History students at Northwest Missouri State University will unveil an exhibit on folk music later this week during a special event at the Nodaway County Historical Society Museum, located at 110 N. Walnut St. in Maryville.
The exhibit, The People and Places of Folk Music, is being created through a course taught by Elyssa Ford, assistant professor of history, and its opening will coincide with a free concert by St. Louis singer-songwriter Ryan Spearman at 6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 16, at the Ron Houston Center for the Performing Arts.
After the show, a shuttle will transport patrons to the museum, where Spearman will lead a discussion about folk music traditions. The exhibit will remain on display through Friday, Nov. 30. Regular museum hours are 1 to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday.
"Folk music is not only something to listen to and enjoy, but a way to connect to the heritage and history of people," said Brent Trout, a graduate student from O’Fallon who is taking Ford's course. "The exhibit offers a look at many different types of music genres, but they all connect back to the most important element of the music — the people."
In presenting the course, Ford has provided students with access both to applicable technology and insights from exhibit designers at the National Archives in Kansas City and the Kansas Historical Society Museum in Topeka, Kan.
"In today’s world it is increasingly important to be able to work with other people and rely on the skill sets and abilities that various people bring to the table," Ford said. "... This ability to learn new skills, and especially to learn new computer software, is exactly what students will be required to do once they graduate and enter the professional work environment."
The exhibit focuses on topics ranging from ragtime and Appalachian ballads to Kansas City jazz and modern indie folk. It also highlights some of the genre’s most famous personalities, including Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan and the Lomaxes, a father-son team of folk music scholars.
Funding and support for Spearman's performance and the exhibit is being provided by the Missouri Arts Council, Northwest’s College of Arts and Sciences and the Melvin D. and Valorie G. Booth College of Business and Professional Studies.