Music, mirth and memory

Actors dig up Arkansas past for area students

Posted: October 5, 2017 at 6:08 a.m.

NWA Democrat-Gazette/BECCA MARTIN-BROWN Jaddy Ciucci (from left), Jules Taylor and Joanna Bennett share the history of the Natural State in Digging Up Arkansas, produced by the Walton Arts Center and Trike Theatre. This performance took place at the Peel Mansion Museum in Bentonville, helping bring the total number of youngsters seeing this year’s tour to 3,613.

For me, learning was like finding gold.

NWA Democrat-Gazette/BECCA MARTIN-BROWN Jules Taylor explains how each crate on stage includes a chapter in Arkansas history.

Courtesy Photo Digging Up Arkansas was created eight years ago by playwright Mike Thomas (from left); Patricia Relph, arts learning specialist at the ...

NWA Democrat-Gazette/BECCA MARTIN-BROWN Bennett chats with students after a presentation of Digging Up Arkansas.

What’s Next?

Digging Up Arkansas has finished its run for this school year, but two more productions that are part of the Arkansas History Through the Arts program are on the calendar:

Down the Dirt Road Blues

When: 9:30 and 11:30 a.m. Jan. 24-26

Where: Starr Theater, Walton Arts Center, Fayetteville

About: Down the Dirt Road Blues tells the story of one song’s journey through American history and culture, with stops in Arkansas along the way. It begins with a melody carried in the heart of a man chained in the hold of a slave ship. Using era-appropriate instruments as accompaniment, blues artist Spencer Bohren moves the African melody from Delta cotton fields to urban Memphis, Tenn., and on to the Appalachian mountains, the studios of Nashville, the genesis of the rock ‘n’ roll era, and the folk boom and British invasion of the 1960s.

Songs of the Ozarks: Old Time/New Time

When: 10 a.m. Jan. 19

Where: Faulkner Performing Arts Center, University of Arkansas

About: The majority of Ozark settlers hailed from the British Isles. They brought with them their musical traditions and lyrical language, the foundation of the Ozark dialect. Musicians Roy Pilgrim and Aviva Steigmeyer (Ozark Highballers) pay homage to this original Ozark sound, taking an historical approach to render traditional songs with authenticity and spirit. Donna and Kelly Mulhollan (Still on the Hill) use songs from the oral tradition as inspiration to create contemporary compositions that respect these musical roots while continuing to tell the history of the region and its people. Square dance caller Steve Green and eight dancers will join in the Ozark fun, showcasing traditional dance forms with student participation.

— Source: Walton Arts Center

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