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Photos From AFC’s Alan Jabbour Legacy Event

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AFC’s January 18, 2018 jam session brought together many of Alan Jabbour’s friends, family members, and fans. In this photo, you can see many of his close associates, including Ken Perlman and Dean Reed, the son of Alan’s mentor Henry Reed. Photo by Stephen Winick.

On January 18, 2018, AFC sponsored a special event in our Benjamin Botkin Folklife Lecture Series.  Alan Jabbour, 1942 – 2017: His Legacy in Folklife and Traditional Music brought together speakers who worked closely with Alan to examine the contributions he made during his career to cultural documentation, the promotion of traditional music, and federal cultural policy. The brief talks were followed by a jam session bringing together many of Alan’s musical associates.

For those who didn’t know him, Alan Jabbour, (1942-2017) was the founding director of the American Folklife Center at The Library of Congress. He was a leader in the field of folklife scholarship, as well as the world of old-time string band music. He headed two of the most important federal programs related to folk traditions, the American Folklife Center and the Folk Arts Program at the NEA. At AFC he established many programs that preserve and present folklife traditions, including field surveys, concert and lecture series, and training programs. As both a scholar and a musician, he brought the music of fiddler Henry Reed and West Virginia’s Hammons Family to prominence in the old-time world. With his wife Karen Singer Jabbour, he extensively documented the practice of Decoration Day in the Upland South. When Alan died, AFC posted this appreciation of his life and work.

Below, find some photos I captured at the event.  In the near future, we will post remarks from Alan’s friend and coworker Carl Fleischhauer.  AFC remains committed to continuing the important legacy of our founding director, Alan Jabbour.

Alan’s successor at the Library of Congress, AFC director Betsy Peterson. Photo by Stephen Winick.


Alan’s friend of many years, and one of AFC’s first staff members, Carl Fleischhauer. Photo by Stephen Winick.


Alan’s most frequent musical partner in recent years, Ken Perlman. Photo by Stephen Winick.


Alan’s longtime friend and neighbor David Furchgott, founder of International Art & Artists. Photo by Stephen Winick.


Stephen Wade ably spoke about Alan’s legacy, and also played and sang, accompanied by Zan McLeod. Photo by Stephen Winick.


Alan’s wife Karen Singer Jabbour made a moving presentation about Alan, including his work on Decoration Day. Photo by Stephen Winick.

Comments (10)

  1. A wonderful event and a fitting tribute. Thanks for the photos.

  2. Ah yes! Alan, Carl, Ralph Rinzler and I — we were all part of the Underfed String Band.

  3. I totally love that picture of Karen.

    It was a wonderful program and reflected the legacy of a man who was as talented as he was kind… with a listening ear and a playful mind. We have lost a true treasure.

  4. Also worth a mention: the pickers were joined (and even “co-led”) by Bert Levy, an original member (along with Alan) of the Hollow Rock String Band, in the 1960s. In more recent years, Bert also became well known for boatbuilding and sailing from his home in Port Townsend, Washington. (When he set his musical instruments down, that is!) I believe I am correct to spot the back of his head in the chair to the left of the microphone.

    Meanwhile — if you pick out the distinguished looking gray-haired guitar player wearing a suit and tie on the far side of the inner circle — you have spotted Dean Reed, mentioned in Steve’s photo caption. Bravo to all!

  5. You should mention that Bertram Levy is in the center of the jamming pic.

  6. A towering figure, literally and figuratively, Alan’s larger than life presence came wrapped in gentle elegance.

  7. This was a truly wonderful event and heartwarming tribute to one of our great music collectors and musical innovators. Many thanks to Karen Jabbour and the entire crew from the Folklife Center for their work in putting this together.

  8. All those neckties! I’ve shared hundreds of tunes (or maybe dozens of tunes hundreds of times) with Alan over all of his years in the DC area and I never wore a tie.

    No matter what the tune, the hour, or the circumstance, when he had a fiddle in his hand, Alan was like the Energizer bunny, always, smiling, full of energy, and seemed like he’d never run down. He wore me out on many jam sessions.

    I wish I could have attended this tribute but that week I was on cold and rainy Vancouver Island working on a documentary project of which I’m sure Alan would have approved. Maybe some day it’ll be showing in Fiddler’s Green.

  9. Ken, this seems like an awesome tribute to one of the nicest people ever. Even if Alan couldn’t play a fiddle, nor collected so many wonderful tunes, he still would have been a fantastic person! What a guy! Mark Sahlgren

  10. I met Alan at Midwest Banjo Camp. He was a wonderful, kind man and very generous in sharing his music. I know he was a fabulous musician and a fantastic friend and musical partner to my dear friend, Ken. This tribute looks like it was incredible; I’m sorry I couldn’t be there to celebrate his memory and contributions at this tribute.

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