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Ward Irish Music Archives visits the 48th Annual Association for Recorded Sound Collections

Published June 27, 2014

Ed Ward, Irish Fest Founder, Barry Stapleton, Director of the Ward Irish Music Archives, and Jeff Ksiazek, Archivist, represented Milwaukee Irish Fest at the 48th Annual Association for Recorded Sound Collections (ARSC) Conference this May in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. The conference, hosted by the Southern Folklife Collection at the University of North Carolina, was a huge success.
Barry, Jeff and Ed were able to network with other professionals and attend sessions on topics including reissues, Blues, Bluegrass, Early Jazz and Old Timey, Appalachian music, Minstrelsy and more. Barry even moderated three engaging and provocative presentations on Folk Music – two on Sacred Harp music and one on the liberal and communist views of the early influential individuals involved in setting up the field recordings at the Library of Congress.
Barry Stapleton speaking at ARSC Conference
It is always beneficial for private collectors, organizations and institutions to work together in this field, so Milwaukee Irish Fest is always grateful to be part of events like this. “ARSC is an organization that opens its arms to academics and collectors, plus those just interested in the subject matter, so it has a duality where the academics are assisting and learning from the collectors and vice versa,” says Barry. “One fact remains, and that is that most of the nation’s collections and holdings are still in private collections, not institutions, so we need each other.”

The group was also able to participate in some important conversations about copyright, degradation and obsolescence – all pressing issues for the Archives.  From the potential for future copyright reform to the urgency of bringing recordings from old, deteriorating formats into the digital world, they definitely covered a lot of ground.
An Ediphone dictation machine at the Southern Folklife Collection
A reel-to-reel deck at the Southern Folklife Collection
Of course, the conference wasn’t all work and no play. A couple of musical sessions broke out throughout the conference with Dom Flemons, a founding member of the Carolina Chocolate Drops. Thursday evening held a visit to the Southern Folklife Collection at UNC for networking and some classic southern food. On Saturday night, the music of Papa Charlie Jackson came to life as Dom Flemons performed with a band.
Overall, the trip was a great success, and the Ward Irish Music Archives will surely benefit from it!
By Chelsey Porth

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