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Program 1114

1. Appalachian cook Lacey Griffey
2. photographer Bruce McElya
3. the River City Drum Corp
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Season 11 Menu

Harlan County

For more information:
Appalachian Foods from the program of the 2003 Smithsonian Folklife Festival
bookclub@ket has featured three mouth-watering books about traditional cooking, complete with recipes, anecdotes, and historical notes: Ronni Lundy’s Shuck Beans, Stack Cakes, and Honest Fried Chicken; John Egerton’s Southern Food: At Home, on the Road, in History; and Mark Sohn’s Appalachian Home Cooking.

Producer, editor: Charlee Heaton
Videographer: Matt Grimm
Audio: Anne Deck, Thomas Cooper, Brent Abshear

Food, Glorious Food

Appalachian cook Lacey Griffey

Had dinner yet? Watch the first segment of this edition of Kentucky Life, and we can almost guarantee you’ll find yourself craving old-fashioned comfort food.

Lacey Griffey of Benham has been serving up that sort of food—beans, greens, cornbread, apple pie, homemade yeast rolls, and of course real fried chicken (not that pressure-cooked stuff)—for decades. She and her husband, the only African-American foreman the local International Harvester plant ever had, raised seven hungry sons. Then she started making treats for the people at her own job, and their enthusiastic reaction convinced her to start a catering business. As Benham mayor Betty Joy Howard attests in this profile, she is also a good neighbor who has contributed mouth-watering fare to any number of fund-raising efforts over the years.

Lacey is also something of a certified local character. So when the organizers of the Smithsonian Folklife Festival’s 2003 tribute to Appalachia came looking for authentic local food and someone to prepare it, Lacey’s was one of the names that kept coming up. That summer, she found herself helping to feed thousands of festivalgoers on the National Mall in Washington, DC.

During our visit, Lacey is busy catering a get-together for the Rising Star Baptist Church. But in between the kneading, chopping, frying, and baking, she takes a few minutes to talk about growing up in Harlan County and about Appalachian food in general. She also remembers an early experience in the kitchen when, as a young girl, she forgot to add butter to the sweet potato pie. These days, Lacey never forgets the butter.

Shelby County

For more information:
• Bruce McElya, (859) 253-6135
• See sample photos at

Producer, editor: Gary Pahler
Videographer: Mike Blackburn

Down the Colorado with a Camera

Photographer Bruce McElya

Simpsonville’s Bruce McElya holds the record for the most solo raft journeys through the Grand Canyon, having done it seven times. Since a tightening of the permit system has now outlawed that sort of thing, it’s unlikely that record will be broken anytime soon.

But Bruce, who has run his own photography business since the mid-1980s, was in it not so much for adventure as for art. On those trips, he carried a view camera that shoots large-format black and white negatives in order to capture the ever-changing patterns and moods of one of nature’s most magnificent works from an uncommon perspective. “Grand Canyon may be the most admired and photographed natural feature on the planet,” he says. “However, its lifeblood and sculptor, the Colorado River, remains a mysterious place and rarely visited by the serious artist.”

Of course, artistic desire will take you only so far when your transportation is a small raft on a big, wild river. Bruce also called on several years’ experience as a Colorado River rafting guide in his pursuit of a rare photographic opportunity. Now he’s concentrating on printing, mounting, and exhibiting the results. His first public show of Grand Canyon prints was in the spring of 2004.

Jefferson County

For more information:
River City Drum Corp, 3308 Chauncey Ave., Louisville, KY 40211, (502) 772-7660

Producer, videographer: Erin Althaus
Editor: Cheryl Beckley

The Power of Percussion

River City Drum Corp

Founded in 1993 by Louisvillian Ed White, the River City Drum Corp (formerly known as the Parkland Drum Corps, for the Parkland Boys & Girls Club, which sponsored it) is a group of children and young adults between the ages of 2 and 18 who have been trained in African drumming techniques and materials as well as the richness of African culture.

But the Drum Corp is far more than just a musical group: It is an organization that provides its members with a blueprint for success in life. Each young drummer makes his or her own drum, using materials found in the environment. They learn through apprenticeships—not just about African drumming, but also about the skills needed for personal, academic, and social success. They are responsible for the Corp’s business accounting and scheduling, and after every performance each member writes an essay about the experience. The Corp also emphasizes family involvement.

Kentucky Life previously heard from the River City Drum Corp in Program 110, in a performance from 1995. This update, produced in 2004, features comments from young drummers Eric Burse and Brandy Shumake as well as parent volunteer Bobby Shumake.

Hopkins County

For more information:
Apple House Gallery, 17 Sunset Rd., P.O. Box 243, Hanson, KY 42413, (270) 322-0010

On Location

Dave hosts this edition from the Apple House Gallery in Hanson. Housed in a rehabilitated apple storage warehouse that at one point had no floor or roof, the shop sells works by regional artists and craftspeople.

SEASON 11 PROGRAMS: 1101110211031104110511061107
110811091110: Wild and Scenic Kentucky11111112

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