Nov. 24, 2014. A number of years ago, Joe Shannon noticed increasing numbers of cars traveling High Country roads on the Saturday after Thanksgiving with Ashe and Watauga county trees tied on top. He decided to feature a Mountain Home Christmas Concert to mark the “Tree Cutting Day.”
The Celtic Christmas Concert began just then, and has become a tradition itself. This year will be of special interest, since it features longtime friends of JSMHM, Julee and Mark Weems, who together are known as Little Windows. This concert, which begins at 7:30 p.m., will take place at St. Elizabeth’s Catholic Church in Boone.
When asked what the duo will feature for the evening, Julee replied, “We’ve chosen Christmas carol and winter songs from Scotland, Ireland and Wales. So we’ll be taking a musical journey from the British Isles to Appalachia.”
Mark is a multi-instrumentalist, playing banjo, guitar and dulcimer. Julee, who learned traditional Irish singing during her seven-year stay in Dublin, often sings solo or accompanies the duo on the Irish drum. The two focus on the art of pure voice with tight harmonies and often sing a cappella. Audiences are captivated by their pure sound.
Both are teachers of singing and traditional music in the Durham area, and have traveled widely. Mark has recently published a collection of old American banjo tunes. They just returned from a tour with NPR’s Thistle and Shamrock’s host Fiona Ritchie and Doug Orr, who have written a comprehensive history of the music of Scotland, Ireland and its influence on Appalachian music. Julee and Mark and featured on the recording which goes with the book.
Julee is in much demand as a voice teacher in the Durham area. She is happy to bring with her for the show the Fernandez Sisters who study harmony singing with her. North Carolina natives Elise, Olivia and Sofia Fernandez play mainly a mix of traditional folk, bluegrass, Celtic/Irish, jazz and a few originals. Playing as a band since 2011, Elise (17) plays guitar, Olivia (14) plays mandolin and Sofia (12) plays fiddle with all three singing harmony. One selection the girls will perform is a Christmas carol from Galacia, the Celtic region of Spain. It promises to be a delightful evening.
Joe Shannon’s Mountain Home Music would like to acknowledge business sponsors for this week’s concert: Appalachian Brian Estates, Earth Fare, The Mast General Store, The United Way, WETS – 89.5 FM, and The Blue Ridge Music Trails of North Carolina. In addition, private sponsors are Merida H. and John H. Steele.
Saint Elizabeth Catholic Church is located at 259 Pilgrims Way in Boone. Tickets are $20.00 in advance and $22.00 at the door. Student tickets are $11.00. This is indeed a child-friendly concert. Children, 12 and under, are free. Prices include the new NC state tax. Advance tickets may be purchased online though the Mountain Home Music website, www.mountainhomemusic.com. Tickets may also be purchased at the Mast General Store (Boone and Valle Crucis), Fred’s Mercantile on Beech Mountain, and at Pandora’s Mailbox and the Dulcimer Shop, both in the Martin House on Main Street, downtown Blowing Rock.