Carolina Bluegrass Summit

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Jimmy Martin Fan Club Newsletter, December, 1972, in Folder 78, Southern Folklife Collection Fan Club Newsletters (30023)

Please join us at UNC Chapel Hill on November 11 and 12, 2016 for the Carolina Bluegrass Summit. Sponsored by the UNC Department of Music and the Southern Folklife Collection. All events take place on the campus of UNC at Chapel Hill except for the closing social (which is at Linda’s Bar and Grill, just across Franklin street from campus). We are extremely excited to welcome musicians, scholars, writers, industry leaders, and especially bluegrass fans to celebrate the first year of the UNC Bluegrass Intiative. 

Exhibit and symposium are free and open to the public. Steep Canyon Rangers concert is a ticketed event. Concert tickets on sale via Carolina Performing Arts.

See more details and schedule below. We look forward to seeing you at UNC!

Friday, November 11, 2016

3pm: WORKSHOP w/ Steep Canyon Rangers, Person Hall, UNC-CH.

5pm: EXHIBIT OPENING Folk Music on Overdrive: Bluegrass Music in the Southern Folklife Collection.
4th Floor, Southern Folklife Collection, Wilson Special Collections Library, UNC-CH. Music performance by Emily Kirsch and Bailey Coe.

7pm: LECTURE Concerts in Context: A Pre-Concert Lecture Series with Dr. Jocelyn Neal, Associate Chair of the Department of Music, and Dr. W. Fitzhugh Brundage, Chair of the Department of History. Gerrard Hall, UNC-CH.

8pm CONCERT Steep Canyon Rangers w/ special guest the Carolina Bluegrass Band. Memorial Hall, UNC-CH. (Ticketed)

Saturday, November 12, 2016. BLUEGRASS SYMPOSIUM
Pleasants Family Assembly Room, 2nd floor, Wilson Special Collections Library. UNC-CH.

8:45am: COFFEE

9-10am RESEARCH PRESENTATIONS
Jordan Laney (Virginia Tech): “What’s Cooking in Kathleen’s Kitchen? Exploring Feminized Performances and Spaces in Bluegrass Festivals,” and
Erica Fedor (UNC Chapel Hill): “Sounding Out Against HB2: Music and Protest in Local North Carolina Perspectives”
Respondent: C. Joti Rockwell, Associate Professor of Music (Pomona College)

10-10:30am: Joseph Decosimo (UNC Chapel Hill) “‘This Train Has Got Two Tracks, and We’re Just on One’: Navigating Bluegrass/Old-Time Boundaries in Southeast Tennessee”

10:45am-12pm: BLUEGRASS ON RECORD: Dave Freeman (County and Rebel Records), Marian Leighton Levy and Ken Irwin (Rounder Records), and Barry Poss (Sugar Hill Records), with Allison Hussey (Associate Music Editor, INDY Week), moderator

12-1:15pm: LUNCH on your own

1:30-2:15pm: C. Joti Rockwell, Associate Professor of Music, (Pomona College) “Acousticism’s Electric Roots”

2:15-3:45 pm: WRITING BLUEGRASS/BLUEGRASS WRITERS: Fred Bartenstein, Jack Bernhardt, Tommy Goldsmith, and Penny Parsons, with Art Menius, moderator.

4-5pm: KEYNOTE: Robert S. Cantwell. Professor Emeritus, Department of American Studies (UNC Chapel Hill): “‘Folks, Don’t Try this at Home:’ Bluegrass and the Liberal Arts”

6-8pm: CLOSING SOCIAL Grass Cats Bluegrass Band. Linda’s Downbar, 203 E Franklin Street, Chapel Hill.

From Tobacco Road to the Broadway Strip: remembering John D. Loudermilk

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Loudermilk in the Studio, in Image Folder P-20418/1, JOHN D. LOUDERMILK COLLECTION (20418), SOUTHERN FOLKLIFE COLLECTION

John D. Loudermilk, Jr. composing, recording, and working in his project studio is how we like to remember the North Carolina born singer, songwriter, performer, and producer. We scanned the image above from the John D. Loudermilk Collection (20418)  after spending some time looking through the photographs documenting Loudermilk’s remarkable career in country and pop music. Loudermilk died on September 21 at his home in Tennessee at the age of 82.

