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BC Celebrates Traditional Music

The 30th Annual Celebration of Traditional Music, Berea College’s annual weekend of Old Time Music and Dance, will take place Oct. 29-31 on Berea’s campus.

Earl White

A highlight of the Celebration is a concert of festival musicians scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 30, beginning at 7:30 p.m. in Phelps Stokes Chapel. Performers this year include fiddler Earl White; Delmer Holland and The Blue Creek Ramblers, Ken Childress and Jim Mullins and the Berea College String Band with award-winning fiddler and Berea College student Jake Krack.

A founding member of the Greengrass Cloggers in 1971, Earl White has been a prominent figure in the old-time music and dance scene for 30 years. He received his first fiddle in 1974 and is one of the few black Americans reviving the music that was once an important part of rural black communities and life on the plantations in the South. White is widely known for his extensive repertoire of unusual tunes and his driving, energetic style. The Blue Creek Ramblers are an old-time string band from Tennessee, whose members range in age from 70 to 18. They recently released their first recording “Keeping the Tradition Alive.” Ken Childress and Jim Mullins are a guitar duo from West Virginia.

The weekend begins on Friday evening with an Open Mic and Jam Session hosted by local musicians Donna and Lewis Lamb. On Saturday, music and dance workshops begin at 10 a.m. At 11 there will be a showing of the documentary “Coal Camp Blues” followed by a noon-time concert on the College Square Green with Jim McGee and Hershell Muncey. Cincinnati folklorist John Bealle will present this year’s symposium, “Sacred Harp as Folksong,” about the traditional and practice of shape-note singing, beginning at 1:30. The Celebration concludes Sunday morning with a Traditional Gospel Sing at Union Church in Berea, at 9:30.

A complete Celebration schedule of events is below.

Concert admission Saturday evening is $8 for adults and $4 for children and youth ages 10-17. Tickets can be purchased at the door. Music workshops are $10 (square dance workshop is free). All other festival events are free of charge.

The Celebration is made possible in part by a grant from the Kentucky Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts. To register for workshops or for more information, call the Berea College Appalachian Center at 606-985-3140, or email:

30th Celebration of Traditional Music Schedule

Friday, October 29 7:00 p.m.
Alumni Building, Activities Room
Jam Session – Open Mic Hosted by local musicians Donna & Lewis Lamb

Saturday, October 30
Workshops - 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.,
Alumni Building
Beginning Banjo with Rebekah Weiler
Intermediate/Advanced Banjo with Cari Norris
Beginning Fiddle with Lewis Lamb
Intermediate/Advanced Fiddle with Earl White
Shape-note Singing with John Bealle
Documentary Film Showing “Coal Camp Blues”

11:00 a.m.
Alumni Building, Baird Lounge
Followed by a Noon-time concert on the college square green at Short Street with Jim McGee and Hershell Muncey.
Symposium “Sacred Harp as Folksong”

1:30 p.m.
Alumni Building, Baird Lounge
Sqaure Dance Workshop By John Bealle

3:30 p.m.
Alumni Building, Activities Room
Featuring Delmer Holland and The Blue Creek Ramblers
Evening Concert of Festival Musicians

7:30 p.m.
Phelps Stokes Auditorium
Featuring The Berea College String Band, Earl White,
Delmer Holland and The Blue Creek Ramblers,
Ken Childress and Jim Mullins, and more!
(Admission: $8-adults; $4-children and youth ages 10-17)

Sunday, October 31 9:30 a.m.
Union Church
Traditional Gospel Sing with Jim Mullins and Ken Childress

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