Christy Martin and Aodh Og O’Tuama are troubadours in every sense of the word. The pair make up Four Shillings Short, a Celtic/folk/world music duo that travels the globe, performing more than 100 concerts a year at music festivals, theaters and performing arts centers, folk societies, libraries, house concerts and schools.
The San Gregorio General Store has been a stop along the way for many years. This year, the duo will be doing a concert to benefit KPFA, a community-supported radio station curating a mix of music, informed public affairs, culture and news.
KPFA is a Berkeley-based radio station that has been on the air for nearly 70 years and strives to promote cultural diversity and pluralistic community expression. It depends on listener donations.
“KPFA is one of a consortium of radio stations around the country, devoted to free speech radio,” said Martin. “They are about reporting the alternative news. That’s an important function of theirs. A lot of their shows focus on more detailed information.
“Access to information is so essential so that people can make educated decisions,” she continued. “KPFA has no other agenda than to accurately report the news and to make free speech accessible because it’s what makes democracy healthy.”
The pair describe themselves as troubadours who value different beliefs and ideologies. They believe that it is through dialogue that these differences can be explored and eventually understood. Due to their traveling lifestyle, they sometimes find themselves staying with those who may believe differently than they do.
“We play the whole country and sometimes it’s challenging to be in a house where they are supporting something that we think is really tough to take,” said Martin. “We still have that dialogue. We have to have the dialogue.
“We try to model our life after the troubadours who went from town to town and stayed with people and didn’t have an agenda except to be a link between the past and the present,” she continued. “The troubadours were free agents. They were not necessarily dependent on the favor of everybody.”
Together, under the banner of Four Shillings Short, Og O’Tuama and Martin specialize in music from the Celtic lands, Medieval and Renaissance Europe, India as well as the Americas.
They play over 30 instruments including the hammered and mountain dulcimer, bouzouki, Medieval and Renaissance woodwinds, as well as the North Indian sitar.
The KPFA benefit concert is scheduled from 7 to 9 p.m. on Dec. 8 at the San Gregorio General Store located at the center of Stage Road and Highway 84. There is a $25 suggested donation. For more information visit fourshillingsshort.com.