P-20418/2_John D. Loudermilk in his studio, Southern Folklife Collection_UNC Chapel HillBorn and raised in Durham, and a cousin of Ira and Charlie Loudermilk (better known as the Louvin Brothers), John D. Loudermilk started his music career under the pseudonym Johnny Dee (the “D” in his name does not stand for anything). Loudermilk’s mother learned to play the guitar while serving as a missionary in Cherokee and taught her young son how to play so that he could join her with the Salvation Army band gatherings at Durham’s Five Points. By age 13, Loudermilk appeared weekly on the “Little Johnny Dee” radio show on WTIK singing country hits. After graduating from Durham High School in 1954, Loudermilk attended Campbell University and was known as an adept local musician performing with with a variety of different groups playing across popular music styles. He recorded novelty songs under the name of “Ebe Sneezer” with “The Epidemics,” Johnny Dee_45rpmsharpening his songwriting skills while finding a niche with sugary teen pop like  “A-plus in Love,” released on Colonial Records, a Chapel Hill label owned and operated by Orville B. Campbell. Loudermilk is backed by some of Colonial’s best session musicians, Asheboro’s Bluenotes with Joe Tanner on the Guitar,  

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1954 Durham High school graduation program, in Folder 250, John D. Loudermilk Collection (20418), Southern Folklife Collection

While working as a set painter at Durham television station WTVD, another rising country music star, George Hamilton IV, heard a sacharrine sweet pop number penned by Loudermilk, “A Rose and a Baby Ruth,” and recorded it for Colonial Records in 1956. The song was a hit for Hamilton and for Loudermilk, launching both of their careers.

Loudermilk continued to sing and record his own songs throughout his career; however, he is primarily known for his work as a songwriter. After scoring another hit in 1956 when Eddie Cochran sang Loudermilk’s tune “Sitting on the Balcony,” his musical path was set. In 1958, Loudermilk moved to Nashville, where he was hired as Chet Atkins’s assistant. After a brief period with Cedarwood Publishing, Loudermilk spent the 1960s writing for the publishing behemoth Acuff-Rose, founded by country star Roy Acuff and songwriter Fred Rose in 1942.

One of his most popular songs and a 1964 hit for British band the Nashville Teens, is the semi-autobiographical “Tobacco Road.” It has been recorded by a huge range of artist including Lou Rawls, Hank Williams Jr, David Lee Roth, Shawn Colvin, and many more. We particularly love thisunexpectedly funky 1978 version by Richie Lecea (SFC 45-5754)

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  Over 300 Loudermilk songs have been recorded by over 1,000 artists in the last 60 years. His song “Abilene” was another hit for George Hamilton IV in 1963 and became a country music staple. Listen to the recording by Sonny James with his Tennessee State Prison Band from a 1977 Columbia 45 rpm disc, call number 45-5543 in the Southern Folklife Collection:

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Another hit, “Indian Reservation,” originally recorded by Marvin Rainwater in 1959, the went to the top of the charts when released by Paul Revere and the Raiders in 1971. The song laments the forced removal of Native Americans from tribal lands to reservations and Loudermilk was honored with the first Cherokee Medal of Honor in 1999.

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 45 RPM discs from the JOHN D. LOUDERMILK COLLECTION (20418), SOUTHERN FOLKLIFE COLLECTION

During the 1960s and 1970s, Loudermilk became one of the most prolific of the Nashville songwriters; his songs were recorded by Roy Acuff Jr., Ernie Ashworth, Chet Atkins, Glen Campbell, Johnny Cash, the Everly Brothers, Marianne Faithfull, George Hamilton IV, Stonewall Jackson, Robert Mitchum, the Nashville Teens, Paul Revere & the Raiders, Sue Thompson, Johnny Tillotson, Tracey Ullman, Bobby Vee, Porter Wagoner, and others.Here’s a favorite Chet Atkins tune, written by Loudermilk, from SFC 45-5570. 

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   Loudermilk was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Association International’s Hall of Fame in 1976. As a sign he had truly made it in country music, Loudermilk appeared on Hee Haw in 1981.

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In addition to maintaining his songwriting career, Loudermilk also actively supported folk and country music through his participation in folk festivals. He participated in a number of tours as part of Southern Folk Cultural Revival Project, an organization created by Anne Romaine and Bernice Johnson Reagon dedicated to presenting black and white traditional musicians together on stage. He produced albums by a number of artists recording traditional music, including a 1980 album by Chet Atkins and Doc Watson.

