By Stewart Grant
It is fascinating to see how the internet and social media are changing the way that we can interact with each other, even in a small town like St. Marys.
In the last two years, social media advancements such as Facebook Live and Musical.ly have made it easier for people of all ages to create and share videos online. Combined with “older” applications like Facebook and YouTube, we the public have an ever-increasing selection of entertainment options online, including productions made right here in St. Marys.
THE FRONT PORCH SHOW
For those who remember Ed McMahon’s signature introduction of Johnny Carson, well now the Stonetown may have the next best thing: Don Van Galen calling in John Stevens.
Sunday, July 2nd was the inaugural episode of St. Marys’ newest (and only?) live talk show, ‘The Front Porch Show’, hosted by Stevens on the front porch of the Riverside Bed & Breakfast where he and his wife Marie have lived since the early 2000s.
The Front Porch Show was broadcast live from St. Marys on Facebook last Sunday with a full slate of guests, including Canada Day’s champion butter tart baker Julie Jeffrey, expert pianist Frank St. Germain, June Cunningham & Jackie Kirkman of Off the Wagon Players, and local YouTube celebrities ‘Swarty and Harry’ (described below) to name a few. Helping with the smoothly-run production were a number of friends and talented people both behind the scenes and on-camera.
I asked John where the inspiration came from for this unique St. Marys-based talk show idea, and he said, “remember that Seinfeld episode where Kramer bought the old Merv Griffin set?” Classic.
It’s an idea that John has kicked around for some time. His ever-supportive wife Marie finally said to him, “Follow your dreams, you’ve got to do this.” Not only that did she provide encouragement, but Marie played a key part in the first episode, announcing upcoming local events from the Community Calendar during one of the segments.
John sees The Front Porch Show as a way to celebrate all of the unique and talented people that make our town special. There’s even room between segments for local businesses to step on the porch and do a free commercial. “There’s a buzz in St. Marys that I haven’t seen in years. There’s so much good stuff going on. Just this summer look at the new businesses opening up like Snapping Turtle and the new spice shop, and then you’ve got amazing events like Sean Camp’s River Rock Festival. It’s the people here that make this town thrive.”
Stevens is philosophical about where the show will lead. “Who knows where it can go, I sure don’t. We sure had a lot of fun, and we’ve got great people helping us out. This is a fun way to celebrate life in this wonderful community.”
The first episode of ‘The Front Porch Show’ has already been viewed by over 1,000 people. The next episode, to again be filmed “live in front of a studio audience”, takes place this coming Sunday, July 9th, at Riverside B&B at 93 Robinson Street. Stop by to see it live or watch it on Facebook by searching “The Front Porch Show”.
#stmarysfamous with “Swarty and Harry Take Over”
Among the guests introduced during Sunday’s episode of “The Front Porch Show” were Chris Swarthouse and Harry Brown, aka “Swarty and Harry”.
Earlier this summer, Swarty and Harry Take Over was launched on YouTube, and roughly once a week they have been posting short videos about various local businesses and landmarks. Swarthouse, who went through school for marketing and advertising, dreamed up an idea for a channel about the 3 B’s, “local beers, bands, and businesses”.
So far, Swarty and Harry have taken viewers for a tour of the Town Hall bell tower, drove tractors out at Fawcett’s, had Harry’s head shaved at the Stonetown Barber, and plenty more. Next, the guys look to take over the Quarry and perhaps Steam Whistle Brewery.
Reflecting on the experience so far: “It’s been great getting to know the people downtown, and everybody has been really supportive. We’ve had some really neat experiences and we look forward to having more unique adventures in the community.”
To check out episodes of “Swarty and Harry Take Over”, search for #stmarysfamous on Facebook, Google, or YouTube.