All star string band to serve a holiday treat

Dec. 04, 2012 @ 12:40 PM

Americana music talents Laurelyn Dossett, Rhiannon Giddens (of the Carolina Chocolate Drops), Mike Compton, Joe Newberry and Jason Sypher breathe new life into traditional Christmas music and introduce fresh songs of the season in the regional premier of “The Gathering” at Wingate University’s McGee Theatre on Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012 at 4 p.m.

"The Gathering" is a true collaboration of singers, instrumentalists and songwriters from a variety of traditional music backgrounds. Featuring crystalline harmonies backed by an all-star string band, the show is centered around "The Gathering: A Winter's Tale in Six Songs," an Appalachian song cycle written by Dossett. Other highlights include Compton singing John Hartford's "On Christmas Eve," Giddens and Sypher doing "O Holy Night" which made USA TODAY’s Top 10 holiday recordings of 2011 and Newberry’s new holiday hymn “On This Christmas Day.”

In 2011, “The Gathering” was released on CD to much acclaim. “Collections of Appalachian holiday tunes have come along before, but one of the finest is now ‘The Gathering,’” said the Chicago Sun-Times. The Wall Street Journal proclaimed “It’s what the holidays were before shopping and Irving Berlin.”

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. Dossett is a founding member of Polecat Creek, performing on stages from Merlefest to Prairie Home Companion. Her song "Anna Lee" was featured on Levon Helm's Grammy-winning record Dirt Farmer. Her song "Leaving Eden" is the title track on the upcoming 2012 release by the Carolina Chocolate Drops. www.laurelyndossett.com

A truly diverse vocalist and instrumentalist, Rhiannon Giddens is a founding member of the Grammy Award-winning Carolina Chocolate Drops (CCD). Giddens 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. Fiddler and singer for "The Gathering," Giddens 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. Compton 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.” Compton spent much of 2010 touring with Elvis Costello and the Sugarcanes. 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. 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.

Tickets are $25 for adults and $15 for students and can be purchased online at battecenter.org or by calling the Batte Center Box Office at 704-233-8300 or Carolina Tix at 704-372-1000. To learn more about The Gathering, visit http://gatheringsongs.com/ .