Dear Cowan Creek Mountain Music School Friends,
“Ain’t it Funny How Time Slips Away”? Those words from Willie Nelson’s classic hit of 1997 ring in my ears today as I begin this letter. One year seems to bleed right into another, and here we are in the midst of planning our 17th Annual Cowan Creek Mountain Music School. It seems we didn’t even get to fully celebrate our 15th year! Anyhow, the facts are, the 17th Annual CCMMS is on schedule for June 25th– June 29th, 2018. We are happily anticipating another great week. How about you? Are you wintering well and looking forward to another week here on Cowan?
It’s been a hard, but a good year for the Cowan Center. Financially, we have struggled at times, but in the midst of it all, we have had some great programs and events. One of our bright spots is that the Center applied for a Levitt Amp Music Series Grant with the city of Whitesburg as our primary partner. There were 15 cities across the nation that were awarded the grant, and we were one of them. I hope by now most of you have seen the news.
What this means is that the grant provides for ten concerts to be held in Whitesburg on the Mountain Heritage Village Festival Theater grounds and is free to everyone. There will be one each Thursday night beginning in May, and each one will feature a well-known and reputable group from a variety of genres. These groups will be paid with funds from the grant. The city and county are very enthusiastic about this, and of course Cowan Community Center is elated because we submitted the winning proposal. I share this with all of you because it may be that during the week you are here for the school, perhaps you may somehow be involved with it.
Not only during the week you are here, but you may be part of a group that can be considered for one of the ten concerts. Just a bit of information for you to be considering.
As always, we are looking at any and all ways to make our school retain its quality and even surpass what we have offered previously. Not sure yet what that means in terms of offerings, but we know that is one of our commitments to ourselves, to not rest on our laurels and think we can’t improve. So, if you have suggestions you would like to make up front, please feel free to make those known. Send your ideas to me, Kevin Howard, Stacy Dollarhide, or Beverly May, who continues to have a strong presence in the planning of the event.
One personal interest I have concerning this year’s school is a five year old great granddaughter who received a new fiddle for Christmas. She asked Granny Carol last year at the end of the school to get her one for Christmas. Of course I did, but my granddaughter is disappointed because she cannot yet play even one little song. I know there is one song she definitely has to learn because my granddaughter’s name is Eliza Jane. What can you expectfrom a child with that name and an interest in a fiddle? Maybe some of you very gifted and talented instructors can squeeze in a few minutes to fan Eliza’s interest and launch her into a musical heritage.
That’s about it from me now, but rest assured all of us here at Cowan including Kevin Howard, Artistic Director, Stacy Dollarhide, Program Coordinator, Nell Fields, Chairman of our Board, Beverly May, one of the Founders of the School, Valerie Horn, Coordinator of Grow Appalachia, myself, Carol Ison, Director of the Cowan Community Center, and all of the folks who help make the school work are looking forward to another good year. We hope you are as well, and we will look forward to greeting you and extending our Cowan hospitality to you as we have now for 16 years.
My Very Best to You,
Carol Ison, Director
Cowan Community Center
You are invited to a little bit of the Cowan Music School near you! Three sets of our down-state friends are hosting these great events to raise money for our teaching assistantship program. Come out and dance, jam, catch up with your music school friends, and help us give lots of talented young people the chance to learn to teach old time music. If you have friends or family who haven’t yet come to the school, this is a perfect opportunity to show them how much fun they’re missing!
MOREHEAD Friday, April 21st 6:30 to 10:00 pm Rowan County Arts Center, Main Street: Silent auction, mini-concert, jamming, cakewalk and square dance. $5/person, $10 family. For more information contact: Karly Dawn Milner email@example.com
FRANKFORT Saturday, April 29th 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm Church of the Ascension, 331 Washington St. : Square dance, cake walk, soup beans & hot dogs, and silent art auction. $5/person. For more information contact Jim Webb: (502) 330-6688 or firstname.lastname@example.org
LOUISVILLE Tuesday, May 9th 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm Kaiju Bar, 1004 East Oak St.: Square dance at 6:00 pm, two-stepping to country classics at 7:00 pm with music by the Kentucky Round Ups featuring fiddler John Harrod. For more information: Liger428@aol.com
January 30, 2017
Dear Cowan Creek Mountain Music School Friends,
My goodness how fast a year does go! Last year we celebrated 15 years of successful Cowan Creek Mountain Music Schools, and now we are eagerly looking forward to beginning another 15. Even though the ground is snow covered today, I can easily visualize the grounds in June at the Cowan Center filled with all of the beautiful sounds of the varied musical instruments, harmonizing voices, the excited children’s voices in Kids on the Creek, and everything else that makes the CCMMS so very special.
