2009-03-26 / Entertainment

Berkeley Springs Exhibit Tells American Musical Story

Ice House hosts Smithsonian traveling exhibition

New Harmonies, a Smithsonian exhibit celebrating American roots music, opens at the Ice House in Berkeley Springs with a gala reception on Saturday, April 11, at 7:30 p.m. and remains on display through May 22.

"We'll have the exhibit open to the public during regular Ice House Gallery hours every weekend," says Mary Hott, executive director of the Morgan Arts Council. "We are also arranging school and group tours during the week by appointment." Trained docents are available for the tours.

The exhibit is a collaborative project of the Morgan Arts Council and the Morgan County Public Library with assistance from the Morgan Messenger. It is made possible by the West Virginia Humanities Council.

New Harmonies is the sixth Museum on Main Street traveling exhibition produced by the Smithsonian Institution. It tells the American musical story through seven major kiosks displaying photographs, instruments, lyrics and artist profiles. There is also a listening station for the music. The exhibition explores the work of well-known folk, gospel, country and blues artists who have inspired generations of musicians, like Ma Rainey, B.B. King, Jimmie Rodgers, the Carter Family, Mahalia Jackson, Woody Guthrie and Joan Baez. It captures the spirit of musical styles that are at the heart of local heritage in the United States - Tejano, zydeco, polka, Cajun, conjunto and klezmer - giving Americans a soundtrack and a voice for their stories.

The main beat of the Smithsonian exhibition is the ongoing cultural process that has made America the birthplace of more music than any place on earth. The exhibition provides a fascinating, inspiring and toe-tapping listen to the American story of multi-cultural exchange. The story is full of surprises about familiar songs, histories of instruments, the roles of religion and technology, and the continuity of musical roots from "Yankee Doodle Dandy" to the latest hip hop CD.

According to Hott, several concert opportunities are scheduled to deepen the impact for people, including an evening of Gershwin played the way he would have, a gospel weekend, a talk with rare recordings of West Virginia jazz and a big band tribute to Glenn Miller.

The yearlong Back To Our Roots celebration that has grown from the exhibit is funded in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, WV Commission on the Arts, WV Humanities Council and hotel/motel tax funds from Morgan County and Bath.

For a full schedule of Back To Our Roots activities, visit www.macicehouse.org or call 304-258-2300. The Ice House is located at Independence and Mercer in downtown Berkeley Springs.

New Harmonies Schedule:

Saturday, April 11 - 7:30 p.m. Gala opening New Harmonies exhibition @ the Ice House. Sponsored by: CNB, Kesecker Realty and War Memorial Hospital.

Wednesday, April 15 - 7 p.m Roots Music Film Series: I'm Not There - The Bob Dylan Story. Film at the Ice House; discussion to follow at Fairfax Coffee House, sponsor of the film series.

Saturday, April 18 - 7:30 p.m Concert and talk: pianist and narrator Bill Messenger and tenor Alan Gephardt present the music of George Gershwin as he would have played it at the Ice House.

Saturday and Sunday, April 25 and 26 - gospel music weekend with workshops and performances by Eric Byrd, the Mc- Daniel College Choir and local choir members. Sunday 3 p.m. performance at Berkeley Springs High School auditorium. Sponsored by Morgan Sanitation.

Friday, May 1 - 7:30 p.m. Gala opening Delectable Mountains Quilt Show and Sale at the Ice House. Show hangs though June 7.

Saturday, May 9 - 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, May 10 - 3 p.m. Piecework - staged readings of locally written plays with quilting themes at the Ice House.

Wednesday, May 20 - 7 pm. Roots Music Film Series: Walk the Line - Johnny Cash and June Carter. Film at the Ice House; discussion to follow at Fairfax Coffee House, sponsor of the film series.

Saturday, May 23 - 3 p.m. Lecture: Jazz History with Dr. Chris Wilkerson, WVU at the Ice House

7:30pm. Dance and concert. Tri-State Big Band plays Glenn Miller at the Country Inn.

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