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Category: AFC Events

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Cormac Ó hAodha and the Múscraí Gaeltacht: Botkin Plus Podcast!

Posted by: Stephen Winick

We're back with another entry in the Botkin Plus series AND another episode of the Folklife Today podcast! In this entry, we'll provide the video of a Botkin Lecture and a podcast interview, both of them featuring Cormac Ó hAodha. Cormac is the most recent Lovelace Fellow (aka Lomax Scholar) at the Library of Congress's John W. Kluge Center. That's a fellowship established within the Kluge Center especially for the study of the Alan Lomax collection, one of the American Folklife Center's signature collections. Cormac comes from the village of Cúil Aodha in the Múscraí Gaeltacht of Co. Cork in Ireland, a recognized heartland of the Irish language and traditional Irish-language singing. He is conducting in-depth research on the material Lomax collected some 73 years ago from singers in the Múscraí singing tradition, the same singing tradition Cormac grew up in and is a part of. Some of the people recorded by Lomax are Cormac's relatives, and his research seeks to illuminate their songs, their language, and their traditions. Follow the link to the post, the video, and the podcast!

Join Us at the Treasures Family Festival on June 15, 2024!

Posted by: Nicole Saylor

If you love to dance, jump, sing and clap, the June 15 Family Day at the Library of Congress is for you! The Treasures Family Festival “Treasures of American Communities” is a free, drop-in program that will run from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The event will showcase both the new David M. Rubenstein Treasures Gallery, highlighting gems from the Library’s vast collection, and the treasures of human creativity and cultural expression. The American Folklife Center (AFC) is thrilled to be a part of these festivities, which kick off with a sing-along lead by our wonderful Board of Trustees member, Natalie Merchant. Natalie is not only an amazing musician but also an evangelist for getting children to learn and love traditional songs and games. The festival is included with the daily timed-entry tickets required to visit the building, but portions of the event require preregistration. Find the links and more information in this blog post!

Homegrown Plus: Blues with Phil Wiggins (1954-2024)

Posted by: Stephen Winick

The passing of harmonica virtuoso and blues master Phil Wiggins on May 7, 2024, was a sad event for the music world, and particularly for the American Folklife Center. Phil was one of the most celebrated musicians in the blues nationwide, and one of the most important roots musicians of any kind in the Washington area. For those reasons among others, AFC has featured Phil in concerts probably more often than any other musician during the last few decades. In this post, we'll bring together most of Phil's appearances that were shot on video, show you some never-before-seen photos of Phil, and pay tribute to a longtime friend of the Center.

Dr. Melissa Cooper delivering a lecture as part of the American Folklife Center's Benjamin A. Botkin Lecture Series at the Whittall Pavilion at the Library of Congress.

Botkin Folklife Lectures Plus: Dr. Melissa Cooper, Scholar of Gullah Geechee Cultural History

Posted by: Douglas D. Peach

On April 10, 2024, Dr. Melissa Cooper (Associate Professor of History, Rutgers University-Newark) presented a fascinating lecture on Gullah Geechee cultural history at the Library of Congress, as part of the American Folklife Center's Benjamin A. Botkin Lecture Series. In this post, we highlight the video recording of Cooper's lecture and an oral history interview with Cooper, conducted by American Folklife Center staff members.

Five people outdoors holding musical instruments

Homegrown Plus: The Berntsons, Andrea Hoag, and Loretta Kelley

Posted by: Stephen Winick

We're continuing the Homegrown Plus series with a couple of classic concerts of Scandinavian music.  Way back in 2009 we presented the Berntsons, a Norwegian American band who learned their music in rural Wisconsin before moving to Virginia. The Berntsons were joined onstage by the trio of Andrea Hoag, Loretta Kelley, and Charlie Pilzer. Among them they played pump organ, fiddle, Hardanger fiddle, six-string and twelve-string guitars, and double bass. Six years later, Hoag and Kelley returned with their fiddles for a program we called "A Tour of Norwegian and Swedish Fiddle Styles." Among them, the Berntsons, Hoag, Kelley, and Pilzer have earned Grammy awards and nominations, they've played on concert stages and at folk festivals nationwide, and, most importantly, they are preserving a living tradition of Nordic folk music for us to enjoy. Back in those days, we were recording interviews primarily on audio, but we did ask for extended essays on the performers. So in this post, you'll find both concert videos along with those essays provided by the musicians. 

