The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

CNHI News Service Originals

August 2, 2012

Celebrate America’s roots music on Georgia coast

DARIEN, Ga. — Listen in to America’s roots with music on the Georgia coast all through August. Wild shrimp to eat, too, plus documentary films and lectures about musical traditions.

This is “New Harmonies,” created by the Smithsonian and presented by the Georgia Humanities Council.

Darien is the town, where families have shrimped for generations.

All month, they can also explore the musical roots of Georgia’s seaside with Saturday performances, Wednesday lectures and Thursday films, plus a Smithsonian exhibition in a former hotel.

Plenty of architectural history accompanies the music; Wednesday noontime lectures happen in the 1876 St. Cyprian’s Episcopal Church.

The schedule is available at

I’m particularly interested in the Aug. 15 lecture because it’s all about Lydia Parish and I want to know more about her work to “restore the dignity of spirituals” as historian Deirdre Kindthistle describes it.

I’m a Yank who learned to embrace the music and history rural Southerners grew up with. In Darien until Sept. 1, people from all backgrounds can experience eons of musical history together.

Century-old wooden floors in the former Darien Hotel support info-panels and listening kiosks --- gospel and blues, mountain and folk, Zydeco and country, sacred and secular.

Roots music grows out of folk traditions, but the Smithsonian’s curator of this exhibition says, “Even today roots music is alive,” said Robert Santelli.

“Modern artists draw on nearly every genre of American roots music.”

Among those performing while New Harmonies is in Darien are saxophonist and jazz vocalist Michael Hulett.

The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra small ensemble presents roots music with the Gullah-Geechee Ring Shouters at 7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 18 in the McIntosh County Academy.

Here’s the Symphony’s inspiration: “Slave Songs from the Georgia Sea Islands,” a book written in 1942 by Lydia Parish.

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