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Contents:
Program 1105

1. Louisville blues history
2. Dizney Mountain Rodeo
3. sculptor Garry Bibbs
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Season 11 Menu

Jefferson County

For more information:
Sara Martin profile and discography from Red Hot Jazz, with audio clips
Weaver Winners by 2004 recipient Keith S. Clements, with background on Sylvester Weaver

Producer, editor: Gary Pahler
Videographers: Mike Blackburn, Warren Mace


The River City Blues

Louisville blues history

We begin this edition with a look back at the early days of the blues, and in particular at two influential Louisville blues musicians: Sara Martin and Sylvester Weaver.

Like many blues artists, Sara (sometimes spelled Sarah) Martin (1884-1955) began singing in her church choir. She started making professional appearances as a popular singer around town in 1908. By the early 1920s, she had a national hit record in “Sugar Blues” and was one of the country’s top female popular singers. Her act included both vaudeville and blues tunes, and she was accompanied by everything from pianist Clarence Williams’ jazz combos to a jug band—a form invented in Louisville. She toured extensively for several years, released more than 100 records, and even made a few movie appearances before retiring in 1930.

Along the way, Sarah also helped jump-start the career of fellow Louisvillian Sylvester Weaver (1896-1960). In 1923, Sylvester became the first black blues guitarist to release a record under his own name. One of his recordings, “Guitar Rag,” got a Western swing twist from Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys and became a hit under the title “Steel Guitar Rag.” Sylvester also kept an eye out for new blues acts as a talent scout, helping artists like Helen Humes and Walter Beasley get their starts.

When the blues boom started to go bust in the late ’20s, both Sarah and Sylvester quit the business and settled down back home in Louisville. Sarah dedicated herself to church and community work, even managing a nursing home for a decade. Sylvester took a job as a chauffeur. By the time he died of cancer in 1960, he had been largely forgotten, and his grave lay unmarked for years. But the Kentuckiana Blues Society raised funds for a headstone, which was dedicated in 1992, and today gives an annual Sylvester Weaver Award to an outstanding local blues performer or promoter.

Our look back at the blues scene of the Roaring ’20s features commentary from musician and historian Pen Bogert (who played “Guitar Rag” at the 1992 ceremony at Sylvester Weaver’s grave) and Sonny Sitgraves of the 10th Street Blues Band.

Watch This Story (6:52)




Knox County

For more information:
• Dizney Mountain Rodeo, 14 Blue Grass Dr., Gray, KY 40734, (606) 546-3210
• The Professional Bull Riders Inc. site has events schedules and info for new fans about how the sport is scored as well as star riders and bulls.

Producer, videographer, editor: Ernie Lee Martin


Bullish on Rodeo

bull riders Rick and Rod Dizney

When his son Rod showed an interest in bull riding, Rick Dizney wanted to be supportive—so he built him an arena. Now called Dizney Mountain Rodeo, it’s located a few miles from Barbourville in Knox County.

Of course, it helped that Rick was a rider himself—the father-son pair has won several bull-riding competitions. They have also formed the Appalachian Pro Bull Rider’s Association to represent other riders in the region.

On our visit, Rod demonstrates some techniques and does his best to describe the adrenaline rush that accompanies riding a bull.

Watch This Story (6:58)




Fayette County

For more information:
• Prof. Garry Bibbs, c/o College of Fine Arts, University of Kentucky, 207 Fine Arts, Lexington, KY 40506-0022, (859) 257-2727

Producer: Tom Thurman
Videographer: John Breslin
Editor: Jay Akers


Soaring Sculpture

artist and professor Garry Bibbs

Garry Bibbs creates large-scale yet almost delicate metal sculptures that seem to draw the eye and the spirit upward. Some examples of his work can be found at the Smithsonian Institution and the Art Institute of Chicago.

Or you could visit his studio at the University of Kentucky, where he is an associate professor of art and coordinates the College of Fine Arts’ Master of Fine Arts program. During our visit, Garry talks about both facets of his work: how he inspires his students, and how he hopes his own artwork will inspire and uplift those who see it.

Watch This Story (7:46)


SEASON 11 PROGRAMS: 1101110211031104110511061107
110811091110: Wild and Scenic Kentucky11111112
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