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Autoharpist to perform Jan. 8 in NYM

Bryan Bowers performs Jan. 8 in New York Mills. Submitted Photo

Acclaimed autoharpist Bryan Bowers will give a concert at the New York Mills Regional Cultural Center on Tuesday, Jan. 8 at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets are available by calling 218-385-3339.  Admission is $12 advance sale and $15 the night of the concert.  Student admission is $5.

Bowers is a major artist on the traditional music circuit.

A well-known singer-songwriter, he has redefined the autoharp.

Along with his dynamic, outgoing personality and an uncanny ability to enchant a crowd with both his music and his stories, this is a concert that the entire family will enjoy.

His CDs will be available for purchase at the Cultural Center during the concert.

For nearly four decades, Bowers has been to the autoharp what Earl Scruggs was to the five-string banjo.

He presents instrumental virtuosity combined with warmth, eloquence, expression and professionalism.

From his rather unglamorous beginning as a street singer, Bowers has become a major artist.

His towering, six-foot four-inch frame can be wild and zany on stage while playing a song like "Dixie," and five minutes later he can have the same audience singing "Will The Circle Be Unbroken" in quiet reverence and delight.

Bowers relocated to Seattle in 1971 and played for coins as a street singer and in bars for the right to pass the hat. Once he had polished his technique, he headed east in a 1966 Chevy panel truck he affectionately called "Old Yeller."

"The Dillards heard me in D.C. when I went to the Cellar Door," recalls Bowers. "I introduced myself and played the 'Battle Hymn Of The Republic' to show them how the harp worked.

"Sam Bush, Curtis Burch and Courtney Johnson of the New Grass Revival were there. I didn't realize how presumptuous I was being.

"The Dillards took me to a bluegrass festival at Berryville, Virginia and when they got an encore, they put me out there for their second encore, saying 'Here's a guy you ought to hear.' The bluegrass community has been real supportive."

In 1993, Bowers was the first living member inducted into the Autoharp Hall of Fame to stand only with Maybelle Carter, Kilby Snow and Sara Carter.

In 2003, he organized and co-produced "Autoharp Legacy," in which he brought together 55 autoharp players and created the definitive three-CD set of autoharp music.

In 2006 Bryan's landmark recording, "Bristlecone Pine," was released on Seattle Sounds with distribution assistance by Plectrafone Records.

Autoharp partner and close friend Ron Wall directed and created the recording.

Several of Bowers' friends from throughout the years offered musical assistance, including: Tim O'Brien, Sam Bush, Mark Howard, Alan O'Bryant, Pat Enright, Dennis Crouch, Stuart Duncan and Ron Wall.