Throughout his career, Loudermilk also worked with young artists, providing opportunities to record as well as support of musicians he saw as unique. In 1966, he saw a young group called the Allman Joys, led by brothers Duane and Greg, perform at a small Nashville club called the Briar Patch. He invited the group to the studio to cut some sides, one of which “Spoonful” became a regional hit. P-20418/2_John D. Loudermilk and Duane Allman, Southern Folklife Collection_UNC Chapel Hill

Loudermilk and Duane Allman, from P20418/2_John D. Loudermilk Collection (20418), Southern FOlklife COllection, UnC Chapel Hill

with a telescope P-20418/2_John D. Loudermilk in his studio, Southern Folklife Collection_UNC Chapel HillAs the 1980s wore on, Loudermilk turned his attention to other interests including ethnomusicology and meteorology. The John D. Loudermilk collection (20418) includes papers, photographs, audio recordings, posters, and artifacts, including a paper dress with from 1957 with the Baby Ruth printed on the side. Papers consist of sheet music, newspaper clippings and other memorabilia, correspondence, and other printed materials. Besides those included in this post, photographs include images of John D. Loudermilk alone or with others, as well as a few images related to album covers. or venues at which Loudermilk made appearances. Audio recordings in the collection include 45s, 78s, LPs, acetate discs, 8-track tapes, cassette tapes, CDs, and a reel-to-reel tape.

While he moved to Nashville early in his career, Loudermilk always kept North Carolina close to his heart. We leave you with his celebration the trials and tribulations of life on I-40 from his 1965 album, John D. Loudermilk Sings a Collection of the Most Unusual Songs. Remember be careful out there out on Interstate 40, we’ll see you on the road. 

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David Massengill at SFC September 15

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Please join us at Southern Foklife Collection for a very special performance by Folk singer, songwriter, and storyteller David Massengill on September 15, 6-7 p.m., in the Pleasants Family Assembly Room at UNC’s Wilson Special Collections Library. The event is free and open to the public.

Massengill creates “story songs” deeply rooted in folk traditions, while incorporating keen observations of modern American life. He graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in the mid-1970s and moved to New York shortly after for Greenwich Village’s notable folk scene. Massengill’s songs have been covered and recorded by Joan Baez, The Roches, Nanci Griffith, and Dave Van Ronk.

In preparation for Massengill’s visit, we have been revisiting some of his performances recorded and distributed via Fast Folk Musical Magazine, a remarkable monthly publication featuring a complete LP of live recordings by artists from the Folk City and Songwriter’s Exchange scenes in New York in the early 1980s. Enjoy a couple of clips from one of our favorite Massengill compositions, “My Name Joe” and an early piece off one of the earliest Fast Folk releases, “Down Derry Down”

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Please join us tomorrown night!

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Dr. Ralph Stanley, 1927-2016

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Today we are mourning the loss of another one of the greats, Dr. Ralph Stanley. There are a number of excellent obituaries and remembrances of Stanley across the news today and we would encourage you to read about Stanley’s remarkable life and career. Considering the mark he left on the world of traditional music and popular culture, It is no surprise that Stanley is such a prominent figure in the Southern Folklife Collection and we wanted to share a few of those items with you today in tribute. The photos above are from the Mike Seeger Collection (20009), featuring the Carters and the Clinch Mountain Boys at Valley View country music park in Hellam, PA in 1956. Another favorite from the Seeger Collection features the Carters with Roscoe Holcomb on tour in Bremen, Germany in 1966. pf-20009_122_02_r_Mike Seeger Collection_Southern Folklife Collection_UNC

I couldn’t help but pull out some of the Rich-R-Tone 78 rpm discs from the SFC sound recordings. Recorded in 1947, these Stanley Brothers recordings, their first commercial recordings as a group, remain some of my favorite bluegrass of all time. Listen to “The Jealous Lover,” from 78-16252, and the classic “Little Maggie,” from 78-16253, here:

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18_16252_78_16253_Stanley Brothers_Rich_R_Tone_Southern Folklife Collection_UNCYou can listen to live performances throughout Stanley’s career, from country music parks, to radio performances, clubs like the Ash Grove, college tours, and more from recordings i in the Mike Seeger Collection (20009) and the Eugene Earle Collection (20376) in particular, but there are numerous recordings across the SFC collections. If you would like to hear more, please contact or visit us at the SFC. We were very lucky to welcome Ralph Stanley to The Wilson Library in 2006 for an extra special conversation and concert. Sitting 10 feet away from a legend in a special collections reading room as he sings acapella is something that we will never forget. Rest in peace, Ralph, I’m sure you and Carter’s harmonies sound even sweeter now.

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Ralph Stanley and His Clinch Mountain Boys, P1545 and P1548, in the John Edwards Memorial Foundation Records (20001), southern folklife Collection, UNC Chapel HIll

Merle Haggard, April 6, 1937-2016

Merle Haggard at Memorial Hall for SFC25. Photo by Mark Perry Photography.

Merle Haggard at Memorial Hall for SFC25. Photo by Mark Perry Photography.

