In the 1970s Burr Beard was part of a growing Appalachian and Celtic music and dance community in Pittsburgh. He played hammer dulcimer and sang in a band still active called Devilish Merry. They played for old-time square dances at the Pitt Student Union and for a number of the early Smoky City Folk Festivals held at Flagstaff Hill in Schenley Park. In addition, Beard hosted a folk music show on WYEP-FM called “Across the Mountains, Across the Sea.”
In May 2016, Beard was part of a committee to host a reunion of this cultural scene that saw the founding of Calliope, the Pittsburgh folk music organization. The reunion drew over 200 people to participate and reminisce over a weekend of square dancing, jam sessions, and concerts in the Pittsburgh area.
Beard recorded interviews at a sound booth on the site of the reunion and produced an audio documentary with 14 people who told their stories of being part of the music and dance community.
The audio documentary is available to hear at this link.
Recently, Beard made arrangements to archive the documentary at the Carnegie Library and the Senator John Heinz History Center, both in Pittsburgh.
Julie Hanify, Library Services Manager of Music, Film & Audio at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, said, “Our goal is to make our oral histories (OHMP) stream-able on our new website. The library website is a work in progress. When it is ready, there will be a link that will be the key to finding the 40th Anniversary in our archives.”
Carly Lough, Acquisitions Archivist at the Senator John Heinz History Center said, “We look forward to making this collection available to the public through our online catalog and to preserve it here in the archives for generations to come.”
Burr Beard is now enrolled in the Public Media Master’s Program at the Ohio University Media Arts and Studies department in Athens, Ohio. “I am happily continuing to document my interests in Appalachia music and culture here in Ohio,” he says. Currently, he is in the pre-production stage of two video documentaries on the Millfield (Ohio) coal mine disaster of 1930 and on the current traditional folk music community in the Athens, Ohio area.
For more information and/or to request digital files of the audio recording, please contact Burr Beard: firstname.lastname@example.org or 484-225-0380.