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A universal holiday show

Fingerstyle guitarist Eric Tingstad and double reed player Nancy Rumbel will set carols and other seasonal music to their trademark acoustic instrumentals this weekend at the Unitarian Center. The duo's concert will stretch beyond traditional tunes to include what Tingstad calls "seasonal music from across the universe."

Along with medleys of the usual perennials, Tingstad and Rumbel will present such carols as the Spanish "Riu Riu Chiu" and the French "Patapan"

"We're calling it seasonal music from across the universe," Tingstad says. "We'll even throw in a few Martian tunes. We'll have to make some up ... but they'll be stellar."

The concert is set for 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 3, at the center, 87 Fourth St.

Tingstad's and Rumbel's music is grounded in the environment and creates a reflective atmosphere that honors the traditions of American roots music and Western culture. Or, in their words, it's "ambient Americana."

As a guitarist, Tingstad plays classical, steel-string, acoustic, 12-string, electric and bass guitars.

"I play anything with a string on it," he says. "And Nancy plays any woodwind."

Rumbel will bring the full-bodied sounds of the oboe and English horn to the duo's show. She also plays ocarina, an aerophone that can sound much like a flute, recorder or tin whistle.

"It's a versatile instrument," Tingstad says. "She can emulate American Indian, Irish, Southern American and pan flutes with it."

Tingstad brings his Martin and a custom-made classical guitar built by lutier Bake Traphegan to the concert.

The Grammy Award-winning duo, based near Seattle, has played together for 26 years and recorded about 19 albums together. Their newest album, "Badlands," will be released in February on Tingstad's label, Cheshire Records.

"Badlands" also draws from the Americana music movement, borrowing from early blues, folk, bluegrass, gospel, ragtime, rock and other genres.

"It hearkens back to the fundamentals of early Tingstad and Rumbel instrumental music," Tingstad says. "It has a cowboy campfire, American blues sound with shamanic drumming. What sets it apart is our strong sense of melody and our arrangements. They're playful, humorous and clever, and they're heartfelt."

"Badlands" will be available at the concert.

"We're really about the versatility of our sound," he says. "We play American Indian, Irish, South American, Peruvian, Middle Eastern and Asian music. We're a sort of melting pot of music from all over the world."

Advance tickets cost $20 and are available at Music Coop, online at www.stclairevents.com or by calling 541-535-3562. Tickets will cost $22 at the door, $10 for ages 12 through 17. Children 11 and younger will be admitted free.

Tingstad will offer a guitar techniques workshop open to all levels of experience from 10 a.m. to noon Sunday, Dec. 4, in the community classroom at the Ashland Food Co-op, 300 N. Pioneer St. Call 541-535-3562 or see www.stclairevents.com for information and registration.

Nancy Rumbel's and Eric Tingstad's new album 'Badlands' will be released in February on Cheshire Records. - Photo by Rob Prout