Roots MusicGAMBIER, Ohio (October 11, 2011)
The rich variety of American folk music will be heard in Knox County when the Smithsonian Institution exhibit "New Harmonies: Celebrating American Roots Music" comes to the Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County this month.
The multimedia exhibit opens at the library on October 16 and continues through November 16. A series of concerts, lectures and films featuring the musical traditions of central Ohio, and planned with the help of the Kenyon Rural Life Center, will accompany and enhance the exhibit.
The Smithsonian Institution Museum on Main Street program is a cultural project that brings prestigious exhibitions to rural and small-town venues. The exhibition in Knox County is one of eight in Ohio selected through a competitive process and is made possible with support from the Ohio Humanities Council (OHC). Jack Shortledge, OHC senior program officer, said, "The New Harmonies tour gives participating communities the opportunity to celebrate their own music traditions as they learn about the origins of various roots music genres such as blues, country and western, gospel, and folk."
A diverse series of related events organized by the library and the Rural Life Center includes include Amish singing, rarely heard outside the Amish community; a shape-note sing that continues a 200-year-old sacred tradition; and music by old-time fiddler Kenny Sidle of Newark, who has received a National Heritage Fellowship as a national living treasure from the National Endowment for the Arts.
"Our proposal to host the exhibit was particularly appealing to the (Smithsonian) evaluators because of our rich musical heritage," said Howard Sacks, director of the Rural Life Center and professor of sociology at Kenyon. Sacks has spent much of his career studying the musical traditions of the region. "Many local artists have had a national impact, from 19th-century minstrel Dan Emmett to Chuck Flynn, who toured with country music legend Loretta Lynn," he said.
These are the free events linked to the exhibit:
- Exhibit opening at the main library, with refreshments and old-time music performed by Fredericktown fiddler Meg Litteral and friends. Sunday, October 16, 1:00-5:00 p.m.
- The Devil's Dream. Judy Sacks, OHC humanities scholar, will lead a discussion of this fictional story about fiddle playing in Appalachia as part of the monthly book discussion series at the main library. Tuesday, October 18, 7:00 p.m.
- With Pen in Hand. Mike Petee and friends will perform a tribute to Dan Emmett on Sunday, October 23, at 1:30 p.m. at the main library; on Tuesday, October 25, at 6:30 p.m. at the Fredericktown Community Library; Tuesday, November 1, at 6:30 p.m. at the Danville Public Library; and on Tuesday, November 15, at 6:30 p.m. at the Gambier Community Library.
- From the Barn to the Bowery and Back Again. Howard Sacks shares a multimedia presentation in the main library on two centuries of Knox County musical life. Wednesday, October 26, noon.
- Amish Traditions. D. Rose Walker, associate professor of humanities at the Ohio State University Agricultural Technical Institute in Wooster, will moderate a presentation by local Amish singers at the main library. Saturday, October 29, 1:30 p.m.
- Songcatcher. The main library will feature this 2000 film that explores a music professor's efforts to collect traditional songs in Appalachia. Howard and Judy Sacks will introduce the film and conduct a discussion after the viewing. Wednesday, November 2, 6:30 p.m.
- Masters and Students. Sidle will be joined by two other musicians at the main library to share their music and discuss how this tradition is preserved and how it has changed. Saturday, November 5, 1:30 p.m.
- Open Mic Night. Everyone is welcome sing or play their own style of American folk music at Sips Coffee House and Deli, Mount Vernon. November 9, 7:00-9:00 p.m.
- Awake My Soul. The Ohio Sacred Harp Singing Convention will present a documentary film on shape-note singing on Thursday, November 10, at 7 p.m. at the main library and a concert on Sunday, November 13, at 2:00 p.m. at the First Congregational United Church of Christ, Mount Vernon.