By Mollie Quinlan-Hayes, Deputy Director and Accessibility Coordinator, ArtsReady Director, South Arts –
The visit to Tennessee is part of our spring cohort experience: a cohort of nine invited presenters from abroad who recently attended Merlefest in Wilkesboro, NC, and is now conducting a curated listening tour in Nashville, TN. During their week-long visit to the region, they will meet and experience the work of traditional and jazz musicians and their management, talk with scholars and folklorists about these unique musical forms, hear and learn about dozens of Southern artists and ensembles, engage with other U.S. presenters, and share their own programming visions. Scholars, folklorists and ethnomusicologists will share historical and contextual information about the music and musicians. These programmers hail from Australia, Armenia, France, the UK, Scotland, Hong Kong, Bulgaria and Ireland.
Today’s session, held at the Tennessee Arts Commission, was presented by Dr. Gregory Reish and Craig Havighurst. Dr. Greg Reish is Director of the Center for Popular Music and Professor of Music History at Middle Tennessee State University. Reish is an authority on contemporary Italian music, remains active as a scholar and performer of old-time and bluegrass music, and has a rapidly developing interest in son jarocho from the Mexican state of Veracruz. Reish is the weekly host of Lost Sounds on Roots Radio WMOT, which can be heard throughout middle Tennessee and streaming on the web. Craig Havighurst is a Nashville-based author, journalist, broadcaster and media producer who’s been studying musical culture and the music business since the late 90s, with an academic background in literature, journalism and public policy. Craig is currently music news director for WMOT/Roots Radio 89.5 FM where he hosts the weekly interview and news feature show The String, covering “culture, media and American music.” He’s also senior producer and writer for Music City Roots, a nationally syndicated weekly live radio show that spotlights Nashville’s roots and Americana music scene.
Using images, audio samples, and their extensive knowledge of the Tennessee music scene, Havighurst and Reish shared the story of Nashville’s rise as Music City beginning in the 1920s, including the early development of the Grand Ole Opry, the proliferation of classic honky tonk in the years after World War II, the studio and production practices of the “Nashville Sound” era, the outlaw and authenticity movements, and the rise of the alt-country and Americana formats that continue to flourish on Nashville stages and over the airwaves today.
Photo from left to right: Andrea Snyder, Co-Director, Performing Arts Strategies; Mollie Quinlan-Hayes, South Arts; Christopher Howard-Williams, President, La Roche Bluegrass Festival, La Roche sur Foron, France; Carolelinda Dickey, Co-Director, Performing Arts Strategies; Kung Chi Shing, Artist Associate, West Kowloon Cultural District, Hong Kong; Vessela Vencheva, Communications and Advertising, Plovdiv Jazz Festival, Plovdiv, Bulgaria; Richard Hurst, Visitor Services Manager, National Museums Northern Ireland Appalachian and Bluegrass Music Festival, Tyrone, England; Shoghakat Galstyan, Chief Coordinator, HIGH FEST International Performing Arts Festival, Yerevan, Armenia; Anya Westerhof, Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland; Richard Wakely, Director, Belfast International Arts Festival, Belfast, Ireland; Sandy Brady, Program Administrator, Port Fairy Folk Festival, Geelong, Australia; Craig Havighurst, Music News Director, WMOT/Roots Radio; Anne B. Pope, Executive Director, TN Arts Commission; Paul Lyttle, Cheif Organiser, Moniaive Michaelmas Bluegrass Festival, Moniaive, Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland; Greg Reich, Director, Center for Popular Music.