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String Band Day set at Appalshop

The Alltech Fortnight Festival will present an Appalshop at 40 event, String Band Day, on October 10 at the Appalshop in Whitesburg. The event will be free and open to the public.

Workshops will be offered from noon until 4 p.m. and concerts from 6 until 9 p.m., followed by a square dance with caller Julie Shepherd-Powell. The oldtime string bands participating in the workshops, concerts, and dance will be Kentucky Wild Horse, Rich & the Po’ Folks, and Clack Mountain String Band.

String Band Day will be part of the Letcher County Convention and Tourism Commission’s quarterly Art Walk.

“String Band Day, under a variety of names, has been a fall Appalshop tradition for some time,” said Appalshop Director Art Menius. “Due to the exceptional quality of the workshops and performances by nationally noted musicians, we have previously had to charge appropriate fees for participation. Thanks to the Commonwealth-wide support of the performing arts by the Alltech Fortnight Festival, this October 10 we can offer String Band Day free to the public in celebration of Appalshop’s 40th birthday. Without the Alltech Fortnight Festival, we would not have been able to host String Band Day in 2009.”

The event received additional support from the National Endowment for the Arts.

The three bands for String Band Day rank among the best known purveyors of traditional Kentucky music in the 21st century and are no strangers to Whitesburg audiences. Inspired by the people and place that surrounds them, Clack Mountain String Band exhibits the remarkable energy and passion of one of the world’s richest veins of roots music. Heard on the recent Appalachia: Music From Home, the companion disc to the PBS series, Clack Mountain String Band provides the perfect blend of youthful drive and ancient traditions.

Rich and the Po’ Folks dates to the spring of 2006 when a group of friends got together with the common goal to build a band on their shared love for the traditional music of east Kentucky and southwest Virginia. They take their inspiration from some of the jewels of Appalachian music — fiddlers, banjo players, singers, and songwriters.

Kentucky Wild Horse takes its name from an old eastern Kentucky fiddle tune played by Wolfe County fiddler Darley Fulks (1895-1990) who possessed a vast repertoire of pre-Civil War tunes. Kentucky music from the 19th century down to the present, especially its fiddle and banjo traditions, has been their love and inspiration. Kentucky Wild Horse, which features legendary Pike County fiddler Paul David Smith, released “Sprit o’ the Lonesome Hills” in 2008.

Members of the three bands will play for the square dance and will provide the instructional staff for the afternoon workshops. Workshops, also free to the public, will include Beginning Banjo, East Kentucky Banjo, Beginning Fiddle, Eastern Kentucky Fiddle, Rhythm Guitar, Traditional Song, String Band, Singing with a Band, and Playing and Calling for Dances.

The Alltech Fortnight Festival, which began in 2008, presents entertainment throughout Kentucky. It was created by Dr. Lyons as a means of building excitement for the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games 2010 while investing in the development of the arts in local communities. The 2009 Alltech Fortnight Festival runs Sept. 25-Oct. 10, mirroring its ultimate culmination next year with a “fortnight” of live music held alongside the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games 2010.

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