Dwight Hawkins & The Piedmont Highballers are a Raleigh-based band specializing in playing pre-war stringband music. In addition to vocals, Hawkins plays guitar, mandolin, saw, and bones. Kevin Burnet plays guitar and mandolin. Turner Brandon holds down the harmonica and keys, and Andrew Berger-Gross rounds out the band on lead mandolin. Hawkins has traveled the country playing this music, performing in streets with pickup bands, and even playing shows with the likes of the Carolina Chocolate Drops and the Hackensaw Boys at events like MerleFest and FloydFest. Just as often, he can be found busking in Raleigh. He’s also the founder of Musical Hardware, a program that teaches schoolchildren about the accessibility of music. Hawkins wants kids to know they don’t have to read sheet music to understand it, and he shows them how to do things like make instruments out of metal or buckets. Hawkins was profiled in Walter Magazine in 2015.
After the concert, stick around for a post-show discussion with the band, presented in partnership with Triangle Friends of African American Arts. You'll learn more about the style of music the band plays, as well as the era that it was played in. Today, old-time music is widely seen as the music of white mountain folk, but few realize that European Americans actually borrowed the banjo and many other elements, including call and response and certain rhythm patterns, from African Americans and adapted it to their own musical culture. Like many aspects of the African American tradition, the influence of African and African American music and musicians has been largely unrecorded and nearly forgotten, but thanks to the popularity of artists like Rhiannon Giddens and the Carolina Chocolate Drops, this history is more accessible today. Learn about this important history from Dwight Hawkins, who continues to share the music of these traditions and others today.
This concert was rescheduled due to inclement weather and road conditions on January 8, 2017.