Charlotte Folk Society logo celebrating 30 years

Dedicated to promoting the ongoing enjoyment and preservation of traditional and contemporary folk music, dance, crafts and lore in the Carolinas Piedmont,
since 1982.

October 12th Folk Society Gathering
presents Old Time Duo
Riley Baugus and Kirk Sutphin!
Riley Baugus and Kirk Sutphin
Riley Baugus and Kirk Sutphin

The Charlotte Folk Society is once again showcasing superb musicians you will only hear on our stage. We're celebrating the roots of traditional American music when we present old-time music masters Riley Baugus and Kirk Sutphin at our October 12th Gathering.

Join us at 7:30 PM in the Great Aunt Stella Center, located in the edge of Downtown Charlotte at 926 Elizabeth Avenue. Doors open at 7 PM. Parking adjacent to the Stella Center and in a nearby deck is free. Accessible, ground level entry is available on the parking lot side of the building.

Monthly Charlotte Folk Society Gatherings are family-friendly and free. Donations are appreciated and essential to presenting the concert series in the Great Aunt Stella Center. Refreshments, a song circle, and jam sessions follow the hour-long concert; visitors are welcome to join in or simply listen. Charlotte Appalachian Dulcimer Club members offer loaner instruments to visitors wishing to try their hands at playing. Doors open 7 PM. Adjacent parking is free. Accessible entry is available through the ground floor doors on the parking lot side of the building, with convenient drop-off spaces and volunteer assistance.

What is old-time string music? One way to think of it is as a gentler, more tradition-bound precursor to bluegrass.  "Old-time," truly an American music form, is rooted in the ballads and tunes of settlers from the British Isles and Europe and the instrumentation and rhythms of slaves transported from Africa.  Old-time music resulted from the sharing and blending of these various traditions. 

"June Apple"
Festival of American Fiddle Tunes
Port Townsend, WA

Primary old-time instruments are the fiddle and banjo, although the guitar, mandolin, and bass were added over time to form string bands.  Old-time music is played throughout the South, but is especially vibrant in the southern mountains.  This was music made at home for family entertainment and was also played at community events and dances.  Prior to World War II, the old-time string band tradition thrived in both black and white communities.

Players raised on the old-time tradition, such as Bill Monroe, the Stanley Brothers, and Flatt & Scruggs, speeded it up and added solo breaks, creating the new form called bluegrass during the 1940s and ‘50s. But some folks never abandoned the old-time sound, and we are fortunate to feature two young players in that tradition at this Gathering.

Riley Baugus and Kirk Sutphin are household names to anyone who loves old-time music. Their prowess on the fiddle, banjo, and guitar and Riley’s vocals put them high on everyone’s “Top Ten” list. Both have toured extensively – from coast to coast in the U. S. and overseas to the U. K., Europe, and Australia. Sadly the occasions where just the two of them play together are few and far between, especially since their history goes way back.

Riley and Kirk grew up a half-mile apart on the same road in Walkertown, North Carolina and met on a grade school bus in 1977. This meeting began a life-long friendship built around their love of and respect for old-time music. As youngsters and teens, Riley and Kirk sought out and spent time playing with Tommy Jarrell, Fred Cockerham, and other legendary musicians of their grandfathers’ generation in the musically rich areas of Round Peak (Surry County, North Carolina) and Galax, Virginia.

"John Hardy"
Festival of American Fiddle Tunes
Port Townsend, WA

Riley and Kirk have performed together on many recordings. Their first, The Old Hollow String Band – Old Time Music from North Carolina, included Wayne, Kirk’s father, on guitar. In 2010 they released their duet project, Long - Time Piedmont Pals, to highly enthusiastic reviews:

“. . . Riley and Kirk are part of the living aural tradition, the true vine of old-time music. They learned from players who were generations older than themselves and have played the music native to their home, since taking up music. Here they serve notice, as much as they ever would, that this is their music, their tradition . . . There are a lot of folks out there who play old-time in the Round Peak tradition, but these gentlemen were born and bred to it. The tradition is them and they are it. They can no more leave it behind than they can leave themselves behind. We are treated here to true old-time music played like few others can.” – Bluegrass Unlimited, May 2011

"Two of the most respected ‘younger’ old-time musicians . . . get together for this outstanding collection of fiddle and banjo songs and tunes. There are twenty-three full-length pieces featuring Sutphin’s fiddling accompanied by Baugus’ clawhammer banjo and vocals (Baugus, though still a relatively young man, is starting to sound more like an ‘old-timer’ than anyone else we’ve heard – and that is a compliment). Even if you have multiple versions of most of these local tunes, you should get to hear this superb record – recorded by Charlie Faurot and with extensive notes by Kinney Rorrer, this disc showcases two of the very best of today’s old-time musicians and demonstrates just how alive this tradition still is in one particular part of our country. “ – Dave Freeman, County Records

Riley Baugus
Riley Baugus

Anyone who has seen the Academy Award-winning movie Cold Mountain has heard Riley Baugus’ authentic mountain-style a cappella singing and no doubt admired his handmade period banjos featured in the film. In 2008, T-Bone Burnett invited him to perform on to the Grammy award winning Album Of The Year, Raising Sand - the multi-million selling album by Alison Krauss and Robert Plant. Two years later, Riley's banjo playing was featured on Willie Nelson's Grammy nominated recording Country Music.

Riley has taught and performed at prestigious camps and festivals all over the world. When not building banjos or teaching workshops, he can be found out on the road performing. Besides teaming with Kirk Sutphin, Riley also plays with the Dirk Powell Band. He’s a frequent guest of Polecat Creek and of Tim O’Brien with Dirk Powell. With Ira Bernstein, he presents the show Appalachian Roots, a unique showcase of Appalachian music and dance. Visit Riley’s website:

Kirk Sutphin
Kirk Sutphin

Kirk Sutphin is truly a musician’s musician. His talents on the fiddle are matched with his exceptional skill on the banjo. As a young boy, Kirk was the protégé of the famous Surry County fiddler, Tommy Jarrell. He dug even deeper into the older mountain fiddling sounds of Tommy Jarrell’s dad, Ben Jarrell, and the old Galax fiddler Emmett Lundy. His focus also extends to the Piedmont. A master of the music of Charlie Poole, Kirk performs with Poole’s nephew Kinney Rorrer as a member of the New North Carolina Ramblers. Read more about Kirk here:

You can listen to clips from Riley and Kirt's recent recording Kirk & Riley -- Long Time Piedmont Pals at cdbaby here:

For the past several years Kirk has been distilling this varied musical interest. The result is Grandpa’s Favorites, a CD on Old 97 Wrecords. “. . . you can hear the spirits of the old-time masters in Kirk's performances. It is the way the best of music sounded years ago. It is full of life and rhythm.” – David Holt

Arts & Science Council Logo

The 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.