Three people play Hardanger fiddle, viola d'amore, and Nyckelharpa.

Homegrown Plus: Northern Resonance

Posted by: Stephen Winick

We're continuing the Homegrown Plus series with Northern Resonance, a Scandinavian string trio rooted in traditional folk music. As usual for this series, you’ll find a concert video, an interview video, and a set of links to explore. Northern Resonance perform traditional and newly composed roots music on a previously untested combination of instruments: Swedish viola d’amore, hardanger fiddle and nyckelharpa. They combine Scandinavian music with explosive rhythms and grand chamber-like arrangements, taking folk music in a new direction. The members of Northern Resonance are highly skilled and accomplished musicians. The three instruments they play are all bowed stringed instruments, and they all make use of sympathetic strings. The sympathetic strings are not played by the musicians, but vibrate due to their proximity to the bowed strings, providing the "resonance" of the group's name. With these unusual instruments and their lively tunes, Northern Resonance delighted our audience in the Whittall Pavilion on March 7, 2024. 

Group of experts on longevity standing in courtyard.

Now Available: Webcast of Longevity Panel Discussion and New Responses to Audience Questions

Posted by: Douglas D. Peach

In February 2024, the American Folklife Center and the Health Services Division organized a panel discussion on longevity with experts in public health and the traditional arts. This post provides a webcast of the event and provides responses to audience questions that were unanswered, due to time constraints, during the event.

A man plays guitar and sings with an American flag in the background.

Homegrown Plus: American Roots Music with Rev. Robert B. Jones, Sr.

Posted by: Stephen Winick

We're continuing the Homegrown Plus series with an entertaining and educational concert and interview by Reverend Robert B. Jones, Sr., an inspirational musician and storyteller celebrating the history, humor, and power of American roots music. His deep love for traditional African American and American music is shared in live performances that interweave timeless stories with original and traditional songs. For more than thirty years Robert has entertained and educated audiences of all ages in schools, colleges, libraries, union halls, prisons, churches and civil rights organizations. He brought that inspiration here to the Library of Congress on February 15, 2024, as part of the Homegrown series as well as the series "Live! At the Library," and as part of our celebrations of Black History Month. As an ordained minister and a Baptist pastor, Rev. Jones has an unwavering faith the cultural importance of sacred and traditional American roots music. At the heart of his message is the belief that our cultural diversity is a story that we should celebrate, not just tolerate. This concert included blues, spirituals, gospel, rock, and even a touch of hip hop, delivered with voice, acoustic guitar and harmonica. Watch for the special sequence in which Rev. Jones is joined by his wife Sister Bernice Jones, his daughter Arnecia Jones, his son Robert Jones II (aka R.J.), and his daughter-in-law, R.J.'s wife, Sister Rosa Warner Jones. As usual for this series, you’ll find a concert video, an interview video, and a set of links to explore.

Five men in suits and ties.

Homegrown Plus: Northern Kentucky Brotherhood Singers

Posted by: Stephen Winick

It's time for another Classic Edition of Homegrown Plus! Embedded in this blog post, you'll find two concert videos (from 2009 and 2013) with the Northern Kentucky Brotherhood Singers, a 2013 interview video, and a set of links to explore. The Northern Kentucky Brotherhood Singers, which since those days has shortened its name to the Brotherhood Singers, is a jubilee-style, a cappella, sacred gospel quartet from Covington, Kentucky. Over 30 years ago, Ric Jennings formed the quartet out of the renowned Ninth Street Baptist Church Men's Choir. Since the beginning, this community-based quartet has sung in churches, at special gospel programs, anniversaries, song services, and other sacred music events. In addition to continuing the traditional community role of the gospel quartet, the Brotherhood has expanded their reach to a global audience, performing both spiritual and secular songs. Enjoy their music in these classic videos!