Aug. 20, 2013. From the lonesome strains of an old-time ballad to fiddled dance tunes to the clawhammer banjo and the fingerpicked blues guitar, North Carolina has a rich and varied history of traditional music and we are lucky enough to have recordings of many of our traditional artists.
But who is responsible for these recordings? Are there still traditional artists in the state who have not yet been documented? Is North Carolina’s traditional music alive and well or does more need to be done to sustain our rich musical traditions?
For discussion of these topics visit the Blowing Rock Art and History Museum on Thursday, Aug. 29, to hear “Peace Behind the Bridge,” a talk by Wayne Martin, executive director of the North Carolina Arts Council. Originally drawn to traditional musicians in order to learn from them (he is an accomplished musician himself), Martin came to believe during a folklore class at UNC Chapel Hill that documenting the music he loved was important in and of itself. His professor encouraged him to travel into communities and to record southern traditional music.
Since the late 1970s Wayne Martin has documented many important North Carolina artists, including people such as Doug Wallin, Joe and Odell Thompson and Etta Baker. In fact, the title of Martin’s talk, “Peace Behind the Bridge,” comes from a fiddle tune taught to him by Baker. In addition to recording folk artists, Martin has also been extremely active in helping to sustain the traditional arts in our state.
Among other things, he was an original member of the Office of Folklife Programs, where he worked to bring traditional musicians to the North Carolina public schools; he helped to plan and implement the North Carolina Heritage Awards Program, which has honored more than one hundred traditional artists from all regions of the state. Wayne Martin was named executive director of the North Carolina Arts Council in 2012. For more information about Martin’s fieldwork, see his website at www.jardownmusic.com
“Peace Behind the Bridge,” a talk by Wayne Martin, is part of BRAHM’s third Thursday speaker series. It also highlights the museum’s exhibit “Strings n’ Things: Old Time Mountain Music,” which will be up until Sept. 8. The event begins at 4:30 on Aug. 29 and includes complimentary wine and hors d’oeuvres. The cost of the talk is $5, free from BRAHM members. For more information contact Leila Weinstein, educational programs coordinator, at 828-295-9099 ext 3006 or [email protected], or visit www.blowingrockmuseum.org.