Kentucky Folklife Program at the Horse Cave Heritage Festival

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The Kentucky Folklife Program and graduate-level public folklore class have collaborated to provide programming for and staff theHorse Cave Heritage Festival for almost ten years. From conducting narrative stages to surveys and interviews, students spend the day practicing the skills they’ve learned in class.

This year, we were excited to help the town celebrate its sesquicentennial. Hoping to capture Horse Cave’s communal story, the Hart County Tourist Commission enlisted our help to collect short video clips to share on www.horsecavestories.com. Stay tuned for updates to the site — new videos will be uploaded soon!

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Left: Tim Evans and his student, Katheryn Young, lead a discussion on the narrative stage with local woodcarvers. Right: Later in the day, a visitor looks at the interactive timeline, where festival-goers were invited to share their Horse Cave memories.

Fall Pioneer Cabin Concert

333349_308932812529372_889601742_oThe Kentucky Folklife Program and the Department of Folk Studies and Anthropology announce this fall’s Pioneer Cabin Concert. In continuation of our efforts to promote the work of traditional Kentucky artists and performers, we are pleased to welcome local neo-soul singer and guitarist Lauren Cunningham on Sunday, September 28th, at 4 p.m.

Cunningham’s stripped-down, feel-good performances combine gospel, soul, blues and jazz with her passion for social and political advocacy. Cunningham currently works as the community engagement coordinator for WKU’s ALIVE Center for Community Partnerships. For more information about Cunningham and her music, visit her Facebook page.

The Pioneer Cabin Concert Series is an ongoing series that provides a venue for the university and Bowling Green community to enjoy traditional and roots music in the intimate setting of the Pioneer Cabin on campus.

Tickets are $10 and can be reserved in advance by contacting the Folk Studies office at (270) 745-5295. Seating in the cabin is limited to 30 people.

This performance will be filmed by WKU’s PBS affiliate, WKYU.

Above photo courtesy of Cunningham’s Facebook page, Lauren Cunningham Music.

Ledford works on a dulcimer.

The Homer Ledford Award

Ledford works on a dulcimer.
Ledford works on a dulcimer.

This year the Kentucky Folklife Program at Western Kentucky University is joining with the Appalachian Center at Berea College to present the Homer Ledford Award at the Annual Celebration of Traditional Music in Berea on October 17th, 2014.

Since 2007, the Homer Ledford Award has been given to Kentucky luthiers who have demonstrated outstanding craftsmanship, mastery of making and setting up instruments for excellent tone and playability, and have been recognized by the communities of musicians they serve.

This award is given in honor and memory of master luthier, musician, and educator Homer Ledford. Known for his superb craftsmanship, impressive productivity, inspired innovations, generous spirit and willingness to teach anyone interested in his art, Homer had a profound impact on musical communities throughout Kentucky and far beyond. Many luthiers and musicians have fond memories of visiting his basement shop in Winchester, KY, where he immersed himself in his work while sharing techniques, wisdom and stories behind the rich cultural heritage he represented. Ledford’s legacy lives on among the current generation of musical craftspeople he inspired, and this award symbolizes that legacy.

“Homer was an inspiration to countless traditional musicians and instrument makers. ” shared Brent Bjorkman, Director of The Kentucky Folklife Program based at Western Kentucky University, “Berea College was the place where Homer and his wife Colista first met as students and began to develop so many of their deep friendships that have lasted over more than 60 years. The Annual Celebration of Traditional Music weekend will be the perfect place to present this award.”

Past Homer Ledford Awardees include Warren May of Berea, Art Mize of Lexington and Donna Lamb of Lancaster.

The Kentucky Folklife Program will be coordinating the award process. If you know of an inspiring Kentucky instrument maker and would like to submit their name as a nominee please visit the KFP website. For further details about the submission process contact Brent Bjorkman, Director of the Kentucky Folklife Program: brent.bjorkman@wku.edu

Deadline for submissions is September 8th, 2014.

