Richard Will / Music

I plan to host a weekly jam session for students interested in bluegrass and old-time music. Students will have the opportunity to play with two faculty members experienced in these genres, myself and my music department colleague, Michelle Kisliuk, as well as to discuss the origins, histories, and cultural meanings of the music within Appalachia and beyond. Michelle and I will suggest texts and recordings for additional study. At three of the meetings, our group will invite noted local musicians to join us and share their experience and expertise; candidates would include legendary instrumentalist and folklorist Mike Seeger, as well as banjoist and director of the Prism Coffee House Fred Boyce. Finally, at the end of the academic year we will travel to a weekend event such as the Gettysburg Bluegrass Festival in Pennsylvania, or Merlefest in North Carolina, in order to hear professional performances and to participate in jam sessions, which are a major aspect of such festivals and often involve the professional players as well as festival-goers. The trip will culminate a year-long, informal interaction between students, faculty, and members of our local and regional musical communities.

The budget anticipates seven students travelling to the festival. In the event there are more, I will use available funds to defray everyone’s costs equally, with the proviso that in order to be eligible, students must have participated fully in the group throughout the year. I prefer not to award funding according to musical skill or another competitive measure, since a signal quality of the bluegrass and old-time communities, one that I want students to experience, is their ethos of inclusive participation.

Honoraria for local artists, 3 @ $150 = $450
Festival tickets for students, 7 @ $100 = $700
Transportation,  lodging, and food for students, 7 @ $100 = $700

Total: $1850