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CHAPTER 6 Bouquets and Arrows What purposes did Lunsford have In mind? The question Is a hard one, for while he talked much about his work, he did not discuss the broader cultural and political implications of his activities. Most of us, except for eager academics, find It difficult to verbalize the wispy theories that motivate us to action. Lunsford often referred to old singers dying with their treasures of ballads, of the old ways dying out, of the progressive pushing out the traditional and of the failure of the young to appreciate the value of old ways. But he was clearly ambivalent In his attitudes toward the old and the new. He started a festival to showcase traditional musicians and dancers at a time when most of his peers were clamoring for the fruits of the Industrial age, and In fact, used a largely phoney tourlstattracting promotional effort to present his "authentic" show. He Invested In the real estate boom that was a major threat to the very traditional culture that he cherished. He was like most of us who must choose between the allure of new ways and things and devotion to the old. Lunsford learned that In the marketplace of values and aesthetics one had to wheel and deal, that everything had Its price and that whenever you won you also lost. Was Lunsford attempting more than just to preserve and promote the old songs and dances that he happened to love? ObViously he was, but It Is hard to find evidence that he had any kind of plan that could be called culturally political, even with current Interpretation when political motives are readily attributed to anyone who appears to be swimming against the tides of history. Lunsford had his calling which he followed with as much zeal as anyone ever did. But he was an anomaly. He was of the folk and yet he was also mlddlestream mountain gentry. True, this made him uniquely able at enlisting the partiCipation of almost all types of people In the mountains because, In addition to his enthusiastic and engaging personality, he could converse with one and all within the framework of their interests and understanding. One has to remember, however, that In addition to his presenting authentic folk talent around the country, he also travelled for the Asheville Chamber of Commerce puffing the virtues of the Land of the Sky and giving a shameless argument as to why the well-to-do should spend their money In Western North Carolina. The politicians he promoted for public office were those who looked after the progressive business Interests of his area. Yet as David Whisnant has written In a perceptive article for the Appalachian Journal,l Lunsford found a way between the old and the new. He had an in117 stinct for what he was doing. He liked progress, but even more he loved the traditional ways of his youth. He knew he could not "preserve" the latter against the tide of the former as a lone worker, but he hoped It was possible to create a climate in which the old ways would be respected, and he knew that if they had the prestige of respect then they would be more likely to survive, in some form, into a new age. His instincts told him that he could not do what he wanted to do in direct conflict with the economic and social movements of his time. So he joined these forces and used them and their momentum and money to promote what was dear to his heart. Perhaps this would not have worked elsewhere, but the Asheville Chamber of Commerce was in business to sell the main product of Western North Carolina-climate and scenery and to some extent a way of life that had passed from most places in the country but which was strong and vibrant in the Blue Ridge and Smokies, or could be made to appear so. Handicrafts, music and colorful dances were a major part of the charm of the region. The Chamber needed Bascom to bring out the musicians and dancers for the tourists to see. Bascom needed the money and the promotional apparatus that the Chamber could muster. With the help of the Chamber, Bascom created an atmosphere where the folk arts were cherished. Thus they continued to grow, in somewhat changed forms to be sure, but with a new vitality, not just as quaint survivals but as evidence of a culture...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780813148823
Related ISBN
9780813190273
MARC Record
OCLC
680416261
Pages
272
Launched on MUSE
2016-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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