2009 RALPH J. GLEASON AWARD
As the recipient of the Rex Foundation’s 2009 Ralph J. Gleason Award, Jorma plans to use the grant to teach Appalachian kids about their musical heritage. Already a number of projects are under way. Vanessa Kaukonen tells us that one of the Ranch’s instructors, Spencer Bohren, will be taking his hour-long documentary concert “Down the Dirt Road Blues” to a school in Moreland, Kentucky. “The great thing about this approach is that we can reach over 500 kids at one time,” she says.
“‘Down the Dirt Road Blues’ follows the journey of a single song as it travels through America’s history and culture. From its pre-slavery African beginning, the song slowly transforms into Mississippi blues, Memphis dance music, a banjo tune from Appalachia, Hank Williams’ early country music, Muddy Waters’ electric Chicago blues, and finally into folk music and rock ’n’ roll, with Bob Dylan and the Rolling Stones. Spencer’s concurrent narrative gives students a historical context for the changes that drive the music forward.” In addition, Fur Peace is working to help provide music instruction and instruments to students through existing local programs.
“We feel we can do so much more with the grant money if we branch out,” Vanessa Kaukonen explains. “We are currently investigating the funding of music programs locally by awarding grants to local schools, community centers, workshops, and camps outside of the Fur Peace Ranch. So far, with our current approach, we anticipate reaching over 600 kids directly.”
The Ralph J. Gleason Award is in memory of music journalist Ralph J. Gleason, a major figure in the advancement of music in America in the 1960s, whose openness to new music and ideas transcended differences between generations and styles.