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Traditional string music’s Perlman, Taylor plan free March 27 concert at MTSU

MTSU will ring with the rhythms of traditional string music Monday, March 27, when old-time American music masters and scholars Ken Perlman and Bobby Taylor bring their talents to a free public concert.

Ken Perlman

Ken Perlman

Bobby Taylor

Bobby Taylor

Perlman, who plays the banjo, and Taylor, who plays the fiddle, will share music and stories about America’s Appalachian music traditions at the 8 p.m. event in MTSU’s State Farm Lecture Hall, Room S-102, in the Business and Aerospace Building.

MTSU’s Center for Popular Music is presenting the event. A campus map with parking notes is available at http://tinyurl.com/MTSUParkingMap.

new-CPM-logo-webPerlman is a pioneer of the five-string banjo style known as “melodic clawhammer” and a master of fingerstyle guitar. He is considered one of the top clawhammer players in the world, known in particular for his adaptations of Celtic tunes to the style, and his guitar specialties include finger-picked renditions of traditional fiddle tunes.

Along with his music teaching, banjo-camp instruction, performances and recordings, Perlman is an active folklorist and author who collected tunes and oral histories for “The Fiddle Music of Prince Edward Island,” a two-CD anthology called “The Prince Edward Island Style of Fiddling,” and an ethnography, “Couldn’t Have a Wedding Without the Fiddler: the Story of Traditional Fiddling on Prince Edward Island.”

Taylor is a fourth-generation West Virginia fiddler who learned from some of that region’s legendary masters. He’s won many awards for his fiddle playing and received his home state’s highest folk life honor, the Vandalia Award, from the West Virginia Division of Culture and History.

He coordinates contests at renowned events including the Appalachian String Band Music Festival and also serves as contest judge for multiple state and national championships, teaches fiddle workshops and presents historical showcases on fiddle styles with his band, “Kanawha Tradition.”

You can get a preview of the pair’s performance below.

The Center for Popular Music, one of the nation’s largest and richest repositories of research materials related to American vernacular music, is part of MTSU’s College of Media and Entertainment. For more information on the Center for Popular Music and its projects and special events, visit www.mtsu.edu/popmusic.

This program is part of MTSU’s annual Scholars Week celebration of student research, scholarship and creative projects. For more information, visit www.mtsu.edu/scholarsweek.

— Gina E. Fann (gina.fann@mtsu.edu)

Grammy-winner Mattea gives guest lecture on music history [+VIDEO]

MTSU student and aspiring country music artist Hunter Wolkonowski of Winchester, Tennessee, knew that singer-songwriter Kathy Mattea was coming to give a guest lecture earlier this semester. But the real thing — which even included a few songs by the Grammy-winning country music artist — was still surreal.

“I’ve been a fan of country music since I was a young girl, and I’d come in the house and I’d hear my Nana playing records on the record machine, and she’d play Kathy Mattea,” said Wolkonowski, who’s majoring in recording industry management in the College of Media and Entertainment.

Grammy-winning country music artist Kathy Mattea makes a point during her guest lecture to MTSU professor Kris McCusker’s “American Music in the Modern Age” class inside Peck Hall in late November. (MTSU photo by Andy Heidt)

Grammy-winning country music artist Kathy Mattea makes a point during her guest lecture to MTSU professor Kris McCusker’s “American Music in the Modern Age” class inside Peck Hall in late November. (MTSU photo by Andy Heidt)

“I’ve always looked up to (Mattea), so when I walked in, I couldn’t believe it was her. She was super nice, super grounded … I guess she is something I’d want to be when I grow up, because I’m wanting to be in country music.”

Wolkonowski was among the 20 or so students in MTSU professor Kris McCusker’s popular music studies class, “American Music in the Modern Age,” who were treated to more than an hour of insights and wisdom from the Nashville singer-songwriter earlier this semester.

McCusker, a professionally trained ethnomusicologist and historian, said her MTSU Department of History course looks at how historical events have shaped music, such as producing certain kinds of “sounds” and/or musicians.

“What we do is see the ways that history produces music, how music is the outcome of political, cultural and social changes at various points in the past,” she said.

Mattea’s visit stemmed from an interview she did with a graduate student last spring. McCusker assisted the student with the phone interview, which was done from MTSU’s Center for Popular Music in the Bragg Media and Entertainment Building, and an invitation was extended, which Mattea graciously accepted.

Dr. Greg Reish, director of the Center for Popular Music, assisted McCusker with the logistics to bring Mattea to campus.

