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Southern Folklife Collection Presents “The Banjo: Southern Roots, American Branches”

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Banjo of Philip Gura CollectionChapel Hill, NC -- The Southern Folklife Collection at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Library presents The Banjo: Southern Roots, American Branches on Saturday, August 25, 2012. The symposium begins at 10:00 AM with lectures and panel discussions throughout the day in the Pleasants Family Assembly Room at the Wilson Special Collections Library on the university campus. A concert showcasing the instrument commences at 7:30 PM at Memorial Hall featuring Tony Trischka, Riley Baugus with Kirk Sutphin and Dom Flemons of the Carolina Chocolate Drops. All events are free and open to the public.

This is the first of a three part interactive Southern Folklife Collection Instrument Series; additional panels, exhibits and concerts featuring the pedal steel guitar and fiddle are scheduled for 2013. Featuring top musicians and leading scholars, this series is an opportunity to enjoy and learn about the American South's music, history, and culture.

Steve Weiss, Curator of Southern Folklife Collection, elaborates, “Through exhibits, lectures and performances, the event will explore the history of the 5-string banjo, an instrument that traces its origins from enslaved Africans brought to the new world, rising to the pinnacle of American popular culture, and deeply embedded in American traditional music.”

The Southern Folklife Collection Instrument Series is made possible by a donation from John Powell.

Saturday, August 25, 2012 from 10am to 4pm:

  • Symposium - Pleasants Family Assembly Room, Wilson Special Collections Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Lectures and Panel discussions on the history of the banjo featuring:
    • Robert Cantwell, UNC Professor of American Studies; Author of Bluegrass Breakdown
    • Bob Carlin, Musician and Author of The Birth of the Banjo: Joel Walker Sweeney and Early Minstrelsy
    • Cecelia Conway, Appalachian State University Professor of English; Author of African Banjo Echoes in Appalachia
    • Laurent DuBois, Duke Professor of Romance Studies and History
    • Dom Flemons, musician (Carolina Chocolate Drops)
    • Jim Mills, musician (Vince Gill, Ricky Scaggs)
    • Phillip Gura, UNC Professor of American Studies; Author of America's Instrument: The Banjo in the 19th Century
    • Stephen Wade, Musician and Author of The Beautiful Music All Around Us: Field Recordings and the American Experience

7:30pm to 9pm:

  • Concert - Memorial Hall, UNC-Chapel Hill
  • Tony Trischka
  • Riley Baugus with Kirk Sutphin
  • Dom Flemons (Carolina Chocolate Drops)

Admission is free. Tickets are required and are available on Monday, July 23, 2012 at 10:00 AM through the Memorial Hall Box Office and online at An exhibit of banjo instruments and ephemera will be on display on the 4th floor of Wilson Library from August 25 to December 31, 2012 during the following hours: Monday – Friday 9 AM – 5 PM, Saturdays 9 AM – 1 PM and Sundays 1 PM – 5 PM.

The Southern Folklife Collection is an archival resource dedicated to collecting, preserving and disseminating traditional and vernacular music, art, and culture related to the American South.

The Southern Folklife Collection contains over 250,000 sound recordings, including cylinders, acetate discs, wire recordings, 78 rpm and 45 rpm discs, LPs, cassettes, CDs, and open reel tapes. Moving image materials include over 3,000 video recordings and 8 million feet of motion picture film. Other materials include thousands of photographs, song folios, posters, manuscript materials, ephemeral items, and research files, as well as an exceptionally strong collection of discographical

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