Andy May is a guitar and mandolin player as well as a singer, songwriter, and music educator. Andy has won the guitar grand championship at the Old Time Fiddler’s Convention (Union Grove, North Carolina) and he has appeared with Brownie McGee & Sonny Terry, Merle Haggard, Nickel Creek, Mike Seeger, Pete Seeger, and others. He is a regular at Merlefest.

Kenny Malone is a percussionist who has performed or recorded with Garth Brooks, Johnny Cash, Ray Charles, Waylon Jennings, George Jones, Alison Krauss, Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, and others.

Kenny Malone, not just a drummer, but, a master percussionist, brought world beat to Country Music years ago. One of the first records that he used Djembe drums and other percussion was with Don Williams. Kenny talked about how he likes to read the lyrics before he reads the music so that what he performs on the song doesn’t distract from the lyrics.

Kenny showed his newest set-up, five Djembe drums set up in a full pentatonic scale.  Kenny stated, “Several cultures independently found the pentatonic scale on their own. The pentatonic scale would be the black keys on the piano. When drums are tuned to a pentatonic scale, there is no discordance with the music being played and you can hit any drums together and they blend.”

Andy showcased his versatility not only by playing his own songs such as “Love is The Greatest Gift of All” off Blackberry Jam, on a Martin Acoustic through a Roland Cube which sounded 10 times bigger than it was, but, took requests from the audience to maximize what Andy and Kenny could do between Guitar and Percussionist, going everywhere from “Roll Over Beethoven” to “Star of the County Down” sung by Andy’s daughter.

Kenny showcased a new percussion piece for the first time which he decided to call “9/11,” in honor of the date.  Andy and Kenny both talked about deciding on doing the gig together on 9/11.   Rather than being about what happened on 9/11, it was a time to memorialize the 10th anniversary and remember that American Music is a blend of different cultures. Drums coming from big brass band European military music.

“The snare came from the battlefield. They needed something that would crack through everything. The snare was used to give directions on where to shoot or fight. It was code tapped out on the snare. The percussionist brought nothing into battle but a snare drum. It was dangerous work. Of course there is the Scottish drum and fife corp.”- Kenny Malone

Kenny- “When I was in the military, playing music was part of the job. When we passed a Russian ship in international waters we had the responsibility to play the national anthem.”

Andy commented about music being a mixture of roots in traditional folk melodies mainly known through older gospel music and religious traditions of different cultures.

Kenny made the remark that we are constantly blending musical forms noting that he was playing traditional African instruments as well as a snare from military tradition while Andy was playing an instrument that came out of Europe in various forms hundreds of years ago.

Kenny has been doing the acoustic guitar/drum duet thing for a while with Darrell Scott (songwriter, multi-instrumentalist) at Hippy Jack’s, the Americana Music Festival and the Folk Alliance in Memphis.