area.)
I am not sure of all the particular details but I do know that it was Harry that got the people of Jamestown’s attention to preserving the Palace.
The ‘Civic Center’ is a host to many various kinds of performances (keeping the arts alive!) and all this, I believe, is thanks to Harry Chapin who obviously empassioned the right people at the right time.
This evening I decided (just our of curiosity) to do a web search on Harry Chapin because I spent the afternoon at a performance of ‘Cotton Patch Gospel‘ at a place called the Lyceum Theater in Arrowrock, Missouri.
So now I write you, whoever you are, to give you another listing (and memory) of one of his solo performances. A solo performance that made a major difference to a small city in New York state.
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