“She’s a real educator at heart,” said McCusker, who noted that her class was studying music the 1980s and 90s, a period when Mattea was hitting it big on the country music charts. Mattea rose to prominence in the 1980s with hits such as “Eighteen Wheels and a Dozen Roses,” “Goin’ Gone” and “Love at the Five and Dime.”

Mattea’s been nominated for multiple Grammys and other industry awards. She won the 1991 best country vocal performance Grammy for her classic “Where’ve You Been” and the 1994
best Southern, country or bluegrass gospel album for “Good News,” which includes the Christmas standard “Mary Did You Know?”

Here’s a short video of McCusker discussing the visit and a few clips of Mattea performing “Seeds” for the class:

Mattea shared with students how she got started in her music career and also discussed her social activism around issues such as HIV/AIDS and the environment. Mattea’s AIDS activism was sparked by friends who died from AIDS, but “nobody was talking about it,” McCusker said.

A native of West Virginia coal country, Mattea would later turn her attention to the environment.

Grammy-winning country music artist Kathy Mattea, top right, gives a guest lecture to MTSU professor Kris McCusker’s “American Music in the Modern Age” class inside Peck Hall in late November. (MTSU photo by Andy Heidt)

Grammy-winning country music artist Kathy Mattea, top right, gives a guest lecture to MTSU professor Kris McCusker’s “American Music in the Modern Age” class inside Peck Hall in late November. (MTSU photo by Andy Heidt)

Using McCusker’s class guitar, Mattea even performed a few songs, including Pat Alger and Ralph Murphy’s “Seeds,” which includes this verse:

“In the end, we’re all just seeds in God’s hands, we start the same, but where we land, it’s sometimes fertile soil, it’s sometimes sand, we’re all just seeds in God’s hands.”

In the wake of a bitterly divisive presidential election, Mattea discussed with students “the beginnings of the ways she started seeing music differently, from simply being an entertainment medium, to a medium that builds relationships among people, that crosses political barriers around certain environmental and social issues,” McCusker said.

Wolkonowski, who performs under the name “Hunter Girl a few times each week at various venues in Nashville, said she was inspired by Mattea’s socially conscious perspective.

“I really liked how she had the ability to write songs that pertain to what’s going on in the world right now,” she said.

“All of her songs have a story … she really puts social and economic things that are going on in our life today and puts them into words for people who can’t really speak up about things.”

McCusker said Mattea plans to return to MTSU in the spring to work with Reish in the Center for Popular Music.

For more information about the MTSU Department of History, visit www.mtsu.edu/history.

For more information about the Center for Popular Music, visit www.mtsu.edu/popmusic.

— Jimmy Hart (jimmy.hart@mtsu.edu)

Grammy-winning country music artist Kathy Mattea, center, is pictured with MTSU professor Kris McCusker (kneeling at right of Mattea) and students in McCusker’s “American Music in the Modern Age” class inside Peck Hall. Mattea gave a guest lecture to the class in late November. (Photo courtesy of Kris McCusker)

Grammy-winning country music artist Kathy Mattea, center, is pictured with MTSU professor Kris McCusker (kneeling at right of Mattea) and students in McCusker’s “American Music in the Modern Age” class inside Peck Hall. Mattea gave a guest lecture to the class in late November. (Photo courtesy of Kris McCusker)

Grammy-winning country music artist Kathy Mattea, right, takes a photo with MTSU students Hunter Wolkonowski, left, and Terri Harris following Mattea’s guest lecture to a music history class in late November. (Photo courtesy of Kris McCusker)

Grammy-winning country music artist Kathy Mattea, right, takes a photo with MTSU students Hunter Wolkonowski, left, and Terri Harris following Mattea’s guest lecture to a music history class in late November. (Photo courtesy of Kris McCusker)

Harmonica great Charlie McCoy set for Nov. 14 MTSU talk, concert

The multitalented harmonica player who’s left his inimitable stamp on decades of country and rock recordings will visit MTSU Monday, Nov. 14, to discuss his amazing career and perform in a free public event.

Charlie McCoy poster webCharlie McCoy will sit down at 7 p.m. Nov. 14 in the Tennessee Room inside MTSU’s James Union Building with West Virginia University’s Dr. Travis Stimeling, a leading authority on Nashville’s classic era of recording, to discuss McCoy’s adventures as one of the original “Nashville Cats” session musicians and as a recording artist in his own right.

McCoy, 75, will follow the discussion with a performance with his band of Nashville pros.

MTSU’s Center for Popular Music is presenting the event. A printable campus parking map is available at http://tinyurl.com/MTSUParkingMap.

