Special Event Will Highlight a Duke Collection of Traditional Music from Western North Carolina

April 10, 2017

On Saturday, April 22, at 2:00 p.m., the Bass Connections project team NC Jukebox will present a special event at The Orchard at Altapass in western North Carolina.

The free event will feature an afternoon of music by bluegrass and country artist Terry McKinney, including some of the ballads and traditional songs that are preserved in the Frank Clyde Brown Collection at Duke University’s David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library. Students from the NC Jukebox team will speak about their research on the singers and songs that were originally collected in the 1930s.

The image below shows the Myron Houston band, which performed over 20 songs for Frank Brown in August 1939.

Myron Houston Band

About the NC Jukebox Project

In the 1930s, Duke scholar Frank C. Brown began recording North Carolina folk music and archiving it for posterity. The image below shows Brown doing his collecting with a Presto recording device that he connected to his car for power. Most of Professor Brown’s recording are housed on wax cylinder and glass discs, making them largely inaccessible

Frank Clyde Brown

Comprised of Duke librarians, professors, grad students and undergraduates, the NC Jukebox team set out to explore this “hidden” collection of folk music recordings. Working collaboratively, they researched individual singers and songs in the collection, and began to create an online archive and mobile app. They are transforming this collection of historic North Carolina folk music into a vital, publicly accessible digital archive and museum exhibition. Bringing cultural heritage to life is a vital part of Duke’s mission of knowledge in the service of society.

Frank Clyde Brown

The project includes an exhibition and online playlist of the “greatest hits” of the Frank Clyde Brown collection. In addition to foregrounding the music itself, NC Jukebox team members are preparing biographies of the singers, transcribing the songs and tracing the roots of Scots-Irish ballads, variations and contemporary analogues of the songs. The team is piloting some digital presentations of western North Carolina music that might be presented through interactive touchscreens in a cultural heritage setting.

Duke’s Franklin Humanities Institute provides additional support for the NC Jukebox project.

Learn More

Image of Myron Houston band courtesy of Gloria Houston. Images of Frank Clyde Brown courtesy of the Rubenstein Library, Duke University.