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Urban Appalachian Showcase features Rabbit Hash String band and more, Oct. 24, at Aronoff Center

Urban Appalachian creative spirit is alive and well in the Cincinnati region. In variety-show style, the community’s most dynamic Appalachian musicians, singers, storytellers, poets, spoken word artists, and dancers will express the diversity of Cincinnati’s Appalachian cultural heritage at the Express: Urban Appalachian Showcase on October 24, 7-9 p.m. at the Aronoff Center’s Jarson-Kaplan Theater.

Guests will experience performances by The Corndrinkers, Ma Crow & Company, Rabbit Hash String Band, Bear Foot, Jericho Old Time Band, Riley School Irish musicians, Dee Marie from The Soul Pocket Band, and the multi-generational family band, Tellico.

Award-winning authors from the Southern Appalachian Writer’s Cooperative, including Pauletta Hansel, Richard Hague, and Michael Henson – and spoken word artist Desirae ‘The Silent Poet’ Hosley of Cincy WordPlay – will resurrect poetry’s power alongside talented young writers from both sides of the river.

The creative spirit of community is expressed across generations and genres, with traditional ballad and dance. Emcee Omope Carter Daboiku will weave expressive threads together through her memorable storytelling and fine wit.

The Cincinnati region is home to thousands of Appalachian migrants and descendants. Between 2005 and 2009, an Appalachian census tract showed that more than 35,000 Cincinnati residents identified as Appalachian.

In its second year, the showcase will be exciting for the Cincinnati region’s Appalachian populations, and a great opportunity for others to learn about Appalachian culture.

Founder and director of Thomas More University’s Creative Writing Vision Program, Sherry Cook Stanforth, is designing and directing this year’s Express Urban Appalachian Showcase and the School Time program Express Appalachia: Keeping Community. Stanforth says the teaching artists and youth participants represented in both shows are working to promote lifelong relationships around the expressive arts and Appalachian culture.

TMU’s Sherry Cook Stanforth

“Our migration and home place stories, whether creatively expressed through poetry, spoken word, storytelling, creativity, dance, drama or song, invite diverse communities to build common ground together,” says Stanforth, who grew up in a family band and currently performs in Tellico with her parents and children, also emphasized the Showcase’s unique value for linking generations together.

“On both sides of the river, our culture is rich and varied,” she says. “Collectively, we carry a spirit of creative adaptation and a determined heart for continuance. Whether we claim the stone and brick buildings of urban Cincinnati or Covington, or whether we’ve settled in the suburbs, or we embrace the mountains and farmland that is part of our migration history, we are co-creating a powerful story. Thousands of Appalachians have contributed dynamically to our Greater Cincinnati community.”

Stanforth says the show gives voice to that complex experience, offering a unique outing opportunity for family members across generations, or friends who enjoy experiencing new translations of culture together.

“This production is intended to spark dialogue and new ideas related to Appalachia, including its urban geographies,” says Stanforth. “We hope to inspire people from every cultural corner to consider interpretations of family people and family places with curiosity and respect.”

Tickets are $20 each, $17 for groups of 10 or more, and $15 for students and seniors, and may be purchased online at the Aronoff event page or at the Aronoff Center Ticket Office · (513) 621-ARTS (2787).

Presented by The Urban Appalachian Community Coalition with support from The Cincinnati Arts Association, The Appalachian Community Development Association, Thomas More University’s Creative Writing Vision Program and The Foundation for Appalachian Ohio.

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