The musical intersection of The Ebony Hillbillies, an African American string band,

with the traditional Irish folk music of Téada  

Also -- Irish Dancer Brian Cunningham, Los Angeles tapper Channing Cook Holmes,

Visual Arts workshops with Alvaro Asturias and Eiko Amano,

Washboard workshop with Angela Lloyd, and Irish Folk Dance workshop with Maire Clerkin

Admission is free to the public


LOS ANGELES (October 22, 2012) – The Music Center inaugurates FLASHFEST with an event free to the public at Grand Park on Sunday, November 4 from 1 pm to 5 pm.  FLASHFEST is a new pop-up arts happening that explores all art forms in myriad ways with appeal to all ages and interests. Each event will turn on a particular theme, which will be up for a short time and then disappear until the next FLASHFEST. The first event at Grand Park, “High Roads + Railroads,” features roots music from Irish and African American traditions.

A musical mash-up from two continents, “High Roads + Rail Roads” merges the forces of two bands, The Ebony Hillbillies and Téada.  The fiddle and banjo share the stage with two dueling dance traditions -- Irish dancer Brian Cunningham and Los Angles tapper Channing Cook Holmes.  Holmes will also offer a Tap Dance Workshop – one of six workshops during “High Roads + Railroads.”  Angela Lloyd will offer “Quilts of Words, Patches of Music,” including a story self-accompanied on washboard; Lloyd also offers a Washboard Workshop.  Other workshops include Irish Folk Dance with Maire Clerkin, and visual arts workshops with Alvaro Asturias and Eiko Amano.

Thor Steingraber, Vice President of Programming at The Music Center said, “FLASHFEST is a patchwork of performances and events, threaded together by a common theme and presented over a few hours in Grand Park.  Entertainment of every stripe and color blend together with opportunities for audiences to join the dancing and art-making.  Eating, drinking, and enjoying an afternoon on Grand Park's performance lawn are also an essential part of the FLASHFEST experience.”

Grand Park is located in Downtown Los Angeles. Grand Park stretches from The Music Center on the west to City Hall on the east.  For more information, please call (213) 972-8080. Parking is available in Lot 10 for all Park events, between Temple and First Streets, accessible from both Hill and Broadway Streets.  Please visit for more information.

“High Roads+ Railroads” includes visual arts workshops – “The Quilts of Gees Bend” by artist Alvaro Asturias and “The Celtic Alphabet” by Eiko Amano.  Asturias emigrated from Antigua Guatemala, and Amano was born in Japan.  Asturias was an artist-in-residence at the Los Angeles Children’s Museum for eleven years and is now a Master Teaching Artist for The Music Center.  Amano was born in Japan and came to the United States when she was eleven years old. Eiko has studied with various ceramic artists throughout Southern California, including the renowned Paul Soldner at Scripps College and Phil Cornelius at Pasadena City College. Eiko, also a Master Teaching Artist for The Music Center, has taught at various schools in Southern California, working with students ranging from kindergarten to adults. She has lectured at Occidental College, Scripps College and Glendale Community College.

FLASHFEST follows a month of opening activities in the fully completed Grand Park, which commenced with vertical dance troupe Bandaloop performing on the facade of City Hall.  Grand Park programming is overseen by The Music Center, under the direction of Park Director Lucas Rivera.  FLASHFEST builds on the month's diverse offerings, bringing together an innovative combination of The Music Center programs in dance, world cultures, and participatory activities.  Future plans for Park events and performances will be announced soon, and central to Rivera's vision is a breadth and variety of programming that attracts all County residents.

Barbara Leonard, Artistic Director for Education at The Music Center, said, “Traditional Irish folk music and African American musical traditions have heavily influenced each other musically and share a common history in early America.  The fiddle and the jigs played during slavery often came from Irish immigrants. The banjo, having its origin in West Africa, was brought to the plantations, then taken to Ireland to become a "new traditional" Irish instrument. These historical roots and their common ground will be explored musically as these two rich traditions come together for an afternoon of music and dance from Africa, America and Ireland.  FLASHFEST will explore these kinds of artistic intersections in a fun and intriguing way--each one will be unique and the performers, spaces, and mix will reflect the theme of the arts experience.

