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Charlotte Folk Society second-Friday Gatherings at the Great Aunt Stella Center (GASC), 926 Elizabeth Avenue, are family-friendly and open to the public. Gatherings are free and feature an hour-long concert; donations are appreciated and essential to presenting this series in GASC. The front doors open at 7 PM; concerts begin at 7:30 PM and last about one hour. Following the concert, please join us in the Café downstairs for refreshments. Visitors are also invited to join a Dulcimer Jam, a Song Circle, an Old-Time Instrumental Slow Jam, or a Songwriter’s Workshop, in various locations in the building. On occasion, a Fast Jam may break out if musicians are interested! Parking adjacent to GASC is free. Accessible entry and an elevator are available through the ground floor door on the parking lot side of GASC.
Except where noted, concerts are at the Great Aunt Stella Center, 926 Elizabeth Avenue, between McDowell St. & Kings Dr. Map here. Free parking is available after 7 PM in a nearby parking deck. Call 704-563-7080 with questions. Front doors open 7 PM. Accessible entry through ground-floor door.
Founded at Mt. Carmel Baptist Church near Johnson C. Smith University in 1956, Men Standing for Christ carries on the African American tradition of four-part harmony that dates back to the 1920s. Original member David Thompson, now in his 80s but still singing strong, recalls when the group first formed: “The Rev. Leon Riddick wanted a men’s group to sing for Father’s Day. He contacted Deacon G. G. Glenn, who said he’d put something together, but he didn’t want to do all that work for just one day per year.” The minister agreed to schedule the singers for four church services annually – but soon they were performing twice a month on Communion Sundays. MSFC performs songs in ways their grandparents would recognize and applaud. Those same songs combine a spiritual passion with a dose of the musical diversity that characterized the 1950s. From its conception until now, MSFC has sought to provide positive male role models in service and stewardship. Weather they are visiting and witnessing to those who are incarcerated or those who are ill, or performing in concert, their message is the same: “God loves all His children.”
Four-piece stringband Steph Stewart & The Boyfriends fuses the best of Appalachian old-time music and Americana. Hailing from Chapel Hill, NC, the band is fronted by singer-songwriter Steph Stewart on guitar and banjo and features Omar Ruiz-Lopez on fiddle and mandolin, Mario Arnez on guitar, and Nicholas Vandenberg on upright bass. Together, Steph and her boyfriends deliver a haunting sound both unique and satisfyingly familiar. A native of tiny Catawba, North Carolina, Stewart tried out life in Sweden and Seattle after graduating from UNC Chapel Hill only to feel the pull of her home state. Returning to the Triangle, she emerged with a renewed sense of purpose and a passion for the roots music of her youth that had never truly left. The band released their second studio album, Nobody’s Darlin’,in May. “With the Boyfriends’ clean instrumentation setting the scene, the distinct voice of Steph Stewart conveys stories with considerable grace. At once youthful and wise, her timbre recalls the genre’s legendary sirens while maintaining a confidently modern sound.” – Our State Digital (June 2014)
In their early days, the Chapel Hill-centered Red Clay Ramblers helped to fuel a regional revival of interest in old-time, stringband music. Now, 40+ years later, the Tony Award-winning Red Clay Ramblers are a North Carolina stringband whose repertoire reflects their roots in old-time mountain music, as well as bluegrass, country, rock, New Orleans jazz, gospel, and the American musical. The Daily Advance calls the Ramblers’ latest CD, Old North State, “North Carolina culture at its best.” Premier acoustic music station WNCW salutes The Red Clay Ramblers as “the house band of North Carolina.” All over North Carolina, as well as from New York City to St. Louis to Vancouver Island, The Ramblers continue to carry the banner of string-band music far and wide, and with great joy and zest.
The Harris Brothers are a real brother duo, born and raised in Western North Carolina, where they were exposed to a wide variety of music from an early age. Reggie and Ryan Harris started playing string instruments and singing as small children and are part of a musical family that still gets together to play. They have been playing professionally as a duo for 20+ years, showcasing their unique style. Reggie sings and plays guitar, banjo, and a kick-drum suitcase for percussion; Ryan sings and plays the bass. Their repertoire includes traditional roots music, rock and roll, jazz, blues, Appalachian mountain music, vintage country, and bluegrass. “The Harris Brothers are one of my favorite groups. Great playing, singing and soul. It just doesn’t get any better than this.” – David Holt "I got more audience feedback about them Harris Brothers than any other group that has ever played my festival." – Wayne Henderson
CFS Holiday Jam & Potluck features a short performance of seasonal songs by The Thistledown Tinkers. Tentatively, taking place at Dilworth United Methodist Church, 605 East Blvd., Charlotte, NC 28203. 4 - 9:45 PM. Bring a dish to share or donate $5/person towards expenses. Song circle & jams before & after dinner.
Inspired by the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games, Trip Rogers and Tom Eure teamed up as the Thistledown Tinkers, producing a sound that mixes old traditions with new interpretations. These seasoned music veterans from North Carolina weave traditional Scottish and Irish music with original creations while adding a southern swagger that sets the stage on fire. With an impressive arsenal of instruments including guitar, fiddle, mandolin, banjo, dulcimer, and concertina, musicianship is at the core of Thistledown Tinkers. Their stage presence creates a rousing party that not only draws fans in, but makes them feel like a part of the show. The band released its first self-produced album, Red Clay Celtic Revue, in 2008, followed two years later by (Pronounced ‘kel-tik). The Tinkers’ most recent release is A Tinkers’ Christmas.
