Appalachian-style musicians coming to ECU

By Jamitress Bowden and Kathryn Kennedy
ECU News Services

Two multi-talented musicians will perform traditional Appalachian-style music for the East Carolina University community and the public Feb. 10-12.

James Leva and Riley Baugus will host an open class on Appalachian culture from 2-3:15 p.m. Monday, Feb. 10 in Fletcher Recital Hall, room B136. They’ll then present “African American Banjo & Fiddle Artists: Musicians & Music” from 7-9 p.m. that evening in the Fletcher Recital Hall.

On Tuesday, Feb. 11, they’ll host two sessions at the Tipsy Teapot, 409 S. Evans St. The topics are “Round Peak Reflections: Tommy Jarrell and Old-Time Music” from 3-4 p.m. and “Rural Sacred Music: Styles & Songs” from 7-9 p.m.

Their residency will conclude with another open class from 2-3:15 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 12 in Fletcher B136.

“James and Riley are just incredibly gifted and engaging performers and speakers, with a great deal of experience in all kinds of formal and informal settings,” said Marc Faris, assistant professor of music theory in the ECU School of Music.

“If you’re curious about the roots of American folk and popular music; if you’re interested in learning about the musical traditions of rural religious communities; or if you’re simply looking to expand your musical horizons in unexpected ways, these events are certain to be of interest.”

Their residency is part of an Honors College seminar on “Appalachian Culture,” co-taught by Faris and Leanne Smith, assistant professor in ECU’s Department of English. The seminar focuses on many aspects of the Appalachian culture, including the origin of common stereotypes associated with Appalachia.

“The content in the class will be similar to the evening performances, but we’ll have more time for questions and answer interaction with the artists,” Smith said.

James Leva developed his fiddle and banjo skills at the feet of traditional Appalachian musicians such as Tommy Jarrell and Doug Wallin. Through exploration of the African history rooted in Appalachian music, Leva also worked with Joe Thompson, a traditional African-American fiddler.

Riley Baugus began playing the banjo at a young age and later switched to the fiddle. He grew up in the Baptist community will perform music styles traditional to that community.

The artist residency is sponsored by the ECU Fine Arts Funding Board, Folk Arts Society of Greenville and the ECU Student Forum for Musical Organizations.