America's Music: Session 4 ~ Country and Bluegrass

Monday, June 10, 2013

6:00 PM-8:15 PM

Cost: Free and Open to the Public

Providence Public Library
150 Empire Street
Providence, RI 02903

Meeting Room (3rd Floor)

Mon, 2013-06-10 18:00 - 20:15

America's Music is a six-week series of public programs created by the Tribeca Film Institute® in partnership with the American Library Association and the National Endowment for the Humanities, and in consultation with the Society for American Music.

The programs feature documentary screenings and scholar-led discussions of 20th century American popular music. The six sessions focus on uniquely American musical genres: blues and gospel, Broadway, jazz, bluegrass and country, rock 'n' roll, and mambo and hip hop.


Overview: Country music developed in the twentieth century against the backdrop of an economically struggling post-Reconstruction South, where uprootedness was a familiar experience for many. A wide variety of regional country music styles developed throughout the South and quickly travelled to the North and its cities, disseminated through records and radio in the 1920s and 1930s. The popular themes of country music explore the collision of older rural values and ways of life with modernization, urbanization, and industrialization. Bluegrass, a sub-genre of country that emerged in the 1950s, is an amalgam of old time music, country, blues, ragtime, and jazz.

A discussion of the film will take place after the screening led by Micah Salkind, a Providence Rhode Island-based writer, DJ and sound designer. As Director of Public Programs at The Providence Black Repertory Company between 2005 and 2008, he worked with representatives from Providence’s Department of Art, Culture and Tourism to establish Providence Sound Session, a flagship free/low-cost summer music festival for the City.

 Salkind is pursuing a Ph.D in American Studies at Brown University. His scholarly work on Afro-Diasporic cultural production, which has recently included articles South African popular music and global House dance culture, complements his work towards establishing innovative models for sustaining community art institutions and art-makers with local and state funders.


High Lonesome: The Story of Bluegrass Music, directed by Rachel Liebling (1994)

This lovingly realized documentary traces the history of bluegrass music, from its origins in the hills of Appalachia through the innovations that shaped its current form. Using haunting archival footage from the 1930s and 1940s, as well as toe-tapping recordings and performances, the film shows how country music enlivened and dignified the lives of the folk it sprang from. The film centers on the story of Bill Monroe, considered the father of bluegrass, whose musical genius melded the Scots-Irish traditional melodies of his childhood with new instrumentation and driving rhythm to produce the “high lonesome” bluegrass sound.

Link to Essay 

Additional Documentary Films



Online Resources

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