Evergreen Helps Bring Acclaimed Films to Olympia

Published: March 24, 2014

Walking into an office at Olympia’s Washington Center for the Performing Arts a few months ago, KAOS-fm’s Development Director John Ford saw a box of music history DVDs on the desk of the center’s marketing director, Anne Larsen.  His eyes lit up. 

“Anne explained the opportunity to bring these films to town, asking how we might make it work,” said Ford.  “I said, let’s make KAOS your official media partner and bring in faculty at Evergreen. Let’s build on KAOS’ 40 years of bringing America’s music to local airwaves, and punctuate that with local voices.  It’s a natural partnership for the Washington Center, KAOS and Evergreen.”

The result is the free film series "America's Music,” hosted by The Washington Center for the Performing Arts, in partnership with KAOS Olympia, The Evergreen State College, and Timberland Library. 

This six-week program, featuring documentary film screenings and scholar-led discussions of twentieth-century American popular music, kicks off April 4 through May 2, and one Saturday, on April 26, during Olympia's Arts Walk.  It will focus on uniquely American musical genres including blues and gospel, Broadway, jazz, bluegrass and country, rock n’ roll, mambo, and hip hop.  

Drew Buchman, a faculty member teaching music Evergreen, along with Ford, will host panel discussions after each film with community musicians.

“Each panel is designed to function like a class, giving the audience a deeper context and perspective about the important role this music plays in our lives,” said Buchman.

The Center is one of fifty sites nationwide, and the only in the Northwest, selected to host this program series. “America’s Music” is a project by the Tribeca Film Institute in collaboration with the American Library Association, Tribeca Flashpoint, and the Society for American Music, supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

“We are thrilled to participate in this exciting program that will help introduce different types of music, show how modern music has been influenced by older styles, and bridge gaps among generations” said Jill Barnes, executive director at the center. 

“America’s Music,” designed for a general audience, will introduce genres of twentieth-century American popular music that are deeply connected to the history, culture, and geography of the United States. Older and younger Americans alike will have the chance to recognize how the cultural landscape that they take for granted today has been influenced by the development of the popular musical forms discussed in this series.

The web page at americasmusic.tribecafilminstitute.org includes additional information on the series as well as scholar essays, suggested readings, discussion points and additional films on the genres. All programs are from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. and will take place at The Washington Center, 512 Washington St SE, in downtown Olympia.