Freight Train Blues with The Branchettes and Hard Drive


Carrboro Town Commons
301 W Main St, Carrboro, North Carolina

Date & Time

May 27, 2022 — May 27, 2022
6:30 pm — 8:30 pm EST

Join us from 6:30-8:30 pm on May 13th – June 10th, 2022 for five Friday evening concerts featuring incredible roots musicians steeped in the diverse traditions of the Carolina Piedmont!
Freight Train Blues celebrates the life and legacy of Piedmont blues legend Elizabeth “Libba” Cotten, born in 1893 in Carrboro, NC. Some of her best known compositions, like the now-standard “Freight Train” and “Shake Sugaree,” have been canonized into the repertoires of American popular culture, with the latter interpreted by Bob Dylan and Taj Mahal. Her enduring legacy was featured earlier this year in a piece from Good Morning America, who said she was “a master storyteller.”

Freight Train Blues honors Elizabeth Cotten’s contributions to American roots music by highlighting the cultural significance, diversity, and vitality of her North Carolina community and its connections to artists across the nation.

Sponsored by Town of Carrboro Cultural Resources, Recreation & Parks Dept., Carrboro Tourism and Development Authority, Music Maker Foundation, WUNC 91.5FM, and The Judy Weinstock Real Estate Team. 

The Branchettes
The Branchettes Lena Mae Perry and her friend Ethel Elliott founded the Branchettes more than three decades ago — and it happened almost by accident. Both Lena Mae and Ethel were born and raised in Benson, North Carolina. Both attended the Long Branch Disciple Church. And one day the Long Branch Senior Choir was scheduled to perform at a church program in nearby Smithfield, but only Lena Mae, Ethel, and Mary Ellen Bennett showed up. They sang anyway and discovered the gift of their combined voices.

“The people were just shouting and crying,” Ethel Elliott once recalled in an interview, “even though there were just three of us.” They decided to continue as a group and they called themselves the Branchettes — small branches of the Long Branch, their home church.

The Brachettes’ style draws from the African American traditions of congregational hymn singing. Ethel Elliott passed away in 2004, but Perry continued to perform with pianist Wilbur Tharpe until his passing in June 2021. The group’s releases include “Singing in the Spirit,” and they are featured on the Music Maker Foundation release “Sisters of the South,” alongside artists like Beverly “Guitar” Watkins, Precious Bryant, and Etta Baker.

And appreciation for the Branchettes has grown over the years. In 1995, the group received the North Carolina Heritage Award and in 2001 they performed at the Carolina Roots: Women’s Voices of North Carolina event in Greensboro. They were also featured performers at the Ulster American Folk Park in Ireland.

Hard Drive
Hard Drive is a hard-driving aural modern traditional old time authentic millennial bluegrass collective made up of Tatiana Hargreaves, Aaron Tacke, Sonya Badigian, and Nokosee Fields. From brother duets to raging fiddle tunes, Hard Drive brings a sense of deep intuition and silliness to the world that encompasses old-time, country, and bluegrass. The Bluegrass Situation describes the band as “a delightful subversion of our expectations of what traditional bluegrass is supposed to be.” Hard Drive serves up a “high-octane bluegrass-old-time style, delivered with deep intuitive insight, manic exploratory zeal and seriously powerhouse instrumental (and vocal) chops but also, importantly, with an abundant and overwhelming sense of fun.” [Folk Radio UK]. They float gently around a Bermuda-Triangle-type spacetime warp in central North Carolina, and they are constantly expanding at the approximate pace of the universe.