Young artists go retro at Sumter Opera House

Western swing, classic country will take stage at event

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Friday the 13th can be doubly lucky for music lovers - especially those who like retro country music - if they spend the evening at Sumter Opera House for the Main Stage Series concert with the Quebe Sisters and the Malpass Brothers. The concert begins at 7 p.m.

The Quebe Sisters are three siblings who are all fiddle players and singers specializing in Western swing music like that of Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys, while the Malpass Brothers are a duo, with a band, who sing country music that will take the audience back to the early days of artists such as Johnny Cash, Lefty Frizell, Faron Young, Waylon Jennings, Hank Williams Sr. and Merle Haggard. In fact, the Haggard family has granted Christopher and Taylor Malpass the rights to perform his music.

The Quebe Sisters, Hulda, Grace and Sophia, also play traditional country and bluegrass, as well as jazz and folk music, backed by their rhythm section of guitarist Simon Stipp and upright bass player Daniel Parr.

Both sibling groups have received praise from audiences, fellow musicians and critics alike, and both are still in their 20s. The Quebes started their collaboration when all were pre-teens, and they've been playing fiddles and singing their three-part harmonies ever since. They have released three albums and have toured extensively, almost always receiving standing ovations after each performance. In addition to solo shows, they've shared stages with the likes of such artists as Willie Nelson, George Strait, the late Merle Haggard, Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder, Ray Price, Connie Smith, Marty Stuart, Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers, Ray Benson, Asleep at the Wheel and other acclaimed musicians, according to their website, quebesisters.com. Now the Quebes can add the Malpass Brothers to that list.

In fact, the Malpass Brothers have shared the stage with some of the same musicians as the Quebe Sisters; e.g., Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, Ray Price, Marty Stuart and others. Christopher and Taylor also do some early Elvis and other rockabilly music, along with their own tunes. They even have the elaborate outfits many traditional country artists wore- not to mention the hair and sideburns.

Sumter Opera House Manager and City of Sumter Cultural Director Seth Reimer said earlier this year that the Malpass Brothers are "genuine country singers," and they've got some interesting stories, as well. He's seen them perform.

"They're just as they appear," Reimer said. "The way they look and dress, it's not an act, something they put on for a show. They're among the few genuine classic country artists under 50 - and they're under 30. They're truly who they are; it's not a charade."

Both groups have an easygoing stage presence, and the brothers often mingle with their audiences during intermission, taking requests from fans. Look for their dad playing bass with them Friday night.

If you've never seen the Quebe Sisters - they've performed at the Grand Old Opry, Ryman Auditorium, the Kennedy Center and on National Public Radio's A Prairie Home Companion - Friday offers your best opportunity this year. And perhaps the two sibling groups will even play a few tunes together during the evening. For samples of the groups' talents and styles, visit these addresses on the web: http://bit.ly/2xW6yYQ and http://bit.ly/2yGi87R

See the Quebe Sisters and the Malpass Brothers in concert at 7 p.m. Friday at the Sumter Opera House. Tickets are on sale now but going fast. For reservations or more information about the show and others in the Main Stage Series, visit www.sumteroperahouse.com online or the box office at 21 N. Main St., where the concerts will be presented, or call (803) 436-2616.

The Opera House also offers a Main Stage Series membership package that offers many advantages and extras, including access to early ticket purchases ticket discounts, special event invitations, playbill listings and others. Read more about the Main Stage Series at www.SumterOperaHouse.com, where there is a link to become a member.