The Ebony Hillbillies -- As one of the last black string bands in the U.S., and the only one currently based in NYC-the Hillbillies keep an important legacy alive with a rootsy, homegrown style that was a key element in the genesis of all American music-Jazz, Blues, Bluegrass, Rockabilly, Rock and Roll and Country. The band, led by Henrique Prince {Violin, Vocals} and Norris Bennett -- Banjo, Mountain Dulcimer, Guitar, Vocals} and including William”Salty Bill” Salter ‘on acoustic Bass and Vocals and Newman Taylor Baker on Washboard, Percussion and Vocals with Gloria Thomas Gassaway on Bones and Vocals - creates an untamed and joyful vibe.

Whether they play for thousands of people at Carnegie Hall or a crowd at Grand Central station, The Ebony Hillbillies bring history alive with the still vibrant sound of Americana that echoes across generations and transcends all racial and cultural boundaries. They’ve maintained their grassroots credibility while inspiring heartstring tugs and toe-taps in fans of all types of music- Pop, Country, Bluegrass, Folk, Rock, Jazz and beyond with a musical repertoire that pays homage to the traditional and still looks towards the future.

The Ebony Hillbillies play a mix of tasty originals as well as unique renditions of classics we all love {“Cotton Eyed Joe” “Shenandoah”).  They’ve already sold thousands of copies of their two CDs “Sabrina’s Holiday” and “ I Thought You Knew” and have participated in many Festivals throughout the US and Canada including most recently, The High Mountain Hay Fever Bluegrass Festival in West Cliff, Colorado, The Spoleto Festival in Charleston South Carolina, The Wintergrass Bluegrass Festival in Tacoma WA., and The Port Townsend Blues Festival, in Port Townsend, Washington.

Téada, now firmly established as one of Irish music's leading exponents on the international world music stage, continues to be driven by a fascination with the timeless, expressive force of traditional tunes inherited from previous generations of musicians.  Since 2001, when the freshly-formed band landed a spot on the innovative Irish television show Flosc, Téada, has evolved to frequent headline performances at major music festivals throughout the US, Canada, Europe, Israel and Australia. A notable highlight was a headlining appearance to a 30,000-audience in Brittany during 2006, a year which also saw the band launch a hugely successful CD/DVD 'Inné Amárach', released by Gael Linn and Compass Records. With lush Irish orchestration, Téada, meaning "strings" in the Irish language revels in the vibrant traditional music of Ireland, deftly playing up its structural intricacies while preserving the timeless energy of the reels, jigs, hornpipes, and other lesser-known tunes in the repertoire.

Brian Cunningham is one of the most exciting sean-nós or 'old-style' dancers to have emerged from Ireland in quite some time. At 26 years of age, he has won all the major dance competitions in Ireland, and was honoured with an invitation by the President of Ireland to perform during an Official State visit to Japan and South Korea in 2005. Brian has appeared on Ireland's most popular television show, "The Late Late Show" and tours frequently with the band Téada.

Brian, through his involvement with shows such as "Fuaim Chonamara" and now "Atlantic Steps", is playing a hugely important role in reviving one of Irelands oldest dance forms and transforming it into a wonderful display of dance style, skill and athleticism. He has recently released a new DVD titled "In the Blood", a warm and atmospheric insight into the passing on of the sean-nós dance tradition within the Cunningham Family in Connemara.

