Dedicated to promoting the ongoing enjoyment and preservation of traditional and contemporary folk music, dance, crafts and lore in the Carolinas Piedmont.
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Photo Jane Hogan
Bill Hicks, Mike Craver, Jim Watson & Joe Newberry
Craver, Watson, Hicks, and Newberry

Please mark your calendars now for the February 6th Gathering. That's right -- in February the CFS monthly concert and jams will take place on the first Friday. We're changing our usual schedule in order to bring some extremely special performers to the Folk Society stage. You will not want to miss Bill Hicks, Mike Craver, and Jim Watson -- all members of the original Red Clay Ramblers. Joining them will be Joe Newberry, a perennial CFS favorite.

Folk Society Gatherings are family-friendly, open to the public, and free. Donations, which support the series in part, are greatly appreciated. The hour-long concert will be followed by refreshments, a song circle, and slow and fast jams. Visitors are also invited to the Charlotte Appalachian Dulcimer Club meeting after the concert.

In the late '60s and early '70s, the Durham-Chapel Hill area gave rise to a revival of old-time music, especially focused on the fiddle and banjo traditions of the Appalachian mountains. One of the most significant bands to emerge from this region was the Red Clay Ramblers. As well as Jim Watson, Mike Craver, and Bill Hicks, the original band included the late Tommy Thompson. Their energy, joy, instrumental prowess, and repertoire, which included both traditional and creative contemporary compositions, made them truly legendary and took them all the way to Broadway. Banjo master Joe Newberry has performed with Hicks, Craver, and Watson since 2003. Visit here to enjoy videos of concert performances of the foursome.

The founding fiddler of the Ramblers, Bill Hicks played earlier in another important revival group, the Fuzzy Mountain String Band, and later with the Cajun/Zydeco band Unknown Tongues. Today, he performs with his wife, Libby, and works as a stonemason in Chatham County, NC. Bill and Libby’s CD, South of Nowhere, is available on the Copper Creek label. Bill also produced a live solo CD of his original songs, The Perfect Gig, in 2002.
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Mike Craver has worked in musical theater since leaving the Ramblers. He co-wrote the Off-Broadway musicals Oil City Symphony, and Radio Gals. He arranged the music for Smoke on the Mountain and the sequel, Smoke on the Mountain Homecoming. Mike has released three solo records: Fishing For Amour, Wagoner’s Lad, and Shining Down, and has also collaborated with Clyde Edgerton on a musical version of Clyde's novel Lunch at the Picadilly.

Jim Watson, a founding member of the Red Clay Ramblers, currently tours with Robin and Linda Williams in Their Fine Group. Prior to the Ramblers, he recorded with the influential Hollow Rock String Band. Jim also performs with the Green Level Entertainers and is regionally renowned for having ushered in the Christmas season for 24 straight years with his holiday show at the Cave in Chapel Hill. He has two solo CDs to his credit: Don’t Tell Me I Don’t Know and Willie’s Redemption. Jim’s new release, This World Would Be All Sunshine: Dreams of Home Sweet Home, features an ensemble of talents, including Bill Hicks, Mike Craver, Joe Newberry, and Gary and Tony Williamson.

Joe Newberry grew up singing the old songs he learned from his family in the Ozarks. His powerful and innovative banjo playing has won contests around the country, including first-place at the Appalachian String Band Music Festival. A prizewinning guitarist, fiddler, and singer, as well, he performs with Hicks, Craver, and Watson, and plays with the traditional stringband Big Medicine, and The Grey Eagles trio, with Rafe Stefanini and Jim Collier. Joe’s solo CD, Two Hands, released in 2005, highlights his fine instrumentals, vocals, and songwriting.

Charlotte Folk Society Gatherings are made possible, in part, through a Cultural Project Grant from the Arts & Science Council and the Grassroots Program of the North Carolina Arts Council, a state agency.