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Bob Bovee & Gail Heil In Concert

Fri, Apr 5th, 2013
Posted in All Arts & Culture

“A toe-tapping history lesson? Expect no less at tonight’s performance by Bob Bovee and Gail Heil! Banjo, fiddle, guitar and harmonica are all vehicles for heritage in story and song. This homespun treasure draws its integrity from personal roots and research, but is never imitative. It’s the real thing, ringing true in the able fingers and voices of these perennial favorites. Down Bob and Gail’s warm country lane is a veritable smorgasbord of authentic cowboy songs, tin pan alley favorites, square dance tunes, ballads, sentimental duets, yodels, blues and ragtime, and novelty songs.” This is how the Grassroots Concert Series in Nisswa, MN described Bob Bovee and Gail Heil’s performance.

When Bob and Gail take the stage at the Spring Grove Cinema on Thursday April 18, they will just be back from a short tour to the East Coast, playing concerts for the Brandywine Friends of Old Time Music in Newark, DE and the Folklore Society of Greater Washington, DC. Among their other stops since last year’s annual concert at the Cinema include two weeks for the Rio Grande Scenic Railroad in Colorado, the Indiana Fiddlers Gathering and the Wheatland Traditional Arts Weekend in Michigan.

Since 1980 these two have been performing old time country music in the style of the 1920s and 1930s, before country music became marketed so commercially and changed by the addition of electric instruments and drums. Bovee and Heil learned their repertoire from family and friends, early country recordings on 78 rpm discs, and field recordings of traditional musicians of earlier times.

Gail Heil originally hails from Missouri, a state rich in fiddle music. She learned much from Vesta Johnson, a fiddler who is now in her nineties and still playing strong, as well as Ozark master Bob Holt and Iowa’s Dwight Lamb. She also is a fine banjo player in the old time “clawhammer” style and a solid guitar player. She’s a singer who can always fit the right harmony to a song. Bob Bovee usually sings lead, admitting to being a tenuous harmony singer, and claims he’s “unbelievably lucky to have such a talented and reliable singing partner.” On rare occasions you’ll hear him pick the five-string banjo, but mostly he provides the steady rhythm guitar and occasional leads, as well as exciting harmonica music.

Call it old time music, American traditional music, hillbilly, stringband, or early country, but whatever label you choose, this is music to tickle your funnybone and to bring a tear to your eye. Genuine cowboy songs of the pre-Hollywood era will be heard right next to popular ragtime pieces played in mountain style, dance tunes to get your feet moving and sentimental numbers to take you back to a simpler time.

Bovee and Heil provide lots of history and background along with the music and liberally sprinkle in stories, folklore, and humorous commentary to provide an evening of entertainment unlike any other you’ll find. Come on down and you won’t regret that you did!

On Thursday April 26, Bovee and Heil will present a concert at the Spring Grove Cinema in Spring Grove. The show starts at 7:30 PM and tickets are $7.00 at the door. For more information on Bob and Gail and their music, check out their website:

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