Bluegrass Festival Evening

The University of Dayton will host a Bluegrass Festival Evening at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 20, at the Kennedy Union ballroom. The event is hosted by adjunct faculty member and bluegrass historian Fred Bartenstein. The evening will feature the local bluegrass group Joe Mullins and the Radio Ramblers, the Centerville High School Alternative Strings and the University's own World Music Choir. The free event is open to the public, with limited seating available. Doors open at 7 p.m.

Bartenstein teaches American roots music courses on country and bluegrass in the department of music. He has written or edited four books about the history of bluegrass, including Bluegrass Bluesman and The Bluegrass Hall of Fame. They will be available for sale and signing at the event, along with the recordings by Joe Mullins and the Radio Ramblers.

Mullins has a locally syndicated radio show and performs nationally with the Radio Ramblers.

"Bluegrass music is not the same genre as country music," said Sharon Gratto, Graul Endowed Chair in Arts and Languages, who organized the event. "It is an American tradition of acoustic music that utilizes the mandolin, banjo and fiddle."

Gratto, former chair of the department of music, also founded and directs the University's World Music Choir. The 23-student group will perform two classic bluegrass selections: Poor Wayfaring Stranger and Calling my Children Home.

The Centerville, Ohio, Public Schools provide traditional string instruction from the elementary grades through high school. In addition, alternative string instruction is available that focuses on Celtic, jazz, and bluegrass styles and instrumentation.

"The southwestern area of Ohio and Dayton specifically was to bluegrass between the 1940s and 1980s as Chicago was to the blues," Bartenstein said. "This was one of the most important places in the world for bluegrass to grow and develop. The Dayton area had nationally known bluegrass acts based here, record labels and radio programs. This was a very important caldron for bluegrass migrating from the hills and rural areas into the cities and ultimately the future."

- Aaron Alford, communication assistant, College of Arts and Sciences

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