Fiddler Jim Brock performs at the Rosenzweig Arts Center in this 2011 photo. Brock and friends present a CD release show July 1 in the Rosenzweig Arts Center main gallery at 501 Main St. in Columbus at 6 p.m. Photo by: Courtesy photo
June 28, 2014 10:29:15 PM
Two revered sons of the South return to the Columbus Arts Council's Rosenzweig Arts Center in downtown Columbus this week, on Tuesday and Thursday evenings.
Grand Ole Opry alumnus and Alabama Hall of Fame fiddler Jim Brock and friends celebrate the release of the album "Me and My Fiddle" Tuesday, July 1 with a preview of the bluegrass-country blend Brock has been known for since his tenure with icons like Carl Sauceman and the Green Valley Boys.
On Thursday, July 3 acclaimed singer-songwriter Pierce Pettis makes a second visit to Columbus for a full show in the intimate Omnova Theater inside the arts center.
"It's not exactly a double-header, but it's definitely a double dose of two of the finest musicians in the South in one week," said CAC Program Manager Beverly Norris.
Brock's show, approximately an hour long, begins Tuesday at 6 p.m. in the arts center's main gallery at 501 Main St. Admission is $5.
"The man is a legendary fiddler, with an historic career that includes a long stint playing with bluegrass legends Jim and Jesse McReynolds, touring with Bill Monroe and Charlie Louvin and making numerous appearance on the Grand Ole Opry, " said classical, folk, jazz and Celtic musician Tom Morely after "trading licks" with Brock on a visit to Mississippi.
The new album takes its name, "Me and My Fiddle," from one of its tracks, one meaningful to Brock.
"My favorite fiddle player was Benny Martin," said the Pickens County, Alabama, native. "I followed him when I started as a kid; that's his tune, and I've always loved to play it. There's a lot of fiddling to it."
The album recorded with Dennis McKay at his Studio 115A in Columbus features 13 tracks.
"There are tunes I've wanted to do for years, tunes that don't seem to get played a lot any more, and I think they should be put out there," said Brock. Three original tracks from the Carl Sauceman era are also included.
Brock will be joined July 1 by his son, Jim Brock Jr., on drums and Keith Porter on guitar. The audience can expect plenty of master fiddle work, as well as vocals.
The new CD will be available for purchase Tuesday for $12.
"We hope everybody will come out and enjoy it," the fiddler said. "We're gonna play some good music."
Brock performs with Gene Robertson and the Echoes the first and third Saturday nights at the New Hope Community Center, and on Fridays at the Community Center in Northport, Alabama.
A mellow turn
The focus turns from bluegrass to a mellower tempo on Thursday, when Pierce Pettis comes to town. Tickets to the 7 p.m. acoustic concert are $10 in advance, or $12 at the door.
"After Pierce's concert here last July, we immediately had people asking when could we get him back," said Norris, a Pettis fan since 1992.
Pettis' songs, which often feel like carefully crafted short stories, have been recorded by Joan Baez, Art Garfunkel and Garth Brooks, among others. The Alabama native released three albums with Windham Hill and its divisions, and was a songwriter for PolyGram in Nashville from 1993-2000. He has released five albums on Compass Records. With singer-songwriters Kate Campbell and Tom Kimmel, Pettis has formed the New Agrarians, a trio showcasing stories and music steeped in the South.
When Pettis' talented daughter, Grace, won the New Folk Award at the iconic Kerrville Folk Festival in Texas in 2011, the Pettis' became the only father-daughter pair to each earn that honor. Pierce won it in 1987.
"Pierce has got the whole package -- great guitar work, incredibly touching lyrics and a voice that puts emotion into every song," said Norris.
For more information about the two concerts, contact the CAC, 662-328-2787, open Tuesday through Saturday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Or visit columbus-arts.com.
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.