The world lost another giant today when Merle Haggard left this earth for honky-tonk heaven. The Southern Folklife Collection was privileged to welcome Mr. Haggard at our 25th anniversary celebration in 2014. Seeing him perform at UNC’s Memorial Hall is an experience that will not be forgotten. It was a spectacular performance and I was practically giddy when Haggard picked up the fiddle.

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At the SFC, we would like nothing better to spend the foreseeable future exploring the collections for Merle Haggard content to geek out on and reminisce about the first time we heard one song or another, but, and I think Merle would agree, we have other work to do; other fiddle players to celebrate and mountains of music to share with the world. I discovered countless artists through Haggard, not the least of which was Bob Wills. Even though I come from Texas, it was Merle who introduced me to the “best damn fiddle player in the world.” But for today, I’ve got “Rainbow Stew” on the deck and I pulled out these pictures I have looked at many times from the John Edwards Memorial Foundation Records (20001) documenting the recording sessions for Bob Wills’s final album, For the Last Time. Sessions, produced by the legendary guitarist Tommy Allsup (another former Cricket like Bobby Durham), took place just outside of Dallas on December 3 and 4, 1973.

Haggard drove all night from Chicago to participate on the final day after begging permission from Wills to attend. Sadly, Wills was unable to complete the session after suffering a severe stroke on the night of December 3 and slipping into a coma the following day never to retain consciousness. Haggard and the band, the first reunion of the Texas Playboys since Wills disbanded the group in the 1960s, pressed on with noted successor of the Bob Wills sound Hoyle Nix stepping up into the boots of his hero to lead the group.

We are not positive, but we believe the photos above include Haggard, fiddlers Keith Coleman and Johnny Gimble, steel guitarist Leon McCauliffe, and the back of guitarist Eldon Shamblin’s head.

Rest easy, Merle. Hope the music is as good in the next place as you made it here.

George Hamilton IV “Behind the Iron Curtain”

"The International Ambassador of Country Music" (BILLBOARD MAGAZINE) in Red Square, Moscow, Soviet Union, March 1974.

“The International Ambassador of Country Music” (BILLBOARD MAGAZINE) in Red Square, Moscow, Soviet Union, March 1974.

Looking into the George Hamilton IV Collection (20410) recently, we were reminded that this month is the 42nd Anniversary of George Hamilton IV being the first performer to take American folk-country music “Behind The Iron Curtain.” His 1974 performances and lecture concerts at the Palace of Railway Workers and Moscow University were the first for an American country music performer. Other “first” performances on this tour were in Hungary, Poland, and in former Czechoslovakia, where Hamilton performed four sold-out Concerts for over 28,000 fans at the Sports Arena in Prague. It’s no surprise that later that year, Billboard Magazine began to refer to Hamilton as the “International Ambassador of Country Music.” He would eventually tour around the world, performing multiple times in Japan, South Africa, the former Soviet Union, and India. See this April 2, 1974 New York Times review of the Moscow performances on the George Hamiton IV “Folksy Music Festival” page here.
George Hamilton IV in Bangalore, India, 1986. P5034 in the George Hamilton IV Collection (20410), Southern Folklife Collection, UNC Chapel Hill

George Hamilton IV in Bangalore, India, 1986. P5034 in the George Hamilton IV Collection (20410), Southern Folklife Collection, UNC Chapel Hill

 

 

Friday Studio Surprise!: Chatham Co. hogs and Peg Leg Sam

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Walking past the John M. Rivers Audio Studio this morning, I was surprised to hear a pig being fed coming from behind the door. I was not surprised when I learned that SFC Audio Engineer, John Loy, was preserving an open reel tape of wild sound from Tom Davenport’s documentary with Peg Leg Sam, Born For Hard Luck. We love hearing raw, wild sound, at the Southern Folklife Collection and this clip of Sam feeding his pigs is just that. “Get it you lousy bums,” he growls. From FT-324 in the Tom Davenport Papers (20025). Below you can see an image from the making of the film, including the boom operator, Kip Lornell, who may have made the recording here. I’m ready for lunch:

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Directed by Tom Davenport and produced by Davenport Films and the Curriculum in Folklore at UNC with Daniel Patterson and Allen Tullos, Born For Hard Luck is a portrait of the last Black medicine-show performer, Arthur “Peg Leg Sam” Jackson, with brilliant harmonica songs, tales of hoboing, buck dances, and an authentic live medicine-show performance filmed at a North Carolina county fair in 1972.

In 2000, Davenport went on to create folkstreams.net, a free website that allows users to stream a massive array of documentary and ethnographic films about American folk culture, ranging in subjects from aging and agriculture to immigrant culture and music and covering all regions of the United States.

