New England Celtic Arts will present Boston-based Long Time Courting at Skye Theatre Performing Arts Center in South Carthage on Wednesday, April 20, and at Unity College Center for the Performing Arts on Thursday, April 21. Curtain is at 7: p.m. at Skye and 7:30 p.m. in Unity. There is a pre-show jam session one hour prior to curtain at all both venues. Audience members are encouraged to bring their instruments and jam with the artists for a few minutes.

Take four individually accomplished traditional musicians and singers with fresh attitudes, combine them, and you have the rich, soaring four-part vocal arrangements and high energy Irish jigs and reels that are Long Time Courting. Long Time Courting brings heavenly harmonies to old and new ballads and serves up a zesty side of dance tunes.

Bringing together the talents of Sarah Blair on fiddle/vocals, Liz Simmons on guitar/vocals, Shannon Heaton on flute/vocals, and Ariel Friedman on cello/vocals, this Boston-based band shares a love of traditional Irish and American music as well as contemporary material. They bring elements of these various genres to their traditional repertoire in a way that is seamlessly innovative and fun.

Sarah Blair began playing Irish fiddle in Providence, R.I,’s thriving traditional Irish music scene. She honed her playing as a sought-after session leader in Boston and in the world of American contra dancing. With her band The Sevenns and with other eensembles, Sarah has played at festivals, concerts, and dance weeks from Alaska to Quebec to Florida. Her most unusual gig was filling in for fiddler Liz Carroll for a portion of The Eagles’ singer Don Henley’s 2000 tour. In 2001, the Sevens were featured on NPR in an interview with Noah Adams. She is included in “Handy with the Stick: Fiddler Magazine’s Best of Irish fiddling,” a forthcoming book profiling top Irish fiddlers by Brendan Taaffe.

Liz Simmonds grew up in a musical family in southern New Hampshire. As a child, she was exposed to a mixture of classical, rock, bluegrass, traditional, folk and pop music. Her passion for traditional folk singing developed in her late teens, after she spent a few years studying classical voice. Since then, she has developed a unique style that incorporates the sounds of Appalachian traditional singing and pop. Her performance credits include North Cregg, The Sevens and The John Whelan Band. She is currently the lead singer of Annalivia, a band that infuses a contemporary edge with the traditional sounds of Ireland, Appalachia and Cape Breton.

Shannon Heaton is a veteran performer, having toured nationally with her husband, guitarist Matt Heaton for more than 10 years. She developed her love of folk and traditional music early on, having lived in music-rich Nigeria and Thailand. It was in Chicago that she discovered the local Irish music community and began learning tunes. Since then, her keen melodic and arranging sensibilities, discerning ear and exquisite Irish flute style has been featured with numerous Boston area ensembles.

Ariel Friedman is an inventive folk and classical cellist from Boston and a winner of the American String Teachers Association’s 2009 Alternative Styles Award. She recently received a bachelor of music degree from Northwestern University, where she studied with cellist Hans Jorgen Jensen. She works as a duo with her sister Mia, a fiddler. She also performs, tours, and records with Scottish National Fiddle champion Hanneke Cassel and New England’s highly -acclaimed fiddle band, Childsplay. She teaches at a music school and her private studio, and is in demand as an instructor at fiddle camps around the country.

Skye Theater is located 3 miles West of East Dixfield village at 2 Highland Drive, off Winter Hill Road and Route 2 in South Carthage. UCCPA is at 42 Depot St. in Unity. For reservations at the theater you wish to attend call: Skye Theatre at 562-4445, or UCCPA at 948-7469. Tickets are $15 at Skye and Unity.

More information is available at: http://www.necelticarts.com


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