The next Charlotte Folk Society Gathering on Friday, September 11, features blues by Andy Cohen and his special guest, Walter Liniger. The concert begins at 7:30 PM in the Great Aunt Stella Center, 926 Elizabeth Avenue, in Charlotte. Doors open at 7 PM.
Monthly Folk Society Gatherings are family-friendly, open to the public, and free. Donations, which support the series, are greatly appreciated. A short refreshment break follows the hour-long concert. Afterwards, join a song circle or a jam session -- slow or fast -- listeners welcomed. The Charlotte Appalachian Dulcimer Club meets after the concert, as well. 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. Visitors who pick up tickets on their way in won't be charged if they leave after 8 PM.
Andy Cohen is a virtuoso fingerstyle guitarist who has been described as "a walking, talking folk-blues-roots music encyclopedia." He grew up in a home with a piano and lots of Dixieland Jazz records. During the Sixties Folk Revival, he got hooked on the music of Big Bill Broonzy and the Jim Kweskin Jug Band. When Andy was 16, he heard South Carolina's Rev. Gary Davis perform and the effect on him was profound. He has devoted his life to studying, performing, and promoting the blues of the southeastern states.
Andy has played with many of the major blues players of the 20th century, including Rev. Gary Davis, "Blind" Lemon Jefferson, Big Bill Broonzy, Bukka White, Brownie McGhee, Lead Belly, Brownie McGhee, Willie Walker, Skip James, Jim Brewer, Rev. Dan Smith, and Brother Daniel Womack. He's hung out with even more. Andy has helped to support a number of his mentors -- organizing festivals and gigs for them, and writing about and paying homage to them. As well, he's taught the tradition to a couple of dozen players who are now professionals.
Andy Cohen has more than a dozen recordings to his credit, including Oh Glory, How Happy I Am: The Sacred Songs of Rev. Gary Davis and Andrew M. Cohen: Dolceola Favorites. An enthusiastic proponent of the dolceola, Andy says he "never leaves home without it." Described by some as a "miniature piano," the dolceola has a keyboard, but the strings are struck with wooden mallets.
Along the way, Andy earned a Master's Degree in anthropology. His passions come together in his essay on "The Hands of Blues Guitarists," published in Ramblin' On My Mind: New Perspectives On the Blues, edited by David Evans (2008). Visit Andy's website to learn more about this musician and folklorist.
We're excited to have Andy Cohen coming from Memphis to share his "Country Blues 101" with us. Expect to hear blues rooted in Mississippi, the Piedmont, Memphis, and Chicago, as well as some ragtime, gospel, and original tunes. Also "instructing" on harmonica and guitar will be Walter (the "Blues Professor") Liniger. A native of Switzerland, Liniger was smitten with the blues when he heard his first Lightnin' Hopkins record. After he graduated from the University of Bern, he taught in the Swiss public school system before moving to the United States in 1982 to get closer to the real nature of the blues.
From 1984 until 1992, Liniger worked as a research associate at the University of Mississippi's Blues Archive's oral history project, "The Original Down Home Blues Show." He enjoyed extended relationships with two influential mentors, James "Son" Thomas, one of the Delta's great bluesmen, and Etta Baker, a National Folk Heritage Award winner from Morganton, North Carolina. Thomas and Baker took him beyond the academic and immersed him in the spirit of the blues tradition. Two of Liniger's seven recordings were made with James "Son" Thomas. One of them, Gateway to the Delta, won the 1987 W. C. Handy Award. Karen Canine writes in Blues News: "Walter Liniger makes every show both an enjoyable musical trip through the past and a truly enlightening experience. His guitar playing is fluid, his singing molded to the song, and his harp playing is riveting."
Since 1993, Liniger has been a Distinguished Lecturer with the Institute for Southern Studies at the University of South Carolina in Columbia. In addition to teaching his very successful South Carolina Honors College course, Echoes in Blues, he performs regularly in the United States and Europe. Visit Walter's website to learn more.
Charlotte Folk Society Gatherings are made possible, in part, with funding from the Arts & Science Council and the North Carolina Arts Council, an agency of the Department of Cultural Resources, and the National Endowment for the Arts, which believes that a great nation deserves great art.