Liza, the academic of the duo, has been flexing her writing and scholarship muscles lately.
Liza's biography of early Kentucky ballad collector Katherine Jackson French, will be published in May 2020 by the University Press of Kentucky. Dr. French first tried to publish a collection of Kentucky ballads in 1910; the story of how this did not come to be, along with how the history of Appalachian balladry would have been different if it had, is the subject of this story of one of Kentucky music's greatest unknown women. Tentatively entitled "Katherine Jackson French: Kentucky's Forgotten Ballad Collector," the book is scheduled for release in the winter of 2020. A commemorative edition of her ballads will also be published by Berea College.
Liza also collaborated with Loyal Jones, Mr. Appalachia himself, on "My Curious and Jocular Heroes" and transcribed the ballads therein. Published by University of Illinois Press, the book came out in 2017 and is now available.
In addition, one of Liza's poems, "Bread," was accepted for publication by the prestigious Paterson Literary Review, which came out in April of 2018.
A.J. too is working on a book. Entitled "Ain't It a Shame," it explores the difficult subject of abuse through photographs and poems. He has been working with Lee Francis IV and is nearing the final edit. He is also exploring avenues to utilize his many well-loved monster images in artistic mediums of various kinds.
It's been a tough fall. We lost Liza's Mom in the beginning of October. She was a great lady, a great mom, with a spirit befitting a queen. She was a fine poet, and the one certainty in our lives was that she loved all of us. It isn't possible to fill that kind of void, so I'll just say, we love you Mom. Miss you always.
It's been a busy fall here at Berea. A.J. is working hard daily with the barious groups of the dance program. Liza produced her first Celebration of Traditional Music, with the help of the wonderful students of the Folk-Roots Ensemble and the Appalachian Center. Illegal Contraband was the band, with caller Ron Buchanan . A fine time was had by all. Check out the Celebration of Traditional Facebook page for more details. Besides that, Liza has been finishing the absolutely last grammatical picky edits for the book on Katherine Jackson French, which will be coming out in May. She also is finishing up the refording of Jackson's ballads, working on a promotion letter, and basically is continually in motion.
We have some things coming up in December, including some Christmas gigs. Check out our calendar!
Hope you have a great rest of the fall.
A.J. on CDSS Magazine Cover
Check out the cover of the October 2017 CDSS magazine. You'll see A.J. and the Country Dancers on the cover in Kunming, China. A.J. had a thrilling time this summer touring as accompanist with the Berea College Country Dancers. This fine young group of dancers, led by Deborah Thompson, gave performances across the country, from Beijing to Kuming. While in China, A.J. acquired a hulusi, which we have already used in performance., and which he looks forward to sharing with you. The Dancers were warmly received across the country, and returned with many wonderful experiences and new friends. It reinforced the idea that music overcomes all obstacles and builds bridges between people through shared expereinces of beauty. Words to live by.