The Arts Alliance Mountain Empire (AAME) Public Speaker Series, in cooperation with the Birthplace of Country Music Museum, will host two events coming to the museum in November and December. The first in the series, An Evening of Song and Story with Jack Beck and Wendy Welch, takes place on Tuesday, November 7 at 7:00 p.m. in the Performance Theater at the museum.
Scots balladeer Jack Beck (a native of Dunfermline in Scotland) is an honorary life member of the Traditional Music and Song Association of Scotland and was external examiner in Scots Song for the Degree programme in Scots Music Performance at the prestigious Royal Conservatoire in Glasgow.
Wendy Beck is a storyteller who founded the American Folklore Society’s Storytelling Section and was the former branch secretary of the Traditional Music and Song Association of Scotland. Her best-selling memoir The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap: A Memoir of Friendship, Community, and the Uncommon Pleasure of a Good Book is now in its fourth printing.
A recent venture for Jack and Wendy is an “infotainment” called “Stranger in This Country” in which Jack and Wendy examine Scots and American versions of the same songs and ballads. This has been performed both in Scotland—twice at the Celtic Connections Festival—and in the United States from South Carolina to New York and all points in between.
The second event in the series—featuring excerpts from The Book of Mamaw by Eugene Wolf—will take place on Tuesday, December 5. Eugene Wolf has been performing since he was two years old, when he won his first talent contest at the Capitol Theatre in Greeneville, Tennessee. Wolf studied music and theater at the University of Tennessee and worked for The Road Company, a professional acting ensemble in Johnson City, Tennessee, which was the first group of American artists to visit Bashkiria, Russia in 1994.
Many will recognize Wolf as one half of The Brother Boys, a critically acclaimed duo he and Ed Snodderly formed over 30 years ago. The Brother Boys are featured on the album On Top of Old Smoky: New Old-time Smoky Mountain Music alongside Dolly Parton. On November 9 at 7:00 p.m. the duo will perform on the bill with Nitty Gritty Dirt Band founder John McEuen to a sold-out crowd at Radio Bristol’s Farm and Fun Time live variety show. Listeners may tune into the program on 100.1 FM in the Bristol area or stream the event live online at ListenRadioBristol.org or through Radio Bristol’s free mobile app.
For two decades Wolf has been a member of the Acting Company of Barter Theatre where he originated the role of A. P. Carter in the play Keep On the Sunny Side. In 2013 he traveled again to Russia to collaborate with Russian musicians on American spirituals and recorded a CD, Where We’ll Never Grow Old. Wolf has adapted his years of songs, photographs, and musings into a heartfelt, hilarious, one-man show paying homage to the person who has influenced his life the most, his Mamaw.
The public speaker series events at the museum on November 7 and December 5 are free and open to the public; doors open at 6:30 p.m. For more information on the Arts Alliance Mountain Empire Public Speaker Series visit aamearts.org. For more information about events coming up at the Birthplace of Country Music Museum, click here.