Folklore and Folklife Services: The Documentation of Vernacular Expression
local or regional cultural surveys
organizational or institutional lore
Mountain Valley Music
A documentary cassette/booklet project I did while folklorist-in-residence at the John C. Campbell Folk School, 1988-90. This project, which took two years to put together, was chosen to the Library of Congress Select List of Traditional Recordings in 1990. Funding from the NEA and the NC Arts Council.
(Interesting factoid: This may have been the last folk music documentary project released on cassette. But it was also one of the very first that was recorded digitally. –D.)
Presented here as a LARGE pdf file and several mp3s, with permission of the Campbell Folk School.
Delmarva Folklife Initiative
The Delmarva Folklife Initiative was a large, multi-state survey conducted by a team of folklorists working for the Mid-Atlantic Arts Federation in the late 1990s. I contributed the following chapter to the final summary report. (I will upload more video clips soon.)
The Ninth Street Revival, Chattanooga
“Doin’ Fine on Big Nine: the Ninth Street Revival” was a folklife documentary project I directed while in residence as staff folklorist at Allied Arts of Greater Chattanooga. I conducted oral histories about old Ninth Street (now MLK Boulevard), Chattanooga’s “Beale Street.” Birthplace of Bessie Smith at the end of the 19th Century, Ninth Street remained a cultural mecca for African Americans in the region throughout the Jim Crow Era, and home to generations of blues, jazz, R&B, funk and gospel musicians, until the “urban renewal” movement of the 1960s effectively displaced the neighborhood in the name of “eradicating urban blight.” The project culminated in a series of public reunion and tribute concerts featuring elder musical veterans of the old Ninth Street scene, which were digitally recorded for posterity. The concert series, funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, was a collaboration with two local Black institutions, the Mary Walker Educational Foundation and the Chattanooga African American Museum.
South Carolina Heritage Corridor, Region II
As part of a larger, statewide heritage tourism development project involving both the state tourism department and the state arts council, I conducted several months of broad cultural survey fieldwork in Abbeville, Greenwood, and McCormick Counties, 2000-2001. (I also did a few weeks’ worth of fieldwork in and around Columbia.)
Here is a Picasa slideshow of over 230 photographs from that fieldwork, which documented honky-tonk country and Black gospel musicians; Mennonite quilters, singers and woodworkers; dancehalls, mill towns and churches; economic and environmental contexts; and other factors affecting folklife of the “upcountry” region of South Carolina.
The final summary report, in pdf form, is available for download here.
Other on-line exhibits
As Executive Director of the Albemarle Charlottesville Historical Society from 2002 to 2008, I collaborated with several guest curators and student interns on a series of local history exhibits. Most of these are still on-line on the Historical Society’s website (which I built and maintained during those years).