About the band

About the band

Pearl Shirley grew up in Black Mountain, NC, soaking up traditional Appalachian music and dance almost without noticing. She picked up a tiny violin at age 5, and since then has fiddled her way through hundreds of foot-stomping contra dances and folk concerts.  Pearl has toured with the popular contra dance band Mock Turtle Soup from Alnwick (England) to Santa Barbara, from Phoenix  to  D.C and beyond, and currently performs with the acclaimed old-time band, Blue Eyed Girl.   Pearl is a first grade teacher and is the daughter of Julia.

Fiery and precocious, Laurel has been singing professionally from age 9, starting with Dolly Parton classics and swing standards learned from her musician parents.  From these early influences she branched out to include musicians as diverse as Keb Mo and Lucinda Williams.  Individualizing songs with her own trademark style came as naturally to her as playing the upright bass, which she picked up in high school.  In addition to Firefly she has played with Mock Turtle Soup, the Bob Willoughby Trio, Blue Eyed Girl, The Who Alls, High Healed Sneakers, and Owen Morrison.  She traveled to Alnwick England to perform at their international music festival in 2005, and has toured the Southeast playing contra dances and house concerts.  Peggy Seeger has described Laurel’s singing as “thoughtful, beautiful and inspired.”  Laurel is an ultrasound technician and is the daughter of Barbara.

For 13 seasons Julia played cello with the Asheville Symphony,  meanwhile moonlighting as a traditional dance fiddler.  She was the artistic director of the legendary Black Mountain Festival from 1986-199?.  Among her performance and teaching venues:  the LEAF,  the Black Mountain Festival,  Berea Country Dance School, Pinewoods,  Moondance,  The Gypsy Meltdown, Folkmoot International.  Currently,  Julia plays cello with the highly acclaimed  Akira Satake Band,  performs with Far Horizons and Fly by Night at regional contra and square dances, and  performs solo cello at The Biltmore Estate, and at various venues for weddings and special events.  She is the logistics director at the Swannanoa Gathering at Warren Wilson College and the coordinator of Fiddle Week for that same event.  Julia has recorded on CDs of various artists,  and in 2004 she released her own acclaimed debut CD,  The View from Here.  Julia is an artist and member of the Southern Highland Handicraft Guild and is the mother of Pearl.

Barbara ‘s signature swing rhythm on a 1960 Gibson f-hole guitar is the driving beat behind the band.  She moved to western NC from Florida in 1980, and in addition to Firefly, has performed with Far Horizons,  Alexander the Grape  Paradux, and the Who Alls.  In her “other life” Barbara is a Mediator,  helping people resolve conflicts amicably.  She is the mother of Laurel.