Join Mountain Home Music and Celtic Band Handsome Molly at BRAHM on March 12

Published Monday, March 7, 2016 at 11:54 am
Handsome Molly

Handsome Molly

Are you suffering from Cabin Fever this winter? Are you ready to add a little excitement and color to your days of grey skies and drab landscapes? Well, Joe Shannon’s Mountain Home Music has just the ticket for you! Join us as we get a jump on St. Paddy’s Day with a concert that celebrates the “Wearing of the Green”. The concert features the Celtic band Handsome Molly. It will take place on Saturday, March 12 at BRAHM in Blowing Rock, with the doors opening at 7:00pm and the show beginning at 7:30 p.m.

Handsome Molly is a Virginia based trio that performs traditional tunes and songs from Ireland and the British Isles. The members of the band, Kelly Kennedy (piano, accordion and vocals), Andy Cleveland (fiddle and whistles) and Craig DuBose (guitar), have performed at venues throughout the country as well as in Ireland, Scotland and England. Together they play regularly at Colonial Williamsburg and throughout Virginia and the region, presenting programs featuring the tunes and songs at the root of American traditional music. They perform in a friendly and relaxed style to mirror the informality and spontaneity of the home and community based nature of traditional music.

JSMHM director Rodney Sutton stated, “We are excited to welcome Handsome Molly back to the High Country to kick off our 2016 concerts. They made a stop at the Jones House back in 2014 while on a tour that took them to New Orleans.”

Kennedy is highly regarded for her beautiful singing voice, engaging stage presence and gift for interpretation whether in theatrical roles or playing traditional or early music. An actress, musician, singer, and dancer, she performed for many years in the historic area of Colonial Williamsburg and was the vocalist for 15 years with “39 Fingers”, Richmond’s premiere Celtic ensemble. She currently performs as an independent musician for The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, conducts workshops, and appears in regional theater productions around the country. She has made several recordings of Early American music and music from Ireland and Britain.

Cleveland grew up in a musical family in Yorkshire, England and acquired his musical chops at the hands of English folk luminaries playing at the Scunthorpe Folk Club in his hometown. Andy’s early involvement in English folk music naturally led to an interest in home brewing for which he has won several awards. During the day Andy is employed as an IT specialist with the Appomattox Regional Governor’s School for the Arts and Technology, and in his spare time he makes fine violins and violas. He is a stalwart of the Irish music community in Richmond and has enlivened many sessions with his enthusiastic playing and good humor.

DuBose began teaching himself to play the guitar at the age of 12. For almost fifty years he has followed his interest in all types of traditional music and has performed for countless dances, festivals, concerts, and social occasions. He has been a staff musician at the John C. Campbell Folk School and the Augusta Heritage Art Workshops and has organized and promoted music and dance events for the local chapter of the Country Dance and Song Society in his home town of Charlottesville, VA. DuBose is also a self-employed woodworker producing custom cabinetry and furniture.

Sutton says, “I asked Craig to shared some insights into Handsome Molly in an interview I conducted for this article. I began by asking – Give some background into Handsome Molly.”

DuBose responded, “Andy and Kelly have been playing together for about 25 years, performing lots of concerts at Colonial Williamsburg.  The three of us have known each other and played together at music parties for maybe 15 years.  I can’t even remember when we “officially” became a band; maybe 7 or 8 years ago. We often play for audiences who are not avid Irish or traditional music followers; and so we try to present the differences and similarities between Irish, Scottish and English traditional music- the differences in the types of tunes, the cultural differences in those traditional and the stylistic aspects that make the traditions distinct.  We also try to be aware that this type of music is more personal and/or communal in nature, which means it isn’t “traditionally” intended for performance as we are used to thinking of performance.  So we like to be more informal as we “perform” just to feel more connected with the audience.”

Tickets are available in advance for $15 until noon the day of the concert at the JSMHM website,, or at Pandora’s Mailbox, located in the Martin House at 1098 Main St, Blowing Rock. Remaining tickets will be sold for $18 at the door beginning at 6:00pm on the day of the show. As always, student tickets are $10, and children 12 and under are admitted free. Only 150 seats are available, so advance purchase is advised.


Here’s a Q-and-A with Sutton and Dubose:

Sutton – “What is your past association with JSMHM – didn’t you once make a trip to Ireland with Joe Shannon and friends of Mountain Home Music?”

Dubose – “Cecil Gurganus from Todd and I have known each other since the days of summer camp in the late 60s.  Later, when I was in college, I lived with he and his wife Julie for a semester while I was doing an independent study in ballad singing and building a lap dulcimer in Cecil’s shop. A year after I finished college, Cecil and Julie asked me to help them build their house and a couple of years after that Cecil and I worked together on another house. It was at that time that I met Joe and he and I shared a house for a couple of years. In 2005 Cecil, Mark Freed and I were invited to go along on the MHM trip to Ireland as the ‘house band’ for the tour.”

Sutton – “You are known for your strong “back-up” guitar playing. Can you describe your approach to playing rhythm guitar?”

Dubose – “Having played guitar for dances for so many years, I think that the most important aspect of playing “backup” is maintaining a strong rhythm to underpin what the melody players (and the dancers) are doing.  If the rhythm is strong and steady, it makes it easier for the melody players, and they play better.

In addition to keeping a solid rhythm, it’s important to understand how the chords in a tune work to provide movement in the tune. It’s also fun to play with variations of chords to make a tune more interesting or give it a little different character. Sort of looking at it from a different perspective.”

Sutton – “Have you been influenced by Doc Watson’s guitar playing and if so how do you mesh his flatpicking into your approach to playing the guitar?”

DuBose – “Doc was certainly one of the early influences, not so much for his incredible flatpicking but for the range of his musical interests and ability to draw from so many styles. But he took all of that music and it came out as pure Doc. His flatpicking is always recognized, but he could bring so much out of the guitar and I always thought of him as a true musician, someone for whom the music really went deep.”

Sutton – “Please compare playing for dances, at bars, or for attentive audiences like JSMHM concerts?”

Dubose – “In general, dances are a lot of work (we don’t really play for them often) and bars are no fun unless it’s a session, so we really prefer and enjoy playing for listening audiences – especially in small, intimate venues like JSMHM concerts. We are really interested in the history of traditional music and the stories that go along with the tunes and songs, so playing small concerts is the best way to communicate what we think traditional music is all about and to connect with all of the emotions that the music brings out. We are looking forward to playing in Blowing Rock.”


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