Monday, October 18, 2010

Art of Sound - Shelby, NC - Preview

Cleveland County Courthouse
The eighth annual Art of Sound Music Festival will be presented in three venues surrounding the Cleveland County Courthouse in Shelby, NC as well the nearby Don Gibson Theater from October 21 - 23. This eclectic music festival, which is combined with the town's Fall Fest and the annual liver mush festival highlights talent from the surrounding area as well as bringing a varied mix of musical acts to Shelby.

The Scene

The Music and More
Art of Sound

Many of the performers at Art of Sound are not familiar to me.  They come from a wider range of musical genres than I usually cover.  A complete list of the performers can be found HERE at the Art of Sound web site.  From blues to jazz to rock to bluegrass and beyond, there's plenty of varied music to keep music lovers interested and engaged.  You can find, and copy, the schedule HERE.  Notice that three of the major venues (The Cleveland County Arts Council and The Outdoor Stage) are located around the courthouse square, while the forth, The Don Gibson Theater is a couple of blocks away.  Major performances are being held at the Gibson on Thursday and Friday evenings and Saturday afternoon.  A separately ticketed performance by Dan Hicks will be presented at the Gibson on Saturday night.  Taking place simultaneously with Art of Sound will be The Shelby Fall Festival and the Livermush Expo.  Livermush is a local fried delicacy whose appreciation is a matter of, literally, taste.  Finally, The Foothills Farmers Market will also be set up on the Courthouse Square.  All told, there'll be plenty happening in Shelby this coming weekend.

Bands We Know
Can Vouch For

While there will be a range of musical expression available during Art of Sound, and we'll be dropping by to photograph, sample, and enjoy many of the performances, I'm most comfortable previewing bands I've seen and know something about.  Following are some highlights.

The Harris Brothers
Coming from nearby Lenoir, the Harris Brothers Reggie and Ryan, in this picture with Darin Aldridge, play a happy mixture of blues, R&B, bluegrass, and jazz inflected acoustic music which is a delight to hear and to watch.

Reggie Harris

Ryan Harris

Della Mae

 An all woman bluegrass band located in Boston, Della Mae is filled with committed bluegrass musicians of impeccable pedigree that belies their youth.  These pictures were taken in early October at an IBMA showcase, where they performed enthusiastically and created a lot of buzz.  This is a bluegrass band to keep your eyes on.  

Jenni Lynn Gardner

 Grace Van't Hof and Kimber Ludiker

Amanda Kowalski

The Al Dunkleman - New Plowed Ground

This engaging trio, headed by local sociology professor Al Dunkleman and including his wife Karen on bass and Dr. Bobby Jones on mandolin, presents a variety of folksy Americana, much of it written by Dunkleman and focusing on life in this part of North Carolina.  I particularly like his song about the county fair.  New Plowed Ground offers a pleasing mixture of new and traditional materials.

Al Dunkleman
Karen Dunkleman

Balsam Range

Balsam Range is an explosively driving bluegrass band that sounds traditional until you listen to their music.  Their recent CD "Last Train to Kitty Hawk" contains several songs that have had extensive air play. Strong at every position, this Asheville based band has toured too narrowly, but its reputation has continued to spread.  This band expands the meaning of bluegrass while remaining solidly within boundaries that keep it anchored in the genre.
Buddy Melton

Tim Surett

Darren Nicholson

Caleb Smith

Marc Pruett

Darin & Brooke Aldridge

With their CD "Darin & Brooke Aldridge" currently at number six on the Bluegrass Unlimited chart after five months on the chart and their song "I thought I'd Seen It All" in the tenth slot in the top thirty, Darin & Brooke, from Cherryville have emerged as a bluegrass phenomenon with their combination of gospel, bluegrass, and country duos sung with the backup of a superb band, have quickly gained national recognition.  Their performance at the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) Fan Fest as well as several showcase events served to further their growing reputation.  The recent addition of Rachel Renee Johnson on fiddle and harmony vocals to their band has already shown itself to be an inspired choice.  While Darin & Brooke perform at festivals and in churches in the region and are well known here, they are always worth another look.  If you haven't yet seen them, you should take this opportunity to do so.

Rachel Renee Johnson

Chris Bryant

Perry Woodie

Eddie Biggerstaff

Brooke Aldridge

Darin & Brooke, Rachel Renee Johnson & Eddie Biggerstaff
Information about ticketing for Art of Sound can be found here.  This small, town-oriented festival brings musicians from a far greater distance than one might expect and shows them to great advantage.  The Don Gibson Theater, recently refurbished, is a fine venue, which will soon be under new management.  If you see Irene or me there, please say hello.  We're always glad to make new friends.