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Upcoming Lectures and Concerts

Lectures and Workshops

October 18, 2018

Early Banjo Performance Traditions: A Hands-on Workshop
Featuring Stephen Wade
8:00-9:00pm
Community Center for the Arts
202 W Main Street, Urbana, Illinois
Admission: Free

To help open this year’s Folk and Roots Festival, Stephen Wade will lead a one-hour hands-on exploration of early banjo performance practices at Urbana, Illinois’ Community Center for the Arts.  Wade, a recent Grammy nominee and director of the American Roots Music Program at Colorado’s Rocky Ridge Music Center, draws on his first-hand experience with traditional musicians, many of whom had been born in the last years of the nineteenth century. Over the course of this interactive session musicians and non-musicians will explore a variety of playing styles that these earlier generation banjoists bequeathed to us. Musicians are urged to bring their own instruments to this special session so that they can apply for themselves these lessons from tradition.

October 19, 2018

Beautiful Music Around Us: Exploring America’s Rich Banjo Heritage
Featuring Stephen Wade
12:00-1:30pm
Sousa Archives and Center for American Music
1103 South Sixth Street, Champaign, Illinois
Admission: Free

America’s early banjo heritage is firmly rooted in the rich music traditions of the people who were brought forcefully to this country from West Africa during the eighteenth century.  However, this fact and the evolution of banjo performance practice in late nineteenth century America becomes lost among the countless images of minstrel banjoists crudely portraying slap-stick characters using stylized dialects while wearing oversize shoes and exaggerated clothing.  Over the past century the grinning black-faced banjo player has been embedded deeply into America’s consciousness, and this racially charged imagery and its associated music continues to reflect the social and cultural tensions that exist in America today.  Stephen Wade – one of country’s finest banjo performers, recording artist, and a leading scholar of American folklife and culture – will provide a special performance lecture on America’s rich banjo heritage to reveal the evolution of its diverse artistic traditions and performance practices over time.

October 30, 2018

À la recherche du Trolley Song
Featuring Stephen Banfield
6:30pm
The Spurlock Museum Knight Auditorium
600 S. Gregory Street, Urbana, Illinois
Admission: Free

As sung by Judy Garland in the MGM film Meet Me in St. Louis (1944), “The Trolley Song” is one of the world’s best-loved production numbers, yet close reading and documentary study are still surprisingly rare where numbers in Hollywood musicals are concerned, and this one is no exception to that general state of affairs.  Sources there are, and these will be reviewed.  Why, however, should we wish to recover them when the finished artifact is there in front of us on the small or large screen, available to be watched nowadays at the push of a button?  To be sure, applying documentary research methodologies can reveal hidden meaning and transform understanding, but with this film and this number in particular the process almost inevitably begins to memorialize loss. In what ways, then do the song and its routine represent temps perdu?  Stephen Banfield will provide compelling answers to these and many other interesting questions about this most beloved musical number. Reception to follow.  For further information contact Christina Bashford.

November 14, 2018

Exploring the Unspoken Silences that Define Us as Individuals and Communities
Featuring Renée Baker
5:00-6:30pm
The Spurlock Museum Knight Auditorium
600 S. Gregory Street, Urbana, Illinois
Admission: Free

The failures of America’s Reconstruction era and later decades of Jim Crow segregation reinforced the cultural isolation and social injustices experienced between black and white America during the later portion of the nineteenth and first half of the twentieth centuries.  Since the late 1960s progress has been glacially slow to bridge these political and economic divisions, and the pervasive social injustices experienced by people of color continue to bleed across our communities.  The politics of respectability and questions of colorism that permeate today’s racial dialogues only rehash the never-ending cycles of hope and denial for the country’s disenfranchised.  With little or no substantive reward for those individuals who genuinely wish a better and more just life for themselves and others unlike them, the outcome frequently turns to anger, disbelief, and unspoken silences between our communities that we allow to define us over time and mute our desire to learn from one another.  Renée Baker, accomplished Chicago composer and founding director of the Chicago Modern Orchestra Project, will provide a 90-minute open discussion and viewing of portions of D. W. Griffith’s Birth of a Nation and Oscar Micheaux’ The Symbol of the Unconquered using her newly created music scores to begin a larger conversation with the audience about the unspoken silences of race and identity that were portrayed in early twentieth-century silent movies and continue to exist in today’s America. For further information contact Scott Schwartz.

Concerts

October 19, 2018

Reconstructing America’s Rich Banjo Heritage
Featuring Stephen Wade
9:15-10:30pm
Community Center for the Arts
202 W Main Street, Urbana, Illinois
Admission: $15

Stephen Wade is arguably the best “non-grass” five-string banjo player in America today. His loyal following includes people who years ago saw his one-man stage show, Banjo Dancing that was artistically inspired from the folksongs, stories, banjo tunes, and his own personal insights about America’s diverse musical soundscape.  He has performed nightly on Washington’s Arena Stage for ten years, before his On the Way Home show succeeded it for several more. Wade’s widely acclaimed book, The Beautiful Music All Around Us, has been awarded the ASCAP Deems Taylor Award and the ARSC Best History Award for its extraordinary scholarship and sensitive reconstructions of the sights and sounds of the many musicians who thrived from the Mississippi Delta to Southern Appalachia and the Great Plains between 1934 and 1942.  Wade’s concert will include a wide range of traditional banjo melodies and tall tales that will be sure to stir his audience’s hearts and feet, and will leave them asking for more at each turn. For further information visit http://folkandroots.org/.

October 20, 2018

For All Ages Family Programming
Champaign-Urbana Folk and Roots Festival
10:00am-1:15pm
Community Center for the Arts
202 W Main Street, Urbana, Illinois
Admission: Free

The Sousa Archives and Center for American Music is again sponsoring a series of free family performances as part of the 2018 Champaign-Urbana Folk and Roots Festival.  This year’s programming includes Morning Music with Robin Kearton, Little Folkers Puppet Party with Miss Hanna Rae, the Deep Fried Pickle Project, and the return of the Festival’s Music Mayhem Parade. For further information visit http://folkandroots.org/.