MT. VERNON — The Jefferson County Historical Society will host a special lecture/concert on Illinois folk music at 2 p.m. Feb. 22 at the Historical Village in Mt. Vernon.
All are invited to attend the free program, which will feature Illinois Humanities Council Road Scholar Bucky Halker.
Halker will discuss the history of folk music in Illinois, from the early 19th Century all the way through to the folk revival of the 1950s. He will also play some folk songs for the audience.
The presentation is being made possible through a partnership between the Historical Society and the Illinois Humanities Council’s Road Scholars Speakers Bureau.
“It’s combining something like the humanities with an element of fun,”
said Mallory Laurel, program coordinator for the IHC. “I think the fun comes in with that curiosity.”
The IHC Road Scholars Speakers Bureau arranges for writers, poets, historians and living history actors to give lectures for nonprofit organizations across the state. The nonprofits pay the IHC a modest processing fee to be able to host one of the speakers.
In many cases, nonprofit organizations have a very limited operational budget and wouldn’t be able to afford one of these speakers if they tried to book them independently, Laurel said.
“At the end of the day, this program is for those organizations that want to build an audience, but they don’t have the budget to develop a program to bring in that audience,” Laurel said. “We make it possible for them to begin to build an audience.”
Halker’s lecture is entitled “Goin’ Down to Cairo: Folksongs in the Land of Lincoln.”
It will focus on the wide range of folk music that has been produced in Illinois, including historical ballads, labor anthems, early country songs and dance tunes.
Halker is a long-time collector of folk music and the producer-scholar for the CD documentary series, “Folksongs of Illinois, Volumes 1-5,” states a Historical Society news release.
Laurel said the IHC arranges lectures on a number of different topics, including history, culture, literature, music, politics, law, science and many others.
One of the most popular IHC presentations is on Civil War field embalming, Laurel said.
Each speaker in the program has a deep passion for their subject matter, which ends up being contagious for the audience, Laurel said.
“You’re able to discover new things that you hadn’t previously thought about or explored,” Laurel said.
Laurel said the Road Scholars program has been providing speakers for more than 15 years.
For more information on the Halker lecture Feb. 22, visit www.jchs.mvn.net, or call the Historical Society office at 246-0033.