Major funding for the Celtic Roots conference was provided by Emory University, a special “We the People” award from the National Endowment for the Humanities in partnership with the Georgia Humanities Council, and Culture Ireland, the arts funding agency of the Irish government. It was also funded, in part, by a grant from South Arts in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Georgia Council for the Arts.

KEYNOTE LECTURE    Settlement and Revival: Two Tales of Ireland in the South – by Henry Glassie

CONCERTS                   The Scottish Connection – Jamie Laval and the Buzzrunners and special guest Joe Penland

                                       The Irish Connection – Atlantic Fringe and special guests Joe Penland, John Moulden and Ken Perlman

                                       The Appalachian Connection

                                            i ain’t broke (but i’m badly bent) – thirteen fiddle tunes for string quartet by David Garner, performed by the Vega String Quartet,

                                                Preceded by a conversation between Garner, Vega violinist Domenic Salerni and traditional fiddler Henry Benagh, moderated by Jamie Laval

                                            Bearers of the Tradition – North Georgia ballads by Mary Lomax and Bonnie Loggins hosted by Art Rosenbaum

                                            Southern Summits – concert with conversation - Alan Jabbour, fiddle and Ken Perlman, banjo

                                            Will the Circle Be Unbroken – Closing jam led by Atlanta bluegrass band The Varmits

SESSIONS                    Whose Tradition Anyway and Why Should It Matter”

                                          Lectures on the migration of tunes and songs between the cultures of Ireland, Scotland and the American South, moderated by Therese Smith

                                          – John Moulden: “Country Music is Ulster Music: The Scots-Irish Contribution to the Song Tradition of the American South”

                                          – Paul Wells: “Examining the Irish-Appalachian Connection in the American Fiddle Tune Repertoire”

                                          – Fintan Vallely: “Hand-Me-Downs, Fence Jumpers and Prisoners of War: The Double Life of Irish Songs and Tunes”

                                        Saying the Song and Singing the Story: Tradition and Identity in Irish, Scottish and Appalachian Ballads

                                            A discussion with Joe Penland, Cathy Jordan, John Moulden, Art Rosenbaum and Fintan Vallely, moderated by Alan Jabbour

                                        Playing with the Fingers or on the Bow: Style and Technique in Irish, Scottish and Appalachian Fiddle Music

                                         A lecture-demonstration with Henry Benagh, Jamie Laval and Alan Jabbour, moderated by Paul Wells

                                        Putting It All Together: Tradition and Innovation in Roots Music

                                         A discussion with Rick Epping, Jamie Laval, Ken Perlman and Fintan Vallely, moderated by David Garner

                                        Folk Arts and the Meaning of Community

                                         A conversation with Henry Glassie and John Burrison, moderated by James Flannery


You and your team staged a superbly organized and balanced event that involved some of the best musicians and most genially well-informed scholars it’s been my fortune to meet. Everyone concerned was clearly a highly committed artist and most were also engaged at a high intellectual level. The mix of discussion, explanation and performance was highly stimulating for me and, clearly, for all the presenters and their audience alike… My own ideas have attained clarity and I have been enabled to make many important contacts, with ordinary enthusiasts as well as distinguished students of musical culture… The best aspect for me was the programme’s radical inclusivity; while the Celtic contribution was foremost on the agenda, that of other groups was also acknowledged.

John Moulden, leading authority on the Irish song tradition

(The Conference) was a groundbreaking event from which I learned much and which I believe will bring much good in years to come.

Steve Darsey, Director of Music, Glenn Memorial Church

My wife and I enjoyed our weekend of outstanding music, congenial conversation, and satisfying scholarly edification. It was one of the best, indeed, one of the most profound, musical events I’ve ever attended, and I’ve attended many.

Wayne Erickson, Associate Professor of English, Emeritus, Georgia State University

I’ve spent a great deal of time in Northern Ireland in connection with my research, and I especially liked the inclusive nature of the Celtic Roots program. My personal experience with Irish artists has informed my belief that the national boundaries do not mean much to them. Musicians have always met and learned from each other in defiance of political divisions, and the conference illuminated such transnational connections in a refreshingly concrete way… The sense of a living, breathing, and evolving performance tradition was palpable throughout the day.

Marilynn Richtarik, Professor of English, Georgia State University

I connected with the music in a way that I have never done before – a few fiddle solos were so glorious that I was reassured that God must exist.

Grace Mackowiak, student, Emory University

The conference was superbly organized. The combination of academics and professional musicians in a relaxed panel format was refreshing and highly informative. It was the highlight of the academic year for me.

Colin Harte, Department of Music, University of Florida

I honestly haven’t heard such beautiful music that made everyone in the crowd clap, tap, and made me feel like dancing around the entire Cannon Chapel. The speaker, the fiddler, the chorus of bagpipes, and the entire program was thrilling and exciting from start to end.

Irene Makapugay, student, Emory University

Thanks to you and your staff for your work in putting together a very, very stimulating conference! It was a winner on all counts: intellectually, logistically and socially! ... I greatly appreciate the opportunity you provided for me to present my work on demythologizing the relationship between Irish traditional music and southern American fiddling… It is work that I intend to revise and keep developing, and I shall always be grateful for the chance that you provided me to give it its initial hearing.

Paul F. Wells, Director Emeritus, Center for Popular Music, East Tennessee State University

A truly wonderful conference and time in Atlanta. I thought that the conference exceeded all expectations, and you did a wonderful job of bringing many different energies and synergies together.

Therese Smith, Professor of Music, University College, Dublin

View video of all the sessions and concerts on Emory’s You Tube channel at: