When Jack Daugherty retired from a long career with Miami University, he refused to tolerate a future full of idle card games and water aerobics.
Instead, Daugherty has brought music to Oxford’s ears since 1990 with the Midday Music festival. The festival boasts six concerts during first semester, three throughout January and a jazz quartet scheduled for March and April.
“I was hopeful that I could get an audience, and I could,” Daugherty said.
He organizes the entire series himself-from the program printing to the musicians’ lunches. The series, held at the Oxford Presbyterian Church, uses its midday niche to attract audiences.
“I have been labeled as a micromanager. I want everything absolutely ready to go,” he said.
But it’s not just that Daugherty pulls the entire series off himself-he also organizes and promotes it without the use of a home computer. Daugherty, a retired Miami librarian, believes that technology-its benefits and distractions-should be kept at a library’s walk away.
“People are always shocked,” he said. “I don’t have a computer because I would get hooked. I know myself; I would get hooked. Because I love movies, I would spend all my time on the International Movie Database. I would spend days on the computer.”
Daugherty does spend his days doing what he calls “grassroots publicity.”
From staking out bulletin boards for available space, sending e-mails over listservs, or even using the method he believes most in-word of mouth. Daugherty meticulously tailors each concert’s publicity and promotion to the event itself.
His original idea was to keep the series strictly classical. However, as time went on, he realized that variety could be a good thing. Bluegrass, traditional Indian music, jazz, and pop are examples of the range of musicians Daugherty has brought to Oxford.
“It worked and it’s an example of an offbeat concert. I’d do it again.” Daugherty said, commenting on the success of his Indian music program.
Daugherty’s interest in a variety of genres manifests itself in his wish list of performers.
Daugherty knows that getting the good acts takes a lot more than wishing. He pursues potential acts at their concerts and isn’t shy about walking up to musicians, introducing himself and pitching his series.
“I’m outrageous about just going up to musicians.” Daugherty said.
Because he insists on offering free admission, Daugherty works on a tight budget and if the price the musicians is asking is too high, Daugherty isn’t shy about turning people down.
Unlike most concert series, which are booked well in advance and have the season set before it starts, Daugherty likes to leave some room for spontaneity and the gifts it brings.
“I like to keep something open in case something amazing comes up,” he said.
Daugherty’s 167th concert, being performed Wednesday, focuses on classical guitar and is being performed by students of the Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music, which is directed by is Clare Callahan.
Daugherty’s longtime friend, fellow Miami graduate and Oxford resident Betsey Knight has been attending his concerts since the beginning and has seen changes in the series.
“I was there when there were 13 people in the audience,” Knight said. “I was there when there were 26, which at the time was quite a lot … I just said, ‘Jack you’ve just got to do this.’ It was his retirement project and he did, thank heavens to us all.”
It is Knight’s encouragement that Daugherty attributes his success to when continuing the program got difficult and audiences dwindled. Eventually the concerts became so popular that Daugherty had to find a larger venue to seat audiences that can be as large as 330 people.
Daugherty hopes Wednesday’s concert will draw a large audience because of the guitar’s popularity.
Callahan explains that many of her students’ interest in classical guitar stems from exposure to American pop.
“Many of these guys have come from the pop scene,” Callahan said. “America is a pop country and most of these guys are American. They hear some classical (guitar) because they play guitar and they get interested.”
Classical guitar is played on nylon strings and similar to the instrumental music used in films. Un-amplified and pure, Callahan described the sound as “beautiful.”
Daugherty hopes the concert will attract students because of the guitar’s popularity. He promises a 1 p.m. cutoff to allow for tight schedules.
Miami sophomore, singer and songwriter Sam Sosey understand the differences between classical and the guitar used in popular music.
“Especially in guitar, there’s this unity in the sound,” Sosey said. “It’s the similarity in styles-traditional, folk, classical-that adds the flavor.”
Daugherty, proudly a self-described townie, is originally from Dayton, Ohio.
“I grew up on the wrong side of the tracks in Dayton. You would call it the slums,” he said. “My good fortune when I was young was that I discovered mentors.”
Daugherty’s mentors were responsible for his introduction to music-a lifelong love that would drive his retirement with purpose. Without these mentors, he would have never been exposed to good jazz and classical music. According to Daugherty, music was not a main priority for his family and without outside influence, he could have gone a lifetime without discovering his profound appreciation for music.
While Daugherty doesn’t read a note of music, he speaks with seasoned experience. The extensive knowledge he has collected is from years of going to concerts and outside research to which only a retired librarian could commit.
“I can talk music but not music technically,” he said. “I intentionally stay away from technical description (in the concert programs). I try to write anecdotal notes in my program.”
Daugherty stills considers classical music his favorite, but claims to love all it all-except rap and heavy metal.
After serving in World War II, Daugherty came back to Ohio to start his undergraduate work at Miami.
When asked about how Miami has changed since his own time here, Daugherty described a more intimate campus in his time.
“It was a situation when you walked the Slant Walk you recognized or knew everyone,” he said.
Daugherty received his undergraduate in arts education and now laughs about the years spent teaching elementary art. He continued onto the University of Michigan to earn his MLS degree, which is a masters for librarians.
He returned to Miami where he worked for 22 years and saw his crowning achievement, as a university librarian, come at the end of his long career. Daugherty proposed teaching a class to help students become oriented with Miami’s libraries and standard research techniques.
“I became the expert on using the overhead projector,” he said. “So many students couldn’t understand why they needed to learn these things … they were stunned.”
The class became so popular that by his retirement, Miami was offering 18 sections of Daugherty’s course. The course; originally EDT 251, “Accepted Use of Libraries;” is no longer taught at Miami’s Oxford campus, but has continued at Hamilton.
Oxford and Miami are lucky to have Daugherty and both communities, of students and of residents, appreciate the value of his hard work.
“He’s a great friend,” Knight said. “His retirement project is one of the best I’ve ever seen.”
Many of Callahan’s students have worked with Daugherty before and she is used to seeing him at Conservatory concerts.
“He’s a real live wire,” Callahan laughed. “You’re lucky to have him down there. He shakes it up. He’s a real talent scout that brings them in from far and wide.”
Sosey can see the appeal of Wednesday’s concert and is thankful to Daugherty for his hard work.
“I think that any experience brought in from other sources is good because we don’t get enough different views of music-especially on a
college campus,” Sosey said.
The concert is being held at noon Jan. 23 at the Oxford Presbyterian Church at 101 North Main. For more information, call (513) 523-6969.