World Class banjo and fiddler duo visit Skye with ‘old time music’

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CARTHAGE – New England Celtic Arts will present Old Time Music legends Ken Pearlman and Alan Jabbour at Skye Theatre Performing Arts Center on Tuesday, Feb. 23 in South Carthage at 7 p.m. There will be a pre-show jam session starting at 6:15 p.m. Audience members are encouraged to bring their Instruments and jam for a few minutes with the artists.

Superb instrumentalist, acclaimed teacher of instrumental skills, gifted performer, award-winning folklorist, Ken Perlman is surely a welcome addition to any festival or concert-series lineup. Ken is both a pioneer of the 5-string banjo style known as “melodic clawhammer,” and a master of finger style guitar. He is considered one of the top clawhammer players in the World, known in particular for his skillful adaptations of Celtic tunes to the style. On guitar, Ken’s sparkling fingerpicked renditions of traditional Celtic and Southern fiddle tunes are simply not to be missed. 

He draws his material from traditional sources — the music of Scotland, Ireland, Cape Breton, Prince Edward Island and the American South. His approach to the music, however, is highly innovative. He has developed many new instrumental techniques, and much of his repertoire has never before been played on 5-string banjo or guitar.  Around the folk scene, Ken is often referred to as a musician’s musician — a player whose style is so accomplished and unique that other musicians go out of their way just to hear him. 

Also an active folklorist, Ken has spent over a decade collecting tunes and oral histories from traditional fiddle players on Prince Edward Island in eastern Canada. Two outgrowths of his research are a tune book called The Fiddle Music of Prince Edward Island and a two-CD anthology of field recordings called The Prince Edward Island Style of Fiddling (Rounder Recordings). In 1997 and ’98, each of these works received awards from the Prince Edward Island Heritage Foundation for helping to “preserve, interpret, and disseminate our province’s fiddling heritage.”

21 Duets for Fiddle & Banjo is a joint project with fiddler Alan Jabbour. Alan and I started playing together while both were on staff at the Rocky Mountain Fiddle Camp in Colorado, and that eventually led to a quite a number of joint concerts, tours and this recording project. This CD accentuates the lyrical and whimsical nature of Southern fiddle tunes through the elaboration of the fiddle-banjo duet. The repertoire is drawn primarily from Alan’s collecting work with West Virginia fiddler Henry Reed and Reed’s contemporaries. Along with the usual complement of hoedowns and fiddle-rags, it also includes waltzes, marches, schottisches and quicksteps.

Alan Jabbour was born in 1942 in Jacksonville, Florida.  A violinist by early training, he put himself through college at the University of Miami playing classical music.  While a graduate student at Duke University in the 1960s, he began documenting old time fiddlers in the Upper South.  Documentation turned to apprenticeship, and he relearned the fiddle in the style of the Upper South from musicians like Henry Reed of Glen Lyn, Virginia, and Tommy Jarrell of Toast, North Carolina.  He taught a repertory of old time fiddle tunes to his band, the Hollow Rock String Band, which was an important link in the instrumental music revival in the 1960s.

After receiving his Ph.D. in 1968, he taught English, folklore, and ethnomusicology at UCLA in 1968-69.  He then moved to Washington, D.C., for over thirty years of service with Federal cultural agencies.  He was head of the Archive of Folk Song at the Library of Congress 1969-74, director of the folk arts program at the National Endowment for the Arts 1974-76, and director of the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress 1976-99. Since his retirement, he has turned enthusiastically to a life of writing, consulting, lecturing, and playing the fiddle.

Skye Theater is located 3 miles West of East Dixfield village at 2 Highland Drive off Winter Hill Rd and US RT. 2 in South Carthage. Ticket price is $10.00 at the door.  Call New England Celtic Arts at (207) 562-4445 for reservations and directions.  More information at:

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