Carol Noonan is using her new album, "Waltzing's for Dreamers," for good.
"This year our neck of the woods seems to be feeling the economy more than any year," Noonan, owner of Stone Mountain Arts Center in Brownfield, Maine, said. "For that reason, we have wanted to put on some shows this season where the admission was free, but it costs us almost $1,000 just to open our doors when we have a show, without even paying an artist."
Noonan's solution to this dilemma is to have the proceeds from the sales of her new album go towards covering the costs of this music series, which takes the name of the album.
"I got a sponsor to help pay for the recording, and the album sales will help pay for the free shows including the artist," Noonan said. "The more albums I sell, the more free shows I will do."
The album is a collection of original songs and some of Noonan's favorite covers, recorded and produced at Stone Mountain with engineer Pat O'Donnell and mastered through the kindness of Bob Ludwig of Gateway Mastering Studios. There will be an album release show with Noonan and her band, featuring Duke Levine and Kevin Barry, on Thursday, Jan. 20, at 8 p.m. at Stone Mountain.
"I did my vocals for the most part without headphones or amplification," Noonan said, "Just me with my guitar on our stage facing out the big windows."
Friends, both new and old, of the arts center contributed to the album, including drummer Jay Bellerose, Scottish fiddler and cellist Alasdair Fraser and Natalie Haas, Wailin' Jenny's singer Heather Masse, bluegrass great Leigh Gibson and singer pianist Jon Carroll. Of course the album also features Noonan's band mates, guitarists Levine and Barry, Sonny Barbato on accordion, Billy MacGillivray on drums and Richard Gates on bass and vocals.
Noonan hopes that her sound "is not like anyone else's." In the simplest terms she is an acoustic singer/songwriter with folk tinges. "Waltzing's for Dreamers" is a reflection of that and features low-key music with dynamic arrangements.
"This was the first album where I have used the really raw approach to recording, combined with technology," Nonoon said.
Noonan, Levine and Barry recorded their parts on the Stone Mountain stage, but a lot of the guests on the album recorded somewhere else and e-mailed the files in.
"I know that's how everyone is doing it these days, but we are kind a frozen in time up here," Noonan said. "It was the only way to get everyone. We are all so busy, including me. I did a lot of my tracks in my apron."
As for the free show series, there are five free shows on the books right now: Session Americana on Friday, Jan. 21, Maeve Gilchrist and Sarah Jarosz on Friday, March 4, Kerri Powers on Saturday, April 16, Zoe Muth and the Lost High Rollers on Saturday, July 17, and Honey Dewdrops on Sept. 29.
"We also serve dinner before the show, so we are not totally working for free," Noonan said. "So everyone benefits."
Patrons who come for these free shows are requested to bring a donation in kind (food item, or food for the humane society, etc) for that night to keep the spirit going.
"I hope people buy the album to support my music and to support this cool series at the same time," Noonan said.
The cost of the CD release show is $35. For more information visit www.stonemountainartscenter.com or call (207) 935-7292.