ETSU names new director of Institute for Appalachian Music and Culture

Published 9:22 am Wednesday, September 13, 2023

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East Tennessee State University’s Center of Excellence for Appalachian Studies and Services has appointed Dr. Lee Bidgood as director of the Institute for Appalachian Music and Culture.
“We are excited by the prospect of this new Institute, which will greatly enhance our ability to serve our communities and celebrate the cultural traditions of our region. Dr. Bidgood’s proven track record as a musician and scholar makes him the ideal person to lead this effort,” said Dr. Ron Roach, chair of the Department of Appalachian Studies and Center director.
An accomplished musician, Bidgood performed with the Steep Canyon Rangers and Big Fat Gap while he was a student at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and continued performing bluegrass, old-time and other string music styles while completing his doctorate at the University of Virginia. His ethnographic field research in the Czech Republic led to the book “Czech Bluegrass: Notes From The Heart Of Europe” and the feature-length documentary film “Banjo Romantika.” He served as a Fulbright Scholar in the Czech Republic in 2018-19.
Since joining the ETSU faculty in 2010, Bidgood has taught ethnomusicology, music history and applied music courses in Appalachian Studies and Bluegrass, Old-Time, and Roots Music Studies.
The Institute will engage the university with communities across Northeast Tennessee and Appalachia through fieldwork, public events and outreach focused on music and culture, helping to counter pervasive stereotypes about the region. Bidgood’s respect for the culture of the region inspires him as he sets out to shape this Institute’s programs.
“While Appalachia has always been a globally connected region, my work abroad has emphasized to me the value of our local culture not only to people around here, but all over the world,” said Bidgood. “My hope is that the Institute will foster innovative research and creative work in our area and will be a platform for a broad range of partnerships and cultural expressions.”
ETSU’s Center of Excellence for Appalachian Studies and Services, founded in 1984, is part of the Department of Appalachian Studies, which includes the Bluegrass, Old-Time, and Roots Music Studies Program. The Center also includes the Regional Resources Institute, the Archives of Appalachia and the Reece Museum. The Center has a long history of producing leading scholarship about the region, including the “Encyclopedia of Appalachia” and numerous books, documentary films, record albums, exhibitions and recordings. The Center also publishes an online magazine, “Appalachian Places.”
In addition to Bluegrass, Old-Time, and Roots Music Studies, ETSU’s Department of Appalachian Studies offers a variety of educational programs focused on the region, including Appalachian Studies; Heritage Interpretation and Museum Studies; Appalachian, Scottish and Irish Studies; Brewing and Distillation Studies; study abroad experiences; and several undergraduate minors. Scholarships and online courses are available.

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