McCoy, a native of Oak Hill, West Virginia, who was raised in Miami, Florida, began his musical career on a 50-cent harmonica at age 8.

His talents ultimately led him to Nashville, where he played drums, guitar and bass in bands and cut his own single before Chet Atkins first hired him as a session musician in 1961. Ann-Margret’s “I Just Don’t Understand” and Roy Orbison’s “Candy Man” were the first of hundreds to include McCoy’s harmonica.

new-CPM-logo-webBy the mid-’60s, McCoy was a fixture on Elvis Presley’s records and movie soundtracks, and after a chance meeting in New York City in 1965, he collaborated regularly with Bob Dylan on classics that included the “Highway 61 Revisited,” “Blonde on Blonde,” “John Wesley Harding” and “Nashville Skyline” albums.

His work with Dylan led to sessions with other rock and folk artists, including Joan Baez, Paul Simon, Ringo Starr, Buffy Sainte-Marie and Johnny Cash.

McCoy, who also plays keyboards and several wind and brass instruments, has contributed to thousands of records in the last 50-plus years, including Dolly Parton’s “My Tennessee Mountain Home” and George Jones’ “He Stopped Loving Her Today.”

He’s released more than two dozen of his own albums, including the Grammy-winning “The Real McCoy” and the No. 1 “Good Time Charlie,” served as music director for the “Hee Haw” TV show for 19 years and was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2009.

You can learn more about McCoy at his website, http://charliemccoy.com.

The Center for Popular Music, part of MTSU’s College of Media and Entertainment, is one of the nation’s largest and richest repositories of research materials related to American vernacular music.

For more information on MTSU’s Center for Popular Music and its projects and special events, visit www.mtsu.edu/popmusic.

Singer/songwriter Jonatha Brooke set to visit MTSU Nov. 3

Multitalented singer/songwriter Jonatha Brooke will visit MTSU Thursday, Nov. 3, for a day of events capped by a public interview with insights about songwriting, studio production and performing.

Jonatha Brooke

Jonatha Brooke

Brooke, whose distinctive voice has been on records, radio and TV and film soundtracks for more than 20 years and who released her ninth solo album, “Midnight Hallelujah,” earlier this month, will first demonstrate studio recording techniques to MTSU students with her co-producer, MTSU recording industry alumnus Mark Hornsby.

Then, at 7 p.m. Nov. 3, Brooke will sit down with Beverly Keel, chair of MTSU’s Department of Recording Industry, in the Keathley University Center Theater to discuss her songwriting, performances and placing her songs in various media.

The interview, a “Writers in the Round” event, is open to the public. A searchable, printable campus parking map is available at http://tinyurl.com/MTSUParkingMap.

Brooke began performing in the late 1980s with her fellow Amherst College student, Jennifer Kimball, and the pair soon became known as “The Story.” Their folk-rock teamwork led to two albums and a popular single, “So Much Mine,” before the women embarked on independent careers.

Frustrated after losing her recording contract in the middle of a concert tour, Brooke created her own label, Bad Dog Records, in 1999 for her albums. She branched out into other vocal work, too, turning up in the Goodyear Tire commercial jingle, “Serious Freedom,” and in two songs, “I’ll Try” and “Second Star to the Right,” on Disney’s “Return to Never Land” soundtrack.

Formal RIM logo

Brooke also created and performed an acclaimed one-woman off-Broadway play in 2014, “My Mother Has Four Noses,” capturing her relationship with her mother, who had dementia. She continues to shares her abilities through songwriting forums and live performances.

new-CPM-logo-webBrooke’s visit to MTSU is sponsored by the Tom T. Hall Writers Series, the Center for Popular Music at MTSU and the Department of Recording Industry, all part of the university’s College of Media and Entertainment.

The Hall Writers Series celebrates songwriters, authors, poets and screenwriters and the campus community a chance to learn more about the creative process as well as the business end of success. Previous Hall Writers Series guests have included country superstar Vince Gill, acclaimed songwriter John Hiatt, bluegrass impresario Ricky Skaggs, renowned folk music scholar Stephen Wade and famed “Ya-Ya Sisterhood” trilogy author Rebecca Wells.

The Center for Popular Music is one of the nation’s largest and richest repositories of research materials related to American vernacular music.

For more information about Brooke’s visit, contact MTSU professor Daniel Pfeifer at dan.pfeifer@mtsu.edu.

To learn more about Brooke, visit her website, www.jonathabrooke.com. For more information on MTSU’s College of Media and Entertainment and its programs and events, visit www.mtsu.edu/media.

