Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Is Art of Sound on your calendar yet?

October 21-23 marks the date of this year's Art of Sound Music Festival in Uptown Shelby. Some changes, some familiar and some brand new things are in store. Exciting things will be happening that is for sure and you won't want to miss it.

IFor the very first time, the venues will include the less-than-one-year-old Don Gibson Theater. Stages will include the Gibson, the Arts Center, and the Outdoor Stage on Washington Street. Thursday night and Friday night will feature the Arts Center and Don Gibson stages and Saturday's schedule will include both plus the Outdoor Washington Street stage which is free. On Saturday evening, the Don Gibson Theater will present its own special presentation which is a separate ticket.

The best way to keep up with everything is by visiting the Art of Sound web site at You'll find the list of performers, ticket information and other details. Check back too for more current updates.

We've got Big Band music, Singer-Songwriters, jazz, soul, bluegrass and some things that are hard to categorize. We'll give out two Heritage Bridge Awards for deep and lasting contributions to the musical landscape and there will be CD's and other items galore from the artists that come. Some will be brand new releases and you can get them signed on the spot.

On the same day as the Art of Sound main festival day (Saturday, October 23), the Liver Mush Festival will kick off the day and run most of the morning with events planned by the Uptown Shelby Association. So plan to come early, and or stay late. This is a great local “StayCation” event or a good excuse to visit us from out of town. Besides the Art of Sound web site, visit also these local folks for more information about how to best spend your time, your hard-earned dollars and let us know how you like it.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Swing/Jazz Standards, Vintage Country, plus Don Gibson selections

A group sure to please many folks during Art of Sound will be the duo of Roger Bellow and Vollie McKenzie, backed by Berita Martin on percussion and Robert Woodlowski on upright bass. Vollie and Roger both have some real good recorded music out and have been playing together over 20 years.

The heart and soul of this little ensemble is swing and jazz standards, classic vintage country, and originals with a bit of Don Gibson in the mix in honor of our home-town hero and legend. These are some fine musicians and one of their best assets is their choice of material and the sort of treatment they give it.

Vollie, Roger and the others are greatly respected among some mighty good performers around the country. Check out the CD sales area for Vollie’s “This Train” as well as two or three well done collaborations by Roger and some top-notch players. For a taste of Roger’s guitar work, check this out from his backing of Charleston singer Ann Caldwell at last year’s event.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Deeper Shade of Blue presents Art of Sound preview show

You can listen to the Art of Sound preview show on Steve Leatherwood's "Deeper Shade of Blue" program on WGWG radio. Tune in to 88.3 or on Tuesday October 6, and again on Tuesday October 20. Air time is 7-9:00 PM.

Steve welcomes Art of Sound committee member Tommy Forney to the DSB studio for a fast two-hour run-down of nearly all the 2009 Art of Sound performers. Thanks Steve, for the opportunity to play recordings of our artists. Hope this will give some idea of the variety and quality of the music in store for this year's festival on October 22-24. As always, go the the website for the details, schedules, performers, local links, venues and ticket information.

Thanks to The Star for being a media sponsor for Art of Sound.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Tori Sparks’ made “Merry-Go Round” video here

Tori Sparks (Sat. - 5:15-6:00) is one hard-working DIY singer/songwriter/guitar player and part time Roller Derby aficionado. The roller derby part and the Nashville Roller Girls show up in her video for her song, "Merry-Go Round" which was made at the Shelby City Park Carrousel last spring.

She was looking for a carousel to use in the video when she was directed from her base in Nashville to Shelby. The restored ride proved to be the right backdrop for the project which can be viewed on her website, Myspace, or YouTube. Try for a link to all of the above.

With a background in theater, her songs and delivery tell stories, sometimes taken from her current life on the road self-promoting her music. Criss-crossing the country from New York to Wilmington to the west coast and back to Music City, she keeps up with fans via Twitter and all the rest.

But the Carousel Video brought her here and she will return for this year's Art of Sound, in a way to say thank you to the city that hosted the video shoot. Hold on to your socks when she comes on stage. She knows how to put on a good show, both visually and acoustically. Her voice will reach out and grab you and her guitar licks are strong and perfectly suited to the material which is recognizably personal and recognizably universal.

Art of Sound is happy that Tori has added us to the map of her widely traveled itinerary. She's right in the middle of a strong line-up Saturday in the First National Bank upstairs venue.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

7th Annual Art of Sound Music Festival in Uptown Shelby.

Cleveland County’s largest and oldest active music festival will be Thursday, Friday and Saturday, October 22-24.

Sponsored by the Cleveland County Arts Council, over 30 bands, duos, and solo artists of all types will play Saturday from about mid-day until late evening and on two extra nights.

