Please join us for our next Gathering at 7:30 PM on Friday, March 13th, in the former sanctuary of the Great Aunt Stella Center. Our performers, Sara Grey and Kieron Means, on tour from Scotland, will celebrate Irish and Scottish music and explore the strong connection between Celtic and American old-time songs and tunes. Expect the best in singing, as well as spirited banjo and guitar accompaniment.
Monthly Charlotte Folk Society Gatherings take place in the Great Aunt Stella Center, 926 Elizabeth Avenue, between McDowell Street and Kings Drive, in the edge of downtown Charlotte. Gatherings are family-friendly, open to the public, and free. Donations, which support the series in part, are greatly appreciated. Refreshments, a song circle, and slow and fast jams follow the hour-long concert. Visitors are also invited to the Charlotte Appalachian Dulcimer Club meeting after the concert. Free surface parking is available adjacent to the Stella Center. The arm of the nearby parking deck goes up for the weekend at 8 PM. So, you can grab a ticket on the way into the parking deck but you will not have to pay on the way out if you leave after 8 PM.
Sara grew up in New Hampshire but has lived in North Carolina, Ohio, Montana, New York, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Wales, Scotland and England. As a youngster in North Carolina, she first heard a lot of mountain music and her love for the old-time banjo music and songs developed from this experience. Sara has been living in Scotland and briefly in England for more than 30 years now. She has always been interested in the migration of songs across the Atlantic and a collecting trip to Scotland in 1970 led to her moving to the United Kingdom. She has worked closely with other traditional singers from Scotland and Ireland to examine the movement of Celtic songs and their transformation.
One of the best things about Sara's singing is that it reflects her great knowledge of and feeling for traditional music. She just seems to know what is right in the interpretation of a traditional song. A ballad singer of great strength, she possesses a fine understanding of the importance of understatement in the art of ballad singing. Her singing is richly emotional and she is equally at home with a gentle lyric or a harsh account of life on the frontier.
Once you have heard Sara Grey you will never forget her. She has a certain quality of voice that compels you to give her your undivided attention. Her voice is both powerful and sweet with a distinctive and lovely tremolo. It's a voice well suited to both traditional American ballads and the ballads of Ireland and Scotland. She is also a fine five-string banjo player and is regarded as one of the foremost exponents of the old-time style. Sara is one of those musicians who lives her music and works at her trade in a way that is amplified by her own warmth, spirit, and love of the music.
In addition to fourteen recording projects, countless workshops, educational programs, numerous collaborations and associations in the United States, Sara has performed in over 150 clubs in England, Scotland, and Wales and has performed at more than thirty folk and bluegrass festivals. She has been heard on local radio programs all over the United Kingdom, has appeared on the BBC-TV in Scotland, and has toured abroad in the United States, Canada, Europe, and Australia.
I was in awe of this truly remarkable singer of the old ballads; not only for her incredible breadth of knowledge and her obvious love of her material, but in her combination of both singing and prefacing the songs with fascinating background stories, since Sara is also a master story teller. A memorable performance.
-- Merrick Jarrett, Old Chestnuts Song Circle (Kitchener, Ontario)
Kieron Means is the son of his singing partner, Sara Grey, and noted music journalist Andrew Means. He was born in the United States, but grew up in the United Kingdom where he developed a love of the music of both traditions. In addition to his love of traditional music, he is also a recognized contemporary songwriter.
Primarily a singer of traditional songs, Kieron is also known as a guitar player of great merit. He has the ability to gain an instant rapport with an audience through his humor and skill. His voice is called "smooth as silk, rich and mellow" and people often say that when he sings in concert it's like he's singing only to them.
Kieron has toured in the United States and often performs with Sara Grey. In 2000 he performed at the respected Whitby and Wadebridge Festivals where his music was warmly received. Kieron's first CD received extremely favorable response with airplay on radio programs in Scotland and has been featured in an article in Folk Roots Magazine. In 2001 Kieron conducted a major United Kingdom tour that included Sidmouth, Dartmoor, Whitby, Wadebridge, Edinburgh, and Fylde Festivals, as well as a wide range of folk clubs in England and Scotland.
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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.