JAMinc Brings Celtic Fiddlers to Town

Kevin Burke and John Carty, two world-renowned Celtic fiddlers, were in town on Thursday, playing at In Your Ear studios, as well as making appearances at two local schools.

Their performance is part of a series held by the nonprofit JAMinc, which puts on one concert a month, excluding the summer months, featuring a variety of music from jazz to bluegrass. Unfortunately, the 7:30 p.m. show at In Your Ear is sold out, but the lucky students at Mary Munford Elementary School and Maggie L. Walker’s Governor School will get to hear Burke and Carty perform during their visit to Richmond. Here’s a clip of the duo playing in San Francisco:

In Your Ear, a recording studio at 1813 E. Broad St., seats 80 people in a house-concert setting, says Robbin Thompson, a member of JAMinc’s board of directors. “It’s a very homey atmosphere,” Thompson says. Guests are even encouraged to bring a covered dish to share with the rest of the audience.

Tim Timberlake, another member of JAMinc’s board of directors, says that 85 percent of the cover charge ($20 in advance, $25 at the door for Thursday’s show) goes to the artists and 15 percent goes toward renting the space, JAMinc’s PayPal fees and soft drinks for the audience. JAMinc has been putting on the concerts for 10 years. Timberlake says that artists enjoy playing at these small concerts because of the attentive audience, rather than for the money. The board of directors decides whom to invite to the next concert, though there has been an increase in artists inquiring to play for JAMinc. A recording featuring highlights from the shows, JAMinc Concert Series 1, is available through In Your Ear.

“Our mission is to bring in music that would not necessarily come through Richmond and songwriters that may not be on the tour,” Thompson says. He says that the artists invited to perform are also encouraged to play for children at both public and private schools in the area.

Timberlake adds that these visiting artists have played for 53,000 students in the area over the years. “Our school outreach is the main thing we are proud of,” he says.

Looking ahead, Missy Raines and the New Hip are the next group scheduled in the series. Their show is set for March 20 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $20 in advance. Raines is a seven-time recipient of the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Bass Player of the Year Award. The New Hip includes guitarist and co-producer Ethan Ballinger, mandolinist/acoustic guitarist Jarrod Walker and drummer/percussionist Josh Fox.

Burke and Carty bring Celtic fiddling to Richmond schools

Kevin Burke and John Carty, two world-renowned Celtic fiddlers, were in town on Thursday, playing at In Your Ear studios, as well as making appearances at two local schools.

Lucky students at Mary Munford Elementary School and Maggie L. Walker’s Governor School were able to hear Burke and Carty perform during their visit to Richmond.

Jim Avett visits two schools before performing to sold out crowd

As part of singer/songwriter/master storyteller Jim Avett‘s collaboration with JAMinc, he spent time before his evening performance visiting two Richmond schools – Maggie Walker Govenor’s School and Douglas Freeman High School.

Photo by: Andy Garrigue

During his time with the students, Jim shared his stories and songs, and offered them encouragement rooted in reality. He “encouraged them to be the best they can be,” not only in music, but also in life. This “just do your best” theme is pervasive in any music from the Avett family, indicating a firm belief that each of us has a purpose in life, and doing our best is always enough to make an impact.

Jim Avett Kicks Off the 2013 Season

To launch their 2013 concert series, JAMinc brought in singer/songwriter/master storyteller Jim Avett from Concord, NC to perform for a sold-out crowd at In Your Ear Recording Studio in Richmond, VA this past Friday night.

As a part of his collaboration with JAMinc., Jim spent time before his evening performance visiting two Richmond schools–Maggie Walker Govenor’s School and Douglas Freeman High School. This push to get talented musicians into Richmond area schools is part of the core mission at JAMinc. Over the past decade, they have successfully reached over 47,000 K-12 students in the Richmond area.

Photo by: Andy Garrigue

During his time with the students, Jim shared his stories and songs, and offered them encouragement rooted in reality. He “encouraged them to be the best they can be,” not only in music, but also in life. This “just do your best” theme is pervasive in any music from the Avett family, indicating a firm belief that each of us has a purpose in life, and doing our best is always enough to make an impact.

Later that evening, music lovers gathered in the listening room at In Your Ear Recording Studio for Jim’s show. Many of those present had never seen Jim perform live, but were eager and excited to hear the music of the Avett family patriarch. Little did they know, they were not only about to hear a gifted singer/songwriter, but also one of the best storytellers this side of the Mason-Dixon line.

Unlike the crowd, I have had the pleasure of seeing Jim Avett perform several times. While no two shows are alike, I have heard most of his stories a time or two. Though he is always quick to apologize for his redundancy, it is in his redundancy that lessons are reinforced and new connections to music are created. Therefore, it’s not surprising to still find myself completely engaged and entertained when he dives into one of his old trusty tales about getting his first guitar, the art of picking, or his admiration for great songwriters like Tom T. Hall. Somehow Jim’s stories never wear thin. They never get old. Perhaps it’s his lighthearted country charm and down-home humility, or the simple wisdom and appreciation for what is true that keeps listeners like myself coming back for another helping of Jim Avett.

Photo by: Andy Garrigue

Photo by: Andy Garrigue

Flanked by lead guitarist Ray Morton and fiddlers Ali and Justine Parker, Jim took the stage in his trademark cowboy hat and black leather vest, and did what he does best–took listeners on a musical journey through his life. During the first half of the show, Jim wove childhood stories in with the songs that have shaped him into the musician he is today. His set list was thoughtful–deliberately complimenting tales about growing up in the foothills of NC, learning his first guitar chord progressions, and stealing history lessons from Johnny Horton songs. He delighted the captivated audience with classics like, All I Have to do is Dream, Wreck of the Old ’97, Sink the Bismarck, Keep on the Sunny Side, (Old Dogs, Children and) Watermelon Wine, and Hey Good Lookin’.

After a short intermission, Jim, Ray and Ali returned to the stage to play original tunes from Jim’s most recent albums “Tribes” and “Second Chance”–and you better believe that the stories continued as well. As Jim explained the details behind each songs, it was evident that he not only writes from personal experiences, but also through a keen observation of others, which he displayed in songs like Willard and Decisions. Through his tough facade, hardened by a lifetime of honest and dirty work, a sweet and candid family man emerged as he spoke fondly of his his wife Susie and their three children. With ease, he admitted his propensity for writing love songs, before transitioning into some of his favorites including Leaving Knoxville, Through the Passing Years, Tribes, and Saying Goodbye. Jim also treated the audience to a new song called, World Goes Round and Round–a heartfelt story of a grandaddy walking along a wooded path with his granddaughter and offering up a lifetime of advice.

With his first performance in Richmond, VA on the books, Jim proved, once again, that he is a master of lyrical imagery. With his stories and songs, he painted a picture of a simpler, fonder time that many of us long for, as we forge ahead into the tech-savvy, hustle-bustle world in which we live.

In a city so defined by its history, Jim Avett has gifted Richmond with his own little piece of the past–a kind reminder that sometimes we must look back through the history of music to allow ourselves to evolve and move forward in our own story and song.