Jenny Wells

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College: Undergraduate Education

UK Professor Ron Pen to Deliver Chellgren Lecture

Published: Feb 24, 2014

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Feb. 24, 2014) — Tomorrow, the University of Kentucky Chellgren Center for Undergraduate Excellence is hosting a lecture by Ron Pen, professor in the UK College of Fine Arts, as part of its Chellgren Seminar Series. Pen, who is director of the John Jacob Niles Center for American Music, will deliver the talk "That's the Boney Part: An Appalachian Fiddle Tune Goes Viral" at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 25, in the William T. Young Library auditorium. A reception will follow the talk. 

 

About the talk
The scene: a crowded airport terminal in Orlando International Airport. The family of John and
Becky Arnett of West Liberty, Ky. are flying back home after a few days spent at Disney World. There is the underlying drone of sound: flight arrival announcements, conversations, televisions, treadways, rolling suitcases, and above it all, the muzak. Becky Arnett grabbed her husband’s arm and said “John, can’t you hear it? That’s Grandpa. That’s Grandpa.”
 
Grandpa was fiddler William Hamilton Stepp, born in a cave in Lee County, Ky. in 1875. When celebrated folk music documentarian Alan Lomax recorded Stepp for the Library of Congress in 1937, he set in motion a parade of events that caused the fiddle tune “Bonaparte’s Retreat” to go viral. This is the story of how Aaron Copland; the ballet Rodeo; Willie Nelson; Bela Fleck; the Library of Congress; pop chanteuse Kay Starr; Spike Lee; Pee Wee King and many others all intersect at a limestone cave in Kentucky. This is the story of “That’s the boney part.”

  

Pen's ongoing scholarship includes publication of "I Wonder As I Wander: The Life of John Jacob Niles" (University Press of Kentucky, 2010), and research on the history of old time music and early folk music collections. Pen is also the recipient of both the UK Great Teacher Award and the Provost's Award for Excellence in Teaching.

 

The purpose of the Chellgren Seminar Series is to contribute to the intellectual aspects of the undergraduate experience by inviting eminent scholars to deliver brief, provocative presentations on issues that expand our thinking and imagination.

 

The Chellgren Seminar Series is supported by The Chellgren Center which is part of the Academy of Undergraduate Excellence within the Division of Undergraduate Education at UK.

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