Venues will be an outdoor stage on Washington Street (Saturday, free), The Arts Center and the Ed Hamilton Banquet room inside First National Bank, all in Uptown Shelby on or near the Courthouse Square. Everything from solo songwriters and performers to jazz, bluegrass, country-rock, and old-time string band music will be featured.

Homegrown musical excellence will be joined by artists from Boston, Nashville, Washington D.C., Virginia, South Carolina, and North Carolina from Asheville to Chapel Hill.

Please call the Cleveland County Arts Council for information, or visit for details and ticket prices or to find out about volunteer opportunities and sponsorship.
photos from last year: 2009 Art of Sound photos click this

Monday, September 29, 2008

Soon come!

6th Annual Art of Sound Festival
When: October 17, 18, 19.
(Friday evening, all day Saturday, and Sunday afternoon)
What: 30-some bands and performers on several stages throughout Uptown Shelby.
High quality music with something for everyone.
Sponsored by the Cleveland County Arts Center, the City of Shelby and others
For information, ticket prices and schedules please call 704-484-6476 or
Volunteers always welcome.

The Cleveland County Arts Council and sponsors will proudly present the sixth annual version of the Art of Sound Music Festival the third weekend in October. There will be events all three days this year, from Friday, October 17, through Saturday and Sunday, the 18th and 19th.

As in previous years, Saturday’s lineup will comprise the bulk of the festival, from about 11:00 AM running until about 11:00 PM. The site will continue to be the Uptown Shelby area and several intimate venues including an outdoor (free) stage, the Arts Center, First National Bank, old Farmer’s Market (experience it for the last time before renovations begin), the student stage on the Courthouse Square, and Shelby Music Center .

Friday evening’s activities will consist of the Frank Love Orchestra at First National Bank, and Dale Brittain followed by Acoustic Syndicate at the Farmer’s Market Stage. On Sunday, the 19th, renowned mandolinist Mike Marshall will join the Shelby High Orchestra for a collaborative concert.

The weekend of top-notch music in many genres promises to be the best yet, building on a tradition begun in 2002 to showcase excellence in all types of music from the local area, the region, and beyond. There will be Bluegrass, Jazz, Gospel, Cajun, Celtic, Standards, acapella Gullah singers, Old-time string band music, Swing, and Country to name a few. The following is a sampling of the total package.

For the first time playing for a wide audience in the area, Harold Williamson brings his New Wondering Souls band to the Art of Sound stage. Harold grew up in Cleveland County, took his dreams to New York City and the stages and studios of Harlem and recorded albums, then brought his music back home and eventually recruited a band from this area and is recording and performing again. His music is original, with lyrics from his personal trials and triumphs. The sound is big and powerful vocally, deeply rooted in R & B and gospel instrumentation that will draw you in.

Bluegrass and some of its branches will be well represented, including solo work from second timer Jack Lawrence. The FlintHill Band continue to grow as local favorites. They’re writing good music and interpreting gems from the past. Dean Jencks is one that has picked up the challenge of working from the county that produced an icon like Earl Scruggs and he is one of the best. Tenor Harold Simpson is part of the vocal glue that holds together their trio and quartet work while contributing a solid and musical bass line.

The wooden floor of the Farmer’s market will provide a fitting canvas for three good string bands that not only play and sing great old time material, but also will provide a groove for anyone who feels the urge to shuffle their feet. This is the music that inspires the old southern flat foot and buck dancing that has gotten a little scarce in these parts. If you know someone who has held on to any of this old time dance tradition somewhere between square dancing and modern clogging, get them down to see the Slate Mountain Ramblers, the Buffalo Creek String Band, and the Hush Puppies. Fiddler Richard Bowman and family (Slate Mountain) always get a stage full of dancers to join them when they play places like the Tommy Jarrell Festival in Mount Airy. If you’re not familiar, this is basically one step back from bluegrass into a more dance-oriented groove.

Fans of jazzy stuff, big guitars and big vocals, will have a lot to enjoy. Calvin Edwards will get you moving to the sound of his archtop jazz guitar and a tight ensemble. Ann Caldwell and Roger Bellow will sing and play some of the best music ever composed. That’s the stuff we now affectionately call the standards. One Leg Up plays Swing in the tradition of Django Rhinehardt and Joe Venuti. It’s exciting just to be near this interplay of sounds. Carey’s Fridley’s bass and vocals anchor the swing guitars horn and strings -- you’re going to want to dance to this too.

