11 September 2019

Rhiannon Giddens: Ken Burns, Mike Seeger, and the Bitter Southerner

Rhiannon Giddens of the Carolina Chocolate Drops won the 2016 Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass, deliverered the Keynote Address at IBMA's World of Bluegrass 2017, played in Ireland late in 2018, and returned earlier this year for a tour with percussionist Francesco Turrisi.

She can be seen this week in a variety of media contexts: first, filmed in 2009 for the Mike Seeger documentary due for release on 20 Sept. by Smithsonian Folkways (see the BIB for 16 Aug. 2019). Two video clips are on John Lawless's feature on Bluegrass Today.

Secondly, in his article 'Who's country?' on the Bitter Southerner online magazine, Rob Rushin interviews Ken Burns about his latest documentary TV series, 'Country music', which emphasises the genre's diverse and wide-ranging sources. Most of the interview is in fact with Rhiannon Giddens, who was one of Burns's major contributors and a narrator on the series; and like her IBMA keynote address, it's well worth reading.

Thirdly, the Bitter Southerner backs this up by rerunning the Jenna Strucko article, 'So you think you know the banjo?', based on interviews with the Carolina Chocolate Drops and first published thirteen months ago (see the BIB for 7 Aug. 2018).

Update 12 Sept.: From 22 November to 10 December, Rhiannon Giddens and Francesco Turrisi will be on tour in Europe: eight dates in Britain, three in Germany, two in the Netherlands, one in Belgium, and one in France.

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