Songwriting Sessions, "Our Country's Good", Dale Pollock, and the Surry Old Time Fiddlers Convention
Everybody loves a good song, but did you ever wonder exactly goes into creating one? Singer/songwriters Tyler Nail and Johnathan Loos have been asking that very question of themselves off and on for most of their adult lives. They’ve got a few ideas and their here to share during the 2nd Annual Songwriter Sessions in Winston-Salem. Then it’s time to break out your vegemite sandwiches and “have a g’day” with the WFU Theatre Department production of “Our Country’s Good”: a 19th century Australian penal colony prison, and a chance at redemption for its inhabitants through one life-changing theatrical experience. It’s certainly changing perceptions among the talented Wake student actors and they’re here to explain how. And Dale Pollock takes us Behind the Scenes to help us make sense of current film and theatre trends and just who is borrowing from whom these days. Meanwhile they’ll be keeping it authentic BIG TIME this weekend at the Surry Old Time Fiddler’s Convention and David's guests, fiddler Nick McMillian and bassist Buck Buckner will take a step back in time with us, and hold our hand all the way to the dance floor.
Tyler Nail and Johnathan Loos
Songwriter sessions are typically a chance to be a fly on the wall as musicians perform their original songs and then share their thoughts, feelings, and opinions on the craft of songwriting. This Saturday night, March 28th, those four walls will be the Community Arts Café.
Winston-Salem Songwriter Sessions kicks off at 8:00 pm with performances by local artists Tyler Nail, Johnathan Loos, and Colin Allured. I’ll be emceeing the event and after each song David will ask a selfish question or two of the artists—sort of like a live version of Triad Arts Weekend. But next on Saturday we’ll invite audience members to chime in with questions or comments of their own. For a little sample of what you can expect, last week Tyler and Johnathan dropped by to speak with me about songwriting. Tyler’s a songwriter, singer, guitarist, drummer and producer from Winston-Salem. Johnathan is a singer/songwriter, guitarist, recording engineer and producer from Advance. The two artists have partnered on several projects including their homage to the late Levon Helm. That recording is titled “When I Go Away”. We’ll be sampling from their new music throughout the interview.
In February of 2014, Tyler and Johnathan, together with local singer/songwriter Quique Rodriguez-Pastor, began the Red House Songwriter Sessions. It’s a casual monthly get together at Tyler and Johnathan’s painted red home/recording studio. There the three chat with other songwriters who share their music and what’s behind it through live performances, recordings, and conversation. Meanwhile, Tyler & Johnathan’s annual Winston-Salem Songwriter Session is this Saturday night, March 28th, at 8:00 pm in the Community Arts Café in downtown Winston. This year, joining Tyler and Johnathan on Saturday will be singer/songwriter Colin Allured, and all three artists will perform original songs of their own and then take questions from the audience about songwriting and whatever else comes to mind. David Ford will be moderating the event and he looks forward to hearing YOUR questions too.
Sharon Andrews and the Wake Forest University Theatre Department Production of "Our Country's Good"
But first, speaking of theatre, when was the last time you saw a historical drama that has it all: intensity, thoughtful writing where every line moved the plot forward somehow, heart-felt and passionate but humorous all at the same time? Well, Our Country's Good has all that and a bag of vegemite chips. The year is 1789. In the penal colony of Sydney, where a young, married lieutenant is in the midst of directing the play with a ragtag cast of convicts, and a leading lady who may be about to be hanged. Rehearsals for this Restoration comedy aren't going well, but as the barriers between captors and captives begin to break down during the course of this play within a play, they start to discover each other, both onstage and behind the scenes. The U.K.'s Sunday Express called it "one of the great plays of and about the theatre, staged with overwhelming warmth and humanity," and next weekend Wake Forest University Theatre Department will bring the Olivier and Tony Award winning play to the Triad.
Arguing the merits of allowing criminals to perform a play, Captain Arthur Phillip says, “The theatre is an expression of civilization…for a few hours we will no longer be despised prisoners and hated gaolers.” WFU student actor Philip Kayser utters those words in his role as the Captain. He’s joined in the studio by fellow actors Joanna Beach who plays Mary Brenham, Nate Brickhouse who plays Major Robbie Ross, RM and convict Ketch Freeman., and Emily Nedvideck who plays convict Dabby Bryant, and Lieutenant William Faddy, RM. They were joined by WFU Associate Professor of Theatre and director of Our Country’s Good Sharon Andrews.
American film producer, writer and UNC School of the Arts film professor Mr. Dale Pollock has a lot on his mind, and he’s here to peel back the curtains and take us Behind the Scenes to share.
5th Annual Old Time Surry Fiddlers Convention
The 5th annual Surry Old Time Fiddlers Convention rounds out the month of March with award-winning musicians, free workshops, great food, and lots of dance. There’ll also be luthier displays, band competitions, and outstanding live performances by Mountain Park Old Time Band, Slate Mountain Ramblers and Back-Step. Back-Step members bassist Buck Buckner and fiddler Nick McMillian are co-organizers and they talked to David Ford.
Surry Old Time Fiddlers Convention Nick McMillian plays fiddle in Back-Step. He’s a first place (fiddle) winner at both Mt. Airy and Galax VA fiddler’s conventions. He was joined by Co-Organizer Buck Buckner. Buck plays bass in Back-Step, sings, and he’s chairman of the Surry County Planning Board. For nearly 30 years Back Step has been carrying on the traditional sound of old time music found in the foothills along the North Carolina and Virginia border, and they’ve been doing it very, very well!
We’ve been sampling from the band’s recording Hell Amongst the Roundpeakers. This year’s Surry Old Time Fiddlers Convention is Friday, March 28 – 29, 2014 at Surry Community College, Dobson, NC. Friday night’s dance will feature Back-Step along with Mountain Park Old Time Band, and Slate Mountain Ramblers.
On Saturday it’ll be competitions with a Master Artist Awards given to outstanding local musicians. They’re open to old and young alike keeping this cultural style of dance and music thriving into the future. There’ll be free workshops on Saturday too, with renowned Galax style fiddler Eddie Bond, award-winning guitarist Chester McMillian, dancer Mark Handy, and NPR’s own Paul Brown will offer a banjo workshop.