IIIrd Tyme Out is one of the big names in bluegrass , winning awards for seven consecutive years as Best Vocal Group by the IBMA. Critics have called them “the complete band from stage left to stage right.” Founding member Russell Moore (guitar), Steve Dilling (banjo), Justin Haynes (fiddle), Wayne Benson (mandolin) and Edgar Loudermilk (bass) have carved out a place for themselves as a distinctive band, worthy of the role of one of our top draws for this year’s lineup.

Mama Said is back and we’re proud to claim them. Phil Ruff recently won the 2008 Chris Austin Songwriting contest at Merlefest in the Gospel category for “Mathew, Mark, Luke, and John.” Their new CD is called “Take Root” and is getting a lot of respect and airplay.

Speaking of traditional music, Gullah culture is the name given to the African American music from the South Carolina and Georgia coast and islands that came out of slavery days. Ann Caldwell and the Magnolia Singers will bring the unaccompanied sound of pure joy of living and spiritual roots from Charleston where they live and have played the Spoleto Festival. In this music are the roots of blues and jazz.

The Wrights are a husband and wife singing duets and carrying on the great Country tradition with a fresh and compelling sound. Adam and Shannon Wright, natives of Georgia, now work out of Nashville and write original material as well as interpreting others such as Willie Nelson and Don Williams.

The Old Ceremony will deliver a unique rock and roll experience drawing on a wide range of influences and instrumentation. The Chapel Hill based group defies general description but makes music that’s fun, danceable and sophisticated all at the same time.
Need Celtic music with bagpipes? Gael Warning is one of the projects that Tom Eure is associated with. See him alsowith Gator Gumbo for Cajun flavor or solo in the Early Bird Café.

The best way to plan your Art of Sound day and weekend, is to get a program (now available on the website), come early so you get the most value, and maybe make a point of trying something completely unknown. It’s not likely you’ll be disappointed.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Real to Reel International Film Festival and Hank Garland Tribute Music

For several local musicians, a highlight experience was getting to meet and jam with one of the greatest and most influential country/jazz guitarists of the period between the late 1940's to the mid 1960's. The too-short but trail-blazing career of Cowpens, S.C. native Hank Garland is a compelling story now being told in a new movie making the festival rounds. It will be screened on Friday, July 25th at our sister festival, the “Real to Reel International Film Festival" at the Joy Theater in Kings Mountain. ( or 704-484-2787). A festival brochure is available at the Cleveland County Arts Council.

Note: musicians who knew Hank and his music will play at the post-festival party on Saturday night, July 26 at the Joy.

"Crazy" is the story of Hank Garland, who played on an unbelievable number of hits with artists like Elvis Presley, Patsy Cline, Don Gibson (“Blue, Blue Day”, “Sea of Heartbreak”), and worked in studios with Chet Atkins, Grady Martin, fiddler Tommy Jackson and other legends. But after a tragic and life-changing auto accident 15 years into his career, Hank had to relearn everything. The once lightening quick fingers that made "Sugarfoot Rag" into a sort of country anthem and explored the world of jazz guitar and stretched so many boundaries were never quite the same.

Hank lived out the rest of his 74 years with his brother Billy in Florida and his parents in Cowpens. That's where several local pickers pilgrimaged and played with the man that showed visitors gold records and memorabilia from the golden years of American music including the Gibson Byrdland Guitar that he and Billy Byrd (Ernest Tubb's long-time lead guitarist) designed and is still a sought after model.

It's a complicated story, but this movie captures the flavor of the time. It's authentic in details such as the guitars used, and the music is top-notch. The soundtrack was produced by Grammy winner Larry Kline.

The movie covers Hank’s rise to the highest ranks of hot solo guitar work and his stormy relationship with the business powers of the music industry. Hank began to be interested in jazz and his association with players who were outside of the Nashville mainstream such as the black players that he liked to jam with after hours didn’t help him get along with the what has been called the Nashville mafia. He eventually recorded a couple of highly respected jazz albums including “Jazz Winds From a New Direction” which is still considered a milestone recording today.

Crazy is only playing festivals at this time so it's appropriate that a quality story about a regional native son (practically next door) play our Real to Reel Film Festival this year. This is more of the rich heritage that came from local down home folk, but made it about as big as it gets in the industry. Bobbie (Mrs. Don) Gibson says, "Don was very close to Hank and never wanted to call him or other musicians “sidemen”. They were both about giving credit to the artists who made the music.

Some of Hank’s local family and friends and musician buddies will be at the Joy Theater anxious to see Hank remembered and exposed to a younger generation that may not be as familiar with what he did. They remember him as a true guitar hero and a genuine person and one of our own. On Saturday night July 26th after the movies and awards, there will be a live musical tribute in the lobby to celebrate the legend and the man, as well as a fun way to end this year’s version of Real to Reel.

Hank's Obituary by Eddie Stubbs