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Program 806

1. Native American flute music
2. sassafras walking sticks
3. watercolors
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Laurel County

Producer: Ernie Lee Martin

Native Notes

Flute Maker Arnold Richardson

Hand-made art is the theme for this episode of Kentucky Life, which begins with a form of music that reaches back hundreds of years.

Arnold Richardson of London, whose Iroquois name is Tsa’ Ne’ Dos’e, plays traditional Native American flutes that he carves himself from cedar. After being presented with an Iroquois flute back in the 1960s, he began studying the craft behind the instrument as well as the meaning behind the haunting, centuries-old melodies and rhythms. Since then, he has been performing—and, recently, recording—a type of music not heard in Kentucky for many years.

Our profile includes both a visit to his studio, where a new flute is being born, and a private recital amid the beauty of nature, where the musician finds much of his inspiration.

Daviess County

For more information:
Kentucky Walking Sticks, 4268 Brookhill Dr., Owensboro, KY 42303, (270) 314-4461

Producer, videographer: Dave Shuffett
Editor: Jay Akers

Walking in Style

Randy Spencer’s carved walking sticks

Our next artisan also finds his inspiration in nature—not to mention his raw materials.

The sassafras tree, which tends to spring up along the borders of worked fields, has long been the source of a tea made from its leaves that serves as a home remedy for various ills. But its fast-growing wood also naturally forms basically straight sticks with interesting twists. And it polishes to a smooth finish with a warm, medium brown color. Carrying on a long country tradition, Randy Spencer of Owensboro harvests those sticks and “finishes what nature started” by turning them into lightweight, durable walking sticks that are both highly utilitarian and works of folk art. Host Dave Shuffett, whose love of hiking makes him appreciate the value of a good walking stick, visits Randy in this segment to see the carving and polishing process and try out some of the finished products.

With his overalls and his country twang, Randy Spencer looks and sounds the part of the traditional country carver. But he also happens to be an electrical engineer, and he has added a twist to the tradition that his forebears could not have imagined: He sells his walking sticks all over the country via the Internet.

Jefferson County

Producer: Connie Offutt
Videographer, editor: Mike Blackburn

Painting the Light

Watercolorist Jim Mahanes

Many people take up painting as a way to forget about their troubles for a while. Perhaps Jim Mahanes took it up in part to get away from other people’s troubles.

A psychologist by profession, this Louisville man began painting watercolors rather late in life. And he is drawn to subjects that have been around a while, too, painting landscapes that feature familiar, time-worn structures like old farmhouses. For our visit, he displays a series of paintings he did of old lighthouses along the Georgia coast.

SEASON 8 PROGRAMS: 801802803804805806807808
809: Simple Pleasures and Hidden Treasures810811812813

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