Blues Master to Give Workshop & Concert at John C. Campbell Folk School

Roy Book Binder

The John C. Campbell Folk School is proud to announce that fingerstyle blues legend Roy Book Binder will be in concert on Monday Sept. 23rd. The concert is in Keith House at 7:00 PM and is offered at no charge as grant dollars from the North Carolina Arts Council will underwrite Book Binder’s concert.

“Book,” as he is called by friends and fans, began to study guitar in New York City (NYC) in the early 1960’s when he left the navy. He contacted one of the blues greats, the Rev. Gary Davis who made his home in NYC. Book became more than a student, and traveled with Davis while Davis was touring. Rev. Davis was an African-American bluesman who played six-and-twelve stringed guitars. When the folksong revival of the late 1950’s through the later 1960’s took NYC (and the entire United States) by storm, the Rev. Davis had a whole new career and audiences. During this era Rev. Davis, (and many more Black bluesmen) noted that their audiences became mostly White and college aged. Naturally, they bought records and careers skyrocketed. It was during the early-mid 1960’s that Book became a regular as a solo act in NYC clubs and at hootenannies. 

Roy Book Binder

Book then took a vacation around 1970 and went to Spartansburg, South Carolina to seek out blues great Pink Anderson. Anderson also had a repertory of humorous songs that had been popular in an earlier era; songs like “He’s in the Jailhouse Now” that had been covered by popular early recording artists such as Jimmie Rodgers.

In 1970 Book went to England where American southern blues was beloved. Book came home to the U.S. with his career exploding. By 1976 Book had cut loose his NYC apartment and began life on the road in a motorhome. Although married, with a home in Florida, Book still spends much of his time on the road sleeping at the parking lots of the clubs where he performs. 

Book will then present a workshop on Tuesday Sept. 24th in the History Center of the Folk School. The cost will be $75.00 for a two-hour workshop. Interested persons should contact David A. Brose at 828-837-2775 to make a reservation for the workshop.

Plan on being at the Folk School for the concert on Sept. 23rd at 7:00 to enjoy one of the blues world’s great artists. He will be playing acoustic fingerstyle guitar, solo. It is not often that there is a blues artist of Book’s stature in our community.

Plan on being at the Folk School for the concert on Sept. 23rd at 7:00 to enjoy one of the blues world’s great artists. He will be playing acoustic fingerstyle guitar, solo. It is not often that there is a blues artist of Book’s stature in our community.

Roy Book Binder 

Seat Weaver and Folk School Instructor Jo Rusin Gets Published in DeSoto Magazine

Jo Rusin is an instructor and seat weaver at the Folk School. Recently, she’s been featured in the July 2013 issue of DeSoto Magazine which features all sorts of interesting people and places in the South. Read the issue online here, or see the article featuring Jo Rusin below. 

Jo Rusin in DeSoto

Jo’s teaching a class at the Folk School in November. Want to take a class with Jo? Read her class description below and sign up today!

Weaving Chair Seats November 3-9, 2013
Learn the skills and trade secrets of traditional laced cane, flat reed, machine-woven cane, and fiber rush seat weaving in a fun-filled, hands-on week. Bring your own chairs or stools in good repair and give them a beautiful and functional new seat. Complete one to three projects while practicing a historic craft. No prior experience necessary. 

Sign up for her class here.

Read Jo’s bio here.  

Visit Jo’s Website here.

Student work in Jo Rusin's seat weaving class at the Folk School
Old chairs get makeovers in Jo Rusin’s seat weaving class at the Folk School

Slinging Mud at the Folk School with clay student, David Evans

Slinging Mud on the potter’s wheel

David Evans is one of our students at the Folk School! He recently took Ken and Melody Shipley’s pottery class. This awesome article will be published in the Atlanta on-line journal “Like the Dew.”  Click here to read the PDF version of  Slinging Mud by Folk School Student David Evans.

John C. Campbell Folk School
John C. Campbell Folk School

So Much Flow

Jan stands in front of the Folk School sign
Jan stands in front of the Folk School sign

“We still make things,” says our bumper sticker. Why bother? Lord knows, there are plenty of things around. And why would one spend what amounts to months of one’s life playing bump-ditty, bump-ditty on a banjo, when all one has to do for music is insert one’s earbuds? Why is the Folk School, with all its handmade, hand-holding, low-tech tradition still going after 88 years?

The late writer and This American Life contributor David Rakoff gave me some insight about what really was happening in the classes. He had come to Brasstown to do a piece for the New York Times Magazine. He acknowledged the scenery, praised the home-grown food, enjoyed the music and did some of the more balletic square dancing we’d ever seen in Brasstown. After a couple of days he came to see me. “This place is amazing,” he said “I’ve never been anywhere that there’s so much flow.” I had no idea what he was talking about—had he somehow become impressed by our new state-of-the-art septic field? I was just about to tell him it was among the largest and most over-engineered in Cherokee County, when David said to me, “Mihály Csíkszentmihályi.”

We don’t hear much of that kind of talk around here so I didn’t know whether to bless him or just look dumb—“He can tell you all about ‘Flow,’” Rakoff said, “Look him up.” I did, and it was a revelation that helped me understand what goes on at the Folk School, and why we make things.

My advice is to learn to say “MEE-hayi CHEEK-sent-mee-hayi,” so you can drop it in the conversation at the next coon hunt. This Hungarian-American psychologist had many years ago (was I the last to know? Again?) listed the conditions needed for “flow”: concentration on the present; awareness and action merged; loss of reflective self-consciousness; personal control of the situation and activity; altered sense of time; doing something intrinsically rewarding. “Flow” is not what is meant by “going with the flow” with its connotation of “whatever.” Flow is intense concentration, the exact opposite of apathy. It can suspend time and concentrate space to a few inches in front of your eyes, between your hands.

Well, shoot, that’s pretty much what we do all the time in Brasstown—close-up, intimate, repetitive, it might look monotonous if you’re just a-watching, not a-doing. A basketmaker threads his tiny oak strips through meticulously shaved ribs. A woodcarver with a Sponge Bob bandaid puts knife to wooden duck at a focal point just past the end of her nose. A weaver treadles and beats, rocks and rolls in a trance as old as looms. A fiddler off in the woods with a new tune forgets to eat dinner. The blacksmith knows no time but the fire. Old folks speed up, young folks slow down. At the end of a session, some people are surprised to find that they have somehow made a trunk full of stuff while they thought they were resting.

This article appeared in Blue Ridge Country Magazine’s Anniversary Edition (page 98). The Folk School was also  awarded the Gold Award for Best Continuing Education Opportunity in the same edition. Click here to see the entire magazine online

Blue Ridge Country Award
Gold Award for Best Continuing Education Opportunity