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Old-Time Music Links

Opportunities To Learn More

Looking for opportunities to take lessons or learn more about traditional music? Here are some suggestions:

  • Visit the J.P. Fraley Mountain Music Gatherin’ yourself and enjoy the music live and in person. It’s held each September at Carter Caves State Resort Park in northeastern Kentucky.
  • The week-long Cowan Creek Mountain Music School, held each June, offers classes in fiddle, guitar, banjo, singing, storytelling, and string band.
  • The Kentucky Folklife Program, an interagency program of the Kentucky Historical Society and the Kentucky Arts Council, offers a wide variety of programs, educational materials, and grants, including a folk and traditional arts apprenticeship program.
  • The Kentucky FolkWeb, a collaborative project of the Western Kentucky University Folk Studies Program and the Kentucky Folklife Program, provides information about cultural life in Kentucky as folklorists see it. You’ll find listings of festivals, exhibits, and other events; curriculum guides and materials for teaching about traditional life and culture; guidance for learning more about folklife; and information connecting you to people and resources in or near your community.
  • Old-Time Kentucky Fiddle Tunes by Jeff Todd Titon (University Press of Kentucky, 2003) includes transcriptions of nearly 200 old-time fiddle tunes, all placed in context with information about the fiddlers, and an audio CD. Visit the University Press of Kentucky for additional books about Kentucky music.
  • Appalshop is a multidisciplinary arts and education center in the heart of Appalachia that produces original films, video, theater, music, recordings, radio programs, photography, multimedia, and books. Check the Appalshop catalog for films about traditional musicians, including Lily Mae Ledford and Morgan Sexton, and recordings of mountain music under the June Appal label. You can find additional resources and lesson plans at the Mountain Music Traditions Association, an Appalshop partner.

Kentucky Traditional Music Centers

A number of institutions in Kentucky offer great resources on traditional music:

National Resources

  • The American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress offers folklife resources, educational resources, and internships and awards. Its Archive of Folk Culture includes several Kentucky Collections.
  • The Smithsonian Folkways Program offers audio recordings and educational materials that preserve and celebrate America’s cultural heritage and enhance awareness and appreciation of the cultural heritage of others. You’ll find recordings of mountain music, fiddle tunes, and other old-time music.
  • Rounder Records also has a library of old-time music recordings, the North American Traditions series. The contributors to this series include John Harrod, who gave us a list of exemplary Kentucky old-time music recordings from the collection.
  • The Old-Time Herald is a national monthly magazine dedicated to American old-time music and particularly string band traditions of the Southeast. You can browse back issues, visit a photo gallery of old-time musicians, listen to sound clips, and subscribe on the web site.

KET Resources

  • World of Our Own: Kentucky Folkways is an eight-part series that explores Kentucky’s traditional music, art, games, customs, and occupations. It includes two segments on old-time musicians: one on traditional fiddlers Clyde Davenport, formerly of Wayne County, and Roger Cooper, Lewis County, and one on the guitar styles of Eddie Pennington and Jesse Aldridge, both from Princeton.
  • Dulcimer virtuoso and traditional singer Jean Ritchie is an American folk treasure and the subject of KET’s Mountain Born: The Jean Ritchie Story.