BY: ABIGAIL WHITEHOUSE
If you happen to walk by the Memorial Science building on a Tuesday evening, you may just be lucky enough to hear the sound of deep-rooted Appalachian heritage seeping through an open window.
Dr. Bob Frederick, professor of Biological Sciences at Eastern, is the founder of the Eastern Appalachian and Bluegrass Music Organization.
Frederick first organized a weekly Bluegrass jam session on Richmond’s campus in October of last year.
These sessions consisted of handfuls of musicians cutting loose and playing classic old-time songs like “Lonesome Road Blues” and “Cripple Creek.”
This week’s jam session consisted of various Appalachian instruments including a dulcimer, a banjo, a Dobro and a guitar.
“I’m a banjo picker,” Frederick said. “I’ve been playing the banjo for about 35 years.”
From the old legendary Kentucky native Bill Monroe, (commonly known as the “Father of Bluegrass music”) to the contemporary band Blue Highway, Frederick says he is a fan of all ages of Bluegrass music.
“When I first came here to EKU 30 years ago, I picked with a janitor over here in the janitor’s closet,” Frederick said. “He was a mandolin picker and now he’s the mandolin picker for Dailey and Vincent.”
Commonly sitting across from Frederick on Tuesday evenings is a guy getting down on the Dobro named Aaron Fore.
Fore, 20, a network security and electronics major at Eastern, from Corbin said his love of Bluegrass music began at a very young age when he first heard the sound and style at his church.
Fore, who also plays the bass for a band called, “Followers of the Way,” says he picked up the Dobro about three years ago.
“I’ve never had any lessons,” Fore said. “I don’t know what it is I’m doing, I just do it.”
If you ever get the chance to hear Fore play the Dobro, or watch him slide his left hand up and down the instrument’s neck, you’ll never know the difference between self-taught and formal training.
These weekly Bluegrass jam sessions are open to anyone who can appreciate the sound of string instruments and Appalachian twang.
“People can come by just to listen if they want,” Frederick said. “If you want to stop in and play something a little different, we’d love to have you.”
David Powell, 32, an adjunct English teacher at Eastern, came to the jam session out of curiosity.
Typically a classical guitarist, Powell said he’s fairly new to the world of Bluegrass music.
“I’m kind of moving my way into Bluegrass music,” Powell said, “So for now, I’m just going to make noise.”
The young lady you can see with the Dulcimer laying across her lap is Brenna Rowan, 19 and ASL Interpreting major at Eastern.
New to the Dulcimer, Rowan said she used to go to the farmer’s market to listen and watch a group of people playing traditional Bluegrass instruments.
Like Powell, Rowan wandered into Frederick’s Bluegrass jam session out of curiosity and love for all music in general.
“I want to put together an all-student Bluegrass band,” Frederick said. “Instead of just jamming, I want to work on putting together some pieces and maybe even performing at EKU functions.”
Whether you’re a diehard fan of folk and strings, or you’ve suddenly found yourself mesmerized by the old Appalachian Mountain sounds, you are more than welcome to stop by room 177 in the Memorial Science Building on Tuesday evenings.
For more information, contact Dr. Bob Frederick at Bob.firstname.lastname@example.org.