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Listen to Los Gavilanes
October 8: Bluegrass Meets Mariachi!
Co-sponsored by
Levine Museum of the New South
Latina 102.3 FM/Norsan Multimedia
music notes
music notes

The Charlotte Folk Society is excited to bring to you a creative combination of top-notch bluegrass players and top-notch mariachi players at 7:30 PM on Friday, October 8th, in the Great Aunt Stella Center, 926 Elizabeth Avenue. As usual, this second-Friday event is free, family-friendly, and open to the public. Donations, which support the series, in part, are greatly appreciated. The hour-long concert will be followed by refreshments, a song circle, and slow, fast, and Celtic jams. Visitors are also invited to play with the Charlotte Appalachian Dulcimer Club. All activities are open; listeners are welcomed.

The front doors of the Stella Center will open at 7 PM. Handicapped access is available through the ground-floor door on the right side of the building. Charlotte 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, slow and fast jams, and a Charlotte Appalachian Dulcimer Club meeting. Free surface parking is available adjacent to the Stella Center, as well as in a parking deck nearby. Exit the deck freely after 8 PM.

l to r: Glen Alexander, Jack Lawrence, David Grant, and Randy DeBruhl

Back in the 1930s, two tradition-based stringband styles came of age -- bluegrass in the U.S. South and mariachi in central Mexico. Today both are part of the New South musical landscape of Charlotte, NC. On Friday, October 8th, two all-star bands will bring those high-energy sounds alive at the monthly Gathering of the Charlotte Folk Society.

The evening's bluegrass ensemble brings several of this region's top pickers together on stage for the first time. This "superband" includes guitarist Jack Lawrence, who tours internationally with flatpicking legend Doc Watson. Look for Glen Alexander on fiddle, fresh from taking first prize at Galax this summer, his third top win at that prestigious fiddlers festival. David Grant on bass is best known his work with Charleston's Southern Flavor. Randy DeBruhl is on Scruggs-style banjo and is a winner of the National Banjo Championship in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Talk about an all-star line-up!

Los Gavilanes

The bluegrass music that they'll play is often thought of as "traditional," but a better description would be "tradition-based." In the late 1930s and 1940s, Southern fiddle music moved from the family farm to cities and the new medium of radio. Kentucky farmboy Bill Monroe, playing first on Charlotte's WBT then on Nashville's Grand Ole Opry, speeded up old-fashioned picking and added the punchy new sound of the five-string banjo, as played by North Carolina innovator Earl Scruggs. Performed by polished professionals decked out in matching outfits and cowboy hats, bluegrass swept the South and won eager listeners beyond.

Like bluegrass, mariachi has deep roots in rural stringband playing, then came to town in the 1930s. It may have been born in the state of Jalisco in central Mexico, where instrument makers developed two special variants on the Spanish guitar--the vihuela, smaller and higher-pitched, ideal for the rhythmic chording that drives mariachi, and the giant bass guitarrón, fretless with gut strings that project a solid thwump. The rhythm players supported the lead instrument, the violin. Then in 1934, a Jalisco band, Mariachi Vargas, moved to Mexico City to play for the inauguration of beloved "peoples' president," Lázaro Cárdenas. Musical director Rubín Fuentes added trumpets for punch, dressed his players in stylized charro cowboy uniforms with embroidered waist-length jackets, and forged a polished sound that took all of Mexico by storm.

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Gabriel Sanchez, from the town of Toluca (between Jalisco and Mexico City) leads Mariachi Los Gavilanes ("The Sparrowhawks"). His lead trumpet is joined by the violin of Eifrain Martinez, Rogoberto Silva on guitarrón, and Anzelmo Alaweter and/or Alfredo Jimenez on vihuela. Each played in bands elsewhere in the U.S. -- Phoenix, Chicago, Los Angeles -- before getting together here in Charlotte. You can hear them entertaining at Plaza Fiesta, the big Latino themed shopping mall adjacent to Carowinds, each Sunday from 2 to 4.

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.