The Charlotte Folk Society’s instrument-lending library is getting a new lease on life thanks to 17-year-old Davy Fee, a member of Boy Scout Troop 186 at Robinson Presbyterian Church in Mint Hill.
For his Eagle Scout project, Fee has secured space, built and painted shelves, arranged for minor instrument repairs and created a cataloging and checkout system for the donated instruments previously scattered among members homes.
On Sept. 12, Fee and other members of the Folk Society will host an open house to introduce the community to the new library at Plaza Presbyterian Church near uptown Charlotte.
Assistant Scoutmaster Scott Allsberry, who has advised and assisted Fee with planning and construction of shelves, says the project was a perfect fit for the Scout, who developed a love of folk music early from his father, David Fee. The elder Fee plays mandolin, guitar and bass.
“It really suits him and the interest that he shares with his dad. There’s obvious passion there,” said Allsberry. “I don’t know many kids his age that are as self-motivated as Davy is.”
Davy Fee’s specialty is gypsy jazz, a fast paced, up-tempo style of music started in the 1930s.
For the past four summers, Fee has spent a week on scholarship at the Swannanoa Gathering at Warren Wilson College taking lessons and participating in jam sessions around the clock.
A Rocky River High School senior, Fee is a junior member of the Folk Society board. He said he hopes that by making instruments more accessible, more people will discover the beauty of, and develop appreciation for, folk music.
Folk Society publicity chairwoman Wanda Hubicki said it’s important to spread that appreciation, especially among youths.
“Our mission is to preserve and make available to people in our community the traditional music of the Piedmont Carolinas. It’s important to interest young people in continuing the music, otherwise it won’t survive,” Hubicki said.
Fee said the most difficult part of the project wasn’t the building or painting or even formulation of checkout procedures: it was finding space to house the instruments.
“I needed a place where the instruments could be stored together,” Fee said. “The hardest part of the project was finding a church with extra space. I called about a dozen of them and they were skeptical of my plans. But when I called pastor (Tom) Tate at Plaza Presbyterian, I knew I had found a home.”
The church approved the project, and Fee and his fellow Scouts have been hard at work since.
Tate used to belong to the Folk Society, so he recognized the value of Fee’s proposal. A guitar player himself – picking up the instrument in the ’60s and learning Beatles songs – Tate said the project is a win for all concerned.
“We’re delighted to be a part of this,” Tate said. “We had some space we weren’t using, and the Charlotte Folk Society is of great benefit to the community. It offers an insight into a world of music that many of us wouldn’t get any other way.”
“This way we could help our community and help a Scout get his Eagle at the same time. The more we can be involved in our community the better we will be as a church, and we hope we will make the community a better place as well.”
Though it’s not quite finished, the project already has garnered an additional membership for the Folk Society.
“I am a lapsed member of the Society, but I will be taking care of that soon,” Tate said.