The Frank and Jane Gabor West Virginia Folklife Center at Fairmont State University will host folk music events on Thursday evenings this fall.
As part of the Introduction to Folk Music class taught by Lynette Swiger, a folk music concert featuring Elmer Rich and Mark Crabtree is planned for 7:30 to 8:45 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 18, in The Great Room of Cultures at the Folklife Center. The public is invited to attend. Admission is free.
Swiger was mentored by Patty Looman, the hammered dulcimer legend, and is the curator of the Patty Looman musical estate archived by the Folklife Center.
Rich is a 95-year-old fiddler who lives in Morgantown. He grew up playing music in his family and learned to play the fiddle from his father, Harry Rich, and his uncle, Sanford Rich. His father played some unique old tunes that are not well known outside his family. One of the tunes is “Colored Aristocracy,” which was recorded by folk music collector Charles Seeger during a music festival in Arthurdale in 1936. This recording, as well as nine others, are preserved at the Library of Congress. In 1936, when he was 16 years old, Rich played the fiddle at a square dance in Arthurdale that was attended by First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. Rich's intricate playing and “spot on” notes have made him a winner at numerous fiddle contests and a favorite of old-time music fans.
Crabtree is a fiddler guitar player and photographer from Morgantown. He has worked closely with numerous well-known and highly regarded old-time musicians across the state to record and photograph their tunes and playing styles. He has worked extensively with Elmer Rich to record, learn and preserve the music of the Rich family. He travels with Elmer to fiddle contests and events across the state and nation. He recently worked with the Augusta Heritage Center in Elkins to produce a CD of Rich’s music, as well as four original recordings from the Arthurdale sessions in which Rich participated.
The Kennedy Barn String Band hosts regular jam sessions on Thursday evenings from 6:30 to 9 p.m. at the Center. The band is a homegrown, old-time music group that was formed to promote folk music traditions. The band was originated by Dr. Michael Schroering and George Yost along with friends Brian Conaway, Jamie Greene, Susie Jones, Tom Manuel, George Reynolds, Joni Schroering, Sarah Sink and Dr. Steve Smigocki.
A Halloween Old Time Barn Dance with caller cake walks of treats such as cakes, cookies and pies is scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 30.
The Blues Tradition, featuring Bill Stalnaker, the founder of the Johnnie Johnson Blues and Jazz Festival in Fairmont, is planned for Thursday, Nov. 13.
CDs of the musicians’ works will be available for purchase at each concert.
The Frank and Jane Gabor West Virginia Folklife Center is dedicated to the identification, preservation and perpetuation of our region’s rich cultural heritage through academic studies; educational programs, festivals and performances; and publications. For more information, visit http://www.fairmontstate.edu/folklife/ or call (304) 367-4403.