Peter Blair and Jo-Ann Cope, the musical duo who make up "That Dollar's Gone," were in the window at the Sochor Art Gallery in Putnam on Aug. 3. Theirs was a living, breathing, singing display of musicianship in a gallery known for showcasing area artists. That blending of genres – visual, musical and artistic – is becoming commonplace in a town that's at the top of the leader board in the state's fan favorite contest for a second year in a row.

The collaboration between gallery owner Sheri Sochor and the two musicians grew out of a series of challenges and serendipitous encounters. And it's as much a story about the community that's growing among the business owners in town as it is about the partnerships and creative offshoots emerging.

Cope met Blair at String Tinkers, a funky little shop that's a cross between a music store, instrument workshop, and fine art gallery on Main Street. People are encouraged to take the handmade instruments that hang from the walls and play them. Blair and Cope did just that and found they worked well together. It helped that the songs Blair had been playing for years were the same songs that Cope knew well, made famous by the Beatles, James Taylor, Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Cat Stevens and a host of other artists.

"Jo-Ann and I grew up with those songs," said Blair as he listened to his wife perform. "She knew the words and the songs and how to sing beautiful harmonies."

Weeks after meeting and jamming at String Tinkers, the two were playing open mike night at the Stomping Ground, a music and food venue only a few doors away. Owners Sarah and Terry Paquette opened the place two years ago so local musicians had a place to play.

"Our whole premise was to provide music five nights a week," said Terry Paquette, standing behind the bar watching Seth Sharp on saxophone, Bobby Gadoury on keys and one of his customers playing the drums. The trio were set up in a small front window, and the music could be heard outside on the sidewalk.

Paquette credits the growth in Putnam's music and art scene to a community that's come together to support culture and self-expression. "It's a huge community effort with everyone pitching in," he said.

It was an exasperated business owner who helped Sochor make the acquaintance of Blair and Cope. The duo were performing inside the building that houses Sochor's art gallery. Someone didn't appreciate the music, and Sochor thought she'd help by inviting the duo into her gallery to play.

"The acoustics were fantastic," she said, "and they let me sing a couple of songs with them."

Now Sochor makes music a part of her gallery shows. Lighted display panels along one wall held photographs made by David Cope, while other walls held framed work by David Stumpo, Tom Krivacs, Caroll Spinney, Frances Kornbluth and Tom Menard. There were wooden sculptures by Margaret Young, stained glass windows by Sochor and a treasure trove of frames in every color and shape and style. The artwork, stairs, carpeting and high ceilings with fans help absorb and diffuse the music.

Blair worked the strings of his guitar and played his Lee Oscar harmonica while Cope sang and strummed her six-string guitar. She had a tambourine and mandolin beside her as well. Randy Pascale sat between them joining in with his mandolin. Their music drew onlookers to the store window. A couple danced together on the sidewalk. Saxophonist Seth Sharp came to watch during his break from The Stomping Ground.

The duo sang Simon and Garfunkel's "Homeward Bound," John Lennon's "Imagine," and James Taylor's "Fire and Rain."

On a wall nearby were photographs of local musicians J.P Beausoleil and the Original Jelly Roll Soul, Jeff Pevar, Tom Farley, Peter Mach and Sharp, taken by Cope. Sochor listened from behind a wide work table where she prepares the frames.

"I get to listen to live music while I work," she said. "It doesn't get much better than that."