Traditional Song Week - July 3-9, 2016



Traditional Song Week realizes a dream of a comprehensive program completely devoted to traditional styles of singing. Unlike programs where singing takes a back seat to the instrumentalists, it is the entire focus of this week, which aims to help restore the power of songs within the larger traditional music scene. Here, finally, is a place where you can develop and grow in confidence about your singing, and have lots of fun with other folks devoted to their own song journeys. Come gather with us to explore various traditional song genres under the guidance of experienced, top-notch instructors. When singers gather together, magical moments are bound to happen!

For Traditional Song Week’s ninth year and our celebration of The Swannanoa Gathering’s 25th Anniversary, we are proud to present a gathering of highly influential singers and musicians who have remained devoted over the years to preserving and promoting traditional song. Tuesday evening will be our big Hoedown for a Traditional Country, Honk-Tonk, Western Swing Song and Dance Night. Imagine singing to a house band of Josh Goforth, Robin & Linda Williams and Ranger Doug or Tim May, Tim O’Brien, and Mark Weems! So, bring your boots and hats, your voices and instruments, and get ready to bring on the fun! Our Community Gathering Time each day just after lunch affords us the opportunity to experience together, as one group, diverse topics concerning our shared love of traditional song. This year’s spotlight will feature folks who have been “on the road” and singing for quite a while. Robin & Linda Williams, regulars on the A Prairie Home Companion show since the 80’s, will share their 44 years of song…what a treat! We’ll also hear up close and personal from two of today’s finest song collector’s from Scotland and Ireland, Alan Reid and Len Graham. The “Life of O’Brien’ will be a highlight as we listen to Tim O’Brien and his stories of singing and playing guitar since age 12, and being influenced by North Carolina’s treasured Doc Watson. We’ll even have a movie day and watch one of John Cohen’s films presenting NC ballad singer Dillard Chandler, Josh Goforth and Sheila Kay Adams’ relatives. As requested by students, we will again feature some classes in singing with instruments (guitar and banjo). Dáithí Sproule, one of the very first to adapt and explore DADGAD tuning in Irish music, will teach a new class in “Accompanying Songs in DADGAD Tuning,” Sheila Kay Adams will teach “Singing With the Banjo” for the first time at Traditional Song Week, and Ranger Doug, the idol of American youth, back by popular demand, will teach a guitar class called “Swing While You Sing.” A very special welcome to new staff Tim O’Brien, Robin & Linda Williams, Alan Reid, David Roth, and Kathy Bullock, a seasoned gospel singer from Berea College in KY, who will also lead our morning warm ups. We are honored to have back some staff who add so much to the programs: Cathy Jordan, Sheila Kay Adams, Dáithí Sproule, Matt Watroba, Mark Weems, Len Graham, Ranger Doug, Josh Goforth, Melissa Hyman and Tim May. We’ll have classes in gospel, bluegrass, songs of Hank Williams, cowboy songs, songs from Ireland, England, Scotland, North Carolina mountain ballads, songwriting in the tradition, finding your voice and own style, choosing your songs, shape-note, duet harmony, arrangement, music theory, community singing, singing with instruments, children’s songs and more! The week will also feature nightly concerts and singing sessions, the Old Farmers Ball dance, a wonderful Children’s Program, ample opportunities to mix with other singers, and midday Community Gathering times.