“Collections of Appalachian holiday tunes have come along before, but one of the finest is now ‘The Gathering,’” --Chicago Sun-Times
The Gathering is as lively and eclectic as any good family Christmas gathering! Featuring the distinct voices and crystalline harmonies of Laurelyn Dossett and Rhiannon Giddens (Carolina Chocolate Drops) and backed by an all-star stringband with Mike Compton, Joe Newberry and Jason Sypher, The Gathering breathes new life into traditional Christmas music and introduces fresh new songs of the season.
At 2:45pm in the Rotunda Lobby, there will be preshow music provided by Susan Sherlock on hammered dulcimer. Since the late 1990s Susan has been invited to teach and perform at numerous festivals including two years at the Cork Dulcimer Festival in Cork City, Ireland, The Swannanoa Gathering in Asheville, NC, Cranberry Dulcimer Gathering, Binghamton, NY, and many others.
MORE ABOUT THE GATHERING
Christmas concerts with roots this deep are rare. Americana music talents Laurelyn Dossett, Rhiannon Giddens (of the Carolina Chocolate Drops), Mike Compton, Joe Newberry and Jason Sypher take us on a journey home to the “The Gathering,” where the redbirds sing and the moon keeps watch over a sparkling Carolina winter's night.
“The Gathering” is as lively and eclectic as any good family gathering, from high-energy hoedowns to heartfelt remembrances of holidays at home. Gorgeous voices and crystalline harmonies backed by an all-star string-band, “The Gathering” breathes new life into traditional Christmas music and features fresh new songs of the season. The show is centered around "The Gathering: A Winter's Tale in Six Songs," an Appalachian song cycle by Dossett; other highlights include Compton singing his former boss John Hartford's "On Christmas Eve," Giddens and Sypher doing "O Holy Night" as a stark and stunning bass and voice duet and Newberry’s new holiday hymn “On This Christmas Day.”
"The Gathering" really is just that – it is a “coming together,” a true collaboration of singers, instrumentalists and songwriters from a variety of traditional music backgrounds. Here is a bit of information on each member:
The project started when North Carolina singer/songwriter Laurelyn Dossett was commissioned by the North Carolina Symphony to write a holiday song cycle for voice, string band and symphony. Laurelyn is a founding member of Polecat Creek, performing on stages from Merlefest to Prairie Home Companion. She has written the music for four published plays featuring regional folklore and traditional music. Her song "Anna Lee," was featured on Levon Helm's Grammy-winning record, Dirt Farmer, and is also on the Grammy-nominated 2011 cd and dvd release of Levon Helm's Ramble at the Ryman. Her song "Leaving Eden" is the title track on the uncoming 2012 release by the Carolina Chocolate Drops. Laurelyn is a singer and guitarist for "The Gathering" concerts. www.laurelyndossett.com
A truly diverse vocalist and instrumentalist, Rhiannon Giddens is a founding member of the Grammy Award-winning Carolina Chocolate Drops. Rhiannon is best known for her work with the CCDs, but she sings and plays a wide range of traditional music styles including celtic, jazz, Appalachian ballads, art songs and opera. She studied voice at Oberlin where she performed in five operas and three main roles. Rhiannon has multiple ambitious side projects including Sonic New York, Eleganza and "Keep a Song in Your Soul," a theatre piece about the black roots of vaudeville. Fiddler and singer for "The Gathering," Rhiannon sings lead and duet vocals throughout the show. www.carolinachocolatedrops.com
Mike Compton, a master of Bill Monroe-style mandolin, is best known for his years of work with the Grammy-winning Nashville Bluegrass Band. He played in John Hartford's band until 2001, later toured with David Grier, recording a duet album which was nominated for Album of the Year by the IBMA in 1992. Mike also received Grammy Award acknowledgement for Album of the Year and Best Compilation Soundtrack Album, playing the mandolin on Oh Brother Where Art Thou? and Best Traditional Folk Album for Down From the Mountain. Mike spent much of 2010 touring with Elvis Costello and the Sugarcanes. Besides his gorgeous and innovative mandolin playing, Mike adds his distinctive vocals to many of "The Gathering" songs. www.mikecompton.net
Joe Newberry is a Missouri native and North Carolina transplant who has played music most of his life. Best known for his powerful and innovative banjo playing, he is a prizewinning guitarist, fiddler, and singer as well. Joe plays in a duo with mandolinist Mike Compton; with the string bands Jumpsteady Boys and Big Medicine, and sits in the banjo chair with traditional music stalwarts Bill Hicks, Mike Craver, and Jim Watson. He teaches and performs at festivals at home and abroad. A master songwriter, his songs "Jericho" and "Singing As We Rise" both made the Bluegrass Charts for the Gibson Brothers. Guitarist, banjoist, and singer, Joe contributes several heartfelt original holiday songs to "The Gathering." www.reverbnation.com/joenewberry
Bassist Jason Sypher is an innovative interpreter of numerous folk idioms and jazz. He has recorded and performed with luminaries of jazz and blues such as Clarence Gatemouth Brown, Irma Thomas, Little Freddie King, Ernie Kato and Kermit Ruffins. An insatiable appetite for new music led him to the Appalachian mountains of North Carolina where he sought out the old fiddlers who were still alive playing the powerful, archaic blues-drenched Old Time music of the region. He formed the Klezmer/Gypsy jazz quartet, Nikitov, released two albums and toured Europe for four years including two sold out shows at Amsterdam's world famous Royal Concergebouw Theatre. He currently tours with the Grammy winning vocalist Susan McKeown and toured briefly with top Irish group Lunasa. Jason and Rhiannon's bass/vocal version of O Holy Night made USA TODAY's Top 10 holiday recordings of 2011.