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FOLK SINGER-SONGWRITER JONATHAN BYRD performs at the New York Mills Regional Cultural Center this Saturday, March 13 at 7:30 p.m.

Jonathan Byrd concert Saturday

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Folk singer-songwriter Jonathan Byrd will be at the New York Mills Regional Cultural Center this Saturday, March 13 for a 7:30 p.m. concert.

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A native North Carolinian, Byrd grew up singing in the Southern Baptist church, where his father preached and his mother played piano.

After four years in the Navy, he returned to home to play in rock bands. It was at an old-time fiddle festival in the mountains of southwest Virginia where his writing began to change. Assimilating the sounds of southern traditional music, Byrd wrote new songs in an ancient style.

One of those first songs was "Velma," a murder ballad based on the true story of Velma Barfield, the last woman to be executed in North Carolina, and the murderer of Jonathan's own grandfather.

The song so moved folk music legend Tom Paxton that he wrote: "What a treat to hear someone so deeply rooted in tradition, yet growing in his own beautiful way."

The venerated folk music label Waterbug Records has released his three albums: "Wildflowers" in 2001, "The Waitress" in 2003 and "The Sea and the Sky" in 2005.

The latter was a collaboration with critically-acclaimed world music duo Dromedary. In the middle of his prolific five-year recording career, he was named a Kerrville New Folk winner, the most prestigious award in the singer-songwriter world. Previous Kerrville competitors include Nanci Griffith, Lyle Lovett and Steve Earle.

Tickets for Byrd's concert are $12 in advance or $15 at the door. The Cultural Center is located at 24 N. Main Ave. N. in New York Mills. For more information, call 218-385-3339 or visit www.kulcher.org.

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