Zahm brings musical history to State House concert

Charlie Zahm will perform Celtic, maritime and early American music at tonight’s Old State House concert at 7:30.

For a musician so steeped in history, it seems the perfect combination that singer and guitarist Charlie Zahm will be tonight’s performer for the monthly Delaware Friends of Folk Old State House concert series on The Green in Dover.

The series is produced in cooperation with the First State Heritage Park and is supported by a grant from the Kent County Fund for the Arts.

The one-hour concert is free and begins at 7:30. Seating is limited.

Mr. Zahm, primarily known for his performances at Celtic music festivals, is a man of many musical tastes. His repertoire includes maritime, Americana, Old West, Civil War, traditional hymns and even Broadway.

But it’s the history behind the songs that are important to him.

“It all comes down to storytelling for me,” said Mr. Zahm by phone this week.

“I love reading great stories and songs that keep these great stories alive have been around as long as man has been around.

“Songs that attracted me first were ballads of love and stories about voyages — the longer the better.”

Born in Michigan, raised in Florida and now living in Coatesville, Pennsylvania, he began appreciating the Celtic songs he first heard in the largely Scottish province of his mother’s birth, Ontario, Canada.

“My mother’s side has always been very musical. She has always sang and played piano. My uncles are very musical as well,” he said.

“The music is still very much valued in the countryside. It is integral to the community life, especially in a place like Nova Scotia. Everyone plays the fiddle and everyone dances and that spirit was instilled in me at an early age.

“The Scottish-Irish ballads told of births and deaths along with the nitty gritty songs that told of the human experience in general. That’s what really appealed to me.”

That music set off a lifetime of learning for Mr. Zahm, now 51.

“When I was a kid, I would search stacks, trying to find more of these songs. I think I’ve forgotten more of these songs than I’ve ever known. Some of these may have 10 verses and detailed family history through song. It was the way people remembered their history,” he said.

It follows that his concerts are one part song and another part history lesson.

“I think it’s very valuable to put these songs in a time frame and to give the history behind these songs to fully appreciate them.

“My hope is that someday little kids will want to carry on these traditions for their audience 20 or 30 years from now to keep these songs alive.

“It’s very gratifying when someone comes up to you and says their grandmother sang them a certain song when they were 10 and they hadn’t heard it in 50 years and for just a moment, their grandmother was back with them.”

Mr. Zahm said his first two albums ever given to him were ones by then-contemporary musicians Gordon Lightfoot and John Denver.

“I learned how to play guitar to John Denver albums and formed a great appreciation for his music. Those are the songs that my first guitar teacher taught me,” said Mr. Zahm.

Tonight’s show at the Old State House, which dates back to 1791, will showcase a combination of genres, including Scottish and early American works.

“I’ll also do some of my own songs that sound like they could have been written 100 years ago,” said Mr. Zahm, who has performed for the Delaware Friends of Folk Coffeehouse twice and the annual festival once.

Friends of Folk board president John Kidd is excited about Mr. Zahm’s show.

“Simply put, he’s an amazing performer and skilled guitarist with a baritone voice that really has few equals,” he said.

“He is a student and caretaker of the music he plays; and he plays a massive array of songs. Our aim with the series is to showcase a variety of genres performed by local and regional artists in the intimate setting of the Old State House.”

The prodigious Mr. Zahm has recorded an album once every couple of years since 1992. His last CD, produced last year, was a collection of Christmas music entitled “Angels We Have Heard on High.”

“I hadn’t done a Christmas album in I’m not sure how long. I’m not sure what I’m doing next, perhaps an album of cowboy music.

“Many of those songs are just modified English and Irish songs. A country song like ‘Streets of Laredo’ essentially has the same tune as (the Irish ballad) ‘Bard of Armagh.’”

Wright show postponed

In case you missed it, comedian Steven Wright’s show at Dover Downs Hotel & Casino set for Friday night has been rescheduled to Friday, April 21, due to a health issue with Mr. Wright.

