Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Re-Reedy at ASA: Appalachian Music, Migration, & Memory Revisited

We had a whirlwind trip to Indiana, Pennsylvania, which is about an hour northeast of Pittsburgh and the farthest north the Appalachian Studies conference has ever been.  We enjoyed traveling with our ever-trusty and always fun travel companion Banjo Deborah, though we were all a little stressed out by the long trip, and neither Timi or I were feeling well that weekend.

Our multi-media presentation, "Re-Reedy: Appalachian Music, Migration, and Memory," which built on our 2010 ASA presentation, focused on (1) the findings from our Family Research Fellowship at the Kentucky Historical Society about Frances and John Reedy's early career in Harlan, Kentucky; (2) the commercial and home recordings they produced in Cincinnati and Dayton, Ohio during their migration cycles; and (3) video footage of Harold Reedy and his memories of his parents' music and migration.

We experienced some frustrating technical difficulties at the beginning of the presentation, but a helpful volunteer was able to get the system to cooperate finally.  Fortunately, we had a full hour for our presentation, otherwise the technical challenges would have consumed the time allotted for a typical paper presentation.  Our audience was small (about eight people), but they were all very patient and highly knowledgeable about the Reedys' musical era and migration area.  So we had a great discussion with these folks that extended well into the lunch hour!

We used the documentary blog for presenting our fellowship research on the Reedys' early performances in Harlan, and we also played Frances' version of "Oh Death," which she and John custom recorded as a 45 rpm record when they were living in Dayton.  We concluded by sharing some of the footage we shot during Harold's visits when he was staying with us regularly.  It was difficult to talk about the shifting landscape of his memory, but it was good to share his remembrance and love of Frances and John's music as well as our story about caring for a loved one.

In honor of Harold's role in this ongoing project and process, we have posted a brief  footage segment from one of his visits to our home.  The soundtrack is the "Song Title Medley," improvised and sung by his father John Reedy and digitized from a reel-to-reel home recording circa the 1960's.