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Scottish balladeer performs Thursday in NYM

Don’t miss the opportunity to hear Scottish balladeer Norman Kennedy in concert at the Cultural Center in New York Mills this Thursday, May 8 at 7:30 p.m.

Norman Kennedy is an unaccompanied singer of traditional Scottish songs. He learned his songs naturally by growing up around some of the great Scottish singers of the last generation.

He has a wide repertoire of songs learned directly from them without the facility of tapes and records. He learned them, not because he wanted to be a folk singer, but because even as a boy he was drawn to the music.

In concert, Kennedy draws only from that body of old songs.

His concerts have a relaxed informality about them. He comes out on stage, takes a seat and seemingly starts a conversation with the audience. His dry sense of humor and memory of the stories surrounding the songs make his listeners appreciate not only the old songs, but the old ways as well.

“You can tell stories, you can recite them, you can sing them,” he says. “Singing and recollecting are all part of the same cloth.”

With this directness he presents ballads — stories of love won and lost, betrayal, death — in a way that holds everyone’s attention.

He shares what is enduring about traditional songs – their authenticity to life, the humorous turns of every-day events, the beauty of old melodies.

As Kennedy explains it: “These songs are my roots; they’re older and more important than I am.”

This unpretentiousness makes Norman’s music as wonderful to the audience as it is important to him.

Norman Kennedy was born in Aberdeen, Scotland, into a family with roots in that port city dating to the 13th century.

The Kennedys had been shipbuilders and merchant seamen for generations. While learning songs, stories, and lore from family members and neighbors, Kennedy spent part of his teen years “hanging around” the local handweavers.

Kennedy eventually became a master weaver himself, and he tells engaging stories that bring ancient times to life.

It is not often the Center is able to host a folk artist who has performed at venues such as Carnegie Hall and the Newport Jazz Festival. Admission is $15 on the night of the concert or $12 with advance reservation. Student admission is always $5. Call 218-385-3339 for reservations.