We here at the Kentucky Folklife Program are excited to share a few of our recent exciting projects, some bittersweet news, and a bright outlook on what is to come. Thank you for supporting our work and coming along for the ride with us!
It is with both a heavy yet cheerful heart that we bid farewell to our Folklore Specialist Virginia Siegel, and watch her start a new chapter in her life as the Folk Arts Coordinator for University Libraries at the University of Arkansas. Virginia was part of a very intimate team of folklorist beginning with the KFP in July 2015. For over three and a half years, Virginia mentored many Department of Folk Studies graduate students, developed regional partnerships and was a key team member in producing many projects, events and exhibits. Central to her time at the KFP was leading the KFP in it Bosnian Oral History Project that brought into focus, through a collaborative ethnographic lens, the life stories and traditional culture of Bosnian and Bosnian-American Life in South Central Kentucky. From this project came the exhibit, A Culture Carried: Bosnians in Bowling Green which became the cultural cornerstone of WKU’s International Year of Bosnian and Herzegovina in 2017-2018. We bid Virginia farewell knowing we have a life-long friend and collaborator taking her skills and passion for folklife research, documentation, and presentation to a very lucky new community.
The Residency of Renesito Avich
We were excited to host the residency of Resesito Avich during this March! He was here during the 27th and 28th of March, and provided master classes that were open to students on the campus of Western Kentucky University. Renesito Avich is a traditional Cuban musician who grew up in Santiago de Cuba, surrounded by a rich cultural tradition of music. He started his musical career at a young age, and was playing with some of the biggest names in Cuban traditional music by the age of 15. In 2014, at the age of 24, he moved to Florida to make his mark on the American music scene. Since then he has amassed a number of awards, including a Latin Grammy award for his work on the Flamenco Album of the Year.
Renesito spent two days at WKU, holding one master class that was open to the public on Wednesday, March 27th at 4:00 pm, and another master class was held on Thursday, March 28th at 9:30 am. The master classes were held in the Gordon Wilson Lab Theater. The master classes were very well received, with the one held on Thursday attracting an entire dance class. Additionally, there was a performance open to the public on Thursday, March 28th, at 7:00 pm, that was held in FAC 189, in the Ivan Wilson Building for the Fine Arts. Renesito’s visit and performances were free of charge with the financial support of of many including South Arts, The Office of International Program’s International Year of Cuba, and the WKu Departments of Folk Studies and Anthropology, Music and Theatre and Dance.
Homer Ledford Award
At the Market, the Kentucky Folklife Program, and collaborating partner the Kentucky Arts Council awarded the 2018 Homer Ledford Award to luthier Glespie Ray Deweese of Bowling Green.
Since 2007, the Kentucky Folklife Program’s 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 who have been recognized by the communities of musicians they serve.
Deweese grew up in the woods of Butler County, Kentucky, where he learned of woodworking from his grandmother’s neighbor, Hershel House, who built Kentucky Long Rifles. He is known for building traditional, jumbo, dreadnought, and 000 Martin style acoustic guitars, but his works also include electric six-string and bass guitars. Deweese patterns his electric guitars after Fender Telecaster, the Gibson Les Paul, while incorporating a solid body of his own design. In addition to crafting guitars, he is also able to perform standard maintenance and repairs, including neck and bridge adjustments, refinishing, and fret work.
This award is given in honor and memory of master luthier, musician, and educator Homer Ledford (1927-2006). 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 remember visiting his basement shop in Winchester, Kentucky where he immersed himself in his work while sharing techniques, wisdom, and stories surrounding his cultural heritage. Ledford’s legacy lives on among today’s musical craftspeople, and this award symbolizes that legacy.
The award was presented to Deweese Saturday, March 16th, at 5:00 pm, at Kentucky Crafted: The Market in Lexington, Kentucky
Kentucky Crafted: The Market
As we do each year as a fieldwork learning event at the Kentucky Crafted: the Market, the KFP partnered with Department of Folk Studies and Anthropology professor Dr. Tim Evans and graduate students in his Folklore and Education course. There was an exhibit called Woven Treasures on the arena floor of the Lexington Horse Park Arena where Dr. Evans’ class presented traditional basket makers of Kentucky, along with a hands-on area led by the students where individuals could learn the basics of basket making. Throughout the day there were narrative stages that brought a variety of basketmakers together to explore the history, construction techniques and the regional differences of these celebrated traditional baskets.
In this same area, KFP had a section devoted to Glespie Ray Deweese and his guitars. Deweese was open to questions as he shared and demonstrated his craft. Representatives of KFP were there Saturday and Sunday during opening hours. On Saturday, March 16th, the Homer Ledford Award was presented to Glespie Ray Deweese at 5:00 pm, followed by a short narrative stage featuring Deweese and his nominators for the award.