Thursday, February 26, 2015

Historical folk musical closes out Cornelius run with series of talkbacks

"Precious Memories," a historical musical about the life of early folk musician and activist Sarah Ogan Gunning, ends its run at Cornelius' Warehouse Performing Arts Center with four performances this week.

The folk music musical written by Charlotte-based musician and activist Si Kahn and starring Kentucky musician/educator Sue Massek (the Reel World String Band) begins its final four-day run tonight.

Friday, Saturday and Sunday performances will include talkbacks with Gunning's granddaughter Rosie Ogan Hickman, director Divina Cook, Massek, Kahn, and labor organizer/ author Phil Cohen.

"Precious Memories" is based on the life of Sarah Ogan Gunning. A mother and miner's wife during the Kentucky coal mining wars, Gunning and her family fled to New York City where she and her half-sister Aunt Molly Jackson and brother Jim Garland - both fellow musicians - befriended Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie.

Gunning was recorded by Alan Lomax in 1937, but her music wasn't really discovered until the `60s folk revival when she was living in Detroit with her second husband.

Recognition came later in life for Gunning, who played folk festivals and released an album "Girl of Constant Sorrow" in 1965.

Friday's Talkback is hosted by Levine Museum of the New South's staff historian Tom Hanchett who will speak with Ogan Hickman, who is flying in from Michigan to see the musical.

Host Kara Wooten, chair of the Theatre Department at Queens University, fight director, and author will discuss strong women with Cook, Ogan Hickman, and Massek Saturday.

Kahn concludes the Talkback series Sunday interviewing Cohen, whose book "The Jackson Project: War in the American Worplace," will be published by the University of Tennessee Press later this year. The book focuses on changing work conditions for Southerners in the 1930s when "Precious Memories" takes place.

Kahn will also lead a songwriting workshop from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. before Sunday's matinee at 2 p.m., which will be followed by a jam session.

Shows are at 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $20 for adults and $15 for seniors, students, and groups. For reservations call 704-619-0429 or click here.