Weekly Feed: Wide, Open Spaces, Appalachian Perspectives, and Tapestries of African Music

“A week before Obama announced the Deferred Action program, Time magazine ran an unprecedented feature on undocumented immigrants, especially dreamers. Now ‘undocumented immigrants’ are up for a vote for Person of the Year.”
From NPR’s Latino USA: “Simon Mejia, bassist from the Colombian electro-cumbia band Bomba Estereo, talks about going independent, aligning traditional Colombian rhythms with hip hop, kuduro and other sounds, and about helping and Afro-Colombian community record its rich musical history.”
The Daily Yonder is asking for your five favorite rural songs. Great lists can be found here.
“On her deathbed, Jewell Ellis conffessed: Roy is as much a woman as I am. But where Roy came from and how Roy lived are mysteries.” The Roy Hudgins Documentary Project is working to uncover more about this amazing story. They just concluded a successful Kickstarter campaign; folks can learn more about the film and how they can help here.
Fantastic Opportunity from Epicenter, who are now accepting applicants for the Frontier Fellowship in 2013 through 2015. Applications are due January 4, 2013 in hand.
“Sami life is a hybrid of the traditional and the modern.” Along the arctic circle in Sweden with the indigenous Laevas Sami community, in essay and slideshow, via Places/Design Observer.
“The most amazing cultural event of the 21st century, at least so far, may be the rise of the hen,” says Contrary Farmer and writer Gene Logsdon.
Via the M12 art collective: “Friendfarm wants to develop ways for rural communities in different parts of the world to build micro networks and empower each other. We see human relations and small-scale cultural and economic exchange as keys to strengthen local agriculture and the communities surrounding them.”
From the Center for Investigative Reporting: “In the midst of the domestic energy boom, livestock on farms near oil-and-gas drilling operations nationwide have been quietly falling sick and dying. While scientists have yet to isolate cause and effect, many  suspect chemicals used in drilling and hydrofracking, or fracking, operations are poisoning animals through the air, water and soil.”
“For rural listeners unsure of the future, or homesick transplants confronting the city, the National Barn Dance served as a touchstone, from its first broadcast in 1924 to its last in 1960. Here’s more on how to support The Hayloft Gang documentary film campaign on USA Projects.
Rural Reality Alert: MTV’s Buckwild in West Virginia. Guns, bikinis, excavator merry-go-rounds, muddin’, dumptruck rides, and, of course, beer. Brace yourselves:


Rethinking field recordings: Here’s an album of field recordings from a new generation of old-time players, put together by musician Anna Roberts-Gevalt of Virginia. 
“There’s a large percentage of traditional musicians who express alternative sexual identity. Whether or not those musicians and dancers are allowed to be visible, are allowed to be conspicuous in their scene, that’s a whole separate issue.” A fascinating, honest discussion with traditional singer and stepdancer Nic Gareiss, via No Depression.

“It focuses your attention like a total laser,” says Elizabeth LaPrelle of the Appalachian ballad tradition in this Morning Edition report. “It doesn’t even go to your brain, but straight to your spinal column and goes up and down, and sends shivers.” Ms. LaPrelle regularly collaborates with Ms. Roberts-Gevalt; follow their multimedia projects here.

From the fields of Louisiana to an evening with the President (with some time in Chicago between): blues legend Buddy Guy was awarded a Kennedy Center Honor last week.
“It was like Africa spoke through it all.” An excellent feature from Carolina Public Press on The Affrilachian Artist Project. Great news – a traveling exhibition is in the works!
“This disc is the only recorded example on 78 that I’ve come across featuring the music of the Haalpulaar’en people of northern Senegal and southern Mauitania, surrounding the River Senegal…. The music is pure praise singing, accompanied by the hoddu, the local plucked lute of the Haalpulaar’en.” Extraordinary music via Excavated Shellac.
“For too long now, the contributions of the African-American cowboy has been overlooked and almost forgotten in the great history of the American West. Much of the American ‘Western’ history has failed to acknowledge the achievements made by these unsung Americans.” Documentary and photography here as well from John Ferguson.

Silas House on art, and the art of being still – with a moment of wisdom from James Still at the Hindman Settlement School‘s Appalachian Writers Workshop.