Stephen Wade, author of the recently released and critically acclaimed book “The Beautiful Music All Around Us: Field Recordings and the American Experience” will give a presentation and performance at the Salem Museum on Oct. 20, covering his extensive research into traditional American music, including local ballad singer Texas Gladden and her brother Hobart Smith.
“The Beautiful Music All Around Us” presents the extraordinarily rich backstories of thirteen performances captured on Library of Congress field recordings between 1934 and 1942. Included in those ground-breaking recordings by Allen Lomax were performances by Gladden of Salem and her brother Smith of Saltville, both of whom are still fondly remembered today by aficionados of traditional American music.
Musician, recording artist and writer Wade is best known for his long-running stage performances of “Banjo Dancing” and “On the Way Home.” He also produced and annotated the Rounder CD collection that gave rise to this book, “A Treasury of Library of Congress Field Recordings.” Since 1996 his occasional commentaries on folksongs and traditional tunes have appeared on National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered.” Wade lives in Hyattsville, Md.
An accomplished banjoist, Wade will perform during his presentation along with Lexington musician James Leva and his daughter Vivian Leva. The Levas “give tangible evidence of viable family tradition in music,” says Wade, “perhaps the deepest lesson that Hobart Smith and Texas Gladden gave us all.”
Wade’s fascinating book, which includes a CD of some of the music he’s preserved, will be for sale.
“Appalachian culture is one of the themes we’ve been tracking this year in our programming,” said Salem Museum director John Long. “So when we found out Stephen was available we jumped at the chance.”
The lecture and performance will be held in the Ritter Community Room of the Salem Museum at 1 p.m. at the Salem Museum on Oct. 20. No admission is charged.
The Salem Museum is located at 801 East Main Street in Salem, and is open Tuesday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday from noon to 5 p.m. No admission is charged for the Museum galleries.
Submitted by John Long, Salem Museum.