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'Old-Time Music Gathering' Brings Appalachia to Lexington

by: Clark Bellar

(Feb. 3, 2015) — Lexington has long been a cultural hub of Kentucky, allowing artists from both rural and urban areas a unique opportunity to celebrate their work among a vibrant and diverse community. The first Lexington Old-Time Music Gathering will do just that, bringing an Appalachian experience to Lexington with traditional Appalachian music and art.

The Lexington Old-Time Music Gathering will run Feb. 12-15, with events occurring at different venues throughout Lexington.

Sponsors for the festival include WUKY, the University of Kentucky's community supported radio station, the UK Appalachian Center, part of the College of Arts and Sciences, and others who also strive to preserve Kentucky's cultural heritage.

"Kentucky has a very rich musical and dance heritage that is still being 'passed down' and has resurged in recent years," said Brett Ratliff, program director at event sponsor Hindman Settlement Group and organizer of the Lexington Old-Time Music Gathering.

A book signing by Susan Spalding for her book, "Appalachian Dance: Creativity and Continuity in Six Communities," will begin the festival Thursday, Feb. 12. The Morris Book Shop (882 E. High) will host the event from 4 to 6 p.m.

Al's Bar (601 S. Limestone) will host the kickoff party that evening from 7:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m., celebrating Kentucky's 10th annual I Love Mountains Day.

Event logoFeatured artists for this event include The Railsplitters, hailing from Colorado and playing a high-energy blend of Bluegrass with influences from pop, 1950s doo-wop and more. The Clack Mountain String Band will take the stage as well, drawing on the old-time folk and string music of the Eastern Kentucky mountains they call home. The Blind Corn Liquor Pickers will also perform, calling on traditional instruments as well as modern ones to create a fiery take on Bluegrass music. There will be performances from other bands as well.

On Friday, Feb. 13, ArtsPlace, located at 161 N. Mill Street, will host a concert and dance event. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., and the event will begin with a reception and an open jam session.

These jam sessions are a time for musicians to get together and collaborate, "…creating a space where those with the knowledge of older traditions as well as contemporary performers of the music have a chance to get together and share a tune or swap a story," said Ratliff.

At 8 p.m., The Tillers will perform a concert, blending their punk rock roots with traditional Appalachian folk songs. Rayna Gellert and Friends (known for her fiddle music) will follow at 9 p.m. The Friday Night Square Dance will close out the event from 10:30 to 11:30 p.m., called by Randy Wilson and Alex Udis with music performed by The Hog-Eyed Men.

On Saturday, Feb. 14, ArtsPlace will open its doors from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. for daytime events, sponsored by the UK Appalachian Center. This free event will comprise family-friendly activities, including singing and craft workshops for kids, family jam sessions, master showcases, party games, and more.

"Families can come from all over and enjoy music, art, and storytelling workshops and events through the day as a way of learning and sharing intergenerationally about the Appalachian region's contributions to Kentucky," said Ann Kingsolver, director of the Appalachian Center and Appalachian Studies program at UK.

By sponsoring this free day of events for the community in the midst of the Lexington Old-Time Music Gathering, the UK Appalachian Center hopes to further conversation across Kentucky’s communities.

Saturday Night Square Dancing will follow the daytime events, running from 7 to 11:20 p.m. A variety of callers and bands will lead the square dancing, including The Railsplitters, Empty Bottle String Band and more.

On Sunday, Feb. 15, Willie's Locally Known (805 N. Broadway road) will host a cabaret from 2 to 5 p.m. Following the cabaret, Windy Corner Market (4595 Bryan Station road) will host an Old-Time Jam from 6 to 8:30 p.m., with free admission.

Tickets are on sale now on Eventbrite. A $10 donation for the Thursday evening event is suggested. Friday and Saturday evening tickets are $15 for adults, and $10 for students. A weekend pass for all events is $25 for adults, and $20 for students. Admission is free for children under 12.

For more information on the Lexington Old-Time Music Gathering, visit For a complete schedule, click here.

The festival is sponsored by Hindman Settlement School, WUKY, the Kentucky Center for Traditional Music, Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, UK's Appalachian Center, Parlor Room Art and Tattoo, and Kentucky Old Time Music, Inc.

WUKY's roots are buried deep in UK's history, stemming from the university's first experiments with radio in the 1920s. The first university owned FM radio station in the country and the first public radio station in Kentucky, WUKY is supported by its listeners. Broadcasting a wide variety of news, sports and music genres, WUKY has long been a part of the university and Lexington.

The UK Appalachian Center’s mission is to strengthen collaboration between students and faculty across the colleges at UK and residents of the 54 Appalachian counties of Kentucky. The Appalachian Center facilitates service, educational and research partnerships with a commitment to address the region’s particular contributions and challenges in a global context.