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Homemade American Music | Feb 14

Mike Seeger and Alice Gerard. Photo by Carrie Aginsky, courtesy of Aginsky Productions.

Alice Gerard and Mike Seeger. Photo by Carrie Aginsky, courtesy of Aginsky Productions.

A documentary film by Yasha Aginsky

Homemade American Music accompanies Mike Seeger and Alice Gerrard in visits with their friends and mentors. It traces the origins of rural American music from traditional folk cultures in the southern United States and then demonstrates how traditional music is learned, played, adapted and performed by younger musicians from urban backgrounds.

This award-winning film showcases performances by North Carolina musicians Tommy Jarrell, Elizabeth Cotten, Alice Gerrard, and other artists such Roscoe Holcomb, Lily May Ledford, Dewey Balfa, Marc Savoy, Tracy Schwarz, Hank Bradley, Jody Stecher, Irene Herrmann, Stefan Senders, Will Spires, Eric and Suzy Thompson and more.

This is the first of two documentary films that will be shown as part of this year’s Music of the Carolinas series. Presenting documentaries about North Carolina music traditions is one way PineCone is strengthening the preservation prong of its mission to preserve, present and promote traditional and folk performing arts.

Homemade American Music was selected for this year’s series as a tribute to Mike Seeger, who passed away in August 2009 at the age of 75. PineCone presented Seeger as part of the Listening Room Series in Holly Springs in May 2008. Last year, the National Endowment for the Arts honored Seeger with the Bess Lomax Hawes Award, which recognizes “an individual who has made a significant contribution to the preservation and awareness of cultural heritage.”

The Music of the Carolinas series invites people to discover and celebrate North Carolina’s rich musical heritage by featuring the best home-grown North Carolina traditional artists, as well as by showcasing the musical and performance traditions of the various cultures that call North Carolina home today. The program almost lost funding support as the Museum looked for ways to trim its budget, as all state agencies were required to do in the midst of the budget crisis, but the 11-year-old partnership was considered too valuable to cut.

“The Music of the Carolinas series has been a key component of the museum’s educational offerings for over a decade. Although budget cuts have forced us to make adjustments in our program plans, the entire Education Section felt that this series was simply too important to our mission and our audience to be eliminated,” said Michelle Carr, the Museum’s Curator of Internal Programs. “North Carolina’s traditional music represents an abundant cultural legacy and an essential link to history. In times of economic challenge, it is more vital than ever that we continue to preserve the arts. They nourish our souls, connect us to the past, and provide us with the inspiration to move forward.”

In addition to performing, over the years, Seeger’s love for traditional music led him to produce documentaries – more than 25 field recordings and videos – and to organize many tours and concerts featuring traditional musicians and dancers.

In the liner notes from the 1997 album There Ain’t No Way Out (by The New Lost City Ramblers), Seeger wrote, “Old-time rural music remains at the center of my life. It’s a tactile, emotional, aural pleasure – the words are my Shakespeare and my mysteries, the music is my Bach, my pastime, and it makes me want to dance…Classic, timeless qualities in this music endure. For me, there ain’t no way out but nature, and I’ll make the most of it.”

The screening begins at 3 p.m. in the NC Museum of History’s Daniels Auditorium. It is free and open to the public, and program notes will be provided. Visit www.pinecone.org for complete details and to see the full Music of the Carolinas schedule.

DATE: Sunday, Feb. 14, 2010; 3 p.m.
VENUE: Daniels Auditorium, NC Museum of History, 5 E Edenton St, Raleigh, NC
ADMISSION: Free and open to the public
INFORMATION: www.pinecone.org

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