New Harmonies: Exploring American Roots Music

Thirty-four Idaho teachers attended the Idaho Humanities Council’s 2007 weeklong summer instit ute, titled New Harmonies:  Exploring American Roots Music.  Held July 15-21 at Albertson College of Idaho in Caldwell, and supported in part by grants from the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities “We the People” program, the institute featured lectures and performances by scholars, musicians, and other presenters from across the country.

The institute included daily presentations by scholars and musicians examining the history of roots music and the cultural process that made America the birthplace of more music than any other place on earth.  The week immersed teachers of all disciplines in the study of music and its unique place in America’s culture and identity.

The team of scholars leading discussion throughout the week included Western Folklife Center folklorist Hal Cannon (Salt Lake City, UT);

former Library of Congress Folklife Center folklorist and fiddler Alan Jabbour, (Washington, D.C.); music journalist, blues scholar, and prolific author Robert Santelli (Los Angeles, CA); and Idaho folksinger and Grammy Award-nominee Rosalie Sorrels (Boise).

Evening presentations were open to the public and included a variety of musical performances.  Spider John Koerner opened the week with Blues, Rags, and Hollers.  The next night featured an Evening with Alan Jabbour, Hal Cannon, Rosalie Sorrels, Dave Daley and Gary Shue.  David Romtvedt, a Wyoming accordion musician, performed Some American Traditional Musics, exploring Cajun, Tejano, and Basque accordion music on Tuesday.  Traditional Folk Music of New México was presented by La Familia Vigil on Thursday.  Cipriano Vigil, Sr., Felicity Piñon and Cipriano Vigil, Jr. performed the ritual and traditional folk music of New México in addition to “La Nueva Canción Nuevomejicana.”  Wild Coyotes, a bluegrass band from Pocatello, gave the concluding concert.