Kentucky Historical Society
Fiddling and Thumbpicking Guitar Masters to Perform at the Thomas D. Clark Center for Kentucky History

Press Release Date:  Friday, November 11, 2011  
Contact Information:  Lisa S. Cleveland
Kentucky Historical Society
502-564-1792, ext. 4489

Ed Lawrence
Kentucky Arts Council
502-564-3757, ext. 473

FRANKFORT, Ky. (Nov. 11, 2011) — A special performance, “East meets West: Fiddling and Thumbpicking Guitar in Kentucky,” featuring Eddie Pennington, Steve Rector, Roger Cooper, John Harrod and Alonzo Pennington, will be presented at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 17, in the Keeneland Changing Exhibits Gallery at the Thomas D. Clark Center for Kentucky History in downtown Frankfort.


This is the final in a series of three concerts performed in support of the Kentucky Folklife Program’s new exhibition “The Makings of a Master: Kentucky Folk Art Apprenticeships.” Through stories and artifacts, visitors to the exhibition will discover some of the many traditions carried on in Kentucky, including storytelling, Chinese dancing, square dance calling, basket making and thumbpicking guitar style. “The Makings of a Master: Kentucky Folk Art Apprenticeships” explores the relationship between masters and apprentices, drawing from the 60 apprenticeships documented by the Kentucky Folklife Program between 1993 and 2011.


Eddie Pennington is widely recognized among his peers as one of the greatest thumbpicking guitarists alive today.  Performing throughout the United States and Europe, he carries on the traditional sound popularized by Kentucky native Merle Travis in the 1940s. Pennington has received a National Heritage Award, an honorary doctorate from Western Kentucky University, a Governor’s Award in the Arts, has been featured on National Public Radio’s “All Songs Considered” and is celebrated every year at the Pennington Folk Festival in his hometown of Princeton.


Other performers include: Steve Rector, of Greenville,  who has been honored a number of times by the National Thumbpickers Hall of Fame; Roger Cooper, master fiddler from Garrison; John Harrod, 2004 Governor’s Award in the Arts recipient; and Eddie Pennington’s son, Alonzo, who has made a name for himself with the Alonzo Pennington Band.


The exhibition and all related concerts and programs are free with admission to the Kentucky Historical Society during its regular hours of operation, through Saturday, Dec. 10.


The exhibition is the product of the Kentucky Folklife Program, an interagency program of the Kentucky Arts Council and Kentucky Historical Society.  “The Makings of a Master: Kentucky Folk Art Apprenticeships” is funded, in part, through a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. For information about “The Makings of a Master: Kentucky Folk Art Apprenticeships,” visit To schedule the exhibition for public display in your community, contact Mark Brown, folklife specialist, at or 502-564-1792, ext. 4491.




The Kentucky Folklife Program identifies, documents, conserves and presents the Commonwealth's diverse cultural traditions through concerts, exhibits, narrative stages, archives, grant programs and classroom and community partnerships. It is an interagency program of the Kentucky Historical Society and the Kentucky Arts Council, supported with state tax dollars and funding from the National Endowment for the Arts.