|Wild Rose of the Mountain
|Otis is Flying
Internationally acclaimed songwriter Si Kahn opens the Charlotte Folk Society's 30th Gathering season with an August 12th performance to benefit the volunteer-powered non-profit. The Friday evening concert gets underway at 7:30 in the beautiful listening room of the Great Aunt Stella Center, located at 926 Elizabeth Avenue, in downtown Charlotte. Doors open at 7 PM. Admission is free; donations are appreciated. Thanks to Si's generosity, all donations made at this concert will be used to support the 2011-2012 concert series.
Si is also extending a special offer to concert-goers. Anyone who makes a $25 donation to the Folk Society after the concert will receive a copy of Si's CD Threads, a song-cycle about cotton mills and the folks who work in them, with musical accompaniment by The Kruger Brothers. Come chat with Si Kahn downstairs in the Café, support the Folk Society, and get your copy of Threads!
Free surface parking is available adjacent to the Stella Center. The arm of the nearby parking deck goes up for the weekend at 7 PM. Visitors who pick up tickets on their way in won't be charged if they leave after 8 PM. Accessible entry and an elevator are available through the ground-level door next to the parking lot.
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, as well, and invites visitors to try out a "loaner" instrument.
For 45 years, Si Kahn has worked as a civil rights, labor, and community organizer in the American South. This son of a rabbi, raised in Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C. and a graduate of Harvard, has made his home in Charlotte since 1978. Local fans of his lyrical and powerful songs have had few opportunities to hear him perform them live, as Si’s role as founder and executive director of Grassroots Leadership took him away from home much of the time. Last year Si retired after thirty years of heading the successful non-profit.
You might think that he would be in town more often now. But he's still traveling -- visiting new grandbabies, speaking on subjects dear to his heart, and overseeing productions of musicals he-s written. We are indeed fortunate to have Si launching our 30th concert season. A long-time supporter and fundraiser on behalf of the Folk Society, he is generously continuing that practice tonight.
Performing to support the organizations he believes in is nothing new to Si. During the many years of his organizing "day job," proceeds from his concerts and recording sales went not to him, but to Grassroots Leadership. Si's music and his work on behalf of the voiceless and oppressed are inextricably linked. "Si Kahn is an organizer, and an activist. He's also a poet, a songwriter, a historian, a documentarian in song. He's a stark realist, and simultaneously, an unflinching optimist. The tender reverence he holds for the people whose struggles he has facilitated spills over into his songwriting, keeping their stories alive, connecting us to them - and ultimately, ourselves." -- Kathy Mattea
Si's first recording, New Wood, was released in 1974 and included one of his best-known and most poignant songs, Aragon Mill. The song grew out of three days he spent in Aragon, Georgia, where a textile mill had closed, putting 700 people out of work. Something a mill hand said to him inspired a line in the third verse: "After the mill closed, it was so quiet I couldn't sleep anymore."
Now I'm too old to change, and I'm too young to die,Si sings in a strong, clear, but rough-hewn voice. His could easily be the voice of an Appalachian coal miner or a Piedmont mill worker -- adding even greater authenticity to performances of his original material.
And there's no place to go for my old man and I.
There's no children at all in the empty, narrow streets
Now the looms have all gone, it's so quiet I can't sleep.
And the only tune I hear
Is the sound of the wind
As it blows through the town
Weave and spin, weave and spin.
His songs of family, community, work and freedom have been recorded by more than 100 artists, including Hazel Dickens, Kathy Mattea, John McCutcheon, Red Clay Ramblers, Robin and Linda Williams, Laurie Lewis, Peggy Seeger, Cathy Fink & Marcy Marxer, Dry Branch Fire Squad, and Planxty. They've been translated into half a dozen languages. Such songs as Aragon Mill (aka Belfast Mill, Oregon Mill, Douglas Mill, Weave and Spin), Gone Gonna Rose Again, Go To Work on Monday, and Rubber Blubber Whale have become a part of the oral tradition, and are sung in folk clubs and living rooms around the world.
Si's body of musical works includes fourteen albums of original songs, a CD of original songs for children, Good Times and Bedtimes, and a collection of traditional labor, civil right, and women’s songs recorded with Pete Seeger and Jane Sapp, Carry It On.
In February this year, the annual Folk Alliance Conference (the international association representing the folk music community) honored Si with the Triple Crown of folk music - for having the #1 CD (Courage), the #1 song (Peace Will Rise), and for being the #1 folk artist of the year, based on statistics compiled by the Folk DJ Chart for airplay by DJs around the world. Courage was released in May 2010 by Strictly Country Records in the Netherlands and features production and instrumentation by legendary Swiss banjo player Jens Kruger, with liner notes and harmony singing by Grammy-winning country artist Kathy Mattea.
"In a world rife with many talented songwriters, Si Kahn stands alone. And his deeply thoughtful, elegantly simple, sometimes majestic, often achingly moving and always hard-hitting songs have stood, and will continue to stand, the test of time." -- Dave Higgs, Bluegrass News
Please join us on August 12th for what is sure to be an inspiring concert by Si Kahn.
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.