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By Michelle Marasch Ouellette
Residents of the North Country will have more access to bluegrass music than ever thanks to a donor to the SUNY Plattsburgh College Foundation.
The donor, a North Country bluegrass fan who wishes to remain anonymous, has given funds to establish Bluegrass for the Next Generation. His goal is to promote the genre at the college and in the community.
|Photo: Scholarship winners Brian Smith and Abigail Curran are heading up bluegrass efforts at the college’s WARP radio station.|
The first phase of the project began Tuesday, Feb. 21, when SUNY Plattsburgh’s WARP radio station started broadcasting an hour of bluegrass three times a week. The program runs from noon to 1 p.m. every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday throughout the semester, except for March 13-15, when the students are on spring break.
Not to be confused with the college’s independent, student-run WQKE radio station, WARP is also run by students but through their audio production classes. It airs on campus Channel 10 or Charter Cable Channel 17 for 10 weeks every semester. In the near future, music will also be streamed live over the WARP website.
As part of the donation to the college, two of the students working on the radio project — Abigail Curran and Brian Smith — have received scholarships, which will help support them as they research new releases in the genre and harvest music from the donor’s gift of 70 bluegrass albums.
“I’ve had a lot of students who, when they heard about this project, wanted to be involved,” said Tim Clukey, the associate professor of communication who oversees student efforts at WARP.
The second phase of the project will take place Friday, March 23, when SUNY Plattsburgh alumni Eric Gibson ’96 and Leigh Gibson ’94 ’96 of the award-winning Gibson Brothers return to their alma mater for a benefit concert. The International Bluegrass Music Association honored the duo with its Album of the Year and Vocal Group of the Year awards in October.
All funds raised by the show will support Bluegrass for the Next Generation, helping to finance future scholarships, concerts, courses and visiting artists.
For the third phase of the project, the donor plans to give bluegrass instruments to several local school districts this summer. The goal is to foster the learning and performing of bluegrass music at the middle and high school level beginning this fall.
Individuals wishing to donate to this project or to SUNY Plattsburgh in general may contact Faith Long at (518) 564-3615 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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