R.G. Absher
R.G. Absher

A Celtic Celebration

Tavern songs of the Eighteenth Century, sounds of Irish Jigs, Scottish Strathspeys, Celtic Reels, and Hornpipes fill the room when Colonial Period clad performers, R.G. Absher and Laurie Fisher, take the stage. This is an act featuring haunting hammered dulcimer, lively toe-tapping Irish and Scottish Fiddling, Celtic ballads, pub style sing-a-longs and even a little dancing when space permits.

Absher and Fisher teamed up with an act called Celtic Connection at Merle Fest 1999 and returned to Merle Fest 2000. Absher has performed with Doc Watson and has done recording projects for the National Park Service. He also has a bluegrass band, Wilkes County based "Extra Measure" which has a new album (Shiner’s Hollow) released in February of 2000.  Absher’s previous recordings include "Gypsy Wagon,", "Banjo and Bow," and "Kings Mountain In Concert."

Laurie Fisher, of Swannanoa, NC is a very talented musician and is a well know performer in the English Contra Dance tradition in the Asheville area. She is also a well sought after dance caller. Laurie has two CD projects to hear credit including "Late For the Dance," and "The Lover’s Tree, a Collection of Waltzes." Her background includes roots in the New England, Scottish and Cape Briton styles of music.

When Absher and Fisher play together, the performers play a laR.G.e and varied amount of material. With a few crowd tricks up their sleeve, they are known for engaging an audience with tavern sing-a-longs, and "fiddle sticks" and "strolling musician" routines, as well.

In addition to the Merle Fest, the duo has performed at a variety of pubs in the Carolinas and at laR.G.e American Revolutionary War reenactments. Recently, Fisher and Absher also conducted a heritage music workshop for the ranger staff of the Blue Ridge Parkway.

R.G. Absher

Recording Project:"Shiner's Hollow" Released

Wilkes based R.G. Absher and Extra Measure released a new music recording project February 1, 2000.  "Shiner’s Hollow" is a traditional acoustic music theme project which focuses in on the moonshining history of Wilkes County and the surrounding area. It was released on both CD and cassette tape.

The band’s leader, R.G. Absher of Wilkesboro, said that "the project took nearly a year to complete and involved a lot of work, eneR.G.y and research to put together." "Our band members wrote several songs and instrumentals which tie into the theme. "Everything from writing the songs and tunes to doing our photos for the album has been challenging, Absher said."

Earlier in the year, The Extra Measure band went on location to Willie Clay Calls mock still site in the Little Brushies to do the photos. After winding through twisty rough dirt roads and making our way to a heavily thicketed creek covered in Laurel thickets, "photographer Cassie Stone told us that this was one of her most interesting locations for photo sessions, Absher said." Absher also said that "It was pretty entertaining hearing Millard Ashley and Willie Clay Call talk about the chases involving the Federal agents back in the 1950’s and 1960’s.

Absher says that he likes the variety of music that the band did on the project. "We did up tempo bluegrass selections like "Old Slewfoot," which is a story about a bear," and then we did a version of Steve Earl’s "Copperhead Road" which is song about several generations of Moonshiners. Song writer Randy Gambill did a beautiful and contemporary song called the Eyes of Caroline. Jeff Pardue, Wes Tuttle and Absher all wrote instrumentals for the recording. We even did San Antonio Rose because it was the type of song that was played on the radio station back in the days when the hot-rods ran the roads," Absher said.

Extra Measure is back on Schedule to return to the Merle Fest this year. Absher said that "We are really excited about being able to perform some songs on the new recording project at Merle Fest this year. Members of Extra Measure include Absher, Randy Gambill, Billy Gee, Tony Joines, Mike Palmer, Jeff Pardue, and Wes Tuttle.