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Esterling to play at SFMS First Friday
Bob Hay and the Jolly Beggars - photo by Photo submitted

The 142nd “First Friday for Folk Music,” Savannah’s monthly showcase of local and touring folk musicians, features the first appearance of a remarkable South Carolina singer/songwriter, an Athens band that plays the works of Robert Burns and a favorite local folk group in another fine, eclectic show.  The April 4 edition features Angela Easterling, Boy Hay and the Jolly Beggars/Squall and Patchwork.

Angela Esterling is a native of Taylors, S.C., daughter of a Baptist minister and was raised on a farm that had been in the family since 1791.

Developing her skills as a guitar player and songwriter while attending college in Boston, her music returned more and more to the places in her heart — her country and gospel roots. Her imagination was sparked by the likes of Johnny Cash, the Carter family and Emmylou Harris. She honed her craft in Los Angeles, working to produce music called “haunting and ethereal” (Music Connection magazine) as a “dynamic spitfire of a performer with a knack of tapping you on the head while tugging at your heart.” Her debut album, “Earning Her Wings,” was named top album of the year by Smart Choice Music.

In the late ’90s, a group of musicians began to gather and play acoustic instruments on Saturday nights — mostly old timey folk and bluegrass songs. In a casual conversation about the origins of these songs, the name of Robert Burns was mentioned.

Later when Bob Hay was at the library he read some of Burns’ work and was so intrigued that he learned to play some of Burns’ songs on the guitar. One song lead to another and in a year he had learned about 20 songs.

A folk band in the truest sense of the word, Bob Hay and the Jolly Beggars focus solely on performing the songs of the late 18th-century Scottish poet, songwriter and raconteur Robert Burns. On albums “Tam Lin” and “And More Songs by Robert Burns,” Bob Hay (lead vocals, banjo), Bill David (mandolin), Dave Dowless (guitar), Ken Starratt (bass) and Diana Torell (fiddle) display a continued comfort with traditional music.

Patchwork is a Savannah-based group that formed to promote acoustic folk music with Celtic and nautical themes. They began performing their brand of sea chanteys and ballads in 2002. After founding guitarist and singer Patrick McGuire moved away, remaining members Jenny Brown (singer), Mark Woodruff (singer) and Jerry Stenger (mandolin, bouzouki, bodhran and vocals) were joined by Sra Laidlaw (singer) and Rob Roberts (guitar and vocals).

They have since increased their repertoire to include songs from country folk, Americana and bluegrass.

“First Friday for Folk Music” is a production of the Savannah Folk Music Society and is held the first Friday of each month at Wesley Monumental United Methodist Church, 429 Abercorn St., on Calhoun Square, in historic downtown Savannah. It’s from 7:30-10:30 p.m. and is smoke-free, alcohol-free and family-friendly. There is a recommended donation of $2 per person.

Beverages and homemade fresh baked goods are available for purchase at nominal prices.