Wednesday, November 30, 2016
Forum for Scholars and Publics (Old Chem 011)
12:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m.
Light lunch served for all attendees at 11:45 a.m.
Celebrated jazz pianist and composer Gerald Clayton, award-winning theater director Christopher McElroen, and UNC Folklore professor Glenn Hinson discuss the making of Gerald Clayton’s Piedmont Blues, in a conversation moderated by North Carolina Arts Council Executive Director Wayne Martin.
Piedmont Blues is a live concert presentation led by bandleader Gerald Clayton that explores the essence and impact of the Piedmont blues. The project features The Assembly — a nine-piece band led by Clayton and including vocalist René Marie and tap dancer Maurice Chestnut. The presentation has been conceived and developed by Clayton working in close collaboration with Christopher McElroen. Entwined throughout the live concert is an assemblage of projected film, new and archival photography, and folklore underscoring the verdant cultural landscape of the Piedmont region. Included amongst the footage are performances by some of the last of the living original Piedmont blues musicians: NEA National Heritage Fellow bluesman John Dee Holman, as well as Piedmont songsters Algia Mae Hinton and Boo Hanks (the latter passed in April 2016).
Taking its name from the Piedmont plateau region — the area that lies between the Atlantic Coastal Plain and the Appalachian Mountains from central Georgia to central Virginia centered in the Carolinas — the Piedmont blues is distinguished by its ragtime rhythms, fingerpicking guitar style, and understated vocals. The tobacco factories and warehouses of Durham, North Carolina — home to the American Tobacco Company (the world’s largest cigarette manufacturer) — were the epicenter for the Piedmont blues — the landscape from which the music was invented.
Clayton's Piedmont Blues premieres Friday, December 2 and Saturday, December 3 at Reynolds Industries Theater on Duke's West Campus. Info below and tickets available here.
A part of the Talking Music: Conversations with Scholars, Writers, Archivists, and Artists, co-sponsored by Duke Performances and the Forum for Scholars & Publics.
Duke Performances | Duke University is the lead commissioner of Piedmont Blues; co-commissioners include the Modlin Center for the Arts at University of Richmond, the Savannah Music Festival & Strathmore. Critical support for Piedmont Blues has been provided by the Music Maker Relief Foundation — a nonprofit based in Hillsborough, NC — founded to preserve the musical traditions of the South by directly supporting musicians, ensuring that their voices will not be silenced by poverty & time. Made possible, in part, with an award from the National Endowment for the Arts; a grant from the N.C. Arts Council, a division of the Department of Natural & Cultural Resources; and a grant from New Music USA.