— Gina E. Fann (gina.fann@mtsu.edu)

Center for Popular Music brings author/critic Guralnick to MTSU Oct. 26

Award-winning author and music critic Peter Guralnick will visit MTSU Wednesday, Oct. 26, to discuss his new biography of rock ’n’ roll legend Sam Phillips with Dr. Greg Reish, director of the university’s Center for Popular Music.

Peter Guralnick

Peter Guralnick

Guralnick Sam Phillips cover webThe free public event, presented by the center and MTSU’s Tom T. Hall Writers Series, is set for 4:30 p.m. Oct. 26 in Room 221 of the McWherter Learning Resources Center. A searchable, printable campus parking map is available at http://tinyurl.com/MTSUParkingMap.

Guralnick, who has written books on Elvis Presley, Sam Cooke, Robert Johnson and other American roots-music topics, co-curated a recent exhibit at Nashville’s Country Music Hall of Fame, “Flying Saucers Rock & Roll: The Cosmic Genius of Sam Phillips.” He also wrote and coproduced a documentary that shares the name of his new book, “Sam Phillips: The Man Who Invented Rock ’n’ Roll.”

“Peter Guralnick is one of the most important living music writers and biographers, a real giant among roots music and rock historians,” Reish said.

“Building on his definitive two-volume biography of Elvis Presley, Guralnick’s latest book gives us an astonishingly detailed account of another seminal Memphis figure, Sam Phillips. He is one of the most consequential popular music figures of the twentieth century, and Guralnick illuminates Phillips’ importance richly and beautifully.”

Dr. Greg Reish

Dr. Greg Reish

Phillips, a musician, record executive, producer and disc jockey, founded Sun Studio and Sun Records in the 1950s, helping to shape early rock ’n’ roll and rockabilly as a refashioning of blues, country and R&B, fundamentally altering American culture.

He worked in his Memphis studio with artists as diverse as Presley, Ike Turner, Howlin’ Wolf, Jerry Lee Lewis, B.B. King and Johnny Cash, bringing together black and white voices for the first time in American music history.

Guralnick’s book features extensive interviews with and firsthand observations from Phillips gathered over 25 years, along with interviews with many of the Sun Records legends.

new-CPM-logo-webAlong with his two-volume Presley biography, “Last Train to Memphis” and “Careless Love,” Guralnick has written an acclaimed trilogy on American roots music, “Sweet Soul Music,” “Lost Highway” and “Feel Like Going Home”; the biographical inquiry “Searching for Robert Johnson”; and “Dream Boogie: The Triumph of Sam Cooke.”

He won a Grammy for his liner notes for “Sam Cooke: Live at the Harlem Square Club” and wrote the scripts for the Grammy-winning documentary “Sam Cooke: Legend” and Martin Scorsese’s blues documentary “Feel Like Going Home.” Guralnick also is a recent inductee in the Blues Hall of Fame.

The Tom T. Hall Writers Series in the College of Media and Entertainment at MTSU celebrates songwriters, authors, poets and screenwriters and offers students, faculty, staff and the public a chance to learn more about the creative process as well as the business end of success.

Previous Hall Writers Series guests have included country superstar Vince Gill, acclaimed songwriter John Hiatt, bluegrass impresario Ricky Skaggs, renowned folk music scholar Stephen Wade and famed “Ya-Ya Sisterhood” trilogy author Rebecca Wells.

The Center for Popular Music is one of the nation’s largest and richest repositories of research materials related to American vernacular music. The center and the Hall Writers Series are part of MTSU’s College of Media and Entertainment.

For more information on MTSU’s Center for Popular Music and its projects and special events, visit www.mtsu.edu/popmusic.

— Gina E. Fann (gina.fann@mtsu.edu)

Peter Guralnick poster web

B-52s frontman Fred Schneider talks music, business Sept. 29

MTSU will hear plenty of good stuff from B-52s frontman Fred Schneider when he visits campus Thursday, Sept. 29, for a special lecture sponsored by the university’s Department of Recording Industry and the Center for Popular Music.

Fred Schneider

Fred Schneider

Known for his distinctive spoken-singing style, the poet-musician will discuss his nearly four-decade career in new-wave rock at 4:30 p.m. in the State Farm Lecture Hall in MTSU’s Business and Aerospace Building, Room BAS S-102.

The event is free and open to the public, and a searchable campus parking map is available at http://tinyurl.com/MTSUParkingMap.

