U.Va. Will Feature the Work of Renowned Musician, Photographer and Filmmaker John Cohen in Three Events in March

March 07, 2007

March 7, 2007 -- The works of renowned musician, filmmaker and photographer John Cohen will be featured at three University of Virginia sponsored events in Charlottesville in March.

Cohen is a founding member of the New Lost City Ramblers, a band which championed music with traditional roots and spearheaded the folk revival movement in the 1960s. The band influenced the music of such greats as Bob Dylan, Jerry Garcia and Ry Cooder. He was music consultant on the film "Cold Mountain."

Cohen has also made more than 15 films and taken hundreds of photographs that document the world of music and tradition. His photographs and films have been exhibited by museums, galleries and at film festivals worldwide. His photographs are collected in books such as "Young Bob: John Cohens Early Photographs of Bob Dylan" and "There is No Eye: John Cohen Photographs," which was jointly released with the Smithsonian Folkways CD "There Is No Eye: Music For Photographs."

His early films about Appalachian music in Kentucky, North Carolina and Virginia include "The End of an Old Song, Sara & Maybelle: the Original Carter Family." In these films he documents the life of folk music with an anthropological eye. He later surveyed a wide spectrum of American music in "Musical Holdouts," including black children in the Carolina Sea Islands, old time and bluegrass music in Appalachia, cowboys in Arkansas, Indians in Oklahoma and the counter-culture street musicians in Berkeley, California and New York. He also has made films about old ballad singing in Britain and Scotland as companion pieces to his Appalachian Ballad film "The End of an Old Song."

Cohen's body of work has been recognized in a wide range of fields in the arts and sciences, including anthropology, ethnomusicology, the visual arts, Appalachian studies and the politics of poverty. His award-winning films have been shown on PBS and BBC and at festivals worldwide. The sound recordings of the New Lost City Ramblers have received several Grammy nominations.

Cohen is in a new band called the Velocity Ramblers and his life is the subject of an upcoming documentary.

Cohen will give a public talk on his life's work as a musician, filmmaker and
photographer on Monday, March 19, at 6:30 p.m. in Campbell Hall, room 160. His talk, "There is No Eye," is organized by the photography program in the McIntire Department of Art and is co-sponsored by the Department of Music, Virginia Film Society and the University Lectures Committee.

On Tuesday, March 20, the Virginia Film Society will screen Cohens "The High Lonesome Sound" and "Dancing with the Incas." In "The High Lonesome Sound" Cohen explores how the music of eastern Kentucky church-goers, miners and farmers expresses the joys and sorrows of life among the rural poor. "Dancing with the Incas" documents the lives of three Huayno musicians torn between the military and the Shining Path guerrillas in contemporary Peru. The movies span Cohens career as a filmmaker, which began in 1962: "The High Lonesome Sound" is his first film; "Dancing with the Incas" is his most recent. Cohen will be on hand to introduce the films and lead a discussion after the screening. The event, at Vinegar Hill Theatre at 7 p.m., is co-sponsored by the McIntire Department of Art.   

The University of Virginia Art Museum will screen Cohen's "Qeros: The Shape of Survival" March 20 April 9 in the museum's new media gallery. The film is part of a series of films shot in the Andes of South America exploring the isolated community of Qeros and focusing on its survival strategies, textiles, rituals and festivals.

The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday, from 1 to 5 p.m. Visitor parking is available on Bayly Drive, off Rugby Road.

For more information, contact McIntire Department of Art photography professor William Wylie at (434) 924-6132 or ww9b@virginia.edu.