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Paul Brown Teaches Breaking Up Christmas

Wednesday, December 7, 2022 @ 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
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Breaking Up Christmas is a wonderful repertoire standard tune and song in parts of northwest North Carolina and southwest Virginia. Straightforward in structure, it offers great learning opportunities for fiddlers interested in style, phrasing, bowing – and history. The tune refers to the tradition of moveable holiday-season parties in Appalachian communities.

In our workshop, we’ll explore two or three interesting approaches to this tune as it evolved from the playing of Tommy Jarrell to Fred Cockerham, Benton Flippen, and early bluegrass players including Benny Jarrell. The workshop will be paced to intermediate level and above, but beginners are welcome too.
Everyone can learn something in our no-pressure, friendly environment. Tune your fiddle in the old open-A tuning of EAEA for starters, and we’ll see you online!

For more on the Breaking Up Christmas tradition, check out this episode of Paul Brown’s radio show “Across the Blue Ridge.”

For more on the Round Peak, North Carolina musicians whose versions of the tune helped make it famous, read Ray Alden’s article in Sing Out! magazine.

Paul Brown is an award-winning musician and journalist who’s been involved with traditional music since childhood. He picked up his first traditional songs and tunes from his mother, who learned them from piedmont Virginia African-American and European-American musicians in the 1920s and ‘30s. He started playing banjo at age ten, followed by fiddle and guitar. Paul studied intensively with National Heritage Fellowship recipient Tommy Jarrell of Surry County, North Carolina in the 1980s. Into the early 2000s he immersed himself as well in the styles of Luther Davis, Benton Flippen, Fred Cockerham, Fields Ward and other senior players of northwest North Carolina and southwest Virginia. He produced several albums documenting senior musicians, and created the Across the Blue Ridge public radio program. He received the North Carolina Folklore Society’s Brown-Hudson Award and was named a master artist at the Appalachian String Band Music Convention in West Virginia, where he won the banjo contest three times. His radio documentary, Breaking Up Christmas: A Blue Ridge Mountain Holiday won a Silver Reel Award from the National Federation of Community Broadcasters.  Paul began his radio career at Mount Airy, NC commercial station WPAQ. He later moved to public radio, his work there spanning management, music recording and production, world news reporting, and newscasting. At NPR, he also reported and produced numerous feature stories on arts and culture including old-time music, bluegrass and blues.


Wednesday, December 7, 2022
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
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