Schneider and friends Keith Strickland, Ricky Wilson, Cindy Wilson and Kate Pierson formed the B-52s in Athens, Georgia, in 1976 and released their first single, “Rock Lobster,” in 1978.

Taking their name from Pierson’s and Cindy Wilson’s bouffant hairstyles, the B-52s helped launch Athens’ international reputation for iconoclastic bands and became a staple of New York City’s punk clubs, where fans quickly spread the word about the band’s stream-of-consciousness lyrics, dance-party beats, retro outfits and irrepressible performance style.

Schneider and Ricky Wilson co-wrote “Rock Lobster,” and the entire band collaborated on other B-52s classics, including “Private Idaho,” “Planet Claire,” “Dance This Mess Around,” “Roam,” “Good Stuff,” “Is That You Mo-Dean?” and their biggest hit, “Love Shack.”

new-CPM-logo-web“Love Shack,” which was the band’s first charting single after Ricky Wilson’s death in 1985 and their subsequent two-year hiatus, was one of the 365 “Songs of the Century” list by the Recording Industry Association of America and the National Endowment for the Arts and included in Rolling Stone’s list of the “500 Greatest Songs of All Time.”

Schneider, a New Jersey native, attended the University of Georgia intending to major in forestry. He earned an “A” for a book of poetry he impulsively wrote for a final class project and has admitted that he had little musical experience when the B-52s began; his enthusiastic cowbell playing is part of the band’s charm.

Along with his years with the B-52s, Schneider’s had a successful solo music career as well as doing a bit of acting in films that include “The Flintstones” and “The Rugrats Movie.” His newest project is a comedic synth-pop band, The Superions, but he’s still busy touring with the B-52s.

recording industry logo webSchneider also recently helped organize a Nashville fundraiser for the family of the late Paul Gordon, a respected guitarist for bands such as the B-52s and the Goo Goo Dolls.

“I’m not wealthy. We only started making money after ‘Cosmic Thing,’” Schneider said in a 2010 radio interview, referring to the B-52s’ fifth album, which was released in 1989 and included “Love Shack” and “Roam.”

MTSU recording industry professor Charlie Dahan helped bring Schneider to campus.

“Fred and the B-52s have been a part of and led so many musical movements and produced hits in the 1980s and 1990s,” Dahan said. “It’s a rare treat for our students to hear from such an innovator with longevity.”

You can enjoy Schneider’s work with the B-52s in the award-winning “Love Shack” video and in the Superions’ “Who Threw That Ham at Me?” video below.

The Center for Popular Music and the Department of Recording Industry are part of MTSU’s College of Media and Entertainment.

For more information on MTSU’s Center for Popular Music and its projects and special events, visit www.mtsu.edu/popmusic. For information on the college and its departments, visit www.mtsu.edu/media.

— Gina E. Fann (gina.fann@mtsu.edu)

Blues-rock icon Tracy Nelson sings of freedom at MTSU Wednesday

Blues-rock icon Tracy Nelson, whose soulful, powerful voice lends extra gravitas to the music of her four-decade career, will perform songs of freedom at MTSU Wednesday, Sept. 14, as part of the university’s Constitution Day 2016 celebration.

Tracy Nelson poster webNelson, who fronted Mother Earth in the 1960s and ’70s and wrote classics like her signature song “Down So Low”, which has been covered by Linda Ronstadt and Etta James, will perform and speak at 4:30 p.m. Sept. 14 in Room 221 of the McWherter Learning Resources Center.

Her appearance is free and open to the public. A searchable, printable campus parking map is available at http://tinyurl.com/MTSUParkingMap.

Tracy Nelson

Tracy Nelson

The Grammy-nominated Nelson will discuss songwriting in the context of free speech and social activism during her MTSU visit as well as her storied career, including her days with Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf and her collaborations with Willie Nelson, Marcia Ball and Irma Thomas.

Her visit is presented by the Center for Popular Music in MTSU’s College of Media and Entertainment.

The Wisconsin native, who first heard R&B music on Nashville’s historic WLAC-AM radio station, began performing in folk groups as a teenager. She released her first album, “Deep Are the Roots,” in 1964, featuring acoustic blues tunes accompanied by a band that included renowned harmonica player Charlie Musselwhite.

By 1966, Nelson was in San Francisco, singing with Mother Earth at the Fillmore Auditorium on bills with Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and the Jefferson Airplane. Before the decade ended, she and the band had moved to Middle Tennessee, where they recorded their groundbreaking “Make a Joyful Noise” album and four more together and Nelson released another solo effort, “Mother Earth Presents Tracy Nelson Country.” Her next solo album, “Bring Me Home,” included songwriter Steve Young’s “Seven Bridges Road,” released a full decade before The Eagles’ live 1980 cover.

