Title: Associate Professor of Musicology
What classes do you teach?
I teach a variety of courses in musicology and ethnomusicology, and I direct the WVU Bluegrass and Old-Time Bands.
What advice to you have for students wanting to take your classes, or in general, classes in the College of Creative Arts?
To be successful as students and as creative people, we have to take risks and work hard, but we also have to find joy in the process. In my classes, we do all three. We take calculated creative risks, seeking new ways of understanding old problems, asking questions of the materials we're presented, and developing new ways to communicate what we've learned. We read, write, sing, and dance vigorously because, in working hard, we find our limits and develop strategies to move beyond them. And we laugh a lot because, even when we're dealing with serious issues and difficult matters, laughter can be a great tool to keep us grounded. So if you want to take classes with me, be prepared to take risks, work hard, and laugh.
What are your research interests, and are there any projects you are currently working on?
My primary research interests are in the history of country music and musics in Appalachia. I recently published a book called "Songwriting in Contemporary West Virginia: Profiles and Reflections" (WVU Press, 2018) that documents the current songwriting scene here in the Mountain State, and I've been able to stage some concerts and produce some recordings as a consequence of that work. Currently, I'm finishing a book on the Nashville A Team, a group of session musicians who played on virtually every country recording in Nashville from the middle of the 1950s until about 1980. I'm also editing an essay collection called "Opioid Aesthetics: Expressive Culture in an Age of Addiction" that documents the ways that people have used art, music, literature, dance, film, and other expressive media to respond to the opioid crisis.