This upcoming weekend in Berea, the annual Celebration of Traditional Music returns for its 46th year.
This year’s program is slated to run from Oct. 10-13 at various locations around Berea College. It kicks off with a pre-CTM Stephenson Memorial Convocation Concert at 8 p.m. on Thursday, October 10. Billy Edd Wheeler will be performing with Doug Orr and the Whitewater Bluegrass Ensemble.
Berea College Assistant Professor Elizabeth DiSavino, director of this beloved program, said that students have been very involved with the planning of this year’s event.
“That sense of ownership on the part of the students has given the whole event an energized feel,” she stated.
Workshops will begin on Friday at the Loyal Jones Appalachian Center. Friday will also include an open stage, raffle and free dinner sponsored by local merchants, all located on the campus Quad. Friday’s festivities will be capped off by a Jam Session with local legend Donna Lamb.
Workshops continue on Saturday at the Appalachian Center. Workshops will be conducted for those who wish to learn various traditional music skills, including songwriting, ballads, old-time tunes, and fiddle.
Saturday includes several events to take place at the Pinnacles (Rain Location: the Berea College Forestry Building). There will be a fiddle concert and fiddle contest at the Stage of Indian Fort Theater. In addition, a song circle is scheduled to be led by members of the Folk-Roots Ensemble.
On Saturday night, folks can enjoy another concert, presented at the Phelps Stokes Auditorium. On that stage, the Lawson Family, Michael and Carrie Kline, the Pedigos, and Vivan Leva & Riley Calcagno will all perform. In addition, fiddle contest winners will get the chance to showcase their talent.
“We are presenting a lifetime achievement award to Loyal Jones, the founder of Berea's Appalachian Studies program and a founder of CTM," DiSavino said. "In addition, we have brought dancing back; there will be an afternoon dance at Indian Fort on Saturday afternoon, and an evening dance in Woods-Penniman with Illegal Contraband and the electrifying caller Ron Buchanan.”
Evening concerts will be $10 for admission. Events that are held with the Berea Craft Fair at the Pinnacles and Indian Fort Theater will include an admission fee, as this is being put on by the Kentucky Guild of Artists and Craftsmen. The cost is $5 to the general public and $3 for Berea College students with ID. Children under 12 get into the Craft Fair at no charge.
DiSavino looks forward to “having the Sunday morning gospel sing in a more intimate venue, Cowan Chapel.”
DiSavino enjoyed reflecting on a few of her memories of past CTM events.
“I remember the tribute to Jean Ritchie my first year here," she said. "She had already had a stroke and was in a wheelchair, but she was there and really appreciated being honored.”
She continued, “It was that year that I heard and met Loyal Jones, Mr. Appalachia for the first time. Sparky and Rhonda Rucker have been here a few times, and they are always amazing. It was also a thrill for me to get to present about the Olive Dame Campbell/Cecil Sharp ballad collection, English Folk Songs from the Southern Appalachians a few years ago.”
“CTM is sponsored by a grant by the L. Allen Smith Memorial Fund and the Loyal Jones Center,” stated DiSavino. “It is presented by the CTM Committee, the Folk-Roots Ensemble, and supported in part by the Loyal Jones Appalachian Center and Music Department.”
The Celebration of Traditional Music is sure to be a good time for all ages.
“Music, food, dancing, jamming — how can you lose?” said DiSavino proudly.