The Sky’s the Limit: American Tall Tales and Traditional Showpieces

On Thursday, March 23, 2017, artist-scholar Stephen Wade returns to the campus of Lebanon Valley College with a new musical and spoken word program, The Sky’s the Limit: American Tall Tales and Traditional Showpieces. It takes place at 7:30 PM in Zimmerman Recital hall.

“Folklore,” writes B. A. Botkin, source of the program’s title, “is the stuff that travels and the stuff that sticks.” Wade’s program of story, song, step- dancing, solo banjo, and guitar playing builds on his celebrated book as well as his record-breaking theater pieces.

In this lively work that pivots between lectern reading and stage performance, Wade explores representations of American character as expressed in traditionally-based humor and music drawn from 19th and 20th century sources. From the frontier era to the present day, these voices, filled with mirth and musicality, have long served as personal, regional, and ultimately national emblems. The Sky’s the Limit sets this boisterous creativity within an historical landscape.

For two days in February 2016, Stephen Wade, a Grammy-nominated musician and prize-winning author of The Beautiful Music All Around Us: Field Recordings and the American Experience led ten classes at LVC, in addition to an evening concert. These classes ranged from Shakespeare to sociology, art to orchestra.

Since his appearances at LVC, Wade began initial work with Academy Award-winning director Paul Wagner on the first of three public television programs based on Wade’s book. In November 2016, Wade became the first-ever individual recipient of the Society for Ethnomusicology’s Judith McCulloh Public Sector award, recognizing his forty-plus years of scholarship and creative artistry that has reached both local communities and the greater public. His latest album, Across the Amerikee: Showpieces from Coal Camp to Cattle Trail, goes into national release on the Smithsonian Folkways label in June 2017. He is founding director of the American Roots Music Program at Rocky Ridge Music Center, Boulder and Estes Park, Colorado.

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• Address to use for GPS when coming to this event at Lebanon Valley College: Zimmerman Recital Hall, 1-28 West Church Street, Annville, PA 17003

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