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Local musicians to headline Black History Month concert

The Surry Arts Council’s 29th annual Black History Month Celebration will feature a group of musicians with local ties.

The Allen Boys, North Carolina’s only touring Sacred Steel band, in collaboration with Atiba Berkley, president of The Piedmont Blues Preservation Society, are headlining the concert with “African American Contributions to the Evolution of Music.”

The concert is set for Saturday, Feb. 8, at 7 p.m., at the Andy Griffith Playhouse. The event is free.

The Allen Boys are Shawn Hickman on pedal steel guitar, Camron Moore on guitar, Ranzy Moore on drums, and JR Fonville on bass. Hailing from a small church in Mount Airy, they developed their love for music and learned to play a variety of instruments at an early age.

“At any given time, the four of us can switch to any instrument and fill in – not to brag,” says Hickman. “We can all be equally good at any instrument because that’s just how we grew up.”

Sacred Steel is a blues-gospel genre that arose in Pentecostal-Holiness churches in the 1930s, with the pedal steel guitar taking the place of an organ. The Allen Boys combine the blues and gospel sounds with rock, jazz, and country, for a distinctive, energetic style that is best enjoyed live.

“All of our songs are uplifting,” Fonville says. “Even when we slow a song down, it starts to rise, and we get an uplifting spirit.”

The Allen Boys have traveled all over the state playing concert halls, clubs, universities, and festivals, including Greensboro’s North Carolina Folk Festival in 2019.

In addition to serving as President of the Piedmont Blues Preservation Society, Berkley owns and operates HUMbl Media Services in Greensboro. His background in sound engineering enabled him to work with some of the world’s largest public events as a freelancer and team member. These events include multiple Olympic Games, NFL Super Bowls, NBA events, NHA events, and television broadcasts.

These experiences sparked in him a desire to aid people. He served on the board of Piedmont Blues Preservation Society (prior to becoming President); designed the FEED (Feed, Educate, Express, Design) Festival, which has taken place in low-income neighborhoods around Greensboro; and has organized classes in sound and lighting for children and adults

A Community Chorus organized by Marie Nicholson will open the show. John Rees will accompany and Leon Shuff and others will be performing with them. The Community Chorus represents a coming together of “faiths and praisers from all walks of life and neighborhoods,” said Nicholson. The Chorus will be rehearsing on Friday, Feb. 7, at 6 p.m. in the Siamese Twin Exhibit below the Andy Griffith Playhouse. Everyone is encouraged to join and the organizers hope that the Chorus can continue to rehearse throughout the year and add additional performances..

The Black History Celebration is sponsored in part by a Grassroots Grant from the North Carolina Arts Council, a division of the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.

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The Allen Boys, North Carolina’s only touring Sacred Steel band, will be in concert Saturday at The Andy Griffith Playhouse as part of Surry Arts Council’s annual free Black History Month celebration.
https://www.mtairynews.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/web1_TheAllenBoys.jpgThe Allen Boys, North Carolina’s only touring Sacred Steel band, will be in concert Saturday at The Andy Griffith Playhouse as part of Surry Arts Council’s annual free Black History Month celebration. Hobart Jones | Surry Arts Council

Atiba Berkley, president of The Piedmont Blues Preservation Society, will be performing Saturday at the Andy Griffith Playhouse as part of Surry Arts Council’s annual free Black History Month celebration.
https://www.mtairynews.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/web1_AtibaBerkley.jpgAtiba Berkley, president of The Piedmont Blues Preservation Society, will be performing Saturday at the Andy Griffith Playhouse as part of Surry Arts Council’s annual free Black History Month celebration. Submitted photo

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Source: https://www.mtairynews.com

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