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A Swannanoa Solstice returns to Wortham Center in Asheville

ASHEVILLE, N.C. — The Wortham Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Asheville presents A Swannanoa Solstice, an annual seasonal celebration of local and world culture, heritage and community through song, dance and storytelling, Sunday, Dec. 17 at 2 & 7 p.m. in Diana Wortham Theatre.

For more than 20 years, this beloved local holiday tradition has ushered in the winter season with a joyful infusion of performances by the best and brightest artists in our region. This year, the celebration welcomes the next generation of musicians to the stage to spread seasonal warmth, magic and cheer with Celtic, American-roots and world-influenced music, rousing dance and timeless stories — illuminating winter’s darkest day with wonder and peace, and reflecting the heritage of the hills with a united and uplifting message, perfect for the holiday season.

Returning this season is the innovative folk sensation Zoe & Cloyd, renowned fiddler Josh Goforth, beloved highland bagpiper EJ Jones & The Piper Jones Band and seasoned storyteller Becky Stone, who will double as the emcee for this year’s holiday celebration.

Called “a musical collaboration that demands to be heard” by Bluegrass Unlimited Magazine, Zoe & Cloyd is a local husband-and-wife duo comprising renowned fiddler and vocalist Natalya Zoe Weinstein and award-winning songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and vocalist John Cloyd Miller. Their soaring harmonies, heartfelt songwriting and rousing instrumentals seamlessly combine original bluegrass, klezmer and folk music with sincerity and zeal. Josh Goforth, a rising acoustic star and Grammy nominee, has been playing music and performing for nearly his entire life, and, as the great-great-great-grandson of Madison County fiddler Asbury McDevitt, music is in his DNA.

EJ Jones has been performing traditional Highland bagpipe and folk music since he first picked up the pipes in 1987. As The Piper Jones Band, he and bouzouki player Frances Cunningham bring authentic, traditional tunes from Ireland, Scotland and Appalachia to the stage in a fresh and entertaining way. Professional storyteller Becky Stone joined the lineup in 2022, amazing audiences with her inspiring tales and conjuring vivid imagery through spoken word. She returns this season with a new set of stories sure to uplift and inspire.

New to the celebration this year is Grammy-nominated Irish multi-instrumentalist John Doyle with Irish musician and songwriter Mick McAuley, and acclaimed Asheville songstress Jane Kramer. Doyle’s remarkable talent and innovative approach to traditional Irish music have left an indelible mark on the folk music scene, including his status as a founding member of the acclaimed Celtic band Solas. McAuley, also a Solas alum, is a skilled multi-instrumentalist who plays accordion, melodeon, concertina, whistles and guitar and has been a guest on many redordings in the Irish music scene. And Kramer has garnered international recognition for her sultry, heartrending vocals and heavy-hitting lyrical eloquence — once lauded by UK music reviewer Three Chords and the Truth as sounding like she was “born to bohemian poets and raised in the mountains by Emmylou Harris.”

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The festivities will also include special performances by the Asheville studio of Carpenter Academy of Irish Dance and the A.C. Reynolds High School Chorale.

The A Swannanoa Solstice performances on Sunday, Dec. 17 are made possible by performance sponsors Bray Creech & Chad Storck of Joel Adams and Associates, John & Marsha Ellis, Richard & Francee Healy, Bill & Marilyn Hubbard, James King & Jayne Cleveland, Henry LaBrun, Amy Loether, Rick & Janna Lutovsky, Ronna & Rob Resnick, Dianne & David

Worley, Epsilon, Mast General Store and PBI; with additional support provided by media sponsors WNC magazine and WNCW 88.7 FM.

Tickets are $58 for adults and $22 for children (15 yrs. old and under). For more information, visit worthamarts.org, email boxoffice@worthamarts.org or call (828) 257-4530.

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The Wortham Center for the Performing Arts, at 18 Biltmore Ave. in downtown Asheville, is a three-venue performing arts complex, encompassing the 500-seat Diana Wortham Theatre, the 100-seat Tina McGuire Theatre, and the Henry LaBrun Studio. The Wortham Center presents a season packed full of world-class, internationally renowned artists — presenting the best in music, dance, theatre, comedy and more. The 2023/2024 season is sponsored by Explore Asheville/Buncombe County TDA, Renaissance Asheville Hotel, Asheville Citizen Times / LocaliQ, North Carolina Arts Council, 67 Biltmore, Blue Moon Water, John & Marsha Ellis, Hedy Fischer & Randy Shull, Richard & Francee Healy, Henry LaBrun, Ronna & Rob Resnick Charitable Trust, and Dianne & David Worley. To obtain more information on the season or to purchase tickets, call the theatre’s box office at 828-257-4530 x1 or visit worthamarts.org.

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