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Hamilton Folk Musicians Converge in N.C. Mountains


A Hamilton student, alumnus and professor with a shared interest in the “Ithaca style” of music gathered this summer to enjoy their craft.

Over the summer Jake Blount ’17 and Professor of Music Lydia Hamessley collaborated on an Emerson Grant titled “Fiddles of the North Country: Uncovering the Ithaca Sound.” Blount describes the Ithaca Sound as “among the most distinctive contemporary Old-Time traditions.”  He spent the summer interviewing musicians who were the “creators and carriers of the Ithaca Sound” as well as learning the fiddle style himself.  Blount will present a performance of fiddle tunes in the Ithaca style during the fall semester, and he also plans to publish his research.

In July Blount and Hamessley traveled to North Carolina to attend the Swannanoa Gathering outside Asheville, N.C., during Old-Time Week.  This series of traditional music and dance workshops is coordinated by Phil Jamison ’76.  Blount, Hamessley and Jamison met to play and dance to “Cluck Old Hen,” with Blount playing the fiddle in the Ithaca style. See the video here.

Jamison teaches mathematics and Appalachian music at Warren Wilson College which hosts the Swannanoa Gathering, and he is the author of the recently-released book, Hoedowns, Reels, and Frolics: Roots and Branches of Southern Appalachian Dance (Illinois University Press, 2015).

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