Kentucky Historical Society
Banjo Masters to Perform in Frankfort Friday
Frankfort, KY (Aug. 10, 2009)—A concert featuring master banjoists Brett Ratliff, Jackie Helton, Jesse Wells, Sarah Wood and John Haywood will take place at the Thomas D. Clark Center for Kentucky History in Frankfort on Friday, Aug. 14 from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.
The concert, hosted by John Harrod, is the second in a series of concerts by master musicians who play stringed instruments, including the guitar, banjo and fiddle. This concert is dedicated to the memory of Mike Seeger who died Friday, Aug. 7. Seeger, a musician and steward of American traditional music, assisted the Kentucky Folklife Program in selecting the artists for this event and was scheduled to co-host the concert.
The series is presented as part of “Made to be Played: Traditional Art of Kentucky Luthiers,” an exhibition dedicated to showcasing the art of making and repairing stringed instruments. The exhibition is sponsored by the Kentucky Folklife Program, a partnership of the Kentucky Historical Society and the Kentucky Arts Council.
From 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., guests will have the opportunity to meet luthiers Warren May, of Berea, and Ricky Neat, of Russell Springs, who will be on-hand to discuss and answer questions concerning stringed instrument crafting, maintenance and repair.
The concert, which begins at 7:00 p.m., will feature Kentucky master banjoists who are accomplished in a variety of styles. The events are free with the price of admission. The last concert by master guitarists drew a crowd of about 300 people.
Brett Ratliff, who released “Cold Icy Mountain” in June 2008, comes to KHS from Van Lear, Ky., and will move the audience with chilling ballads and foot-stomping banjo songs. Helton participated in a masters panel at Morehead Old-time Fiddlers Convention in July and is a well-respected mentor to banjoists across the state. Jesse Wells is the Kentucky Center for Traditional Music's Education Coordinator, and an old-time music scholar. He is accomplished in multiple stringed instruments and continues the musical legacy of his family. Sarah Wood, of Flatwoods, is an old-time banjo player and ballad singer and a student at Morehead State University. In addition to being a talented and sought after visual artist, John Haywood is a banjoist who plays solo as well as with Rich and the Po'Folk, and the Travelin' Snakes.
John Harrod, the concert’s host, documents and records old-time music throughout the commonwealth. He is an accomplished Kentucky fiddle-tune scholar and plays guitar and sings lead vocals for Kentucky Wild Horse.
“Made to be Played” features the rich and fascinating history of Kentucky luthiers—people who make or repair stringed instruments—and tells the stories of Kentucky master luthiers and their handcrafted guitars, fiddles, banjos, mandolins, dulcimers and other original stringed instruments. The exhibition will remain on display until closing festivities on Saturday, Sept. 26.
Purchase your tickets early, and tour the Old State Capitol. Then come back for evening events and to tour the exhibitions at the Center for Kentucky History.Admission, which includes all exhibitions on the Kentucky Historical Society history campus, is $4 for adults, $2 for youth (6-18), and complimentary for children five and under. KHS members receive complimentary admission.
“Made to be Played” was developed through a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and is on display thanks to the generosity of the Dupree family, in memory of Clara Galtney Dupree. The exhibition is dedicated to the memory of Homer Ledford, a Kentucky luthier and musician who was renowned for the quality, beauty, and uniqueness of his works.
To find out more about programming and artifacts related to “Made to be Played,” visit the Made to be Played page on the KHS Web site.
An agency of the Kentucky Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet, the Kentucky Historical Society, since 1836, has provided connections to the past, perspective on the present, and inspiration for the future. KHS operates the Old State Capitol, the Kentucky Military History Museum, and its headquarters, the Thomas D. Clark Center for Kentucky History. Since 1999, the thirty-million-dollar Center has welcomed more than one million visitors. For more information about the Kentucky Historical Society and its programs, visit the Web site at www.history.ky.gov.