Written by Liza DiSavino
The 48th annual Berea College Celebration of Traditional Music (CTM) will take place Oct. 15-17 and will feature, due to COVID, a mixture of both in-person and live-streamed events.
The CTM seeks to represent homemade music passed on from person to person in the Appalachian Region, and the musicians who play it. It is supported by a generous grant by the L. Allen Smith Memorial Fund and is presented by the Loyal Jones Appalachian Center, the Music Department, the Celebration of Traditional Music Committee, and the members of the Berea College Folk-Roots Ensemble.
A pre-CTM Stephenson Memorial convocation concert performance by John McCutcheon will take place Thursday, Oct. 14 at 8 p.m. at Phelps-Stokes Chapel. This is the only evening concert open to the public. The event is free, and masks and COVID-19 vaccination are required.
This year’s Friday and Saturday night concerts on Oct. 15-16 will be available via live stream only and will feature: Earl White, dean of African-American string band music; mountain dulcimer icons Lois Hornbostel and Ehukai Tevis (our L. Allen Smith performers); Walt Michael and Company, performing old-time, bluegrass, and folk; The Gibson Family from Richmond, Ky. and their repertoire of religious song; Elizabeth LaPrelle, master of Appalachian ballad singing; the Lua Project and their blend of Latinx and Appalachian music; and Riley Melton, a fine young performer from the Pick’n Bow program in Hindman, Ky..
The Local Hero Award will be presented to master dulcimer maker Warren May. CTM’s third Lifetime Achievement Award will be presented to banjo player, sideman to Doc Watson, and radio host. David Holt.
A special live community event, a Berea Story Trail about Dolly Parton and “Coat of Many Colors,” will begin at 1 p.m. Saturday. This beautiful trail was put together by Heather Dent. At the start of the trail at 1 p.m. will be a puppet show by Richard Brown. At the end of the trail at 2:30 p.m., the Berea Bluegrass Ensemble will play. Participants are encouraged to bring a blanket or chair. This event is open to the public.
Berea College’s diverse array of traditional music ensembles will present the Second Annual Berea College Traditional Ensembles showcase on Sunday at 3 p.m. in Gray Auditorium. Performers include the Berea College Black Music Ensemble, Bluegrass Ensemble, Folk-Roots Ensemble, Mariachi Berea and the African Percussion Ensemble. The event will be presented live for the campus community only (masks are required) and streamed for off-campus audiences.
The live performances for each day can be found at the following links:
CTM is one of Kentucky’s oldest music festivals. A number of great musicians have graced it with their presence, including Jean Ritchie, Bradley Kincaid, Billy Edd Wheeler, Alice Gerrard, Mike Seeger, Lily Mae Ledford, Guy Carawan, Shelia Kay Adams, J.P. Fraley, John Harrod, Roscoe Holcombe, Bill Livers and Addie Graham.
Chris Green, the Director of the Loyal Jones Appalachian Center, muses, “When one steps into the waters of the CTM, one feels the history of the nearly five decades of music that has flowed through it. From one CTM to the next, one come to see the strata of the cliffs those waters have traversed; one comes to tastes the history of the mountains from which this music has flowed.”
For more information, visit the Loyal Jones Appalachian Center website or search the “Berea College Celebration of Traditional Music” Facebook page.