"How the spark became a flame"
Around 1997, members of this present Celtic Appalachian group met up at a local Celtic jam session. It was held at the former, but very wonderful, independent bookstore 153 West Main Street Books in Abingdon, VA. The folks that showed up to make music together were strangers. However, it wouldn't be very long until the sweet harmonies of music made the strangers into good friends. Some of the members of the group had already been playing music for years either on their own or in other groups. So it was a hodge-podge of novice and veteran musicians that came together in "the pit" to form Abingdon's first and only (as far as we know) Celtic jam session.
As the jam session became well known in the area, it wasn't long until the simple jam sessions turned into mini performances. Folks who were waiting to attend the nearby Barter Theatre would come into the store to purchase a book and give a listen to the music that could be heard wafting along the sidewalk near Main Street. Thus, a house band was born.
Within time, the house band was asked to perform at the ever popular Virginia Highland's Festival. Well, this meant that the house band had to have a name. The group became known as Celtic Knotes. Before too long, the house band was asked to do other performances. At one asking however, only three members could attend. This was the whistle player, the dulcimer player and the guitar player. And that is really where the history of Fire in the Kitchen begins....
The three of us answered the calling of our local Southwest Virginia 4-H Center in providing entertainment for an Elderhostel that would be visiting. It was from this performance that folks seemed to like the sound of our trio. From there the dulcimer player, who had been invited to provide music at another function, invited the whistle and guitar player to join her and from that moment on they became known as Fire in the Kitchen. Later our group added a fiddle player, the kind and talented Bill Kittrell. However, he was soon called away to do bigger and better things with his profession. It wasn't long though until we found another fiddler that we really liked. She had been performing, and was continuing to do so, with another group as well as with our local symphony. After six months of our guitar player "courting" the recent newlywed on the phone, he won her over and we indeed won a wonderful friend and a talented musician. Linda Waltner devoted a lot of talent to our group as a fiddler for a period of time, but alas...distance, miles and time does make for wear and tear on one and after a few years she decided to stay closer to home in TN and is still enjoying playing the fiddle and viola. In the meantime, our dear Debbie decided to pick up the fiddle and give it a try at the ripe old age of....well.. we won't say...and is doing a mighty fine job... anyhow...our journey continues.....
Fire in the Kitchen Bio |
Playing together since 2002, the trio of Fire In The Kitchen specializes in presenting lively Appalachian and Celtic music to its audiences. Instrumentation of the ensemble includes: Teddy Helton on guitar, bass and banjo, Tammy Martin on hammered dulcimer, Irish Bodhran, Cajon and vocals, Debbie Shrewsbury on classical and Irish flutes, Irish low and penny whistles, fiddle and vocals. Representing the beautiful region of southwestern Virginia, members hail from Bristol, Abingdon, and Emory, VA. Fire In The Kitchen has performed at venues such as: Dollywood, The Virginia Highlands’ Festival, The Bristol Paramount Theatre, The Barter Theatre, The Carter Family Fold, The Capital Theater, Sycamore Shoals Celtic Festival, Blue Ridge Celtic Festival, Wake Forest Celtic Festival among many others. The group has been featured on Public Radio programming “Live in Studio 1A" and performed at the BCMA’s (Birthplace of Country Music Alliance) 75th Anniversary Celebration of the Bristol Sessions. The group has also performed three times on the Blue Ridge Public Television series “Song of the Mountains” which is being broadcast by local and national PBS stations across the United States.
This fine group of musicians has released two CDs of their renditions of traditional Celtic and Appalachian music and one Christmas CD. Their first CD, “An Appalachian Celtic Journey” was released in 2002 and was archived at the Smithsonian Institute's Folklife Museum in Washington, D.C. in celebration of the Year of Appalachia. The second compact disc, "The Journey Continues" was released in December 2006. This CD features a refreshing variety of styles. Tunes were gathered from diverse sources: Ireland, Scotland, France, West Virginia, Texas, and Southwest Virginia . They range from the haunting strains of "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing", to the driving acceleration of the polkas, "Riding on a Load of Hay" and "Cobbler's Polka", to the loving affirmation of the Carter family vocal "Storms Are on the Ocean." Fire in the Kitchen's Christmas CD (released 2011) "Drive the Cold Winter Away", features many unique tunes that are not the ordinary Christmas song, but will soon become holiday favorites.
Fire in the Kitchen has come into its own. They display a clean, virtuosic flair with a sound that is uniquely their own. The word is spreading! You can look for them most anywhere...from a small coffeehouse to a large festival or even on your local PBS station. They just love to play!