Barnraisers, Katy Mitchell Band in the house

Published 12:30 am Thursday, July 21, 2011

The BoCo Summer Concert Series continues Saturday at the Turnage with two outstanding musical groups. The series is a partnership between the Turnage Theater, the Beaufort County Traditional Music Association and the Beaufort County Arts Council.

Wilmington’s Barnraisers will open the show at 8 p.m. Consisting of husband-and-wife duo Tiff and Adam Forsythe, the Barnraisers have been on the music scene for more than six years. In that time, the two have established themselves as one of Wilmington’s favorite bands with their unique blend of bluegrass, honky-tonk and country music. Tiff and Adam took a little time off this past year for a special project (which I’ll let them tell you about), but are back with lots of new music and energized from their time away from the stage.

I first heard the Barnraisers at the Ocrafolk Festival in 2008, and I quickly became a fan.  I liked them so much I quickly booked them for the opening concert for our inaugural Music Festival in 2009. Since that time, I’ve gotten to know the couple, and I recently asked Tiff if she had anything she’d like to say to our local folks prior to their concert Saturday. This was her response: “I’ve been accused of being ‘too much’ all my life. I laugh too loud, I talk too much, I smile too big, I sing too loud and I don’t let other people have the floor. My husband just decided to capitalize on my most annoying qualities. He threw me on a stage and put a banjo in my hand and said, ‘Now make us some money!’ That’s pretty much how the Barnraisers started.”

Katy Mitchell probably didn’t have a choice but to become a performer. As the daughter of Kitty and Gary Mitchell, original members of Ocracoke’s Molasses Creek, Katy grew up surrounded by music and all that it entailed. I first heard Katy approximately 10 years ago. BCAC was booking music for the annual Smoke on the Water festival at the time, and we had brought in Molasses Creek as headliners for the event. Katy, who was maybe 14 years old, had accompanied her folks to the festival. Imagine my surprise when she took the stage and blew me away with a performance of the sultry classic “Fever.” My immediate reaction was, “Wow! I wasn’t expecting that!” Since that time, I learned that Katy had been performing with her parents since she was 5 years old, when she used to dance barefoot onstage with her parents’ band. I’ve had the pleasure of hearing Katy several times since then, and I was especially happy to hear her at the annual Music Across the Sound concert in Hyde County this past March. It was there that I learned that Katy had put together her own band and was taking her show on the road. I pounced, asking her to come and be part of our summer series.

Katy’s ease with being onstage, along with her powerful and heartfelt vocals are what make her special. She reminds me of a young Judy Garland — not necessarily in her style, but with a maturity in her performances that belies her youth. And her band is outstanding! It includes Lou Castro, Jackie Willis and Brett Evans.

Tickets for the Saturday concert are $12 each, and worth every penny. Call the Turnage Theater box office at 252-975-1191 today to reserve your place at what we promise will be a great evening of music and entertainment. See you at the Turnage.

Joey Toler is executive director of the Beaufort County Arts Council.