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Katherine Whalen and Swing Guitars at Concert on the Lawn

Article Published: Jul. 7, 2011 | Modified: Sep. 7, 2011
Katherine Whalen and Swing Guitars at Concert on the Lawn

Vocalist Katherine Whalen, formerly of the Squirrel Nut Zippers, will perform Friday at the Jones House Concert on the Lawn.

Photo by Adam Dodds

There will be no shortage of swinging and Whalen on the Jones House porch Friday evening.

This week's Concert on the Lawn hosts the gypsy jazz group Swing Guitars and Americana singer Katherine Whalen.

Mark Freed, Watauga Arts Council folklorist, is especially excited to have Whalen appear at the concert. "She has an interesting musical background, including playing and singing with the Squirrel Nut Zippers, of which she is a founding member," he said.

The Squirrel Nut Zippers, originating in Chapel Hill, came to prominence in the late 1990s swing revival. The group sold more than 3 million records.

Whalen is now promoting her solo career, which she said isn't a far cry from her previous work.

"It's different and it isn't in a way," Whalen said. "It's still American folk music. The Squirrel Nut Zippers were sampling sounds from an earlier era. I'm just moving up into the more recent era of the 1960s."

Today, Whalen bills herself as an Americana and folk artist. She references the Everly Brothers and folk singers Arlo Guthrie and Joan Baez, all of whom she grew up listening to, as her influences.
"The sounds of my childhood are now tumbling out of me," she said.

Whalen is releasing her first album featuring her own music and lyrics in August. The first pressings of "Madly Love," from Katherine Whalen and Her Fascinators, will be available for sale at the Concert on the Lawn. She will perform songs from the new album.

On Friday, Whalen will perform with one of her Fascinators, bass player William Dawson. In addition to singing, Whalen also plays tenor guitar and banjo. "We may also bring up our Wurlitzer organ," she said.

While Whalen is traveling from Efland to perform, Swing Guitars are based in Boone.

Swing Guitars are making their third appearance at the Concert on the Lawn Series, opening Friday's event at 5 p.m.

Featuring Andy Page, Jay Brown and James Schaller on guitars, and Ben McPherron on bass, Swing Guitars specializes in early guitar-based acoustic jazz, also known as "gypsy jazz."

Page said the instrumentation for Swing Guitars' style of jazz is different than what is normally associated with the genre.

"There are no horns or drums, but the three guitars and bass provide all the drive and excitement," he said. "It's really fun to play. We love to share this valuable music with visitors to Boone and our hometown crowd."

The Concert on the Lawn is a free event at the Jones House Community Center, located at 604 W. King St. in downtown Boone. Attendees are encouraged to bring chairs or blankets for the lawn.

Celebrating its 19th season, the Concerts on the Lawn Series is sponsored by MPrints, Footsloggers, Stick Boy Bread Company, Melanie's Food Fantasy, Mast General Store and the Downtown Boone Development Association.

Next week's event features folk group Folk and Dagger and songwriter and storyteller Michael Reno Harrell.

For more information, visit

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