Stephen Wade delivers intimate library performance

Stephen Wade performing in the James E. Walker Library. Photo by Michael Watson.

Grammy-nominated folk scholar Stephen Wade gave a rousing mini-concert in the James E. Walker Library Wednesday afternoon as part of his two-day visit to MTSU.

In honor of his Tennessee visit, Wade began the show with an ode to Davy Crockett and followed with 30 minutes of toe-tapping bluegrass and folk music. The concert was not only filled with Wade’s passionate banjo-playing but also with stories he had gathered from his career as a music scholar.

In one of the performances’ more poignant moments, Wade told the story of a banjo player named Dee Hicks, was forced play the banjo with his wife holding up his wrists to the strings due to palsied hands.

The concert was followed by an intimate, hour-long meet-and-greet with Wade in the library’s Periodicals Lounge, where Wade continued to play and answer questions from fans.

Wade is the author of the award-winning book Beautiful Music All Around Us: Field Recordings and the American Experience, the compiled stories of thirteen Library of Congress recordings made during the 1930s and 1940s. For almost two decades, he extensively researched the varied history and folklore behind some of the South’s most iconic songs and, in the process, captured a rich history of daily southern life.

A bigger event with Wade is scheduled for tonight at 5 p.m. in room S102 of the Business and Aerospace Building and will feature even more banjo-playing, stories and discussion of the acclaimed book.

Wade will also be appearing on the 88.3 WMTS country music program The Justin Reed Show this morning. He will be discussing his own music and the songs that have inspired him. The show will be broadcasted live from MTSU’s Center for Popular Music, which is located in the John Bragg Mass Communication Building.

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To contact Lifestyles editor John Connor Coulston, email

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