ISSUED: 5 September 2018
MEDIA CONTACT: Valerie Owens
SHEPHERDSTOWN, WV — Please Note: The Festival Showcase Concert has moved to Reynolds Hall.
Shepherd University’s annual Appalachian Heritage Festival and Writer-in-Residence program will take place September 21-28, featuring the work of author Karen Spears Zacharias and music by Doris Fields, Xavier Oglesby, The Modock Rounders, Robert Mitchell, Nick Blanton, and Adam Booth.
Zacharias will take part in several events, both on and off campus, to celebrate her fiction and her book “Mother of Rain,” which is this year’s One Book, One West Virginia statewide common reading selection. Books written by Zacharias give the community the opportunity to explore a range of topics, including the collateral damage of war and the trauma of post-traumatic stress disorder that goes beyond the battlefield and affects the community.
Her father’s 1966 death in the Vietnam War led Zacharias to become a journalist and an award-winning fiction writer. She tells her family’s struggle to survive the death of a heroic soldier-father in the book “After the Flag Has Been Folded: A Daughter Remembers the Father She Lost to War—and the Mother Who Held Her Family Together.” The book is a memoir about the personal struggles after the conflicts are over.
The Modock Rounders, a traditional string band from the Kanawha Valley, features Kim Johnson, Jesse Pearson, and Cody Jordan. Johnson has been playing claw hammer banjo since the 1970s when fiddler Wilson Douglas took her under his wing. Since then, she has played with some of the most highly influential West Virginia fiddlers of the last 40 years. Pearson and Jordan are both award-winning fiddlers from Point Pleasant.
Doris Fields, also known as Lady D and “West Virginia’s First Lady of Soul,” is a master soul and blues musician and songwriter living in Beckley. The daughter of a coal miner, she has grown up steeped in the African-American traditions of West Virginia. She is the founder and organizer of West Virginia’s Simply Jazz and Blues Festival. In 2008, Fields’ original song “Go Higher” was selected to be performed at President Barack Obama’s inauguration ball. Fields is part of the West Virginia Humanities Council’s Folklife Apprenticeship program as a master artist sharing her knowledge of blues and gospel with singer Xavier Oglesby.
Bringing music from the Scottish Isles, Mitchell is an accomplished studio musician with more than 30 years’ experience performing on the great highland bagpipes and the Scottish small pipes. He was the founder and piper major of the Dunloggin Pipes and Drums Band for 25 years and played with the pan-Celtic folk band IONA. In 2004, Mitchell was the recipient of the Maryland Traditions Folk Arts and Culture Apprenticeship Award as a master in the art of piobaireachd, the classical music of the Scottish bagpipe. Blanton is a master instrument maker who builds custom hammered dulcimers and a musician who has performed on studio recordings and in live concerts with dozens of different ensembles.
Booth’s storytelling blends traditional folklore, music, and the stories of Appalachia in an original voice that has earned him master artist spots at the International Storytelling Center, National Storytelling Festival, and at festivals across the country in more than 17 states. He is the founding director of the Speak Story Series in Shepherdstown and teaches in the Appalachian Studies program at Shepherd.
Activities planned for the week include:
Friday, September 21
- 5:30-6:30 p.m.—“Soldiers’ Tales from the Civil War: Stories of Home and the Trauma of War” by Dr. James Broomall, Reynolds Hall. Free and open to the public.
- 7 p.m. Screening of Academy Award-winning film “The Deer Hunter,” in partnership with the Shepherdstown Film Society, Reynolds Hall. Free and open to the public.
Saturday, September 22
- Noon—Appalachian sing-along with Adam Booth, Rachael Meads, John Meeker, Than and Mary Ann Hitt, and others, Reynolds Hall. This community sing will offer everything from old-time and gospel to country and bluegrass. All voices and ages are welcome. Free and open to the public.
- 1:30 p.m.—”The Crossroads: Where Blues and Gospel Meet” with Doris Fields (Lady D) and Xavier Oglesby, Reynolds Hall. Learn about African-American blues and gospel traditions that have profoundly influenced the sound of Appalachian music. Free and open to the public.
- 3 p.m.—”Echoes of the Isles in Appalachia” with piper Bob Mitchell and dulcimer player Nick Blanton, Reynolds Hall. The two will introduce three types of Scottish pipes and show Celtic connections in Appalachia. Free and open to the public.
- 4 p.m.—”Central West Virginia’s Fiddling Legacy” with Kim Johnson, Jesse Pearson, and Cody Jordan, Reynolds Hall. They will perform stories and tunes of some of the most influential fiddlers and music in West Virginia, including songs written by Wilson Douglass, Lester McCumbers, and Melvin Wine. Free and open to the public.
- 8 p.m.—Festival Showcase Concert, Reynolds Hall. Hosted by storyteller and musician Adam Booth, the concert will highlight the musical diversity of the region featuring gospel and blues from Doris Fields (Lady D) and Xavier Oglesby; bagpipe and hammered dulcimer music from Bob Mitchell and Nick Blanton; and West Virginia string band music from the Modock Rounders. Tickets are $15 for the general public; $10 for seniors and Shepherd staff; $5 for those under 18; and free to Shepherd students with valid Rambler ID. To purchase tickets, call the Shepherd University Bookstore at 304-876-5219.
Monday, September 24
- 7 p.m.—“Ballads, Storytelling, and the Scot-Irish Diaspora: Cecil Sharp and the Appalachian Story” by Dr. Benjamin Bankhurst, assistant professor of history, Robert C. Byrd Center for Congressional History and Education auditorium. Free and open to the public.
Tuesday, September 25
- 7 p.m.—“A Celebration of Appalachian Storytellers in Music and Words,” readings from the “Anthology of Appalachian Writers, Wiley Cash Volume X” and selections from Scott Gendel’s “Barbara Allen,” presented by the Department of Music and co-sponsored by the West Virginia Center for the Book, Robert C. Byrd Center for Congressional History and Education auditorium. A reception in the Scarborough Library Reading Room afterward will feature a photography exhibit and book signing. Free and open to the public.
Wednesday, September 26
- 11 a.m.—Karen Spears Zacharias reading and reception, Martinsburg Public Library, 101 West King St., Martinsburg. Free and open to the public.
- 7 p.m.—”The Writing Life, with Karen Spears Zacharias,” Robert C. Byrd Center for Congressional History and Education auditorium, followed by a book signing and reception. Zacharias will discuss her work, the writing process, and her journey toward authorship and publication. Free and open to the public.
Thursday, September 27
- 3-4:30 p.m.—Writers master class with Karen Spears Zacharias, Robert C. Byrd Center for Congressional History and Education auditorium. Free and open to the public.
- 8 p.m.—Karen Spears Zacharias will receive the Appalachian Heritage Writer’s Award, give a keynote address, and present the West Virginia Fiction Competition awards, Erma Ora Byrd Hall auditorium. A book signing and reception will follow. Free and open to the public.
Friday, September 28
- 7 p.m.—“Stories from Appalachia with Adam Booth,” Robert C. Byrd Center for Congressional History and Education auditorium. Free and open to the public.
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