See the birth of Bluegrass at the Normal Theater

Courtesy of Edge Center for the Arts: The first of the American’s Music series will focus on Bill Monroe, the famed country musician and “father of bluegrass”

Courtesy of Edge Center for the Arts:
The first of the American’s Music series will focus on Bill Monroe, the famed country musician and “father of bluegrass”

I was first directed to look up the America’s Music series in order to showcase an upcoming event for the Town of Normal. I had no idea what the America’s Music series was all about. I assumed it was a speaker who would come to Braden Auditorium, which most students would not care to attend.

However, after reading the project overview on Milner Library’s website, and learning about the slew of upcoming events, the series is sure to be squeezed into  busy students’ schedules.

The project is in total about two months long and includes: a six series screening about different music genres at the Normal Theater, WGLT radio talk-show and concert specials, library exhibits, a community book discussion ,and a performance by ISU’s Jazz Ensembles I and II.

Starting at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, the Normal Theater will kick off with the first part to the film series America’s Music.

The first film is focused around Bluegrass, entitled, “High Lonesome: The Story of Bluegrass Music.”

Milner’s website provides a background description to the highlights of the film, as well as a short reading to introduce the audience to country and bluegrass music.

Centered around Bill Monroe, who is considered the “father of bluegrass,” and his band the Bluegrass Boys, the film promises to entertain with interview footage, a brief history of the roots of the genre and some rare live performances by some of the great musicians of that era.

For those that don’t follow the upbeat, finger-picking music of Bluegrass, on Tuesday, Sept. 17, Normal Theater will screen the Rock n’ Roll segment, entitled “The History of Rock and Roll: Plugging In.” Focusing on the 1960s, the film will delve into the long-loved history of heroes such as Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Muddy Waters and Pete Townsend.

Although this is running the same night as The Avett Brothers’ show at US Cellular Coliseum, this screening would be a great option for someone trying to save a few bucks, while still enjoying some great music.

The rest of the series will continue with the Latin, jazz and Broadway films, and will conclude on Tuesday Nov. 5 with the history of gospel.

The entire project has drawn many supporters from Illinois State and elsewhere, including both Bloomington and Normal public libraries, Milner Library, WGLT radio, the School of Music and Department of History.  Along with the films, radio talk-shows and library exhibits, there is a book individuals can read that is part of the project.

The book selected for the project is “World on a String: A Musical Memoir,” by John Pizzarelli. On Thursday, Sept. 26, a discussion will be open to the public and guided by Tom Faux, an ISU faculty member and musicologist.

Main highlights, and what I am most excited to partake in, will be the Rock and Roll history film, and the Bluegrass film, coming up in just the next two weeks.  I have already found the suggested book as well, and may just continue giving updates on my musical history exploration.

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