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Charlie & Celia: About Us

Charlie Lewis

Charlie has been performing as an actor and musician in Ohio and the surrounding region for the past four decades. In the 1970's he become a part of a joint project of the School of Theater and the Ohio Valley Summer Theater known as the "Appalachian Green Parks Project." This group performed traditional Appalachian folk songs and dialogue based on the culture and history of the region in Ohio State Parks. Through the efforts of Representative Clarence Miller, the group was invited to perform in Washington, D.C., and eventually became the official Bicentennial Touring Group for the State of Ohio during the nation’s Bicentennial Celebration in the 70’s. There was a documentary movie made on the group, and an album was released for public sale. Music was recorded for the Ohio Department Of Natural Resources for a Public Service Film entitled "Sweet Ohio" and the group made an appearance on ABC Television’s "Make A Wish." It was in this group that Charlie first met Celia Hollander. After AGPP came to an end for them, Charlie and Jim McGaw drafted Jim Prouty and formed "The New Vinton County Frogwhompers Marching, Singing, Strumming and Plucking Society" in the hopes of continuing to make music. This venture led to an appearance at the prestigious Fox Hollow Folk Festival in Petersburg, NY, another album, three different appearances on PBS’s "Hocking Valley Bluegrass" (later known as "Ramblin’") including the pilot that got the show on the air. There were also original scores from both Jim and Charlie for the ODNR Films "Special Places," "The Legacy," and a short subject on Louis Bromfield’s Malabar Farm. It was during this time period that both Jim and Charlie first began to play the hammered dulcimer. When the group disbanded, Charlie and Jim Prouty started Touch Productions and added band member Terry Douds to form a new group known as "A Touch of Grass," operating out of Columbus, Ohio. Another album was released, and the band was busier than ever, but Jim eventually left Touch Productions and the band to open an Irish Pub in Athens, Ohio. After Jim’s departure, the band went on to perform in shows that included such acts as Bill Monroe, The Country Gentlemen, Juice Newton, Hank Williams, Jr., and Alabama.

All things must come to an end, and so it was that in the late 80’s the band dissolved and Charlie began performing in a duo with Celia Hollander. They were eventually married at Malabar Farm and continued to perform under a number of different names. They found that regardless of what they called themselves, the public called them "Charlie & Celia," and they wisely adopted that as their official name. They moved to Guysville in Athens County, Ohio and continued performing music. In the 1990’s, they teamed up with Bill Mullins, another former member of the "Appalachian Green Parks Project" and performed as a trio. Since Bill is also Charlie’s cousin, the group was called "The Mighty Fine Reformulated All-Purpose Family Band." They performed in venues from Civil War Reenactments to State Parks and places such as the Ariel Theatre in Gallipolis until1996 when Celia’s job at Ohio University transferred her to Cleveland and the Lewis family left the Athens area for the next six years. There was a hiatus from performing and a concentration on the rearing of two young daughters. Charlie took a job with Guitar Center in North Olmsted though both knew they would eventually return to performing. In 1999, Guitar Center transferred Charlie to Hallandale Beach, Florida as Operations Manager and they soon began to find venues in which to perform again. In 2002, they packed up and left Florida and Guitar Center to return to Ohio and resettle back into their house in Guysville, Ohio. 2002 through 2005 were again spent primarily tending to the care of the girls. In addition to an occasional performance as Charlie & Celia, Charlie also appeared locally with the original members of "A Touch Of Grass" under the new name of "Forgotten But Not Gone." Charlie took the time to be a part of an educational project for musiceducationpress.com under the guidance of Becky Ogden called "Come To The Play Party," recording Appalachian folk music with Ohio notable musicians Tony Ellis, The Vibberts Family, Laura Kaplan, Cathi Parsons and Terry Douds. Charlie was also an active member of the Arts Task Force for the City of Athens that was instrumental in the acquisition of the building and the development of the plan that resulted in the establishment of ARTS/West in Athens. Both Charlie and Celia have been presenters/instructors at the Southeast Ohio Dulcimer Festival that takes place in Stewart, Ohio under the guidance of Jerry Rockwell. The beginning of 2005 brought the re-working of old material, the addition of new material, the re-contacting of sources from nine years earlier, the contacting of brand new sources and finally, the re-launching of "Charlie & Celia". They hit the ground running. There were performances at Nelsonville’s Final Fridays followed by invitations to appear at Toscano’s in Athens, and events in the Zanesville and McConnellsville areas. Fans had been polled to see which songs they would like to hear on a new CD. "Snapshot" (the CD) was released and the Charlie & Celia Website went on-line in August of 2005. Since that time, Charlie & Celia found time in their busy performance schedule to produce and release a Holiday Snapshot CD for Diagnostic Hybrids, Incorporated that was sent out to their customers, provide back up as singers and musicians for a mini tour of 70’s Folk Artists David & Denise, and provide instrumental and vocal tracks for a CD by singer/songwriter Noah Budin. In addition to everything else, Charlie & Celia served several years as board members of the Ohio Valley Summer Theater. They were instrumental in putting together, providing the music direction for, and performing in a revival of The Appalachian Green Parks Project during the Spring and Summer of 2007.

