Arts & Culture

Traditional, Celtic and Bluegrass Music to Fill Niles Gallery


LEXINGTON, Ky. (Nov. 4, 2011) − The John Jacob Niles Center for American Music presents two concerts next week as part of its "Appalachia in the Bluegrass" concert series. The week kicks off with a concert featuring traditional and Celtic folk musicians Aubrey Atwater and Elwood Donnelly at noon Monday, Nov. 7. The week culminates with a bluegrass concert featuring Al White and the Berea College Bluegrass Ensemble at noon Friday, Nov. 11. Both concerts, which are free and open to the public, will be presented in the Niles Gallery, located in University of Kentucky's Lucille C. Little Fine Arts Library and Learning Center

Couple to Play Traditional and Celtic Music at UK

The highly acclaimed husband-wife duo, Elwood Donnelly and Aubrey Atwater, are known for their programs of traditional American and Celtic folk songs, a capella pieces, old-time gospel songs, dance tunes and original works. Donnelly and Atwater blend unusual harmonies with guitar, Appalachian mountain dulcimer, mandolin, tin whistle, harmonica, banjo, bones, spoons, limberjacks and other surprises including Appalachian clog dancing, French Canadian footwork and tap.

The couple met as volunteers at the Stone Soup Coffeehouse near Providence, R.I., in

early 1987. Within just a few months the self-taught musicians formed a duo. Married since 1989, Atwater and Donnelly perform throughout the United States and abroad. Their 10 recordings have received international airplay. Highlights include airplay on National Public Radio's "All Things Considered," Fiona Ritchie's "Thistle and Shamrock" and the nationally syndicated "Midnight Special" out of Chicago.

Atwater and Donnelly have performed and researched traditional folk music and dance in Appalachia, the Ozarks, New England and other key places in the United States, as

well as Ireland, England and Prince Edward Island. The duo has performed with or shared festival billing with folk legends Jean Ritchie, Pete Seeger and Doc Watson.

To listen to samples of music from Atwater and Donnelly's 30 year career featured on the recent CD, "Each Other's Story," visit the couple's website online at

Berea College Ensemble Brings Bluegrass to Campus

The Berea College Bluegrass Ensemble was founded in the fall of 1999 to give Berea College students with backgrounds or potential in bluegrass music an opportunity to play in a bluegrass band with weekly rehearsals, performances and travel. The group's founder, Al White, has performed professionally with many bluegrass bands including the Bluegrass Alliance and the McLain Family Band, and teaches Appalachian instruments at Berea College.

Members of the ensemble are selected by audition, and typically remain with the group

until they graduate from Berea College. Members also earn academic credit for each semester of participation in the group. The band's recent tour of Japan marked its second visit there, the first being in 2006. The Berea College Bluegrass Ensemble also toured Ireland in 2004 and 2007.

The bluegrass group performs for many functions at Berea College and has also performed at the John C. Campbell Folk School in North Carolina and at East Tennessee State University. Their newest CD, "Live," recorded at Grey Auditorium at Berea College, was recently released.

To check out a video of the Berea College Bluegrass Ensemble performing Edd Wheeler's "Let the Mountains Roll, visit YouTube at:

The annual "Appalachia in the Bluegrass" concert series, presented by the John Jacob Niles Center for American Music, explores and celebrates traditional music of the Appalachian region. A variety of traditional Appalachian music has been represented through the past few years; from old time sounds of a mountain banjo player to blues-infused styles of music. This year's concert series focuses on different types of American folk music celebrating its roots in old-time music. The Niles Center is a collaborative research and performance center of the UK College of Fine Arts, UK School of Music and UK Libraries.

This year's concert series is sponsored by the Office of the Provost, the Niles Center and the Appalachian Studies Program.

For more information on these or other "Appalachia in the Bluegrass" concerts, contact Ron Pen, director of the Niles Center by email to or visit

MEDIA CONTACT: Whitney Hale, (859) 257-8716 or