This past weekend (September 17th) Traditional Arts Indiana participated in the Lotus World Music and Arts Festival’s free Saturday event “Lotus in the Park.” The morning rain gave way to sunshine by late afternoon and the park was filled with excellent live music, art activities and star making sessions for One Million Stars to End Violence, and artist demonstrations and narrative stage events from TAI. The artists present were guitar maker Clint Bear, fiddle/mandolin maker Bruce Taggert, dulcimer builder Bill Berg, and African drum maker Tony Artis. The artist demonstrations at this event were uniquely interactive, as Clint, Bruce, Bill, and Tony not only demonstrated how they make and play their instruments, they also allowed event-goers to interact with and play the instruments themselves. This lead to some deeply rewarding moments both between the artists and the public, and between the artists and the musicians playing the festival.
Traditional music jam sessions coalesced around Bruce Taggert’s tent as musically inclined event goers came by to admire Bruce’s fiddles and mandolins and then stayed to play and sing together. As the crowd changed so too did the music of the jam sessions, shifting from French-Canadian styles to traditional Irish tunes and then to Old Time music, punctuated occasionally by a classical piece or two. Things took an equally interesting and enjoyable turn when some of the musicians booked to play the festival stopped by, bringing with them some of their own instruments including an accordion (which the Traditional Arts Indiana graduate students were personally very excited about). Additionally, our own Jennie Williams, a musician in her own right, gave a few impromptu mandolin lessons to interested children attending with their parents.
At the next table over, Tony Artis set out two drums, one mostly finished and the other complete, along with two chairs so that he could alternate easily between showing event goers how he constructs his drums and teaching them how to play them. Tony sat interested parties of all ages down across from him and taught them five central techniques for drum playing. Meanwhile, Clint Bear and Bill Berg’s tables featured a combination of partially finished and fully completed guitars and dulcimers with which passerby could engage. Intense musical and technical conversations between the makers and interested dulcimer and guitar players occurred frequently throughout the event and they too allowed their instruments to be played by the public.
Throughout the day the artists were whisked away to participate in narrative stage events. Here our own Jon Kay interviewed the artists in pairs (Bruce Taggert and Clint Bear, then Bill Berg and Tony Artis), asking them about their personal connections to their crafts well as about their methods and experiences.
All in all it was a lovely day of engagement and music and we at Traditional Arts Indiana hope you will stop by our upcoming events.