Channing Cook Holmes, an Inglewood, California native, has been blessed with colorful drumming abilities, a syncopated rhythmic tap dance style, smooth vocal arrangements, and natural audience appeal which have taken him around the world.  His interest in the arts was initiated at the age of 5 with his first television commercial; leading to formal training by tap dancer and mentor Alfred Desio at the Colburn School of Performing Arts. Professionally, Channing has been featured in “Bojangles” starring Gregory HinesOffice Beat”, ”Imagine Tap”, “Jazz Tap Ensemble”, “Riverdance”, A Showtime Original and Martin Scorsesse’s “Gangs of New York.”  He has also performed on several occasions as a featured dancer with the Luckman orchestra on the Walt Disney Concert Hall stage.

Respectively, Channing has added directing and producing in to his repertoire with the production of his current children’s show “Got Rhythm!” This interactive production features an intimate cast of talented musicians and dancers engaging young audiences in rhythm making, music, history, new inventions and impressions; all rooted in the American art form of Tap Dancing, with an full evening version on the way.

Angela Lloyd surprises and delights her audiences with stories from the oral and literary traditions, as well as original tales based on her experience. She plays auto harp, guitar and spoons and is an absolute virtuoso on her washboard. Angela has performed at storytelling and music festival across the United States including the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesboro, Tennessee.

Máire Clerkin is an Irish Dancer from London. She co-founded the Irish Dance theatre companies, Clerkinworks, and The Hairy Marys. Touring extensively, she brought Irish dance to new audiences, developing innovation within a traditional art form. A Teaching Artist for The Music Center, Máire specializes in Irish Dance & Drama and Write-Move! Literacy Through Dance. Her one-woman show “The Bad Arm – Confessions of a Dodgy Irish Dancer,” directed by Dan O’Connor, has enjoyed wide acclaim in Chicago, New York, Dublin, Santa Cruz and L.A. Máire’s Irish Music & Dance ensemble “A Gaelic Gathering” conducts school assemblies and has performed at The Music Center's "World City" series on the Walt Disney Concert Hall campus, Ford Amphitheatre, at numerous folk festivals and she is a seasoned ‘Ceili (barn dance) Caller’.


A vibrant outdoor community gathering place for all, Grand Park adds a new spirit and vitality to downtown and is a beautiful public park for the entire community in Los Angeles County.  With expansive green space for gatherings large and small, Grand Park celebrates the cultural vitality of Los Angeles County and is host to community events, cultural experiences, holiday celebrations and many other activities that engage and attract visitors from all communities throughout the county.  One of the biggest parks in downtown Los Angeles, the 12-acre Grand Park stretches from The Music Center on the west to City Hall on the east.  Under the direction of the county, Grand Park was developed by Related Companies with an award-winning creative team, including landscape architect, Rios Clementi Hale Studios; general contractor, Charles Pankow Builders; environmental graphic design firm, Sussman/Prejza; and fountain design consultants, Fluidity.  For more information, visit


A leader at the cultural heart of Los Angeles County, The Music Center brings to life one of the world’s premier arts destinations by creating opportunities for arts participation, enabling compelling programming and providing first-class venues and services. The Music Center is one of the largest and most highly regarded performing arts centers in the country, creating a cultural hub that is central to L.A.’s status as “the creative capital” of the world. Celebrated for its illustrious dance programming Glorya Kaufman Presents Dance at The Music Center and home to four world-class resident companies– Centre Theatre Group, LA Opera, LA Phil, and Los Angeles Master Chorale – The Music Center is the place to experience the most innovative and critically-acclaimed performing arts in the nation. In its effort to extend the reach and accessibility of the performing arts, The Music Center is a national model for experiences in which people participate directly through its Active Arts® at The Music Center. As well, The Music Center presents special productions, events and festivals for children and families, including World City™ at The Music Center. Each year, over a million audience members delight in the excitement of live performances on The Music Center’s stages and enjoy free community arts events all year long across its outdoor campus. The Music Center is also on the forefront of arts education in Los Angeles, providing arts resources to students and teachers in schools and community centers throughout the region. For more information, visit

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