Those who appreciate the heritage and history of Appalachian music and culture are invited to the Ashland Community and Technical College Technology Drive Campus for a series of free lunch-time concerts and exhibits as part of the Smithsonian Institute’s “New Harmonies: Celebrating American Roots Music” exhibit.
The series continues this week with Professor Kathy Bullock from Berea College today, and a Thursday appearance by the Raceland-Worthington High School Guitar Ensemble. The series continues next week with performances by old-time string band musicians from Morehead, as well as a vocal performance by the Paramount Arts Center’s Joshua Jannotta and an instrumental performance by the PAC’s Tara Sansom.
“The Smithsonian exhibit is an extraordinary opportunity to see images and hear the sounds of more than 200 years of American ‘roots’ music. In conjunction with the exhibit, local performers and musical experts have focused on Kentucky ‘roots” music, particularly the music of eastern Kentucky,” said ACTC spokeswoman Gayle Fritz.
“Two things are apparent though the performers we have already seen — from Alaskan fiddler Ken Waldman to the MSU old-time bands. One is that Kentucky has had a profound influence on all types of music,” Fritz said. “The other is that we have a lot of really talented musicians in our area who are not only preserving traditional music but creating new traditions of their own.
“By the way, the Smithsonian’s ‘Celebrating American Roots Music’ exhibit will be open weekdays until Dec. 19. I hope anyone who hasn’t seen it will take a little time to visit the Technology Drive Campus and learn more about our musical heritage.”
The Old Time String Band from Morehead State University’s Kentucky Center for Traditional Music will give a free performance at 11 a.m. Monday. The band is composed of MSU students Beau Lambert on guitar, bass and banjo; Ellen Kearney on mandolin; Linda Stokley on fiddle and banjo; Montana Hobbs on banjo; Corey Swearingen on guitar; and Louis Magda on harmonica.
The group is led by Olive Hill native Nathan Kiser, KCTM operations manager, and the band’s songs will focus on music stemming from, or influenced by, music from the southern Appalachian mountain region. Students enrolled in KCTM Traditional Music Ensemble classes perform throughout the region in a “Sounds of Our Heritage” series.
Jannotta studied vocal performance at West Virginia University. He was in the national tour of “Hello Dolly” and also played Hedwig in “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” off Broadway. He played Alfredo in “La Traviata” at the Mobile Opera in Mobile, Ala. He has also worked for many equity and nonequity regional theaters, including Pittsburgh CLO, West Virginia Public Theatre, the Virginia Stage Company and Theatre West Virginia. He is the assistant director of education at the PAC and assistant artistic director of the Paramount Players.
During his 11 a.m. performances at ACTC on Tuesday and Dec. 12, Jannotta will present a lecture and short performances focused on some of the different styles of American vocal music.
Sansom, a five-time Pennsylvania fiddling champion, has performed, competed and taught throughout the United States, Ireland, Scotland and Canada, entertaining audiences with expert celtic, bluegrass and old-time fiddling. She has a bachelor’s degree in music education from Grove City College in Pennsylvania and has a master’s in arts and liberal studies with a concentration in Appalachian, Scottish and Irish studies from East Tennessee State University.
The traditional musician developed a love and passion for music at age 4 when she began to play the fiddle. Sansom has more than a dozen years of experience teaching private lessons on various instruments and most recently taught in the Traditional Music Program at MSU. The Catlettsburg woman travels throughout the state, performing programs in public schools that focus on traditional Appalachian music from the region. In addition, she offers private music lessons and will be teaching Kindermusik at the PAC starting in January.
Sansom’s program at 11 a.m. Dec. 6 and 13 will focus on traditional Appalachian music (especially pertaining to Kentucky) and singing styles and instruments, including fiddle, banjo and guitar.
The campus is off the Industrial Parkway (Ky. 67) near Grayson. For more information about the series, visit ashland.kcts.edu.
“New Harmonies” is part of “Museum on Main Street,” which is a collaboration between the Smithsonian and state humanities councils nationwide, with support from the U.S. Congress. The exhibit has been made possible in Ashland by the Kentucky Humanities Council, with support from the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and ACTC.
TIM PRESTON can be reached at email@example.com.