ETSU to participate in release of ‘Johnson City Sessions’ box set


JOHNSON CITY (October 2, 2013) — East Tennessee State University will participate in the worldwide release of Bear Family Records’ box set of “The Johnson City Sessions 1928-1929: Can You Sing or Play Old-Time Music?” with a reception on Thursday, Oct. 17, from 4:30-6 p.m. in the Reece Museum.

The event is free and open to the public. Call (423) 439-4392 for further information.

The Johnson City Sessions followed on the heels of the 1927-1928 Bristol Sessions, often called “The Big Bang of Country Music.” The Bristol Sessions were responsible for launching the careers of two famous musical acts, Jimmie Rodgers and the Carter Family, as well as increasing interest in the musical style that came to be called country music.

Under the watchful eyes of legendary Columbia Records scout Frank B. Walker, the Johnson City Sessions represented a fascinating and eclectic range of Appalachian music, and documented the music repertoires and styles of numerous talented semi-professional and amateur musicians from across the region.

During the reception, Dr. Ted Olson, an ETSU faculty member in Appalachian Studies, will introduce Tony Russell, his collaborator on both “The Johnson City Sessions” and “The Bristol Sessions” CD box sets. Olson and Russell received a Grammy nomination in 2011 for Best Album Notes for their co-authorship of the book accompanying “The Bristol Sessions.” That box set also received a Grammy nomination in 2011 for Best Historical Recording.

Russell is a British historian of American vernacular music and a prolific writer on the subject. He will relate how he became involved in researching American music and will share details of his experiences in what he calls “old-time music archaeology.”

The ETSU Old Time Pride Band, led by Assistant Professor Roy Andrade, will perform a sampler of music from the “Johnson City Sessions” recordings.

Also attending will be Tom McCarroll, son of Uncle Jimmy McCarroll, who led Sessions stars The Roane County Ramblers.

Other events surrounding the launching of the CD include an appearance by Russell and Olson, as well as Richard Weize of Bear Family Records, on the “Studio One” live radio show on WETS-FM (89.5 FM), ETSU’s public radio affiliate, on Saturday, Oct. 19, at 1 p.m. The ETSU Old Time Pride Band will perform selections from the Johnson City Sessions on the show.

Also, at 7 p.m. that day, there will be a Johnson City Sessions Box Set Release Party at the Down Home with performances of 1920s-era Appalachian music by Hello Stranger, the Corklickers, the ETSU Old Time Pride Band and the ETSU Blues Band. Tickets for the event are $20.

On Sunday, Oct. 20, beginning at 5 p.m., there will be a special V.I.P. gala event at The Venue featuring a gathering of family members of the original Johnson City Sessions musicians.  This event is open to the public and will feature music by the Bowman Family and the ETSU Blues Band.

At 7 p.m. that evening, a recording of the syndicated “Mountain Stage” radio show will be held in the Martha Street Culp auditorium in ETSU’s D.P. Culp University Center. Featured performers include Tim O’Brien, Darrell Scott, Sarah Jarosz, Old Man Luedecke, The Deadly Gentlemen and the ETSU Old Time Pride Band. Tickets are $30 in advance or $35 at the door. Call (423) 439-8587 for ticket information for both of the Sunday events.

Individuals who have questions concerning access or who wish to request disability accommodations, such as accessible seating, alternative formats for materials or sign language interpreters should contact ETSU Disability Services at (423) 439-8346 by Wednesday, Oct. 9. Attempts will be made to fill late requests; however, requests made after Oct. 9 are not guaranteed.

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