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McLain Family Band to Perform at Carleton College

February 28, 2000

The Carleton College Department of Music welcomes the McLain Family Band to campus on Friday, March 3, 2000, for a morning convocation, an afternoon round-table discussion and an evening concert. The evening event will feature the McLain Family Band with the Carleton Orchestra, under the direction of Hector Valdivia, S. Eugene Bailey Director of the Orchestra. The program will include selections by the McLain Family Band, Symphony No. 6 by Beethoven, and Concerto for Bluegrass Band and Orchestra, written for the McLains by Phillip Rhodes, Carleton's Composer-in-Residence. The events are in honor of Rhodes' 25th anniversary at Carleton and his 60th birthday.

The convocation will be held at 10:50 a.m. in Carleton's Skinner Memorial Chapel. The round-table discussion with the McLains, composer Phillip Rhodes and conductor Hector Valdivia will take place at 2 p.m. in the Carleton Concert Hall. The evening concert with the Carleton Orchestra will begin at 8 p.m. in Skinner Memorial Chapel. All events are free and open to the public although tickets are required for the evening concert. Tickets will be available to the public by phone reservation on Thursday, March 2, from 2 to4 p.m. by calling (507) 646-4309.

The McLains have a strong tradition as one of America's most prominent musical families. From the Appalachian mountains of Eastern Kentucky, the McLains are one of the most dynamic, spirited and creative groups performing original and traditional bluegrass music today. The group developed a strong following through performances at bluegrass festivals, arts councils, community concert series, schools, universities, conventions, and fairs. Daniel E. Harman, a reviewer in The Hornpipe, described their sound as "a clean, youthful Kentucky quality undergirded by enormous instrumental skills and diversity."

The McLains have traveled nationally and internationally in their 21-year musical career. They have produced 14 recordings and done over 200 concerts with symphony orchestras. The family has performed in all 50 states, and has represented the U. S. State Department as musical ambassadors in 62 countries, performing material arranged and composed for them by composers such as Rhodes, Peter Schickele (better known to some as P.D.Q. Bach) and Newton Wayland. They have played at Carnegie Hall, the Metropolitan Museum, the Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, Chicago's Orchestra Hall and the Grand Ole Opry, as well as on the NBC Today Show, the CBS Good Morning Show, and on England's BBC.

The McLains have a special connection with Carleton College. Al White and Alice McLain White are the parents of Hazel White, a sophomore at Carleton. The McLain Family Band and Rhodes have a 25-year history of working together and this visit is a highlight in the Music Department's year-long celebration of Rhodes' 25th anniversary at Carleton and of the composer's 60th birthday in the year 2000.

Recently, the most active touring group of the McLain family has been a smaller group called "The McLains." This group is made up of Raymond W. McLain, Michael McLain, and his wife, Jennifer Banks McLain, and has been featured at festivals around the country. However, for this gala "reunion" concert at Carleton, the McLain Family Band will feature eight members on stage: Raymond W. McLain (fiddle, banjo, mandolin and guitar), Michael McLain (banjo, mandolin and guitar), Jennifer Banks McLain (mandolin, guitar and banjo), Ruth McLain Smith (bass, mandolin, vocal harmony and lead singer), Al White (mandolin and guitar), Alice McLain White (mandolin and bass) Nancy Ann McLain Wartman (bass, occasionally mandolin) and Raymond K. McLain (guitar).

The McLain Family Band's visit to Carleton is made possible by the Christopher U. Light Lectureship in Music.

Other McLain appearances before and after the Friday events are as follows. At 2:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 2, members of the McLain Band will demonstrate Bluegrass instrumental techniques in the Orchestra Rehearsal Room (lower level Concert Hall). Also, on Sunday, March 5, at 7:30 p.m., Raymond W. McLain will perform a concert in Brownton, Minnesota, with Canadian harmonica player Mike Stevens. For information and tickets for the Brownton event call (320) 328-5214.