Southern Folklife Collection & UNC Department of Music Co-Sponsor Carolina Bluegrass Summit


The six members of the Steep Canyon Rangers standing side by side in blue or gray suits in this promotional photo - 4 are wearing ties, 2 are not; 2 are wearing hats, 4 are not. On Friday, Nov. 11, the Steep Canyon Rangers will lead a workshop at 3 p.m., and they will perform a ticketed concert at 8 p.m. at UNC's Memorial Hall.The UNC Department of Music and the Southern Folklife Collection are celebrating the launch of the Carolina Bluegrass Initiative, and you’re invited to participate! 

Co-sponsored by the Southern Folklife Collection and the UNC Department of Music, the Carolina Bluegrass Summit invites you to explore many facets of the university’s engagement with this regionally rooted, international musical form.

Musical performances include GRAMMY winners The Steep Canyon Rangers (pictured right; ticketed program), plus Emily Kirsch and Bailey Coe, The Grass Cats, and the debut of the Carolina Bluegrass Band.

Robert S. Cantwell, Professor Emeritus, Department of American Studies at UNC Chapel Hill, will deliver the keynote address. Professor Cantwell is the author of Bluegrass Breakdown: The Making of the Old Southern Sound, Ethnomimesis: Folklife and the Representation of Culture, and When We Were Good: The Folk Revival

Additional participants include Fred Bartenstein, Jack Bernhardt, Fitz Brundage, Joseph Decosimo, Erica Fedor, Dave Freeman, Tommy Goldsmith, Allison Hussey, Ken Irwin, Jordan Laney, Marian Leighton Levy, Art Menius, Jocelyn Neal, Penny Parsons, Barry Poss, and Joti Rockwell.


There are visitor lots on campus, including the Raleigh Road Visitor Lot (located near the intersection of Raleigh Rd and Country Club Rd, about half a mile from the library), and public parking options along Franklin Street and Rosemary Street for Friday. Most campus lots have open parking on Saturday, including parking spaces along Stadium Dr and the Cobb Deck, off Country Club Rd. Marked parking spaces for people with disabilities are behind the Undergraduate Library, directly across from Stadium Drive and accessible from the South Road entrance. Inside the building, elevator access is available past the stairwell on the east side. The elevator allows access to all of the public areas of Wilson Library.

Learn more about the Carolina Bluegrass Summit

Questions? Contact Jocelyn Neal: 919-962-1039; jneal - at -


Carolina Bluegrass Summit Schedule of Events

Friday, November 11

  • 3pm AFTERNOON WORKSHOP w/ Steep Canyon Rangers; Person Hall
  • 5 pm EXHIBIT OPENING: “Folk Music on Overdrive: Bluegrass Music in the Southern Folklife Collection” with music by Emily Kirsch and Bailey Coe; 4th Floor, Southern Folklife Collection, Wilson Special Collections Library
  • 7 pm LECTURE: Concerts in Context: A Pre-Concert Lecture Series, Jocelyn Neal, Associate Chair, Department of Music, and W. Fitzhugh Brundage, Chair, Department of History; Gerrard Hall
  • 8 pm  CONCERT: Steep Canyon Rangers w/ special guest the Carolina Bluegrass Band, Memorial Hall (Ticketed)
    The Steep Canyon Rangers are joined on this program by a group of UNC student bluegrass musicians in celebration of the launch of the UNC Music Department’s Bluegrass Initiative. Launched in 2016, this initiative combines new course offerings and ensembles with symposia and concerts to bring UNC students and academic community both performance experiences and scholarly research opportunities within this rich musical practice and tradition. The Bluegrass Initiative is made possible through the generous support of alumnus John A. Powell ’77.

Saturday, November 12
BLUEGRASS SYMPOSIUM - Pleasants Family Assembly Room, 2nd floor, Wilson Special Collections Library

  • 8:45 am COFFEE
    Jordan Laney (Virginia Tech): “What’s Cooking in Kathleen’s Kitchen? Exploring Feminized Performances and Spaces in Bluegrass Festivals,” and
    Erica Fedor (UNC Chapel Hill): “Sounding Out Against HB2: Music and Protest in Local North Carolina Perspectives”
    Respondent: C. Joti Rockwell, Associate Professor of Music (Pomona College)
  • 10-10:30 am Joseph Decosimo (UNC Chapel Hill): “‘This Train Has Got Two Tracks, and We’re Just on One’: Navigating Bluegrass/Old-Time Boundaries in Southeast Tennessee”
  • 10:45 am-12 pm PANEL: Bluegrass on Record: Dave Freeman (County and Rebel Records), Marian Leighton Levy (Rounder Records), and Ken Irwin (Rounder Records), and Barry Poss (Sugar Hill Records), with Allison Hussey (Associate Music Editor, INDY Week), moderator
  • 12-1:15 pm LUNCH (on your own)
  • 1:30-2:15pm C. Joti Rockwell, Associate Professor of Music (Pomona College): “Acousticism’s Electric Roots”
  • 2:15-3:45 pm PANEL: Writing Bluegrass/Bluegrass Writers: Fred Bartenstein, Jack Bernhardt, Tommy Goldsmith, and Penny Parsons, with Art Menius, moderator
  • 4-5 pm KEYNOTE: Robert S. Cantwell. Professor Emeritus, Department of American Studies (UNC Chapel Hill): “‘Folks, Don’t Try this at Home:’ Bluegrass and the Liberal Arts”
  • 6-8 pm CLOSING SOCIAL: The Grass Cats, Linda’s Downbar, 203 E Franklin Street, Chapel Hill