Setting the Record Straight: Confronting Stereotypes in Historical Appalachian Recordings

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Technologies new and old in concert with a twenty-first century folk music revival have introduced historical music from Appalachia to a new generation of music fans, within the region, across the nation, and around the world. One unforeseen consequence of this situation is that this new generation is being inundated with a flood of regional stereotypes associated with that older music--stereotypes that are unleashed on the new generation when historical recordings are reissued (or issued for the first time, in the case of some field recordings). In my presentation, I'll discuss several case studies from my own work as a producer of historical music releases in which stereotypes either were subtly embedded in reissued recordings or were overtly associated with the music or the musicians featured on those releases. I'll discuss some of my efforts as producer and liner notes writer to confront stereotypes in such a way as to help a new generation defuse stereotypes while at the same time find meaning, value, and enjoyment in older recordings that are at one level "politically incorrect" or even offensive.

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