Carter Family Heir Performs at Jones House

Published Tuesday, November 3, 2015 at 9:54 am

Dale Jett, grandson of original Carter Family members, Sara and A.P. Carter, performs at the Jones House on Friday, November 13, continuing the Town of Boone’s Fall 2015 indoor concert series.

Jett

Jett

A native of the southwest Virginia community where the Carter Family got started, Dale Jett continues his family’s long legacy of American country music and songwriting.  Jett is the son of Jeanette Carter, AP and Sara’s daughter, who helped create and maintain the Carter Family Fold.  “The Fold,” as it is known,” was established to help celebrate and keep alive the musical legacy of the Carter Family and other traditional music from the southern mountains.  Jett grew up at the Carter Family Fold, soaking up the sounds of some of the country’s best folk and country performers.

“I was around people playing and singing all my life,” Jett says.  “That was just how I thought everyone grew up.”

Though he was absorbing the music in his head, Jett was left-handed and was never around left-handed instruments.  Then Jett met and say famous folk legend, Elizabeth Cotton, who was also left handed and played right-handed instruments.

“She changed my life,” Jett recalls.  “She showed me my first notes on the guitar, upside down and left-handed, and assured me that it was okay to play that way.”

Jett never looked back, learning to play guitar in a style that sounds similar to that of Maybelle Carter’s “Carter Scratch,” the style that accompanies the original Carter Family recordings.  Jett eventually learned to play the autoharp as well, creating his own left-handed techniques.  He started performing the Carter Family repertoire and writing songs of his own.

Jett formed the band Hello Stranger, along with his wife Teresa on bass and friend Oscar Harris on guitar, mandolin, and autoharp.  The three were regular staple performers at The Carter Family Fold for many years.

Though Jett made his living as a construction worker, his passion lies in music.

“Music has given me something that I have never found in day-to-day construction work,” Jett says.  “But I have never been rewarded like I have with music.”

Jett continues to perform mostly music from the Carter Family cannon of music, one of the most valued body of work in American music.  The Carter Family recorded many songs that are still familiar today, including “Keep on the Sunny Side,” “Will the Circle Be Unbroken?,” and “Wildwood Flower.”  Many other Carter Family songs influenced the American folk music repertoire.  For example, Woody Guthrie borrowed a melody from a Carter Family song for his anthem, “This Land Is Your Land.”

Jett is also a powerful songwriter and a connoisseur of American roots songwriters.

“We tend to do music that moves and effects us,” Jett says.  “We try to take that same song and move other people with it.”

The band has performed on Mountain Stage, the Marty Stuart Show, the Grand Ole Opry, and many other radio and television programs, festivals, and concert stages.

The performance at the Jones House will take place in the Mazie Jones Gallery, on the first floor of the community center.

“This is a rare opportunity to hear Carter Family songs sung and played by the Carter Family bloodline,” says concert organizer Mark Freed.  “And the Jones House provides and intimate and unamplified space that perfectly suits folk and roots music.”

There is a limit of 40 seats for the performance, so advanced reservations are encouraged.  Any open seats will be available for purchase at the door.  Doors open at 7:00 p.m., and the performance begins at 7:30 p.m.  Seats are $20 per person and will include an opportunity to meet the artist.

For more information about the performance, including reservations and a complete Fall Concerts schedule, please visit www.joneshouse.org or contact the Town of Boone Cultural Resources Department at 828.268.6280.

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