Working with folklorist Daniel Patterson and others on the Folkstreams committee, Davenport submitted a proposal to the National Endowment for the Humanities and received grant funds to build a prototype. Expansion of Folkstreams.net is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, regional and state Arts and Humanities organizations, private foundations, and contributions from filmmakers, scholars, and collaborating institutions. Preservation copies of films on Folkstreams.net are part of the SFC Folkstreams.net Collection (20384). 

P0004_0681_0001 (1) (1)L-R: Peg Leg Sam, Kip Lornell (with boom mic), Bruce Bastin, and Tom Davenport (with camera). University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Image Collection (P0004), North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives.

Thank you, Starman

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I woke up this morning to learn that David Bowie had left the planet Earth. Like so many, I was unprepared for this news.  As the day progresses, the impact of the world’s loss cuts deeper with every youtube link shared by his seemingly endless legions of fans and the very poignant memorials shared by his closest friends. I think I need a day or two before I can handle Blackstar again, but what do you do when you can’t handle listening to your David Bowie catalog but you want to pay tribute to one of the most important artists of our time? Track down the recordings the man himself venerated.

In November 2003 Bowie selected 25 favorites from his collection in a Vanity Fair article called “Confessions of a Vinyl Junkie.” The list includes Toots and the Maytals’ Funky Kingston, Harry Partch’s Delusion of the Fury, and the Fugs’ 1966 self-titled record.

The Fugs, anchored by poets Ed Sanders and Tuli Kupferberg, recorded irreverent songs like “Group Grope” and “Kill for Peace,” with little regard for production values or flawless takes.

Bowie’s description:

“The sleeve notes were written by Allen Ginsberg and contain these prescient lines: ‘Who’s on the other side? People who think we are bad. Other side? No, let’s not make it a war, we’ll all be destroyed, we’ll go on suffering till we die if we take the War Door.’ I found on the Internet the text for a newsprint ad for the Fugs, who, coupled with the Velvet Underground, played the April Fools Dance and Models Ball at the Village Gate in 1966. The F.B.I. had them on their books as ‘the Fags.’ This was surely one of the most lyrically explosive underground bands ever. Not the greatest musicians in the world, but how ‘punk’ was all that? Tuli Kupferberg, Fugs co-writer and performer, in collaboration with Ed Sanders, has just finished the new Fugs album as I write. Tuli is 80 years old.”

That list was written twelve years ago and Kupferberg, too, has since shuffled off this mortal coil – but not before creating art in various media through several decades. Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised Bowie, who released an album two days before his death, counted Tuli among his heroes. And so now we’ll listen to The Fugs, and imagine David Bowie listening to The Fugs, and imagine Tuli listening to David Bowie. And it won’t be forgotten. May the fantastic voyage continue.

 

Holiday in the Stacks: Dale Evans and Clancey

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The “Holiday in the Stacks” continues with two more holiday 78 rpm discs. First Dale Evans and the Roy Rogers Riders and Orchestra with a reindeer tune that plays off almost every Christmas trope they could fit in under two minutes. 

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On a totally different track, a holiday vignette from “Clancey’s”. Originally recorded and released on cylinder in 1908, “Christmas Morning at Clancey’s” chronicles the morning festivities of an Irish family in turn of the century New York. 

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Check in tomorrow for a special message from Rosemary Clooney and Ford motors.

 

This Week on Hell or High Water: Selections from the Newport Folk Festival

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This week on Hell or High Water, we’ll be featuring music from the three volumes of the 1964 Newport Folk Festival evening concerts, largely inspired by last Monday’s SFC lecture by Elijah Wald, “Dylan Goes Electric! Music, Myth, and History.”

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Dylan’s electric performance in 1965, according to Wald, “split the Sixties.” Previously, the Newport Folk Festival had been a time celebrating traditional folk music alongside popular “new wave” artists, like Pete Seeger, Joan Baez, and Phil Ochs. The hopes were that pairing these traditions with popular artists would draw a crowd and help new or unknown artists gain a following.

 

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The Newport Folk Festival showcased the many different types of traditional folk present in this country, from cajun to country to blues. We hope that featuring this record will, like the original festival, showcase the diversity of what constitutes folk music.

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To quote Stacey Williams on the 1964 festival, “And what was most remarkable was the homogeneity of the event as a whole, with all this wonderful variety adding up to a feeling of one brotherhood, as hard to define as it is easy to sense; ‘many branches from the same tree’ is a lame way to put it, but it hints at the idea.”

Tune in this Sunday from 1-2pm on WXYC-Chapel Hill, 89.3FM, or online via live stream.