Their more than 35 years of playing together have taken them to festivals, clubs, concert halls, schools and recording and media studios across the United States and five European tours. Their audiences are as diverse as their repertoire.
To me, Cathy Barton and Dave Para epitomize folk music.
-- Mike Flynn, The Folk Sampler.
Why do they sound like a whole band?
Cathy and Dave Para are both quite knowledgeable of the music they perform. We have been in the entertainment world for some 50 years, and we know of no one that cares about music as much as these two young entertainers.
Cathy Barton and Dave Para, as much as any folk musicians I know, carry on the sense of importance of folk music, the value of digging for old musical gold, of traveling far and wide to collect old songs and tunes, and of being friends with, rather than exploiters of the old-timers who have provided such wonderful musical foundations for us all.--Ed Trickett
This duo from Missouri make some of the best music you will ever hear.
A versatile duo, Dave and Cathy perform and conduct workshops with hammered and fretted dulcimers, banjo, guitars and Autoharp, as well as “found” instruments like bones, spoons, mouthbow and leaf. Their music ranges from driving string band music to contemplative ballads and airs. They have a knack for finding unusual, rarely heard songs from traditional and contemporary sources in their home region, but also from elsewhere in the US and Europe. They have conducted many topical workshops on songs from the Carter family, the Civil War, river lore, gospel, children’s songs, Christmas music and Ozark ballads.
What We’ve Been Up To
Snor T Horse to play at the 25th Big Muddy Folk Festival
So, there are any number of ways to come up with a band name. One is to get “road happy” late at night after a dance and see something, like a closed-down bar on I-70 east of Columbia. “The Simpsons” had a good formula: “We need a name that sounds funny at first and then a little less funny each time you hear it.” Perhaps we succeeded at that, time must tell.
This band consists of two duets Cathy Barton and Dave Para, who have played old and new folk music from Missouri and the Ozarks for 40 years, and Mike Fraser and Tenley Hansen who go by the name Shortleaf, after an important native pine tree, and share very similar musical interests. In only recent years have the quartet been playing dances and concerts together, but the collaboration is more years in the making. Cathy and Dave met Mike, an apprentice of Ozark master fiddler Bob Holt, at an area fiddle contest probably in the 1980s and subsequently did some shows with him in the Ozarks and recorded some albums for the Missouri Department of Conservation, “Voices of the Hills,” and “Fiddles and Forests.” After Mike moved to Kansas City with the department, he was able to join Dave and Cathy’s school assembly program they developed with the late Bob Dyer in 1986, “Missouri Cultural History,” after Bob was unable to continue the show in 2006. Cathy and Dave have always enjoyed playing with fiddlers, as so much of their instrumental repertoire on hammered dulcimer, banjo and guitar come from the fiddle tune tradition. The Shortleaf Band moved to Kansas City with Mike to continue playing a combination of Ozark and Celtic music with new members, including Tenley, a trained musical stage performer who was playing keyboards and guitar, singing leads and writing songs for the band. The four share a love for traditional music and its cultural contexts and history, good singing and the joy of making a big sound for an evening dance. After sharing some nights together, studio time and some traveling they have found an easy fit together. Friends first, band members second.
For more info on Mike and Tenley, check: www.shortleafband.com
Hitting the Road
Last year, Dave and Cathy criss-crossed the U.S., in the summer, playing for the Albuquerque Folk Festival in June and on the subsequent weekend returned to the Sea Music Festival at Mystic Sea Port in Connecticut. Late summer found them tramping up and down the Mississippi River valley by car and riverboat, playing on the American Queen, Queen of the Mississippi and American Eagle.
Twice last year they were honored to play for Missouri Gov. Jay and Georgeanne Nixon, at the annual State Dinner at the Governor’s Mansion in Jefferson City and at the annual Governor’s Ham Breakfast at the Missouri State Fair. Years ago, Mrs. Nixon volunteered at the Columbia community radio state KOPN and was introduced to their music then.
In the spring, following their annual school assembly performances of Missouri Cultural History – their 30th year – Cathy and Dave did a tour in the Phoenix area, doing workshops and shows and the Glendale folk Festival. Dave discovered that the grapefruit leaf is excellent for playing.
This year will mark the 25th annual Big Muddy Folk Festival at historic Thespian Hall in Boonville, which Dave and Cathy started and continue to direct. They are fortunate to host great folk musicians in a wonderful hall, one that is only a few blocks from home.
A Memorable Collaboration
Also at Thespian Hall in August, for the 41st annual Missouri River Festival of the Arts, Dave and Cathy will return to play with festival director and St. Louis Symphony concertmaster David Halen and his fellow violinists. The duo collaborated with David first in 2011 at the Boonville festival to perform some of the Civil War songs Cathy and Dave recorded.