Celia Hollander Lewis

Celia Hollander Lewis was raised in Cleveland, Ohio, and still has family and musical ties to the area.  Celia's family was musical and theatrical, and she sang and played guitar with her three sisters for many years as "The Hollander Sisters"  The sisters have dispersed, and two of them also pursued the entertainment path.  You may follow them by selecting the websites in the "inks"section of this website.

When Celia went to school at Ohio University she was inducted into the Appalachian Green Parks Project during the project's final year. This is where she met Charlie Lewis, and they had the opportunity to perform together several times before the project disbanded.

Celia pursued music through synagogues and by providing private music lessons, while performing as a vocalist and multi-instrumentalist in states including California, The District of Columbia, Florida, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New York and Ohio. She is also a practicing Board Certified Music Therapist. Celia first appeared on stage with Charlie in the Appalachian Green Parks Project, a cultural arts performance group co-sponsored by Ohio Valley Summer Theater and Ohio University, in Athens, Ohio, with help from the Ohio Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts. [See Charlie's biography for how we met and what happened next...]

The New Vinton County Frogwhompers

A long time ago . . . there was The New Vinton County Frogwhompers Marching, Singing, Strumming and Plucking Society. This was a direct result of Jim McGaw and I (Charlie) starting our own music group after performing for a couple of years with the Appalachian Green Parks Project. We found we worked together well and each of us had a creative spark that was clearly reflected in music that was performed by that group. When Green Parks was abruptly ended, we decided to continue working together and began looking for other like minded musicians. Green Parks had been a large group of performers numbering 10 or more at any given time. Through some stroke of luck, we happened on Jim Prouty and began rehearsing with the idea of performing around town. At that point in time, there was briefly a 4th member whose identity remains lost in time when she bowed out before the first performance of the group had even taken place. Our first performance took place on the college green at Ohio University. It was a political rally for then presidential candidate Mo Udall. Having no real name at that point in time, we were billed simply as Jim, Jim and Charlie. Further refinement and rehearsal required time and a place where we would not be interrupted. McGaw's cabin on the Muskingum River fit the bill nicely, and after a few days of concentrated rehearsal we decided to take a break. We went into Marietta, Ohio and performed three of the songs we had been working on and were hired on the spot for the coming weekend. McGaw remembered a name he and others had developed as something to call themselves during jam sessions in an upstairs bar in Athens in the years before Green Parks (McGaw can describe the details of this part best), and we had used that name for our open stage debut. At that moment, the name became locked in and the Frogwhompers were officially born. The rest, as they say, is history. (To be Continued)

Charlie & Celia

". . . a husband and wife team who serve up an entertaining combination of love songs, bluegrass, folk, country and popular music (often injected (infected?) with a healthy dose of humor) on the guitar, banjo, hammered dulcimer and Celtic harp, along with a strong and pleasing vocal blend." . . . or so our brochure says. Charlie & Celia (C & C) originally met and sang together for a short time as members of the Appalachian Green Parks Project, Ohio's official bicentennial performance touring group. The project was sponsored by Ohio Valley Summer Theater and Ohio University, in Athens, Ohio. C & C went their separate ways after college, only to meet up again 15 years later. In the intervening years, Charlie was a member of some notable musical acts including The New Vinton County Frogwhompers Marching, Singing, Strumming and Plucking Society and A Touch of Grass. Celia appeared on cabaret club stages in New York City singing with her sisters (You can check out the websites of Celia's sisters Anita & Rachel on our links page), and played orchestral harp in small orchestras across the country. Teaching private and class music lessons to children and adults on a variety of instruments has provided an ongoing venue to keep music in daily life as well. Over the years C & C played shows for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), touring Ohio state parks and appearing at the ODNR exhibit at the Ohio State Fair. Shows also included other outdoor venues as well as clubs and restaurants all over Ohio and neighboring states. In the mid-1990's C & C performed with Charlie's cousin, Bill Mullins, singer and instrumentalist extraordinaire, as The Mighty Fine Reformulated All-Purpose Family Band. C&C and family left Athens for Cleveland in 1996, played around there, then left Ohio for a whole 20 months to be in Florida. The children, as did C & C, wanted to come back home, to Athens County, Ohio, so here they are. Over the years people have sought a recorded memento at the conclusion of every show, so we figured it was well past time we presented one! It took us a while, but we got the message, and "Snapshot" was published in August, 2005.