Coastal Carolina University film series traces the origins of American music

For Weekly SurgeJanuary 22, 2014 

Are you looking for a badass way to spend a Monday night on the cheap? Starting next Monday (Jan. 27), Coastal Carolina University begins “America’s Music: A Film History of Our Popular Music from Blues to Bluegrass to Broadway” – a six-session series that chronicles genres of music that can be defined as distinctively American. And it’s all free.

“We are taking the music to the people,” says Patti Edwards, director of the series and a professor of music at CCU. “Most of us have grown up surrounded by American music. This music has impacted our daily lives and affected our moods.”

Blues, gospel, Broadway, jazz, swing, bluegrass, country, rock -‘n’- roll, mambo and hip-hop will all be examined and discussed during the series, which will run from 7 to 9 p.m. on selected Mondays until April 21.

Each session will be held in the Johnson Auditorium on the CCU campus and will feature a documentary film focusing on specific musical genres. After the films, there will be a discussion led by CCU music professor Amy Tully.

“Amy Tully is our project scholar,” says Edwards. “She’s not only a music history professor at CCU. She’s also a well-known performer in our community.” Tully will take questions from the audience and ask planned questions that should develop a conversation about the individual films. All of the sessions will be capped off with a brief live performance of the particular musical style that was presented in the films.

“Audience members will be encouraged to attend related concerts and performances at CCU that will occur during the two weeks following each session,” says Edwards. But there is no need to stress if you happen to miss a session or two. “We’ll also be offering each film separately through the Horry County Library systems,” says Edwards.

You also get the opportunity to learn the history behind the music and how it’s been assimilated into American culture. “We feel blessed to be one of the 50 sites chosen in the country for this program by Tribeca Flashpoint and the Society for American Music,” says Edwards.

Edwards tells us that she learned quite a bit just in the preparation phase for this program. “All of the films are amazing in their own way,” says Edwards. “Plus, hearing from a skilled music scholar like Amy, and being able to enjoy the mini-performances will hopefully bring a great crowd of music lovers to as many sessions as possible.”

The Johnson Auditorium is at 119 Chanticleer Drive East in the Wall College of Business, on CCU’s Conway Campus, between U.S. 501 and S.C. 544.

The schedule rundown goes like this:

Session One | Blues and Gospel

When | 7 to 9 p.m. Monday

Featured Films | “Martin Scorsese Presents the Blues: Episode 1, Feel Like Going Home” and “Say Amen, Somebody”

Why You Should Watch | A healthy dose of Delta blues with performances by some of the blues’ best – John Lee Hooker, Son House, Taj Mahal, Muddy Waters and Keb’ Mo’. “Say Amen, Somebody” is filled with every shape, size and type of gospel music.

Session Two | Broadway and Tin Pan Alley

When | 7 to 9 p.m., Feb. 10

Featured Films | “Broadway: The American Musical, Episode 2: Syncopated City (1919-1933)”

Why You Should Watch | This film takes a look at how Broadway musicals were a reaction to the tumultuous and roaring ’20s in America.

Session Three | Swing and Jazz

When | 7 to 9 p.m., Feb. 24

Featured Films | “Ken Burns’ Jazz: Episode 6: Swing: The Velocity of Celebration” and “International Sweethearts of Rhythm”

Why You Should Watch | Burns’ film shows the transformation of jazz from 1937 to 1939 – Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald, Savoy Ballroom and the Kansas City Swing. “The International Sweethearts of Rhythm” is a film about the first integrated all-female band in 1940s America.

Session Four | Country and Bluegrass

When | 7 to 9 p.m., March 24

Featured Films | “High Lonesome: The Story of Bluegrass Music”

Why You Should Watch | A must-see for bluegrass fans – it’s an expansive look at the form’s origins and its evolution.

Session Five | Latin Rhythms from Mambo to Hip-Hop

When | 7 to 9 p.m., April 7

Featured Films | “Latin Music USA, Episode 1: Bridges” and “From Mambo to Hip-Hop: A South Bronx Tale”

Why You Should Watch | See Latin music mambo and cha-cha-cha across the states. Then, watch mambo morph into the salsa and learn how hip-hop gathers strength from desperation.

Session Six | Rock

When | 7 to 9 p.m., April 21

Featured Films | “The History of Rock ‘n’ Roll: Episode 6, Plugging In”

Why You Should Watch | The ‘60s and the hum of amps – this flick handles rock developing into an electric art-form that got louder and stranger.

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