Her 1974 duet with Willie — no relation — Nelson, “After the Fire is Gone,” earned the pair a Grammy nomination, as did her acclaimed 1998 collaboration with Ball and Thomas, “Sing It.” Through the years, Nelson has continued recording and performing on her own schedule and terms, singing across genres and contributing to other artists’ albums and causes.

Her command of so many forms of American music has led critics to call her “the Queen of Americana,” but she’s dismissed the title with a laugh. She told the Nashville Scene’s Jim Ridley in 2007, “I think I make perfect sense in that format, but what do I know?”

You can hear Nelson sing “Down So Low” from her album “Live from Cell Block D,” recorded in 2002 at the West Tennessee Detention Center in Mason, Tennessee, below.

Details on MTSU’s full Constitution Day 2016 schedule are available here.

For more information on MTSU’s Center for Popular Music and its projects and special events, visit www.mtsu.edu/popmusic.

— Gina E. Fann (gina.fann@mtsu.edu)

 

Girls are rocking the house at 2016 Southern Girls Rock Camp

The 14th annual Southern Girls Rock Camp is rolling for girls ages 10 to 17 who want to express themselves musically in a safe, positive environment.

The day camp is underway July 25-29 at MTSU’s Wright Music Building. To find parking and buildings on campus, go to http://tinyurl.com/MTSUParkingMap.

Members of the Southern Girls Rock Camp band “Spysee” rehearse before the showcase concert scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday, July 30, at MTSU’s Wright Music Hall. (MTSU photos by Kimi Conro)

Members of the Southern Girls Rock Camp band “Spysee” rehearse before the showcase concert scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday, July 30, at MTSU’s Wright Music Hall. (MTSU photos by Kimi Conro)

A summertime tradition, the day camp offers instruction in guitar, vocals, bass, keyboards and drums, as well as panel discussions and workshops on various aspects of both the art and business of music.

More than 50 budding female musicians from ages 10 to 17 have spent the past week collaborating on instrumentation, composing and screen printing and discussing music issue, as well as interacting with professional acts like Sallow, Wu Fei, Sarabeth Taite and Nightblonde.

They’ve formed their own bands throughout the week in preparation for the showcase concert at 2 p.m. Saturday, July 30, in the Wright Music Building’s Hinton Hall. Admission is a suggested $10 donation.

“Having a space where youth can come together, make music, communicate through music and unpack a lot of dynamic issues through music education and collaboration, I think, is pretty rare, especially in the realm of rock and roll, which is historically so male and white,” said Sarah Bandy, executive director of the camp’s parent organization, Youth Empowerment through Arts and Humanities, also known as YEAH!

This year, “band practice is a little bit longer, and instrument instruction is a little bit shorter, so that there’ll be more time to be with their bands,” said Bandy.

Jerry Coutcher, a 2016 Southern Girls Rock Camp participant and the drummer for the new band “The Infinity,” rehearses before the showcase concert scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday, July 30, at MTSU’s Wright Music Hall. (MTSU photo by Kimi Conro)

Jerry Coutcher, a 2016 Southern Girls Rock Camp participant and the drummer for the new band “The Infinity,” rehearses before the showcase concert scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday, July 30, at MTSU’s Wright Music Hall.

Prizes available through a silent auction at the showcase include a drum kit, a Fender guitar and other musical instruments, as well as gift certificates from several vendors.Southern Girls Rock Camp 2016-logo_web

This year’s campers will interact with speakers from Radical Arts, a Murfreesboro-based artistic group that declares its mission “to bring the arts to the community in a positive, enlightening and educational way.”

Nonviolent Communication Nashville, a nonprofit organization that professes to be “a diverse network of people and communities in Nashville and Middle Tennessee committed to learning, practicing and sharing nonviolent communication,” also will lead a panel discussion.

Workshops will engage campers in songwriting, screen printing, recording, “zine” making, and arts and activism.

In addition to corporate sponsors, MTSU’s sponsors include the President’s Commission on the Status of Women, the June Anderson Center for Women and Nontraditional Students, the Center for Popular Music and the National Women’s History Month Committee.

Tuition is $320 per camper and scholarships and donated instruments are available. However, only about 50 campers will be admitted. For more information, contact Bandy at director@yeahrocks.org or 615-849-8140 or go to www.yeahrocks.org.

