For 15 years, solo artists Robin Bullock and Steve Baughman have come to Macon as a duo to present “Celtic Christmas,” a Yule-season concert that’s become a Macon tradition celebrating Christmas music on guitar, mandolin, cittern and banjo.
Though the two draw from old and new Christmas music from across the world, Baughman said the evening is deserving of its Celtic moniker.
“The songs aren’t all Irish or Scottish, but Robin and I are both Celtic musicians at heart,” he said. “That brings a flavor to what we play. If we were jazz or country and western musicians it would be different, but when we put our fingers on the strings any song somehow gets connected to the British isles.”
A San Francisco native, Baughman plays guitar and banjo. Acoustic Guitar Magazine said of his “Farewell to Orkney,” “Once in a while an album comes along that can alter your thinking about guitar music — Steve Baughman’s ‘Farewell to Orkney’ is one of those ... A must for all lovers of guitar and especially Celtic music.”
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Bullock, who lives in Black Mountain, N.C., plays guitar, mandolin and cittern. The folk and world music magazine “Dirty Linen” noted Bullock’s “... rare combination of technical virtuosity and emotional nuance …,” and Baltimore City Paper called him a “Celtic guitar god.”
His rendition of “The Carol of the Bells” in a guitar tuning devised particularly for the song has become a favorite of regular concert attendees.
Despite their talent and virtuosity, the duo said the evening’s aim isn’t to impress but to delight and allow a measure of reflection.
“I’d rather tears fall than jaws drop,” Baughman said. “I’d rather people feel the beauty of the music, connect with their spiritual and musical traditions and reflect on why this season and its music is so special even to a non-religious person like myself. That and hopefully laugh at a few of our jokes.”
Bullock and Baughman agreed magic happens when their guitars combine. Baughman quoted Fredric Chopin as saying, “Nothing is more beautiful than a guitar, save perhaps two.”
As well as having superior performance skills, Bullock and Baughman are sought-after teachers. It was through befriending them at North Carolina’s renowned Swannanoa Gathering guitar workshop that Macon acoustic music promoter Joe Cullison and his Acoustic Productions brought the two to Macon. They now do a nine-city southern Christmas tour.
“I’m happy people responded so well to their music and the Christmas concerts,” Cullison said. “Wherever they go, people are eager for them to come back.”
Contact Michael W. Pannell at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Where: Pierce Chapel, Wesleyan College, 4760 Forsyth Road, Macon
When: 7:30 p.m. Dec. 9; doors open at 7 p.m.
Cost: $20, Students $10