Last “Transperformance” for Northampton Arts Council’s Bob Cilman

After more than two decades as director of the Northampton Arts Council, Bob Cilman is retiring next month — and that means Tuesday’s “Transperformance” concert will be his last at the helm.

In 1989, Cilman was among a group of Northampton residents hoping to reconstitute some of the arts funding that communities were losing.

 “We got together with arts council people and people from the school PTOs, and we said, ‘What should we do? Something big.’” Cilman said. “And everyone said, let’s recreate Woodstock, and 2000 people showed up.”

The event became an annual showcase and fundraiser called ‘Transperformance’ — in which local musicians “transform” into famous bands. The theme changes yearly, from  bands with body parts — like talking heads — to food in their names —  think, cream or red hot chili peppers.

“I remember one year, people were naming all these people, and I said, all those people are Canadians, let’s do one for Canada,” Cilman said, “and it turned out to be really rich because there are so many Canadian musicians.”

 This year’s theme is “Beyond Bob” — an homage to Cilman as well as the many Bob-named folk and rock musicians, from Dylan to Marley. Next up for Cilman — more time focusing on his other job — directing the senior-citizen cover band, Young@Heart. But he says Transperformance will likely continue without him — since it raises about 25,000 dollars a year for local arts. [Listen to piece for Bob Cilman singing Hot Tuna at last year’s Transperformance.]