Amy Humphrey


Cathy Barton - Composer
Dave Para - Band Director

Cathy Barton and Dave Para have created dynamic performances acclaimed for 25 years for their variety and expertise in vocal and instrumental music.  They have celebrated the musical traditions and folklife of Missouri and the Ozarks in festivals, clubs, concert halls, schools and studios across the U.S. and Europe. Their audiences are as diverse as their repertoire.

A versatile duo, Dave and Cathy play several stringed instruments including hammered and fretted dulcimers, banjo, guitar and Autoharp, as well as "found" instruments like bones, spoons, mouthbow and leaf. Their concerts present a range of music from the lively dance tunes they have collected in their home region to old ballads to new songs. They have conducted several instrumental workshops as well as those about songs from the Civil War, from American rivers, old gospel songs, children's songs and Christmas music.

Putting the song before the singer, Dave and Cathy are caretakers of a long musical heritage, and they are known for deep understanding and affection for traditional music.  They also keep their minds and ears open as the roots and branches of folk music run deep and spread wide.  Missouri is a social and geographic meeting place, and its rich cultural diversity continues to inspire Dave and Cathy’s music and broaden their repertoire.

In their mission to introduce new audiences to folk music, Dave and Cathy have participated in the artists-in-education program for the Missouri Arts Council since the early 1980s. They have done folk arts residencies and assembly programs in schools across the state.

They also created and serve as artistic directors of two annual folk festivals, the Big Muddy Folk Festival, in their hometown of Boonville, and the Boone’s Lick Country Folk Festival, in Arrow Rock, Mo.

Cathy is a recognized master of the frailing banjo style, and the late Roy Acuff, remembering the sounds of early country music,  often called her his "favorite banjo player." Cathy also contributed to the revival of the hammered dulcimer in the Midwest. In the mid-1970s, she introduced it to the Walnut Valley Festival in Winfield, Kan., and has since provided a number of current players with their first hearing of the instrument

While earning college and graduate degrees in humanities and folklore, Cathy worked as an assistant folklorist at the Ozark Folk Center in Mountain View, Ark.

Dave studied guitar at the Old Town School of Folk Music in his hometown Chicago where the folk revival continued unabated. While attending college in Cathy's hometown of Columbia, Mo., Dave managed the Chez Coffeehouse, an active center for folk music in Central Missouri for 20 years. There he started accompanying several fiddlers and began playing in local string bands. He has since been noted often for his expert and distinctive back-up guitar style.

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