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May 12, 2009

America's Music Series takes audiences on an audio journey

There are some musical styles and instruments, like the banjo, bluegrass and gospel, that are thought of as essential features of American folk music. While it is true that America’s folk music tradition reaches back to colonial times, these instruments and genres originally came from other shores and landed in New England and Appalachia with the colonists. This spring and summer, a wide variety of performers will showcase the history of our music during America’s Music Series at the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum.

Carson Hudson’s program promises a raucous, fun time. Whoop & Holler: The Evolution of the Banjo will chronicle the history of this lively instrument from its origins as a slave instrument fashioned out of gourds, to its current standing as a core feature of bluegrass and American country music. See him perform on May 19, June 30, July 14, Aug. 4, Sept. 1 and Oct. 6.

Many genres are influenced by traditional song and dance from different countries within the United Kingdom. John Turner’s program takes audiences to Great Britain to explore The Influence of Scottish Fiddle Music. Turner, a 10-time winner of the U.S. National Scottish Fiddling Championship, will perform May 26, June 9, July 7, Aug. 11, Sept. 22 and Oct. 13.

The hammered dulcimer is a staple of American folk music, especially in the Appalachian region, yet versions of the instrument are found in Western and Eastern Europe, the Middle East, the Far East, Central and South America. Timothy Seaman examines the extensive history and versatile nature of the instrument in Hammered Dulcimers and Other Instruments. Seaman uses his music to take listeners to different historical periods and geographical regions. His program features the hammered dulcimer, a large collection of flutes and whistles, psalteries (a stringed instrument related to the harp), mountain dulcimer and percussion. Seaman joins America’s Music Series on June 16, July 28, Aug. 18, Sept. 29 and Oct. 27.

Dean Shostak is known in Colonial Williamsburg as a master of glass instruments and can be seen often throughout the year performing his Crystal Concert repertoire at the Kimball Theatre. But Shostak actually began his career at the age of 14 performing string instruments, including the violin, the fiddle and the hurdy-gurdy. On June 23, July 21, Aug. 25, Sept. 15 and Oct. 20, he shows this dimension of his musical talent with the program Fiddleworks: Influences from Around the World. Listen as he returns to his own musical roots, and introduces audiences to the fiddle’s origins in America.

Kelly Kennedy will perform Irish Influences in Song and Dance on Sept. 8. A noted vocalist, instrumentalist, actor, folk artist and dancer, Kennedy has been performing at Colonial Williamsburg since 1995. In addition she has appeared at The Kennedy Center, Theatre Virginia and is currently starring in “Steel Magnolias” at the Liberty Theatre in Hailey, Idaho.

All performances are Tuesdays at 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. at the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum. A Colonial Williamsburg admission ticket or Good Neighbor Card provides admission to the programs, but a free reservation is required.

Programs and exhibitions at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation’s DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum are supported by the DeWitt Wallace Endowment Fund.
Entrance to Colonial Williamsburg Art Museums is through the Public Hospital of 1773 at 326 W. Francis St. For information call (757) 220-7724.

Established in 1926, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is the not-for-profit educational institution that preserves and operates the restored 18th-century Revolutionary capital of Virginia as a town-sized living history museum, telling the inspirational stories of our nation’s founding men and women. Within the restored and reconstructed buildings, historic interpreters, attired as colonial men and women from slaves to shopkeepers to soldiers, relate stories of colonial Virginia society and culture – stories of our journey to become Americans – while historic trades people research, demonstrate and preserve the 18th-century world of work and industry. As Colonial Williamsburg interprets life in the time of the American Revolution guests interact with history through “Revolutionary City®” – a dramatic live street theater presentation.

Williamsburg is located in Virginia’s Tidewater region, 20 minutes from Newport News, within an hour’s drive of Richmond and Norfolk, and 150 miles south of Washington, D.C., off Interstate 64. For more information about Colonial Williamsburg, call 1-800-HISTORY or visit Colonial Williamsburg’s Web site at

Media Contact:
Penna Rogers
(757) 220-7121