22 September, 2012

Where Dead Voices Gather Went To London!

Well, the UEA conference was a tremendous success.  I showed up a bit late because of London's street signs (they're inconsistent, at best, completely absent at worst), but was in time to hear all of the papers.  For those who care, here is the day's program:

9.00 - 9.30 - Coffee and Registration

9.30 - 9.45 - Welcome - Ross Hair & Thomas Ruys Smith, School of American Studies, University of East Anglia

9.45 - 11.00 - Keynote - Professor Geoff Ward, Royal Holloway, University of London:  '"Spun in a wheel of vertigo":  Harry Smith and the Magic of History'

11.00 - 11.15 - Coffee

11.15 - 13.00 - Volume 1:  Context -

Rani Singh, Director of the Harry Smith Archives, '"America Changed Through Music":  Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music Turns 60'

Rory Crutchfield - University of Glasgow, 'An Act of Cultural Subversion?  Conceits and Critical Responses to the Anthology'

Ross Hair, University of East Anglia, 'Harry Smith, the American Diogenes'

Kurt Gegenhuber, The Celestial Monochord, 'Smith's Amnesia Theater:  "Moonshiner's Dance" in the Context of The Anthology of American Folk Music

13.00 - 13.45 - Lunch

13.45 - 15.00 - Volume 2:  Influence -

James Boaden, University of York, 'Stan Brakhage and Films in the Folk Style'

Phil Langran, University of Lincoln, 'Writing the South:  Harry Smith and the Stories of William Gay'

Paola Ferraro, University of Rome, La Sapienza, 'The New "New Weird America" of U.S. Black Metal:  Returning to Appalachia with Panopticon's Kentucky

15.00 - 15.15 - Volume 3:  Legacy -

Alexander M. Stern, Where Dead Voices Gather, 'Technology and the Anthology:  From Shellac to the Cloud'

Jake Faulkner, California Institute of the Arts, 'Re-envisioning America:  A Multimedia Homage to Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music

16:30 - 18.00 - Music - 'Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music at 60:  A Transatlantic Legacy' featuring performances by Rapunzel & Sedayne and Ewan D. Rodgers

The day was amazing and full of highlights:  Kurt Gegenhuber's enthusiastic presentation, punctuated by repeated exclamations of "What are you gonna do with that cow?  Improvise, Frankie!"; learning about the novels of William Gay, with whom I was not previously familiar and who I plan on reading ASAP; Paola Ferraro's fascinating discussion of the influence of American Folk Music on the new wave of American Death Metal; meeting Rani Singh and listening to her stories about Harry Smith's last years; meeting Jake Faulkner and hearing/seeing the incredible works of art he commissioned for his multimedia project (including an amazing black and white film set to "The Wild Wagoner" that seemed equally influenced by A Hard Day's Night and the cover to The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan); not to mention meeting some incredible people, listening to the free exchange of ideas through the medium of a shared passion, and hearing some truly inspired musical performances.

I must say that of all of the papers, mine was probably the least academic and least scholarly.  It was somewhat daunting to make my relatively simple observations about the Anthology and my experience blogging about it.  Nonetheless, it was an honor to speak on the same stage with all of the others and I was made to feel most welcome.  Many thanks to Ross and Thomas for putting this together.  It was truly the experience of a lifetime.  I would also like to thank everyone who presented.  It was a privilege to hear your ideas and to have an opportunity to speak with you.  Finally, I would like to thank those who attended.  It was a pleasure to meet so many fascinating people.  It was an experience I'll not soon forget.

In addition, I recently discovered that the Financial Times did an article on the conference and the Anthology and this blog got a mention.  Pretty cool!  Check it out...

Below are some videos featuring Rapunzel and Sedayne (aka Rachel McCarron and Sean Breadin) and Ewan D. Rodgers.