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Area Musicians to Highlight C-N Festival Tuesday Evening

At C-N Tuesday – Lonetones members Steph Gunnoe and Sean McCollough will be part of Tuesday evening’s free concert at C-N’s Thomas Recital Hall. The event, which will include music and poetry, is part of the Bonner Foundation Summer Leadership Institute.

A collection of established East Tennessee songwriters will perform at Carson-Newman next week. The Thomas Recital Hall event begins at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday evening; it is free and open to the public.

Titled “Saving Place: Reflections on Home, Community and the Environment through Music and Spoken Word,” the show will include The Lonetones’ Steph Gunnoe and Sean McCollough, Kevin Abernathy and Jack Herranen. It will also feature Knoxville spoken-word artist Black Atticus and emcee Chris Green, a noted West Virginia poet.

Offered in conjunction with the Bonner Foundation’s Summer Leadership Institute, the festival is cosponsored by C-N’s Bonner Center, the Lindquist Environmental Appalachian Fellowship and the Mossy Creek Network.

The evening will feature songs and poems that relate to one’s sense of place. “…(I)n particular, Appalachia as (being) a complicated place to live in or be from,” smiled Gunnoe, who said what began as a way to raise awareness about mountaintop removal coal mining expanded quickly. “That’s still an important theme, but, as we began to assemble these talented individuals, it became clear that it needed to be broader than that. These folks all have so much to add to the important discussion about what it means to be from Appalachia, or from anywhere for that matter. We expect it to be a fun, inspiring evening.”

Gunnoe praises that Abernathy “could coast on his guitar-playing skills alone, but lucky for East Tennessee, he does not.’ His work features characters that include a meth addict dying on the highway, a troublemaker who goes missing, and a group of South Knoxvillians whose disagreements turn into a brawl. “Kevin is gifted in his ability to elicit compassion for the unlikeliest creatures that dot the landscape of his songs,” she said.

Joseph J. Woods, known as Black Atticus, is a key player in Knoxville’s hip hop and spoken word poetry scene. His band, The Theorizt, brings acoustic texture to hip hop. Gunnoe said he combines passion for self-expression with his infectious down-to-earth quality. “Black Atticus is an intriguing performer made more so by his interest in his audience and curiosity about the world.”

Though born and raised in Knoxville, Herranen has been powerfully influenced by living in Bolivia, as is evidenced in parallels he draws between life in the Andes and in the Southern Appalachians. “Jack writes timelessly and universally about issues of human dignity. He’s a keen observer of roots and root causes and he writes songs with an uncommon ability to approach the future through the past,” said Gunnoe.

Gunnoe and McCollough form the core of The Lonetones, a quartet that examines Appalachian life with what Gunnoe says is “a reverent, enduring and, at times, conflicted spirit.” Gunnoe says her songwriting is concerned with generational conflicts and the inner struggles of those whose hearts and souls are tied to the mountains but also who also freedom. McCollough is a Michigander whose love came from growing up in rural middle Tennessee. He teaches about Appalachian music in area public schools and at the University of Tennessee.

Green cites a high school English teacher’s assessment that his home state of Kentucky had no great writers with dedicating him to Appalachian literature and “demystifying creativity.” A professor of English at Marshall University, Green’s works includes the poetry collection Rushlight and “The Social Life of Poetry,” which received the Weatherford Award for Best Non-Fiction Book about Appalachia.

For more information, contact C-N’s Bonner Center at 865-471-3594.

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