All tickets will be honored for the April 21 date. Anyone not able to make the April 21 date are asked to call VIP Services at (800) 711-5882 for a complete refund.

All ticket purchasers are eligible for an exclusive Lucky 13 Skee-Ball promotion today in place of the concert. If you are a Capital Club member, the promotion is already loaded on the Capital Club card. Insert it into any iView DM machine.

If you do not have a Capital Club card, bring your concert ticket and valid photo ID to the Capital Club before 9 p.m. on Friday to be entered into the promotion. You must be 21 to play.

Hip-hop at Schwartz

Looking ahead, Kent County native L. “Amillion The Poet” Mayfield will host the first hip-hop concert at the Schwartz Center for Arts in downtown Dover Feb. 4.

Mr. Mayfield has emerged as an international hip-hop artist, award-winning poet and author.

Delaware native Nadjah Nicole is also slated to perform as part of the show. She appeared on “The Voice” in 2015.

More guests may be added to the bill.

Tickets, at $10 to $15, are available at www.schwartzcenter.com and at the Schwartz Center Box Office at 226 S. State St.

For more information and box office hours of operation, call 302-678-5152 or email media@schwartzcenter.com.

Grants available

Nonprofit organizations throughout Delaware are invited to apply for grants from the Kent County Fund for the Arts, a fund administered by the CenDel Foundation based in Dover.

Over $20,000 in grants will be awarded to qualified 501 (c)(3) programs and organizations that create art and produce artistic events in Kent County.

Grant requests must be submitted on a 2017 Kent County Fund for the Arts application form. The KCFA application form is available at www.cendelfoundation.org.

Complete applications must be received or postmarked by April 3. Grant recipients will be announced in July.

The Kent County Fund for the Arts was created in 2008 through a generous contribution by Rosemary Twilley, in memory of Joshua Twilley, Esq. The fund is also supported by members of the Greater Kent Committee and art patrons across the state.

The funds are managed by the CenDel Foundation, a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization, along with the Kent County Fund for the Arts advisory board.

The CenDel Foundation, in partnership with the Delaware Community Foundation, is committed to helping generous people transform the community through charitable giving.

For more information, call 724-7538 or visit www.cendel.org.

Guild’s Gatto recognized

The Kent County Theatre Guild’s Patti Gatto was recently named Best Director of a Play (Nonprofessional) for her work with September’s “Twelve Angry Men” by the 2016 BroadwayWorld.com Delaware Awards.

The Dover theater saw large crowds for the two-weekend run of the courtroom drama.

In other news from the Guild, a new policy was announced this week whereby, patrons who arrive after the start of the show will not be seated until an appropriate break in the performance, which may not be until intermission.

Refunds (partial or full) will not be offered for any portion of the show that is missed. The Kent County Theatre Guild encourages its patrons to arrive at least 15 minutes prior to curtain.

Preview party

The Smyrna Opera House gets a jump on its season tonight with a Happy Hour Season Preview Party from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.

Patrons will learn about the variety of programming to be offered during the winter and spring season.

There will be free admission with a cash bar and light hors d’oeuvres.

RSVP by calling 302-653-4236 or e-mail admin@smyrnaoperahouse.org.

Now showing

New this weekend in theaters is the Ben Affleck gangster flick “Live by Night,” the animated adventure “Monster Trucks 3D,” Mark Wahlberg in the Boston Marathon bombing movie “Patriots Day” and the suspense thriller “Sleepless.”

On DVD and download starting Tuesday is the suspense film “The Girl on the Train,” the comedy “Keeping Up with the Joneses” and the horror film “Ouija: Origin of Evil.”

To share news of your entertainment event, venue or group, contact Craig Horleman at 741-8224 or chorl@newszap.com.

Reach features editor Craig Horleman at chorl@newszap.com

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