From my perspective, having been a part of the school since its inception, each year I become more appreciative of what we really have right here in this little rural community of Cowan. Growing up here on Cowan as a child, we were lucky just to have a three room school where the Cowan Center now stands, and during the summer absolutely nothing happened there. So, when I experience the music school each summer and the anticipation and excitement of the preparations, it amazes me that something this noteworthy has formed roots right here in my own little piece of the world. Looking at the website this morning , reading the descriptions of all the wonderful classes the school offers, and the amazing bios of the folks who are involved with the school make me so proud to be a part of it. I am so thankful that I was blessed to remain here on Cowan and be a part of the development of something so remarkable.
But that’s enough of bragging on my part. You probably want to know if anything is going to be different this year. Well, one thing is still the same: it’s going to be the best year we have ever had. We don’t know yet exactly what we will do that will make that distinction, but we promise you that we get better every year. When you read the description of some of the Visiting Masters, maybe that is what will make the difference. Or maybe it will be that Angie DeBord is reconnecting with us in Story-Telling. Or perhaps it is the fact that Stacy Dollarhide is returning as the Program Coordinator.
Whatever it takes to make it a great year, that’s what we here at Cowan Community Center want to commit to doing. We just want all of you who are returning, or those who are coming for the first time as students or faculty, or teaching assistant, or work study participants, to come with the idea that you are coming home for a week. Leave the cares of this turbulent world behind and come to Cowan where you can become a part of family and of community. Let’s all look forward to a week of renewing acquaintances, making new ones, enjoying a pace of life that still lets you sit on the front porch with neighbors and wave at the cars going by. If you find while here that you just need a ‘time out’ I have a nice front porch just two houses below the Cowan Center, and I offer you a rocking chair or a front porch swing. Stacy Dollarhide says she makes you the same offer.
So, with that said, what else do you need to make your plans to come to the 16th Annual Cowan Creek Mountain Music School during the week of June 19-23, 2017? Brochures will be sent out soon, and if you have any questions feel free to call Carol Ison, Center Director, Stacy Dollarhide, Program Coordinator, or Kevin Howard, Artistic Director.
Until we see you in June, please stay warm, safe, and comfortable. Enjoy good music when the opportunity allows you to, and please come and share your music with us on Cowan during the week of June 19-23.
My very best to all of you,
Carol Ison, Director
Cowan Community Center
81 Sturgill Branch
Whitesburg, KY 41858
Telephone: (606) 633-9831 or (606) 634-3683
We would like to congratulate the 2016 winners of memorial scholarships and teaching assisantships. We’ll look forward to seeing you at the CCMMS 2017!
|Art Stamper Scholarship||Olivia Robinson, fiddle, Kings Creek, Ky|
|Burt Hatfield Scholarship||Joey Webb, guitar & vocals, from Frankfort, Ky|
|Rodney Sanders Scholarship||Curt Kilgore, banjo, from Neon, Ky|
|Teddy “Cowboy” Martin Scholarship||Allie Slone, from Hindman, Ky|
|Paul Smith Teaching Assistantship||Ella Webster, fiddle, Lexington Ky|
|Ray Slone Teaching Assistantship||Maya Burke, banjo|
|Paul Adams Teaching Assistantship||Heather Somers, banjo & guitar, Louisville, Ky|
March 1, 2016
To: Cowan Creek Mountain Music School Participants
Re: Summer of 2016
It’s hard to believe that it’s been fifteen years since the idea of starting a music school at the Cowan Community Center actually took place. Thanks to Beverly May for bringing the idea all the way back from Ireland and wanting to find a place to duplicate the idea in Kentucky. Luckily, she was willing to bring the idea back to Cowan, and with her experiences, our collaboration with Appalshop and the help of some really fine folk… well, as the saying goes, “the rest is history.” And what a history it has been!
This year, as we celebrate fifteen years of the school, we are determined that it will be the biggest and best ever. Don’t we say that every year? Of course, that can’t happen unless you, the students, the faculty, the parents and grandparents, and everyone who has cheered us on through the years are back with us.
I am just writing to extend my invitation to all of you to be sure and plan to be with us this summer. We are excited that we have two new staff positions this year in the form of a new Artistic Director, Kevin Howard, and a new Program Director, John Goad. In terms of replacements, Kevin is replacing Anna Roberts-Gevalt, and John is replacing Stacy Dollarhide.
Yes, that is quite a change, and we want to say that we extend heart-felt thanks to both Anna and Stacy for the endless hours they gave to making CCMMS the success that it is today. In particular, I want to say thanks to Stacy, who has been the “rock” of the school since its beginning fifteen years ago. For many years she has carried the bulk of the responsibilities on her own, and for that we are grateful. She has just determined that at this stage of her life, she needs to relinquish this position to someone else. You will find that when you communicate with the center for registration or other matters, her replacement, John Goad, will be very effective.
