By Collin Stettler
Editor in Chief
On Sept. 30, nearly 30 people gathered in Firefly bookstore on Main St. to hear award-winning musician and historian Dave Kline speak about the history of the Americana genre. His segment, “The Wonderful Saga of Americana Music,” is the first of many Americana-themed events to come to Kutztown, and in it, he details the history of Americana.
Sponsored by both KU Presents! and Mondays@Firefly, the event hoped to educate the community on the roots and origins of the various sub-genres of Americana as well as provide advertising for two upcoming Americana concerts to be hosted at KU.
Kline has become a well-known artist around the globe, interviewing many singers and artists on his radio program “Mountain Folks.” He has worked with stars like Dolly Parton, Riders in the Sky, Grandpa Jones and other well-known Americana stars, traveling around the world performing. A proud Pennsylvanian, Kline’s own music is centered around his Pennsylvania Dutch roots and often features imagery of the Appalachian Mountains of Pa.
Kline is an expert on the history of the Americana genre and passionately explained the influences that have created the many sub-genres today. Starting with the rhythms and spirituality African slaves brought to America, the history of Americana originated in the blues and gospel songs they sang. Eventually, Irish immigrants settled in the Appalachian Mountains and brought with them their story-telling ballads and various instruments that had not been available to the African slaves.
Kline discussed artists like Robert Johnson (“the most ripped-off artist in the history of mankind,” according to Kline) as well as Jimmie Rodgers, Johnny Cash, the Beatles, Lee Rocker and Steel Canyon Rangers to demonstrate how the music they played differed from other subgenres. Providing examples of Irish ballads, “hillbilly” music, rockabilly, bluegrass and cowboy music, Kline provided an almost complete history of Americana.
“I’ve found that [Americana] is the most genuine,” Kline said. He explained the concept of country music parks, saying that stars like Dolly Parton would come to Sunset Park in Chester County, Pa., after performing at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville. He said it felt like family there—artists would become a part of the Americana family when they visited to perform.
Passionate and lively, Kline kept the audience captivated by his discussion. Historical information interspersed with energetic live performances as well as comical personal tales of his life, Kline exhibited the same level of genuineness as the stars he discussed.
“The Wonderful Saga of Americana Music” is the first of three Americana events coming to Kutztown. Sponsored by KU Presents!, Lee Rocker and the Stray Cats performed in Schaeffer Auditorium later that week on Oct. 3. Steel Canyon Rangers, another Americana band specializing in more bluegrass music, is scheduled to perform Wednesday, Oct. 23 at Schaeffer, as well. Tickets for these concerts can be purchased through the KU Presents! website or at their box office.
Categories: Arts & Entertainment