Recreate Your Roots

Dom Flemons and Anna & Elizabeth Colloquium features an American songster in conversation with innovative multi instrumentalists and Appalachian storytellers, 2 p.m., Monday, Feb. 5, Imig Music Building, Room C-199, CU campus

Dom Flemons and Anna & Elizabeth workshop, 3:30 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 6, The Center for Musical Arts, 200 E. Baseline Road, Lafayette

Latin Music Workshop with Steve Mullins and Brenda Romero, 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 6, The Center for Musical Arts

Dom Flemons and Anna & Elizabeth evening concert, 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 7, Grusin Hall, Imig Music Building

University of Colorado professor of musicology Thomas Riis said that when he was in college in the 1970s he attended a "formative" concert by folk singer-songwriter Odetta Holmes, often referred to as "The Voice of the Civil Rights Movement," that left a lasting impression.

"She was an incredible and commanding presence," said Riis. "I was transfixed. She said something that really stayed with me — 'The pop musicians look down on the classical musicians and the classical musicians look down on the popular musicians. But the folk musicians look down on everybody, because all music started with folk music.'"


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Riis, of Longmont, with the help of Longmont folk musician Jayme Stone, brainstormed for two years on how to bring an event to the community that honors and celebrates one of popular music's earliest genres. The two-week "Recreate Your Roots" symposium was formed in an effort to represent a diverse cross-section of American roots traditions through the eyes of contemporary musicians.

University of Colorado professor and director of CU’s American Music Research Center Thomas Riis collaborated with Longmont musician Jayme Stone to
University of Colorado professor and director of CU's American Music Research Center Thomas Riis collaborated with Longmont musician Jayme Stone to organize "Recreate Your Roots" symposium at CU. (Courtesy photo)
It recently wrapped its first week and will continue Monday through Wednesday at The Center for Musical Arts in Lafayette and the Imig Music Building at the University of Colorado in Boulder with workshops, community outreach and performances by Dom Flemons, of Carolina Chocolate Drops, and the Virginia roots duo Anna & Elizabeth.

"Roots music is music that started around a campfire," said Riis, the director of CU's American Music Research Center, who will retire in June. "It's music in oral culture, associated with a strong community of values that has been handed down from generations. Having one or two people with a guitar or mandolin singing a song, it just grabs you right in the middle."

Last week's performance by Jayme Stone's Folklife featured the banjoist and composer who has an award-winning collection music, including two Juno Awards, Canada's equivalent of a Grammy.

"I've been working with old field recordings and renewing old songs for many years," said Stone, on the core of his Folklife project. "Dom Flemons and Anna & Elizabeth are contemporary artists working with new sound elements, but are equally studied in these old traditions and take very seriously the work of where the music came."

Stone said Monday's colloquium is a chance for attendees to get a taste of the week's events. He'll facilitate a conversation and performance with the guest artists at 2 p.m. Monday in CU's Imig Music Building. Tuesday's workshop presentation will feature the guest artists in an informal program and demonstration at 3:30 p.m. at The Center for Musical Arts in Lafayette, which will also host a Latin Music Workshop at 7:30 p.m. On Wednesday, Dom Flemons and Anna & Elizabeth will perform at 7:30 p.m. in Grusin Hall on the CU campus.

Stone said roots music has inspired nearly every genre of music — from R&B to bluegrass to pop.

"Folk music is like a long game of broken telephone across generations," said Stone. "Music has a history and can become a window into understanding the lives of people, the politics and social issues of times past. I'm passionate about the music, I feel like things that stand the test of time are sturdy vessels that can withstand many generations of creativity."

Christy Fantz: 303-473-1107, fantz@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/fantzypants