Category: Americana

Michael Cleveland and Flamekeeper Set Stage Afire in Sounds of the Mountains at Yadkinville Arts Center

Flamekeeper is an apt name for the band of award-winning bluegrass fiddler Michael Cleveland. It’s a band on fire and a man on fire, for sure. In the first concert of the Sounds of the Mountains series’ eighth season, the musicians all played as if they were on fire or about to burst into flames.

The Sounds of the Mountains series is an inspired collaboration between the Willingham Theatre at the Yadkin Arts Council in Yadkinville and the Blue Ridge Music Center near Galax, Virginia. The Music Center holds concerts in its amphitheater May through September. By partnering with the Willingham Theatre, they can keep giving fans the great bluegrass and Americana music that they’re missing when it’s too cold for music out of doors.

Cleveland and Flamekeeper warmed the 30-degree night right up, as they kicked off the three-concert series with two sets of tunes that managed to be both nostalgic and avant-garde simultaneously. I promise you that Cleveland’s mind-blowing rendition of “Orange Blossom Special” opened up new pathways in my brain. I’ve never heard anything like it.

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THROUGH 5/14: Stephen Towns’ Mesmerizing Visual Stories of Shadowed History at Reynolda House Museum of American Art

The mesmerizing recent work of painter and textile artist Stephen Towns welcomes interaction and introspection at the Reynolda House Museum of American Art, the last stop of the Stephen Towns: Declaration & Resistance exhibition tour. This exhibition pulsates with power as it ponders the American dream and expands the historical narrative of African Americans who persevered through the enslavement, convict leasing, and other hardships that significantly contributed to the development of the American economy. Exploring the lives of African Americans from the late eighteenth century to the present day, Towns emphasizes their resistance and resilience in poignant multi-media paintings and exquisitely crafted story quilts.

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Rhiannon Giddens Returns to Charlotte and Leaves Plenty of Music in the Air

Since the long-anticipated world premiere of her new opera, Omar, at Spoleto Festival USA back in May, composer-singer-instrumentalist Rhiannon Giddens has hopscotched the worlds of folk, jazz, and classical music. Her Spoleto apotheosis down in Charleston was embellished with a sit-down interview event and an outdoor concert with multi-instrumentalist Francesco Turrisi, her collaborator on They’re Calling Me Home, the 2022 Grammy-Award-winner for Best Folk Album. Among Giddens’ many gigs since then, she has headlined at the San Francisco Jazz Festival and Carnegie Hall before entering downstage at Belk Theater for a rendezvous with the Charlotte Symphony and resident conductor Christopher James Lees. As you might presume of a MacArthur “Genius Grant” recipient, Giddens is not easily pigeonholed.

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