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Motlow's Fitch sits in with Brock McGuire Band during Smyrna Center concert

September 27, 2013

What do you do when you request a song during an internationally-acclaimed band concert and the band doesn't know the song?

Motlow College faculty member Elizabeth Fitch, an accomplished fiddle and banjo player, sat in with the Brock McGuire Band during a recent acoustic performance by the band at the Motlow College Smyrna Center.
If you're Elizabeth Fitch, assistant professor of biology at the Motlow College Smyrna Center, you grab the fiddle player's fiddle, take a seat with the band and show them how it's done.

Fitch did just that during a recent concert by the world class Brock McGuire Band at the Motlow Smyrna Center. The band, which is known worldwide as one of the top Irish folk music bands, played one show in Smyrna and two shows the following day on the Moore County campus as a part of the continuing program to "internationalize" student's education at Motlow.

The four-member band of master musicians and experienced educators boasts several awards, including the "Traditional Irish Band of the Decade Award" by The Irish American News, "Top of the World Award" by Songlines Magazine and the "Virtuosity in Full Flight Award" from The Irish Times.

"I talked with the band members while they were taking a break and told them I was an old-time musician," said Fitch. "We talked about the similarities between old-time music and Irish music. When the band started playing again, they asked if anyone had a request. I made a request but they didn't know the song. They asked if I would come and play, so we played a couple of tunes together."

Fitch plays regularly in Nashville and the surrounding area with the East Nashville Serenaders. The Serenaders play square dances, contra dances, and both public and private events. They played last summer at the Frist Center in Nashville when the folk exhibit was revealed.

"I have played some Irish music in the past, but I usually play old-time fiddle tunes that originated in the Appalachian region," continued Fitch. "Paul Brock explained to our students how Irish settlers moved into Appalachia and brought their music with them, which eventually evolved into old-time and bluegrass music."

A crowd of over 220 students, faculty and staff enjoyed the concert in the student lounge area of the new facility at the Smyrna Center. Jeannie Brown, coordinator for international education and study abroad at Motlow, feels the first event in the new Smyrna Center building was a big success.

"Everyone seemed to really enjoy listening to this tremendous band play authentic Irish folk music," said Brown. "The intimate setting and the acoustic presentation combined to create a great atmosphere in Smyrna. Elizabeth joining in for a couple of songs really added flavor for our students."

Brown said one of her goals is to send as many Motlow students abroad as possible but the reality is that most student won't travel beyond their community to she works to bring the world to Motlow students.

"We are part of a three week American tour for the band and feel it is a real feather in our caps to have a band of this caliber at Motlow," said Brown.

The Brock McGuire Band has delighted audiences worldwide with its blend of typically unrelated types of music with traditional historic Celtic style. Its unique style of fusing Celtic music with forms of American bluegrass-country is demonstrated in its latest album, Green Grass Blue Grass (Compass Records, 2011), a collaboration with Grammy Award winning bluegrass musician Ricky Skaggs. The album has been hailed "a masterpiece" by American music critic Bill Margeson.