KFP Begins Work on Traveling Exhibit

I am happy to share with you that the Kentucky Folklife Program has recently begun work on a new traveling exhibit panel series that will feature the White Oak Basketmaking tradition!

Funded by a recently awarded NEA ArtWorks grant, these free-standing retractable panels will incorporate images of basketmakers, their work, and the life narratives of these artists to help contextualize this important local tradition for a wide audience.  The panels will begin their journey traveling to six libraries located in the home counties of the artists beginning this summer. To enhance the project and provide an even greater understanding of this important regional tradition we have written additional funding into the grant to bring basketmakers into each library location for hands-on demonstrations and discussion about their work. In addition to documenting and presenting the rich traditions of the state the idea of validating and celebrating the individual creators of this regional art form remains central to our mission.

Strength in Numbers – Our Partners

I would be remiss to not mention all the important partners who are helping to make this project take shape. Our new home at WKU gives us the opportunity to work directly with Folk Studies students and our university colleagues.  As part of their Museums course led by Michael Ann Williams, the Folk Studies graduate students will begin crafting the initial design layout incorporating appropriate text and images for each themed panel.  WKU’s University Publications led by Tom Meacham will be assisting as the project’s final design and printing partner and the Department of Library Technical Services headed by Dean of WKU Libraries Connie Foster has agreed to coordinate and underwrite the shipping of panels from library to library for the duration of the project. University photographer Clinton Lewis and his staff have been enlisted to shoot additional images of baskets and basketmakers as needed.  I cannot thank these individuals and partners enough for their gracious assistance.

Be looking back for updates on this project as it takes shape.

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This project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts. Art Works.

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Community Scholars underway in Allen County

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We have officially completed four weeks of the Community Scholars training in Allen County!  The 12 soon-to-be Community Scholars have been hard at work interviewing family and community members and developing projects.  Since the program’s kick-off in August, Mark Brown of Kentucky Arts Council and the staff of the Kentucky Folklife Program have been meeting with the participants every-other week to delve into the worlds of folklore, oral history, and community research.

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African American Museum of the Bowling Green Area

Kentucky Folklife Program staff is honored to be working with the African American Museum of the Bowling Green Area.  Last night KFP staff met with some of the AAMBG Board members for an oral history workshop, interview practice and equipment tutorials.  We are expecting great things from this new local non-profit museum!  Check back here for updates on our work with the AAMBG and visit the AAMBG facebook page to learn more about the museum and to keep up to date with the continuing preparations for the museum opening.

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Ranger Lore: The Occupational Folklife of Parks

Over the course of the last 20 years the Kentucky Folklife Program has collaborated with both National and State Parks on various projects and presentations and beginning this summer, KFP’s relationship with the parks will take a new form.

cave_infoKentucky Folklife Program Director, Brent Björkman and Traditional Art Indiana Director, Jon Kay have been awarded the 2013 Archie Green Fellowship from the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. This fellowship is awarded each year to select projects dedicated to occupational folklore research. Brent and Jon’s project, Ranger Lore: The Occupational Folklife of Parks will focus on the lives and work of National and State Park rangers in Indiana and Kentucky.

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Launching Community Scholars in Allen County

This month the KFP2013ACCS_0001_LTph0024Kentucky Arts Council  and the Kentucky Folklife Program launched the next step of the 2-year Allen County Folklife and Oral History Project, a Community Scholars program in Allen County.  For the next few months KFP and KAC will be training community members to collect, interpret, preserve, and share the culture and traditions of their communities.

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Odell Martin Day

On Saturday, June 15th KFP staff and WKU Professors and graduate students headed out to the Martin Homeplace near Allegre, KY to celebrate 18th annual Odell Martin Day.

OdellMartinDay 6.15.13_0126This annual event is a day for thumbpickers to gather in honor of Kentucky thumbpicker Odell Martin.  Martin, who was inducted into the National Thumbpickers Hall of Fame posthumously in 1999, was a well-known thumbpicker who played with Hank Thompson, Jerry Reed, Eddie Pennington, Paul Yandell, and many others.

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