Conscious party: Keeping the old ways alive

MUSIC OF AGES: David Holt, left, and Josh Goforth exemplify the Center for Cultural Preservation's mission to protect Appalachian heritage from obsolescence. An upcoming benefit for the nonprofit will feature their songs and stories. Photo courtesy of the artists

WHAT: Music and storytelling by David Holt and Josh Goforth to benefit the Center for Cultural Preservation

WHEN:  Wednesday, March 30, at 7:30 p.m.

WHERE: Blue Ridge Community College’s Bo Thomas Auditorium

WHY: “I think 104 was the [age of the] oldest person I’ve interviewed so far,” says David Weintraub, the Center for Cultural Preservation’s executive director. With volunteer help, he’s collecting oral histories from seniors in 12 counties under the Mountain Elder Wisdom Project.

More than just documenting colorful tales, the initiative seeks to inspire youths to keep Appalachian heritage — the connections to agriculture, community, sustainable living, family and faith, in addition to artistic traditions — an active presence in modern life.

“So many of the solutions to our problems today could be found not by wringing our hands and staring at our portable electronic devices from thousands of miles away, but by asking those folks who have faced difficult times how they survived and thrived. … The problem is these people are rapidly disappearing.”

CPP has produced several documentaries using the 70 stories collected thus far and is inviting Henderson County students to gather additional oral histories for an inaugural youth contest. Winning short films will be screened at the nonprofit’s annual Culture Vulture Film Festival.

“That’s one of the things we’re hoping this concert coming up will help fund,” Weintraub says, “in addition to the continuance of our oral histories and documentary films.”

The benefit show’s multigenerational entertainers — David Holt and Josh Goforth — exemplify cultural continuance, according to Weintraub. While Holt, a Texas-born folk musician and storyteller, learned Appalachian culture through decades of immersion, his protégé Goforth has a blood connection to Madison County elders that influenced both men musically.

“So there’s this incredible reciprocity that goes on between the two,” Weintraub says. “They bring to life not the just music, but the stories of people who came before. And you can just see why it’s so important that this history and knowledge goes on.”

Visit saveculture.org or call 692-8062 for more information or to purchase tickets ($20). 

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About Kat McReynolds
Kat studied entrepreneurship and music business at the University of Miami and earned her MBA at Appalachian State University. Follow me @katmAVL

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