The annual CFS Young Talent Showcase highlights the impressive talents of our many youthful musicians – from elementary to college age. Featured performers will be 2015 Marilyn Meacham Price Scholarship recipient, Liam Purcell, and 2015 William Thomas Covington Scholarship recipient, Angel Paez. Visitors can anticipate being entertained by 15+ acts, with genres that range from old-time to bluegrass, singer/songwriter to Gypsy jazz, and maybe even some Scottish dancing!
North Carolina singer/songwriter Malcolm Holcombe delivers "haunted country, acoustic blues, and rugged folk." (Rolling Stone)
“Timeless Music from a Gruff but Great Voice. If you're not familiar with Holcombe, it's time to get acquainted. This package of songs is a near-faultless showcare of country-tinged roots music. Ranging from the delicate Down the River to the rattling Butcher in Town, swooning melodies, subtly varied thythms and evocative lyrics abound. With Holcombe's grizzled voice and acoustic guitar at the core, his top-notch gang of collaborators round out every song exquisitely, though Jared Tyler's Dobro and lap steel and Tammy Rogers' fiddle deserve a special mention. The DVD is extra booty, underscoring the intensity of Holcombe's performance. A rare jewel, this should be treasured.” – Review of Malcolm Holcombe: The RCA Sessions by Iain Cameron (The Blues Magazine, August 2015)
Multi-instrumentalist Joe Craven is a one-man folk show. Expect a thoroughly entertaining, interactive experience! Self-described as: Musician | Educator | Emcee | Visual Artist | Actor | Former Museologist | Ambassador of Artful Living | Fashion Insultant. “‘Everything Joe touches turns to music,” says mandolinist David Grisman, with whom Joe played for almost 17 years. “Craven is not only a virtuosic musician but has a wonderful sense of humor as well. Few musicians are as adept at as many different instruments. It truly is an absolute joy to hear and a breath of fresh air for the folk tradition.” – Dirty Linen
Come early to enjoy a pre-concert by the Myers Park High School Bluegrass Band.This concert is presented in partnership with Charlotte Community Radio.
The three talented women of Beeswing are devoted to traditional music, with a special love for the songs and dance music of Ireland.
Margaret Rush (vocals, guitar) grew up in Dublin surrounded by a wealth of musical influences. Margaret now lives in Raleigh, where she is an elementary and early childhood music teacher. Her responsive, rhythmic, DADGAD-tuned guitar accompaniment is the springboard for the trio’s soaring melodies and the truly enriching musical conversations that follow. Jeanne Chirdon Herbas (banjo, vocals) was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio. Coming from a family of Irish musicians, Jeanne learned her music from the playing of Sligo flute player Tom Byrne. Her style and her eloquent and sprightly touch on the banjo were cemented after three years living in County Cork, Ireland. Jeanne now makes her home in historic Charleston, South Carolina. Fiddler and singer Andi Hearn has played Irish traditional music on the fiddle for 20 years, having been mentored by the best traditional music masters. Along the way, she has collected songs from the vast unaccompanied “Sean-nos” ballad tradition of Ireland. From her home in Columbia, South Carolina, she founded and directs the Redbird School of Irish Music to share traditional Irish music with her community.
The Kollard Kings perform stringband songs from Charlotte's heyday as a hub for country and gospel recording – roots of the music now known as bluegrass. Tom Estes on banjo is a past president of Charlotte Folk Society Guitarist Donny Murray is known for his comic songs on the John Boy & Billy radio show. West Virginia-born Michael Plumley thumps the doghouse bass. Levine Museum of the New South’s staff historian Dr. Tom Hanchett plays old-time fiddle.
The popular Charlotte Folk Society Members’ Showcase returns to shine a spotlight on our many talented member musicians! Expect to hear everything from the roots to the branches of traditional music – Old-Time, Bluegrass, Celtic, Country, ‘60s Folk, Honky Tonk, Singer/Songwriter, Swing – from 15+ acts.
Charlotte Folk Society Gatherings are made possible, in part, with funding from Arts & Science Council, the North Carolina Arts Council, a division of the Department of Cultural Resources, and the National Endowment for the Arts, which believes that a great nation deserves great art.
The Charlotte Folk Society is pleased to have Charlotte Community Radio as our media partner during this Gathering season.
Post Gathering Song Circle - Following each monthly gathering, singers among us unite in voice for about an hour or so at the Great Aunt Stella Center.
Charlotte Folk Society Old Time Instrumental Slow Jams - After each Monthly Gathering following the concert we'll have a Slow Jam. This is in addition to the song circle, and an occasional "fast" jam. Led by fiddler Alan Davis, the Slow Jam will meet up on the third floor of the Great Aunt Stella Center in the "Board Room" where we'll play for about an hour.
During the warmer summer months, the Slow Jam normally held at the Carl J. McEwen Historical Site Schoolhouse will go on hiatus until the 3rd Saturday in October. Hey, it's Festival Season in the Carolinas, and we would encourage anyone to attend one of these fabulous playing and listening opportunities!
For the Summer weeks you'll be in town, please join the regular Mint Hill Old Time Jam for a few hours starting around 10 AM of playing songs and tunes. The Jam takes place in front of the restored Ira V. Ferguson Country Store building adjacent to the Farmer's Market held each Saturday on the Museum Property.
While we're out ”under the trees,” it may be a good idea to bring along your favorite jamming chair! Also, in keeping with the historical and compact nature of this gorgeous outdoor facility, the setting is not ideal for pets, amplified instruments, or unattended children.
Charlotte Folk Society Celtic Sessions - Each month on a Sunday afternoon, players interested in Celtic music get together for a session.
Charlotte Folk Society Slow Celtic Sessions - For those interested, but not quite ready for the Celtic Session mentioned above, a beginners Slow Session occurs once a month.
Queen City Beginner Bluegrass Jam Session - This friendly musical group meets every other week throughout the year to learn and play the Bluegrass Standards and Favorites everyone loves!