High Point Arts Council books Celtic band for St. Patrick’s celebration
By: Terry Rader
Triad band Banna (“the band” in Celtic) is set to get folks on the dance floor with their “kilt-kickin’, high-energy” Celtic music at the High Point Arts Council’s St. Patrick’s Day-themed Third Thursday concert. This $5 ticketed event will be held on March 21 from 7-8:30 p.m. at the Centennial Station Arts Center in High Point.
HPAC art programs manager Clint Bowman said that audience members of Third Thursday concerts (now in its third year) were requesting Banna and he was very excited to book them for the St. Patrick’s event complete with a cash bar serving Irish beer and drink specials.
President of Film Whisperer Productions and founder of Banna Jason Marc Pierce said the band would be warmed up for this show with all the kinks worked out since this event will be their fourth St. Patrick’s performance this year. He said it would be “super high-energy,” closer to the music of “The Pogues as compared to The Chieftains,” which is more traditional Irish music.
Jason Marc Pierce said he has Irish-blood on both sides of his family, and took to wearing his ancestral kilt back in 2007 while performing solo.
“Kilts are not required, we wear the kilts,” he said.
Jason Marc Pierce said he got bored playing by himself, so he started inviting others to join him, starting with his sister Jaye. Today, Banna band members include Jason Marc Pierce on vocals, guitar, and pennywhistle; Ken Ashford on percussion; Cris Mudd on vocals and the occasional bucket player; Jaye Pierce on vocals and guitar; Zachary Messick on mandolin and guitar; Vance D. Archer III on fiddle and bouzouki; and Kenny Love on bass.
In 2012, Banna was born, and Mudd designed their logo for the official launch. Their first album, Cheers! was released two years ago and can be found on their website. Banna plans to release two new albums this year. The second studio album, Keep Closed will include all original songs just as the first album did. The third “live” album will have more traditional Irish music and has yet to be named.
“We’re lucky to be so different in that most people know coming in they may not know the Celtic songs, so playing originals is easy,” Jason Marc Pierce said. “People just have a lot of fun, and we’ve never played a show where people didn’t get up and dance.”
Bowman said the HPAC Third Thursday concerts have always had a variety of genres including jazz, folk, R&B and they are open to booking very diverse musical acts. Bowman said HPAC especially likes to pay homage to the great John Coltrane who made his home in High Point by having jazz at the Third Thursday night shows. Past jazz performances have included Titus Gant and Brandon Vaughan. He said these concerts take a break in the summer for summer programs, but they were already booked up through fall 2019. The theatre-style venue has tables and chairs that are set up for 100 guests in a listening room format with the bar far enough away that it doesn’t compete with the artists performing. The space capacity can hold 250 people including staff, performers and audience. He said all proceeds go to the artists performing mostly original music.
Bowman said that HPAC’s quarterly Open Mic nights have attracted over 60 musicians to date and artists receive a 20-minute slot. They play from 7-9 p.m. at the Centennial Station Arts Center and are free and open to the public with a cash bar including great specials on craft beer and wine. Each event features six different local artists and music groups. He said that past performers may sign up in advance one week before the event if there is availability, as new artists play first and are encouraged to call or go online to sign up or learn more.
Bowman said that the HPAC provides artistic opportunities for everyone in the community and in his four years there, his main goal has been to make arts accessible to everyone.
“We have a lot of artists in the area, and HPAC is proud to provide them a platform to express themselves and to get the community out to support all those artists and to recognize the potential and value of the talent we have in the Triad,” Bowman said.
Other HPAC hosted events include the summer Arts Splash Concert Series with seven different venues including the longest running arts festival, Day in the Park.
Bowman hosts the Pullman Poet Society offering free bi-monthly poetry workshops and monthly poetry readings at Sunset Books In High Point. Bowman said that they are pleased to present North Carolina’s newest Poet Laureate Jaki Shelton Green on May 23.
“As an individual, I am honored to be in this position,” Bowman said. “I’m part of the poetry group, and I facilitate it, but it also gives me a platform and instills a sense of fulfillment helping other artists.”
TERRY RADER is a freelance writer, storyteller, poet, singer/songwriter, wellness herbalist and owner, Paws n’ Peace o’ Mind cat/dog/house sitting.