We also know that Anna brought the school forward during her term as the Faculty Director, now called the Artistic Director. We are very grateful for what she brought to the school, but she will be with us yet again as this year’s Beginning Fiddle Instructor, so you will still be able to interact with her. Kevin Howard, her replacement, is a local artist and fine young man who is already taking responsibility for shaping this year’s school into a wonderful experience for all of you.
Nell Fields and I are still on the scene, and we’re both looking forward to seeing and greeting all of you this summer. We have a long way to go in terms of getting everything ready, but we are well into the process. I hope you are making your plans to be a part of the 15th year of the Cowan Creek Mountain Music School. Please feel free to get in contact with me, John Goad, or Kevin Howard if you have any questions or comments.
My best to all of you,
Carol Ison, Director
Cowan Community Center
Telephone: 606-633-9831 or 606-634-3683
The folks on Cowan Creek are very excited to introduce Cowan Creek Mountain Music School’s new Artistic Director, Kevin Howard! Kevin is a prominent local musician and recording artist with June Appal Records in Whitesburg, KY. We look forward to the talent, know-how and vision Kevin is bringing and will continue to bring to the school and its students. Here’s a few words from the Director himself:
“It’s my honor and privilege to be this years artistic director of the Cowan Creek Mountain Music School. We plan to make this year as great as years past and continue on our tradition of passing on the mountain music of Eastern Kentucky to a new group of people.” -Kevin Howard, CCMMS Artistic Director
Please join us in welcoming Kevin Howard to the CCMMS family!
The Cowan Community Action Group, Inc. (CCAG, Inc.) is looking for someone to fill the position of Program Coordinator for the Mountain Music School, an annual, week-long workshop in June that focuses on eastern Kentucky traditional musical heritage.
The Program Coordinator is responsible for working with the Artistic Coordinator on all logistic details concerning the Mountain Music School, with support from Cowan Community Action Group, Inc. and volunteers. The position is contracted for $2,000 or as negotiated with CCAG, Inc. To apply, contact Randy Wilson at email@example.com or (606) 594-9360. Applications are due by December 5, 2015.
Update: This position has been filled.
The Cowan Community Action Group, Inc. is pleased to announce the Charlie Whitaker Memorial Apprenticeship for 2015-2016 has been awarded to Kelsey Estep of Keaton, Kentucky. Her apprenticeship with Sarah Wood will focus on the mountain tradition of unaccompanied ballad singing.
Kelsey is a senior at Johnson Central High School and the daughter of Beverly and Orville Paul Estep. She began studying old time fiddle with Jamie Wells at age 8 and has been a student at the Cowan Creek Mountain Music School for the past 6 years. At CCMMS 2015 Kelsey served as a teaching assistant. The Charlie Whitaker Memorial Apprenticeship will support an intensive year of learning, performing and teaching. “I hope through this I can inspire other kids my age to explore the old time music culture” Estep says.
Congratulations on a job well done to Meghan Bryant, CCMMS’s first Charlie Whitaker Memorial apprentice, and her mentor, Jesse Wells! Meghan is from Floyd County and is a sophomore in high school. She first learned fiddle from Jesse’s father, Jamie, and has been a “regular” at the music school each year along with her sister, who plays banjo. In 2015, Meghan also served as a teaching assistant for the first time. We appreciate her and Jesse generously passing on the music.
“I think the Charlie Whitaker Memorial Apprenticeship is a wonderful opportunity for anyone interested in learning more on their instrument. I’m so thankful to Cowan Creek Mountain Music School for being so generous in giving this apprenticeship and making it possible for someone to study music from a master and learn how to carry on the old time music tradition.
I have learned so many things in this year from Jesse. I’ve learned fiddle tunes from Doc Roberts, Kenny Baker, Buddy Thomas, George Lee Hawkins, John Morgan Salyer, and many other great fiddlers. I’ve also learned a lot about other styles, like fiddling in bluegrass, fiddling in country music, playing fiddle in a band, and some music theory. I think this apprenticeship has helped me grow not only as an old time fiddler, but all around as a musician.
I would definitely encourage anyone interested in learning and preserving old time mountain music to attend Cowan Creek Mountain Music School and apply for this apprenticeship. Cowan Creek is a wonderful program and I’ve honestly never been anywhere with such a great atmosphere and so many helpful, encouraging people. It’s definitely one of my favorite weeks of the year.“ ~Meghan Bryant, Charlie Whitaker Memorial Apprentice