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People of a certain age might remember the hugely successful, if somewhat sopoforic, easy listening franchise "101 Strings." Harpist Sue Richards and multi-instrumentalist Robin Bullock may come close to that string count when the two appear together at White Horse Black Mountain on Friday, Sept. 29. But the fire and flair that they bring to their Celtic-inspired duo arrangements are far removed from elevator music.

Bullock and Richards have a long shared history as label mates on Maggie’s Music, the Baltimore area record company that Fiona Ritchie of the public radio show "The Thistle and Shamrock" describes as “a gathering place for much Celtic-rooted and -inspired acoustic music in the United States.” A number of the label’s artists now make Western North Carolina their home, including Bullock and Richards and local favorites Al Petteway and Amy White. Bullock and Richards have released a number of solo albums with Maggie’s Music, and have appeared together on recordings with each other and other collaborators.

Richards, a harper extraordinaire, has been playing music since she was a child and was attracted to the harp, especially its Celtic incarnation, early on. She sought out traditional Irish music sessions and learned to play the tunes in an informal group setting, developing a feel for accompaniment, composition and arranging along the way. Her wide ranging interests extend to early music, which she explores with Ensemble Galilei, and Scandinavian folk tunes. Along with her full performing schedule, she enjoys teaching harp in workshops nationwide and private lessons in the Asheville area.

Bullock, a multi-instrumentalist (guitar, mandolin, cittern), grew up in the Washington, D.C. area, a hotbed for both bluegrass and Irish music, and his early influences shaped a musical persona that successfully blends Celtic and American traditions. His impeccable tone, virtuosic technique and tasteful arrangements have put him on the road with folk legends like Janis Ian and Tom Paxton, and he’s played and recorded with a Who’s Who of acoustic artists while producing a catalog of acclaimed CDs under his own banner. His most recent solo recording is an ambitious interpretation for mandolin of J.S. Bach’s "Suites 1-3 for Cello."

Strings with wings 

Who: Robin Bullock and Sue Richards

When: 8 p.m. Sept. 29

Where: White Horse Black Mountain

Cost: $12 advance, $15 door

 

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