Annual Music School folk concert takes well-worn seasonal songs back to their origins
On a very cold winter’s night, with nose nipping winds and dusk that comes way too soon, folk musician David Surette is hoping that his wife Susie Burke’s velvety voice , his colleague Kent Allyn’s electric bass and the glow of an old restored church will be just the thing to warm away the chill.
The Concord Community Music School’s annual Holiday Folk Concert, held Saturday, will feature Surette, Burke and Allyn performing a variety of holiday and seasonally inspired folk.
“A lot of it is only stuff that we do this time of year and maybe occasionally a few other things from our regular repertoire get tossed in there,” Surette said. “We do some traditional folk material; we do some gospel songs – kind of like an American rootsy style – as well as some popular material that we’ve arranged kind of different styles, so it sounds a little different than, you know, your standard rendition of Mel Torme’s ‘Chestnuts Roasting on An Open Fire.’ ”
That said, the concert will have plenty of holiday favorites, but Surette is quick to point out, it will have a great deal of variety as well.
“You know there’s such variety in Christmas music, both just in the world of Christmas music and in the way that it’s presented today,” Surette said. “You know it’s not like we’re doing anything earth-shaking, but just focusing on the kind of musicians we are. We have broad taste, and we all like to do different things, but it’s all kind of rooted in kind of a rootsy, folky approach.”
To that end Surette said, there will be some familiar carols and some less familiar. And while many of them will be about Christmas, some will celebrate winter and the feelings the holiday season inspires.
“We play a James Taylor song,” he said by way of example. “That really just talks about slowing down and taking time to appreciate the season.”
The concert will be filled with vocals from Surette’s wife Susie, mandolins, acoustic guitar, keyboards and piano. But Allyn will also be lending the sounds of his electric guitar and electric bass.
“It adds a different element to it and makes for a nice full sound,” Surette said.
Both Surette – who teaches at the Music School – and Burke have received Individual Artist Fellowship awards from the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts, and are on the council’s touring arts roster. Burke and Surette perform regularly throughout New England and have toured nationally. They have more than half a dozen CDs between them and have collected numerous awards.
For his part, Allyn has long list of recording and performing credits including work with Ben Baldwin & the Big Note, Cosy Sheridan, Brooks Williams, and The Night Heron Consort, among others. He teaches at the Music School as well as the Berwick Academy in South Berwick, Maine.
Surette is hoping that the warm music, cozy play list and even the recital hall itself will go a long way to set a festive and intimate mood for the concert.
“It’s a nice little converted church, so it has a nice sound to it. So it all kind of works together to make for a nice, comfortable, intimate, friendly feel,” Surette said. “It’s nice because a lot of people that come have been coming to them for a long time. We’ve been doing them at the community music school for at least a dozen years, might be closer to 15, and a lot of the people will come back year after year, so it really is kind of a community event. Both within the music school community and our own community that have come out to support us over the years.”
The concert is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Saturday in the Music School’s Recital Hall at 23 Wall St. in Concord. Tickets may be purchased at the door or in advance at the Music School as well as at ccmusicschool.org. For information, call 228-1196.