The Frank and Jane Gabor West Virginia Folklife Center will host a slate of traditional musicians as part of the Trunk of Traditional Tunes project funded by the West Virginia Humanities Council through a grant made possible by the 2021 American Recuse Plan Act. The goal of this project is to provide online resources to schools, individuals and community groups to educate West Virginians about their rich musical traditions.
Ballad singer Ginny Hawker and Mary Linscheid kicked-off the series with a lecture and demonstration on Sunday, October 17 at the Folklife Center. Hawker has been teaching southern, rural American singing at music camps and colleges for 30 years across the US, Canada, Ireland and Scotland. Along the way she has demonstrated the music of her large, musical family from southern Virginia, often introducing students and staff to the ballads and harmony style of the American southeast that has spread across geographic and cultural differences.
W.I. "Bill" Hairston will talk about gospel and blues singing on Tuesday, November 2 at 7 p.m. Mr. Hairston is well-known in the area for his work in 4-H, his storytelling and his time as the coordinator of music for the Stonewall Jackson Jubilee. Bill has also spent many years as the coordinator for the Vandalia Gathering, an annual event in Charleston. He is an active member of the West Virginia Storytelling Guild, the Kentucky Storytelling Association, the Ohio Storytelling Network, the National Association of Black Storytellers and serves as the West Virginia liaison to the National Storytelling Network.
Kim Johnson will talk about the banjo with Cody Jordan on Sunday, November 7 at 2 p.m. Johnson began playing with fiddler Wilson Douglas in 1979 and has played with and learned from many acclaimed West Virginia old-time musicians including Frank George and Lester McCumbers. She has taught both locally and nationally at Augusta Heritage Center, Allegheny Echoes, The Festival of American Fiddle Tunes and the Berkeley Old-time Music Convention. Cody Jordan plays guitar in The Modock Rounders with Johnson, touring across the state and region.
Lynette Swiger will talk about the dulcimer and the legacy of her teacher Patty Looman on Sunday, December 5 at 2 p.m. Patty, who passed away in 2012, was a teacher and performer and was honored with the Vandalia Award, West Virginia’s highest folk life honor, in 2007. Lynette has traveled around the world to attend music festivals and to jam with other band members. She has been featured at the West Virginia State Folk Festival. A retired elementary school teacher, Lynette is an adjunct professor of folklore studies at Fairmont State University where she teaches the folk music course. Lynette will be joined by Brad Swiger and Brian Conaway.
The in-person Trunk of Traditional Tunes presentations are free and open to the public, and those attending are encouraged to ask questions throughout the sessions. To register for a presentation, contact 304-367-4403. The presentations will be recorded to be included in the Trunk of Traditional Tunes online curriculum to be created by Lynette Swiger and Francene Kirk.
“West Virginia has a deep and rich cultural heritage,” said Fairmont State University President, Mirta M. Martin. “These musical traditions have been shaped by the unique experiences of this region’s people – good times and bad, love and loss, pain and joy. Fairmont State’s mission includes providing access to education to anyone who seeks it. Through The Trunk of Traditional Tunes online project, we can uphold that mission and help keep those amazing cultural traditions alive for generations to come.”
The Trunk of Traditional Tunes programs are made possible by funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the federal American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 through the West Virginia Humanities Council. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations do not necessarily represent those of the West Virginia Humanities Council or the National Endowment for the Humanities.
“The pandemic taught us that we have to begin delivering programing in different ways. Our goal is to create online resources and teacher-ready lessons that will introduce a new generation to traditional music and West Virginia’s folk musicians,” said Francene Kirk, interim director of the Frank and Jane Gabor West Virginia Folklife Center.
The Frank and Jane Gabor West Virginia Folklife Center is in a historic barn on the campus of Fairmont State University. The Center’s mission is to preserve and perpetuate West Virginia’s rich cultural heritage. The Folklife Center is open to the public Monday – Friday from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., and on the second Saturday of each month. Additional individual and group tours can be scheduled by appointment. For further information, contact 304-367-4403.