Arts & Culture

Ron Pen to Talk John Jacob Niles, Dulcimers at Frazier Museum

photo of poster of Ron Pen lecture on dulcimers and John Jacob Niles at Frazier Museum
Ron Pen, director of UK's John Jacob Niles Center for American Music, will share his expertise on dulcimers and celebrated songwriter and balladeer John Jacob Niles at the Frazier History Museum 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 7.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Feb. 6, 2017) Ron Pen, director of the University of Kentucky's John Jacob Niles Center for American Music, will share his expertise on dulcimers and celebrated songwriter and balladeer John Jacob Niles at the Frazier History Museum. "Music of the Bluegrass: John Jacob Niles and the Art of the Dulcimer" will begin 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 7, at the Louisville museum, located at 829 Main St.

John Jacob Niles is considered one of our nation's most influential musicians. The Kentucky native is called the "Dean of American Balladeers" and Niles' dedication to the folk music tradition lives on in generations of folk revival artists such as Bob Dylan, Jean Ritchie, Joan Baez and Oscar Brand. As a composer and balladeer, Niles drew inspiration from the deep well of traditional Appalachian and African-American folk songs. Niles’ collection of dulcimers from luthiers of the southern Appalachian Mountains reflects a specific American aesthetic.

Ron Pen's talk on dulcimers, Niles' favored instrument, is $10 for the public (including admission to the museum) and free for Frazier Museum members. As seating is limited for the lecture, members are asked to RSVP here. Doors will open for this lecture at 6 p.m.

A musicology professor at the School of Music in the UK College of Fine Arts and director of the Niles Center, Pen is considered an expert in early folk music, including traditional, country and bluegrass styles. Pen wrote the first full-length biography of Niles, "I Wonder as I Wander: The Life of John Jacob Niles," published by University Press of Kentucky. The book explores Niles’ career, not only illuminating his influence on the American cultural landscape, but also illustrating the country’s musical development, ranging from rural folk roots to World War I songs and from the burgeoning American art song tradition to the folk revival. Pen conducted extensive research over a period of 27 years, using Niles’ own accounts, journals, notebooks and unpublished autobiography to create a comprehensive narrative of the noted musician’s life.

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