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Cathy Barton and Dave Para give dynamic performances acclaimed for their variety and expertise in both vocal and instrumental styles. Their repertoire and informal audience rapport are marked by a special affection for traditional music.
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.
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

Cathy and Dave performing at the Winter Creek Reunion Festival, Bennington OK

Cathy and Dave performing at the Winter Creek Reunion Festival, Bennington OK

In the Studio

Cathy and Dave began the year producing and recording in two projects, both at the Columbia studio of Pete Sckolka, where the duo has recorded four albums. Cathy wrote songs for “Gumbo Bottoms: A Big Muddy Musical,” collaborating with playwright Meredith Ludwig, and the play premiered in 2008 and toured a bit in Missouri the next two years. The recording of the songs features cast members past and present, including Lesley Oswald, Lou Thompson, Deb Jewett, Willie Cogshell, Steve Jones and Josh Kluck. Dave and Cathy are joined in the band bassist Kevin Hennessy, David Wilson and Tom Verdot on fiddles and a guest appearance by Szkolka on Stratocaster.
Cathy and Dave are also producing an album of traditional and original folk songs and tunes for friends and cohorts Mike Fraser and Tenley Hansen, both of whom have performed with Cathy and Dave at the Big Muddy.

“Gumbo Bottoms: A Big Muddy Musical” Returns

Recording an album of the songs was one way to get the cast members to start rehearsing again after a three-year hiatus. The musical will be performed this July aboard the Queen of the Mississippi riverboat for a charter by travel agent and Red Hot Mama Phyllis Dale. Due to the confines of the particular room, the musical will also be performed for the general public at Turner Hall in Boonville the second weekend in July.

Civil War Music for Sesquicentennial Events

As America observes the fourth year of the sesquicentennial of the Civil War Cathy and Dave look forward to participating in re-enactments of important Missouri events with music they collected and also wrote interpreting the Brothers War in the trans-Mississippi West. In addition to fall events in Glasgow, Centralia and Kansas City (all related to Sterling Price’s Great Rebel Raid) the duo was asked to reprise the collaboration with David Halen and his fellow violinists of the St. Louis Symphony on string arrangements of their recorded Civil War songs. A February performance was at the historic Sheldon Concert Hall in St. Louis, and they look forward to another in Sullivan in September.