Monday, October 29, 2012

Al Wall - a consumate musician

South Carolina musician Al Wall passed away this past August.  Wall began playing hillbilly and “old-time” music before it was dubbed bluegrass. He was one of eleven children in a family he described as not very musically oriented. As a teen, he cut his teeth during radio-sponsored music competitions. In 1941, he and his band won an amateur contest that launched his professional career. Wall served in the Navy during World War II, and entertained the troops while benefiting from exposure to other musicians. “I gained great inspiration from my father,” recalled Wall. “The initial learning process was provided by my neighborhood friends.”
Wall adopted bluegrass, a postwar hybrid of Appalachian vocal and instrumental traditional music, as his preferred genre before the term was coined. In 1996, Wall told a reporter from the Charleston Post and Courier, “in those days, there wasn’t bluegrass and there wasn’t country. It was hillbilly music.”  A retired dairy industry executive with accounting and economics degrees, Wall pursued his music in his off-hours. He  became a vocal and tireless supporter of traditional music in South Carolina, writing about bluegrass and western swing for magazines, and authored two unpublished manuscripts on bluegrass.   Bluegrass is as uniquely American as blues and jazz. Wall produced “a laudable celebration of American folk music… I respectfully call my craft ‘America’s blue collar soul music,’ a term which I believe more than adequately describes the assortment of old country sounds, blended into a single identity.”

Wall played with legends like Pappy Sherrill and Chet Atkins and was a member of the Rythym Aristocrats, a pioneering old-time country band headed by Fisher Hendley in the 1930s and 40s. Wall continued to produce western swing, country, bluegrass and gospel offerings at a variety of venues, including the annual “Breath of Spring Music Festival” at Cypress Gardens, South Carolina. Wall received the Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award in 2001.


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Finally back online.....

Greetings from the Folklife Resource Center (FRC) at McKissick Museum!  Finally worked some bugs out of the system and we are now back to the blogoshere.  So many projects to talk about, so little time!  Let's begin here:

The Folklife program partnered with the South Carolina Arts Commission in 2011 to continue the first county-wide traditional arts survey project conducted in SC.  While we have conducted focused fieldwork efforts in counties throughout the state in the past, we have never embarked on a comprehensive, 46 county survey.  Exciting!  We are meeting an amazing variety of traditions so far - a Burundi Gospel choir, a Cambodian roneat player, Burmese dance and song, white oak basketry - and we've only just begun!

Make sure you visit on a regular basis for periodic updates.

Kiln sale of SC potter Linda Green. 2011  Spartanburg, County.