"Duo Eamon" returns to Meetinghouse Cafe

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BENNINGTON — For the performers known as "Duo Eamon," their upcoming performance in Bennington is a great opportunity to connect with local history, benefit the community, and spread some much needed joy.

"Duo Eamon," which will be performing at the Meetinghouse Cafe on Friday, is composed of Pownal residents Cassandra Cleghorn and Jeffrey Levine.

"We started ten years ago when I met my soon to be husband Jeffrey," said Cleghorn, a senior lecturer in English and American Studies at Williams College. "We were both trained as classical musicians, but by the time I met him I had turned the corner to folk music."Cleghorn soon led Levine into the world of Celtic and French Canadian folk music, creating the intimate and energizing partnership known as "Duo Eamon."

"He was already an accomplished guitarist, but he hadn't really experienced the folk tradition," said Cleghorn. "He took to it and really loved it, so we started to develop our own arrangements to classic tunes."

Both Cleghorn and Levine's varied musical backgrounds bring a unique twist to their performances.

"Jeff brings to guitar accompaniment a really rich jazz background," said Cleghorn. "There's all this texture to our tunes that people can't always identify."

The duo has performed actively for over six years throughout New England, playing most prolifically in Massachusetts and Southern Vermont. "Duo Eamon" released their self titled debut album in 2013, featuring traditional Irish, New England, and Quebecois tunes on fiddle and guitar.

While Cleghorn and Levine have performed at the Meetinghouse Cafe once before, Friday's event will feature another dimension to their typical concert experience.

"We're making the concert a benefit performance for the Greater Bennington Interfaith Community Services," said Cleghorn. "We play every day no matter what, so it's great when we can give back to the community in a more concrete way."

This is not the first time that the "Duo Eamon," has performed a benefit concert, as the band hosts an annual fundraiser for St. John's Episcopal Church in Williamstown, Mass. during the holiday season.

"It feels like the right situation, and since we both have viable employment we don't need to make a living from our music," said Cleghorn. "We really understand the need to spread the wealth."

Beyond the community benefit that the "Duo Eamon," hopes to provide, their concert is also a prime opportunity to learn and listen to an aspect of our local history.

"For a lot of people it's a great introduction to this music that is so richly present in our community," said Cleghorn. "The French Canadian tradition is very powerful here in the Pownal and Williamstown areas."

Overall, Cleghorn hopes that their performance will be a source of joy on multiple fronts.

"It's like you get to uncover a bit of your local history through the music, and it's a nice feeling to be able to help this organization that does so much for our community," said Cleghorn. "It's also just a great time, and at this point in our national history we could all use some joy."

The "Duo Eamon" concert will begin on 8 p.m. on June 9 at the Meetinghouse Cafe, located in the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Bennington. Tickets are $15 for adults, and $10 for students. Proceeds will benefit the Greater Bennington Interfaith Community Services, Inc., an umbrella agency for the Free Clinic, Kitchen Cupboard and Food and Fuel Fund.

Reach Cherise Madigan at 802-490-6471.

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