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Poet will share stories in Middlebourne

By Staff | Jan 21, 2015

When Alaska’s Fiddling Poet Ken Waldman comes to the Tyler County Senior Center in Middlebourne Jan. 29. It will mark his first ever Tyler County appearance and first public West Virginia show in nearly eight years.

Waldman will visit Tyler and Wetzel counties Jan. 28-29 as part of a residency sponsored by ArtsLink, Inc., the Stealey Community Fund, and Dean and Mary Rohrig. The fiddler/poet has been touring nationally since 1995, sharing his old-time Appalachian-style fiddling, poetry, and Alaska-set storytelling to create a show uniquely his own.

Accompanying Waldman on the two-county tour will be musician Brian Vollmer of Binghamton, N.Y., and other special guests.

The 7 p.m. show on Jan. 29 at the senior center, located at 504 Cherry Street, will be free to the public. Waldman and Vollmer will promote that performance by joining seniors for lunch at the Middlebourne center on Jan. 28. Lunch at the center is open to the public and begins at noon. Donations for the meal are accepted at the door.

“Ken and Brian will interact with the seniors having lunch at the center that day, performing for them and sharing poetry and stories about life in Alaska,” said Donna Earley, ArtsLink program coordinator.

On Wednesday evening, Jan. 28, Waldman will do a free workshop at Quinet’s Court Restaurant in New Martinsville beginning at 5:30 p.m. Participants can enjoy dinner at their expense while listening to Waldman’s musical and story-telling talents. “Fiddlers and poets are welcome to come and play. Bring your guitar and/or poems!” He will also do student workshops Wednesday and Thursday at several local schools.

Waldman’s 2008 memoir, “Are You Famous?” details his many tours across the country. In West Virginia, he’s previously performed in Glenville, Elkins, and Charleston-appearing at colleges, arts centers, and bookstores.

A 29-year Alaska resident, Waldman has eight books, nine CDs, and his live performance has been described by Austin Chronicle writer Ric Williams: “Feels like a Ken Burns movie always recommended.” More recently, Shepherd Express Weekly in Milwaukee termed Waldman “a one-man Prairie Home Companion,” and The Denver Post has called Waldman’s mix of music and words, “Renegade Americana.”

Vollmer is a stellar banjo player, fiddler, and guitarist. A scholar of American roots music, he’s studied with some of the finest musicians in the country, and his first CD, “Old Time Music Party,” received raves. He’s also currently a member of an acclaimed Americana band, Milkweed.

“Waldman’s show appeals to anyone who enjoys traditional Appalachian-style fiddling, smart poetry, acclaimed storytelling, or Alaska,” said Earley. “Start the evening in Tyler County, then journey with Ken Waldman to the Real Alaska and back.”

In addition to the Stealey Community Fund and Dean and Mary Rohrig, support for this program is made possible with financial assistance from the West Virginia Northern Community College, EQT Foundation, WETZ/ WYMJ/ WNRJ Radio, the Wells Inn, and Ohio Valley Online. Grant funding has come from the West Virginia Division of Culture and History and the National Endowment for the Arts, with approval from the West Virginia Commission on the Arts. The Stealey Community Fund is a component fund of the Community Foundation for the Ohio Valley, Inc.

ArtsLink is committed to providing universal accessibility wherever possible. Persons with special needs may contact ArtsLink at 304-455-2278 for assistance.