— Gina Logue (gina.logue@mtsu.edu)

$19K Grammy grant will help MTSU digitize new bluegrass collection

MTSU’s Center for Popular Music is the recipient of another national grant from the Grammy Foundation, this time to digitize an extensive, “historically and culturally significant” live bluegrass audio collection from Indiana music lover Marvin Hedrick.

This rare 45 rpm single by “The Weedpatch Boys,” released in 1963, is part of a large “historically and culturally significant” bluegrass audio collection recently donated to MTSU’s Center for Popular Music by the family of Indiana music lover Marvin Hedrick. Hedrick was a member of the band, as were his two sons. The center received a $19,537 grant from the Grammy Foundation April 6 to preserve and digitize the collection.

This rare 45 rpm single by “The Weedpatch Boys,” released in 1963, is part of a large “historically and culturally significant” bluegrass audio collection recently donated to MTSU’s Center for Popular Music by the family of Indiana music lover Marvin Hedrick. Hedrick was a member of the band, as were his two sons. The center received a $19,537 grant from the Grammy Foundation April 6 to preserve and digitize the collection.

The $19,537 grant will make the center an even greater research resource for MTSU students and faculty as well as scholars from across the world, director Greg Reish said.

“Mr. Hedrick was, among other things, a fixture at the Bean Blossom Bluegrass Festival,” Reish explained. “He lived in Brown County, where the festival’s held, and befriended Bill Monroe and all the other pioneers of bluegrass. He also was very helpful to younger folklorists who took a serious interest in bluegrass.”

Hedrick, a Nashville, Indiana, radio and TV repairman as well as a musician, recorded priceless festival performances and backstage jam sessions as well as impromptu sessions at his shop. He died in 1973.

His sons, Gary and David, donated 167 open-reel tapes, a variety of other sound recordings and photographs to the Center for Popular Music last year for preservation and archiving.

The Grammy Foundation grant, which is one of 20 nationwide announced April 6, will allow the center to “catalog, preserve, digitize and disseminate the tapes and their contents via a dedicated website and the center’s documentary label, Spring Fed Records,” foundation officials said.

“The Marvin Hedrick Audio Collection is one of the most historically and culturally significant collections of live bluegrass recordings in existence,” the Grammy Foundation report concludes.

Click on the logo to visit the CPM website.

Click on the logo to visit the CPM website.

The Center for Popular Music received a similar Grammy Foundation grant in 2013 to organize and archive 3,850 cassette and open-reel tapes of music, oral histories and field recordings of Dr. Charles Wolfe, an MTSU English professor who captured musical and interview audio from hundreds of country, blues and bluegrass music practitioners over four decades.

Wolfe, who died in 2006, also donated his work to the center, which has since made the collection accessible on its website.

“Gary and David Hedrick didn’t want their father’s collection to go somewhere and just languish,” said Reish, an old-time musician who’s attended the Bean Blossom event for the last decade.

“They want it used, listened to and disseminated, and that’s what we’ll do.”

The Hedrick collection, like the 1 million-plus other items that comprise the center’s archives, will now be carefully cleaned and preserved and its contents identified, documented and catalogued. It then will be made accessible to scholars all over the world via a searchable database, Reish said, and MTSU faculty and students can use it for discussion and research.

Click on the logo to see the complete list of 2016 grant recipients.

Click on the logo to see the complete list of 2016 grant recipients.

“As far as disseminating it via Spring Fed Records, wow, that’s a lot of copyright and licensing work for us,” the director said. “This grant money couldn’t be used for that, but we’d love to be able to share the Hedrick collection later on via our built-in channels.”

Along with MTSU’s Center for Popular Music, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville received a Grammy Foundation grant this year to preserve and share almost 45 years’ worth of rare interviews with country music performers, songwriters and music industry personnel.

Dr. Greg Reish

Dr. Greg Reish

The Grammy Foundation awarded more than $300,000 in its 2016 grants for projects ranging from research with cochlear implants and infants and toddlers with autism spectrum disorder to recovering and digitizing some of the earliest cylinder records ever made.

Other 2016 Grammy grant recipients include the Delta Blues Museum in Clarksdale, Mississippi; the New York Philharmonic; the Ravi Shankar Foundation in Encinitas, California; and the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History.

The Center for Popular Music, one of the nation’s largest and richest repositories of research materials related to American vernacular music, recently celebrated its 30th anniversary and is part of MTSU’s College of Media and Entertainment.

For more information on the Center for Popular Music and its projects and special events, visit www.mtsu.edu/popmusic.

— Gina E. Fann (gina.fann@mtsu.edu)

Musician, activist and songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie, left, looks around at the archives at MTSU's Center for Popular Music as center director Greg Reish prepares to point out another portion of the center's extensive collection of rare recordings, photos, manuscripts, videos and the like. Sainte-Marie was on campus for a lecture and special visit during the September 2015 Americana Music Association awards events in Nashville, where she received the Spirit of Americana/Free Speech in Music Award. (MTSU file photo by Andy Heidt)

Musician, activist and songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie, left, looks around at the archives at MTSU’s Center for Popular Music as center director Greg Reish prepares to point out another portion of the center’s extensive collection of rare recordings, photos, manuscripts, videos and the like. Sainte-Marie was on campus for a lecture and special visit during the September 2015 Americana Music Association awards events in Nashville, where she received the Spirit of Americana/Free Speech in Music Award. (MTSU file photo by Andy Heidt)

Conjunto music greats bring free March 23 concert to MTSU

MTSU’s James Union Building will ring with the rhythms of Tejano music Wednesday, March 23, when conjunto masters Lorenzo Martinez and Ramon “Rabbit” Sanchez bring their talents to a free public concert.

Martinez, who plays the accordion, and Sanchez, who plays the bajo sexto, will share music and stories about this rich traditional Mexican-American music at the 7:30 p.m. event, which is being presented by MTSU’s Center for Popular Music.

Dr. Dan Margolies, a music scholar and conjunto festival organizer who’s worked with Martinez and Sanchez and the Texas folk music scene for many years, will moderate and provide historical and cultural context for the performances in the JUB’s Tennessee Room.

A searchable, printable campus parking map is available at http://tinyurl.com/MTSUParkingMap.

You can get a preview of Martinez and Sanchez’s work below.

Conjunto music developed in South Texas and northern Mexico in the late 19th century, when German settlers brought the button accordion to the region. Local residents added the bajo sexto, or “sixth bass,” a unique 12-stringed Mexican guitar, and the two-piece ensemble was soon providing music for working-class celebrations across the region.

Click on this poster to see a larger version.

Click on this poster to see a larger version.

The 1930s saw a surge of popularity outside the region when record labels came calling, creating a demand for music from innovators who’d begun playing the treble melody on their accordions instead of the bass-chord buttons of the old Germanic technique. This new style evolved after World War II into a four-piece ensemble by adding an electric bass and a drum kit, ultimately leading to the popularity of artists like Grammy-winning accordionist Flaco Jiménez.

new-CPM-logo-webMartinez, a native of Los Angeles who also plays drums, mariachi, guitar, bass and saxophone, won a Grammy for the best Tejano album in 2009 for his work with Los Texmaniacs on “Borders Y Bailes.”

Sanchez, a native of Corpus Christi, Texas, began studying the bajo and guitar at age 9 and made his professional debut at age 16. Since then, he’s performed and recorded with conjuntos and orchestras across the United States, Canada and Mexico.

The Center for Popular Music, one of the nation’s largest and richest repositories of research materials related to American vernacular music, recently celebrated its 30th anniversary and is part of MTSU’s College of Media and Entertainment.

For more information on the Center for Popular Music and its projects and special events, visit www.mtsu.edu/popmusic.

This program is part of a yearlong series of special events celebrating the launch of the renamed College of Media and Entertainment. For more information about the college and its programs, visit www.mtsu.edu/media.

— Gina E. Fann (gina.fann@mtsu.edu)

Conjunto master Lorenzo Martinez will add his accordion to Ramon "Rabbit" Sanchez's bajo sexto March 23 for a free evening of Tejano music and history at MTSU. (Photo courtesy of Lupito's Photography)

Conjunto master Lorenzo Martinez will add his accordion to Ramon “Rabbit” Sanchez’s bajo sexto March 23 for a free evening of Tejano music and history at MTSU. (Photo courtesy of Lupito’s Photography)

Conjunto master Ramon "Rabbit" Sanchez, shown here rehearsing with a child at Conjunto Heritage Taller, a San Antonio-based organization that preserves, instructs and perpetuates conjunto music, will add his bajo sexto to Lorenzo Martinez's accordion March 23 for a free evening of Tejano music and history at MTSU. (Photo courtesy of Lupito's Photography)

Conjunto master Ramon “Rabbit” Sanchez, shown here rehearsing with a child at Conjunto Heritage Taller, a San Antonio-based organization that preserves, instructs and perpetuates conjunto music, will add his bajo sexto to Lorenzo Martinez’s accordion March 23 for a free evening of Tejano music and history at MTSU. (Photo courtesy of Lupito’s Photography)

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