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Published: Sep 16, 2009 02:00 AM

Benefit concert brings Bible and bluegrass together
- 9/15/09

An unlikely collaboration between an Old Testament scholar and a bluegrass artist on environmental issues will be unveiled for the first time in the Triangle area at a special benefit concert on Sunday, Sept. 20, at Cedar Grove United Methodist Church in Orange County.

Dr. Ellen Davis, a professor at Duke Divinity School, and Charles Pettee & FolkPsalm will perform in concert at 7 p.m. at the church at 5218 Efland Cedar Grove Road.

Davis will introduce the concert and explain that all proceeds will be dedicated to support production of a new FolkPsalm CD and a Davis-authored booklet, "The Way of Manna."

The concert will feature old favorites as well as some brand new material in FolkPsalm's unique style, a blend of bluegrass and Americana music, which has brought the group repeat performances at MerleFest, Duke Chapel, Shakori Hills Festival and numerous churches throughout the southeast.

FolkPsalm includes Pettee on vocals, guitar, mandolin; Robbie Link on upright bass; Elizabeth Bahnson on fiddle and vocals; Taz Halloween on vocals; Mark Simonsen on percussion; and Brian Bolton on vocals, guitar, banjo.

Pettee, a founding member of Chapel Hill's Shady Grove Band, has been penning songs for the past year based on key texts from the Bible pertaining to food, and to humankind's responsibilities for care of the earth, topics discussed by Davis in her recent book, "Scripture, Culture and Agriculture, An Agrarian Reading of the Bible."

The collaboration began in 2003 when Pettee sought help from Davis, an expert in ancient Hebrew, with his musical interpretations of the Psalms. The collaboration was moved along at a recent conference of Presbyterians for Earth Care, where Davis and Pettee "performed" their mix of Biblical exegesis and Pettee's folk-music interpretations at conference sessions.

The two decided that the time was ripe for a CD-booklet to further individual and group study of this timely and sadly neglected aspect of the Christian and Jewish spiritual traditions.

Donations will be accepted at the door and will be applied to the CD-booklet production. The first two FolkPsalm CDs will be available for purchase, and these proceeds also will go to aid the effort.

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