A musical journey: Jay Ungar and Molly Mason perform at May Memorial Friday

Jay Ungar and Molly Mason will be performing as part of the Folkus Project concert series at 8 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 5 at May Memorial Unitarian Universalist Church, 3800 East Genesee St., Syracuse.

A Jay Ungar and Molly Mason concert appeals to everyone. Their versatility and stylistic depth lets them move from bluegrass to blues, folk and acoustic jazz with equal ease. There are timeless renditions of hard-driving Appalachian melodies, Cajun and Celtic fiddle tunes, stirring Civil War classics, sassy songs from the golden age of swing and country, stunning waltzes, and moving original works. With their comfortable sense of fun and their love of music, they make each concert a musical journey sometimes spanning two continents and two centuries. Their incomparable warmth and wit, coupled with consummate musicianship, have delighted audiences worldwide.

As a special, Central New York bonus, Ungar and Mason will be joined onstage by Andrew and Noah VanNorstrand, who have been impressing local acoustic and traditional music fans since their early teens and before. Playing a variety of stringed and percussive instruments (but especially fiddle), these young brothers have built a strong regional following over the past eight years or so. They will perform an opening set for the Oct. 5 show and then join Ungar and Mason for their performance as well.

Ungar and Mason have won international acclaim after Ken Burns' The Civil War aired on PBS. Their performance of Jay's haunting composition Ashokan Farewell, the musical hallmark of the series, left a lasting impression on everyone who tuned in. The soundtrack won a Grammy and Ashokan Farewell, originally inspired by Jay & Molly's annual fiddle and dance camps, was nominated for an Emmy.

But Ashokan Farewell is only part of the story. Since joining their talents in the late 1970s, Jay and Molly have become one of the most celebrated duos on the American acoustic music scene. They've earned throngs of fans through their appearances on Great Performances, A Prairie Home Companion, their own public radio specials, and with work on film soundtracks such as Brother's Keeper, Legends of the Fall, and several of Ken Burns' documentaries. They also performed as part of the acclaimed band Fiddle Fever and occasionally bring their favorite musicians together as Swingology, known for its musical versatility. Through these collaborations they've produced more than a dozen CDs. No wonder they continue to receive widespread critical praise.

Doors to this Folkus Project concert open at 7:30 p.m. and refreshments will be available. Admission is $18. For reservations, email tickets@folkus.org or call 440-7444.

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