Levitt AMP Berea audience members dancing during a 2018 concert.
Many college and university towns grapple with how to bridge the town-gown divide – a phenomenon in which a place that harbors two communities (the university and its student population within a town and local residents who live there full-time) experiences a sociocultural disconnect between these groups of people. While higher educational institutions bring economic growth, diversity and a youthful energy to their surrounding areas, local residents aren’t always accepting of the shifts to their established towns. Today, we’re shining the light on how two college towns – Berea, Ky., and Merced, Calif. – are balancing the needs of both students and local residents through the Levitt AMP Music Series in order to foster connections, build relationships and create a larger sense of community.
Tonight’s Levitt AMP virtual show brings the bright, buoyant sounds of Appalachia straight to you! Tune in to experience an incredible evening of music curated by the team behind the Levitt AMP Berea Music Series, including a performance by headlining act The Possum Queens. This all-female ‘Kentucky Old-Time’ quartet “got down the fiddle, rosined up the bow [and] dusted off the cobwebs” to record tonight’s lively virtual performance at Berea’s newly launched Rebel Rebel Studio and Lounge, a multi-use creative space co-founded by Levitt AMP Berea organizer Ali Blair with photographer Erica Chambers. The virtual concert will also feature local favorites Tyler Devall and Corey Shenk. Be sure to tune in at 8pm ET/5pm PT at levittamp.org/virtual!
A small town with trailblazing roots
Berea College students, faculty and staff joining 25,000 other demonstrators in the last phase of the March on Montgomery from Selma, Ala., on March 25, 1965; Photo courtesy of Berea College, Special Collections & Archives
Blair first crossed paths with The Possum Queens fiddler Anna Harrod at a local backyard bonfire, surrounded by the joyous live folk and bluegrass music of Berea College professors and student musicians. The trailblazing Berea College has shaped the surrounding community since it was founded in 1855 by minister and abolitionist John G. Fee, as the first interracial and coeducational college in the South. Fee and his colleagues put their lives on the line to remove barriers to higher education. Since 1892, the boldly inclusive institution has also provided a high-quality education to its students—many of whom are from underserved areas of Southern Appalachia—completely free of charge. Driven by the homegrown talent of students and their families, the school has developed a phenomenal artisan craft program, laying the groundwork for Berea’s wide-reaching reputation as the ‘Folk Arts and Crafts Capital of Kentucky.’ Every year, lifelong learners flock to Berea from far and wide for the city’s summer ‘Festival of Learnshops’ and winter ‘Make it, take it, give it!”—both rooted in artisan craft workshops. Continue reading
Tonight, noted activist, theologian, author, documentary filmmaker and musician, Reverend Osagyefo (oh-sah-GG-fo) Uhuru (ooh-WHO-roo) Sekou (SAY-koo) wraps up the 2019 Levitt AMP Trenton Music Series with his Nashville blues band The Freedom Fighters—and next week, they’ll take their fiery fusion down to Chattanooga, Tenn. (9/12) and Berea, Ky. (9/13). Born in St. Louis, and raised in the rural Arkansas Delta, Rev. Sekou’s fervent anthems weave together Arkansas Delta Blues, Memphis soul, 1970s funk and gospel. Drawing upon his background in music, ministry and advocacy, Rev. Sekou preaches high-energy messages of hope and empowerment, steeped in Southern soul. Continue reading
This Sunday afternoon, bohemian ‘circus punk’ rockers Bella’s Bartok will bring their vibrant kaleidoscope of sound to the Levitt AMP St. Johnsbury stage. Audiences are invited into a mesmerizing world steeped in vaudeville, playful camaraderie and the rich folk traditions of the band members’ immigrant grandparents. The six-piece powerhouse seamlessly blends Eastern European klezmer, Americana, punk and pop music, creating a lively fusion you won’t soon forget. Their passionate, eclectic sound is amplified by the group’s high-energy theatrical performances. “At their core, our shows are about a certain release,” explains the band’s lead vocalist, Asher Putnam. “We share with the audience all of our joy and grief, while they do the same back to us. It is a wholly cathartic experience for both the band and the concert attendees.” No stranger to the Levitt AMP Music Series, Bella’s Bartok wowed Levitt AMP North Adams audiences in 2016 and they’ll also be headed to Berea, Ky., in early August to perform in the 2018 Levitt AMP Berea Music Series. Continue reading
Along with July being National Picnic Month, this month is also National Park and Recreation Month, which makes sense considering that picnics and parks go hand in hand! We love this infographic created by National Recreation and Park Association that shares some fun facts about community spaces boosting positive attitudes toward cultural diversity, how playing outside enhances vision and that half of exercise in America takes place at parks.
This weekend, the internationally renowned and virtuosic Malian musician, Cheick Hamala Diabate, brings his danceable and richly textured West African songs to two — yes, two — Levitt AMP stages! He graces Levitt AMP Berea tonight at 6pm, and Levitt AMP Greensboro tomorrow evening at 6pm. Considered a master of the ngoni, a traditional, lute-like stringed instrument, Diabate’s music started in his motherland and migrated to Washington, D.C., where he has worked with acclaimed producers, created a GRAMMY-winning World music album and toured relentlessly.