Foundation for Bluegrass Music to host college symposium and showcase during WOB

The Foundation for Bluegrass Music will host an academic symposium and a college bluegrass band showcase following the 2017 World Of Bluegrass convention in Raleigh, NC. Billed as the Bluegrass Symposium, the second of its kind, it will be held September 29-30 at the Raleigh Convention Center at the end of the Business Conference, while the Wide Open Bluegrass festival is going on across the street.

The focus of the symposium is the study of our music and its attendant culture in colleges and universities. Presenters and speakers include professors and academic writers within this community, with a special lunch/discussion for department heads and instructors in these programs.

Eminent bluegrass historian Neil Rosenberg will give the keynote address to start the conference on Friday. Registration is only $50 for the two days, which entitles you to attend all scheduled events. Selected parts of the symposium will be open to the public, including the Introduction to College Bluegrass Programs, moderated by Fred Bartenstein, which will present an overview of schools which offer instruction in bluegrass performance, either as a major or minor course of study. It will be geared towards parents and potential students looking into college in the near future.

It sounds like a great way to wrap up IBMA week in Raleigh, or you could just make the trip to get your head re-pointed. Bluegrass and Appalachian Studies is all the rage these days in academic circles, another sure sign that the music is here to stay.

Hats off to the Foundation!

See complete details online. A full schedule follows.

Friday, Sept. 29

12:00-1:30 p.m. Keynote luncheon for paid academic conference attendees. Keynote speaker: Neil Rosenberg, Ph.D.

1:30 – 3:00 p.m. Bluegrass Music Symposium Session 1: Institutions and Narratives – Chair: Jordan Laney

Ryan Banagale & Keith Reed – Bluegrass and the Liberal Arts
Chelsea Burns – Boston Bluegrass: Institutional Traces in the Urban Scene
Ron Roach – Building a Shared Rhetorical Vision: Fantasy Theme Analysis of Discourse at Early Bluegrass Festivals

3:00 – 3:15 p.m. Break

3:15 – 4:45 p.m. Bluegrass Music Symposium Session 2: Performance Studies – Chair: Toby King

Liza Sapir Flood – Song Choreography and Self-Expression at Bluegrass Jams
Lee Bidgood – The Broken Circle Breakdown and Belgian Bluegrass
Louisa Branscomb – Use of Bluegrass Songwriting as Treatment Intervention in Foster Teens with PTSD: A Qualitative Pilot Study

4:45 – 5:00 p.m. Wrap-up of Day One (with advice given on attending the Ramble showcases at eateries)

5:00 – 7:00 p.m. Dinner on your own

5 p.m. – 6:45 p.m. – IBMA’s “Kids on Bluegrass” Ensembles (Wide Open Bluegrass Youth Stage, RCC)

7:00 – 9:00 p.m. College Band Showcases, Youth Stage

7-7:45 p.m. – Warren Wilson College
8-8:45 p.m. – East Tennessee State University

Saturday, Sept. 30

9:00 – 10:30 a.m. Bluegrass Music Symposium Session 3: Performing History – Chair: Fred Bartenstein

Ira Gitlin – Lonesome And Then Some: Unusual Vocal Harmonies In Early Bluegrass Recordings
Natalya Weinstein-Miller – Jim Shumate: Pioneering Bluegrass Fiddler
Everett Lilly – Making Bluegrass History: The Role of the Lilly Brothers in Bluegrass History

10:30 – 10:45 a.m. Break

10:45 – 12:15 p.m. Bluegrass Music Symposium Session 4: Media – Chair: Nancy Cardwell

Nathan Sykes – Farm and Fun Time Legacy: Radio and Regional Music
Greg Reish – Documenting Bean Blossom: The Recorded Legacy of Marvin Hedrick
Ted Olson – Reassessing a Pioneering ‘Bluegrass Label’: Tracing the Impacts of Rich-R-Tone Records

12:15 – 12:30 p.m. Wrap-up of the Bluegrass Music Symposium (evaluation)

12:30 – 2:00 p.m. Bluegrass College degree program luncheon (Off site lunch for bluegrass degree program department heads and instructors, and those interested in college level bluegrass instruction. RSVP to for a head count. We will be buying our individual lunches.)

2:00 – 3:00 p.m. Introduction to College Bluegrass Programs, moderated by Fred Bartenstein

7:00 – 9:00 p.m. College Band Showcases, Wide Open Bluegrass Youth Stage, RCC (presented by the Foundation for Bluegrass Music)

6-6:45 p.m. – Morehead State University
7-7:45 p.m. – Pellissippi State Community College;
8-8-45 p.m. – Denison University

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.