Paducah musician J.D. Wilkes takes the spotlight for the latest edition of Evenings Upstairs at McCracken County Public Library, where he will discuss Kentucky music history and perform live.
“Barn Dances & Jamborees Across Kentucky” is the title of Wilkes’ 2013 book about musical get-togethers in Kentucky and serves as the topic for Thursday’s Evenings Upstairs program at the library. The program will involve a history discussion of the traditional “barn dance,” a slideshow of his travels, banjo tunes, harmonica playing and a Q&A session. It’s scheduled for 7-8 p.m. in the second floor meeting room.
Wilkes has toured around the world with his band, Legendary Shack Shakers, and wanted to learn more history of the music that inspires him. He traveled from Paducah to Pikeville and back again. On his journey, Wilkes said he interviewed old-timers and took photographs.
“I got in the car and decided I’d drive across Kentucky and try to learn a little bit about the history of Kentucky music, hillbilly music, bluegrass, rockabilly, things like that, that are indigenous to the area or the state that I love,” Wilkes said.
He hopes Evenings Upstairs attendees get a sense of appreciation regarding Kentucky’s special contributions to American music, including jug band music’s birth in the Louisville area.
“We have three styles of music, genres of music, that were born in Kentucky,” he said. “Those being jug band music, Bluegrass music and a sort of Travis-style guitar picking that was ‘invented’ by Merle Travis, or at least popularized by Merle Travis. Two of those styles of music were born in western Kentucky.”
The Evenings Upstairs series celebrates its 25th anniversary this year and programs are free and open to the public, according to coordinator Bobbie Wrinkle. Wrinkle said it gets a good response and programs are “really diverse,” such as a planned ghost storyteller in October.
“J.D. is always a treat,” Wrinkle said. “He’s fun, energetic. He’s a really good author. He’s a cartoonist. He’s a musician. … It’s just nice to have him here at the library.”
The program is co-sponsored by Kentucky Humanities, which is an independent, nonprofit affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities in Washington, D.C.
Visit www.mclib.net/evenings for more information about upcoming programs.