Students at the Allen County Primary Center and the Allen County Intermediate Center learned about Bluegrass music during a series of performances by Hog Operation last Friday. The Louisville-based group---listed on the artist roster with the Kentucky Arts Council---entertained students at the Primary Center in two performances and gave an afternoon concert at the Intermediate Center. The performances were sponsored by the Allen County-Scottsville Arts Council.
Hog Operation members Michael Schroeder (mandolin), Larry Raley (bass and vocals), Steven Cooley, (banjo), and John Hawkins (guitar) paired good old-fashioned music with educational information.
“ In the early days when people would get together, if you wanted to have music, you had to make it yourself,” Schroder explained to students. “People would get together on front porches and at barn dances and play music. A lot of the music that was played was tunes that had European origins that settlers in this part of the country had brought with them.”
The students heard a mix of folk tunes, songs written by Bill Monroe and Stephen Foster, and the popular songs “Wagon Wheel” and “Man of Constant Sorrow.” Students also learned about their state roots in songs such as “Kentucky Waltz,” “Blue Moon of Kentucky,” and the final selection of the day, “My Old Kentucky Home.”
Hog Operation---a group which has been together for about 40 years and has recorded a pair of CD’s---also shared the history and influences of Bluegrass music, characterized the instruments played in Bluegrass music, pointed out elements of music theory, and even had audience participation. Students were encouraged to sing along and, at one point, demonstrate the beat with tennis balls.
“The goal of the Allen County-Scottsville Arts Council is to provide the community with quality arts events and enhance the already wonderful arts programs present in our schools,” noted Arts Council member Amy Stone. “We give thanks to Hog Operation for helping us accomplish this objective.”
At the Primary Center, the performances capped a month during which students have explored folk music in general. Earlier in the month, south-central Kentucky musicians Britni Coffey and Gary Denning visited with students and talked about their love for music. In addition, Primary Center students had the opportunity to see and touch traditional folk music instruments such as the banjo, guitar, dulcimer, spoons, and washboard.