The Beehive Band has been invited to perform during the Library of Congress Folklife Concert Series in Washington, D.C., Thursday.
The Utah-based band featuring fiddle and concertina player Mark Jardine, mandolinist/tenor banjoist Cliff Butter and guitarist/mandolinist Paul Rasmussen will perform at the Kennedy Center's Coolidge Auditorium at noon and an additional performance that evening.
Getting the Beehive Band to the Kennedy Center took a string of events that led from one thing to another.
"Nearly two years ago, a folklorist from Utah State University named Elaine Thatcher nominated me for a national inheritance award," Jardine said during an interview. "The award dealt with research of Utah music, which the Beehive Band does. As a result, she interviewed me extensively and raised the group's profile with the Utah Arts Council, especially the Folk Arts Council."
Craig Miller, folk arts coordinator for the Utah Arts and Folk Arts Council, found out there was a program through the U.S. Library of Congress that is interested in musicians and bands that represent the 50 states, Jardine said.
"Craig submitted four or five different artists and bands, and the Library of Congress replied and said they were most interested in the Beehive Band."
The Beehive Band specializes in hymns and folk songs that were emerging during the early days of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The band has released two CDs. The first is a collection of songs regarding immigration from Europe, and the second is more focused on songs about the settlements in Utah and the Intermountain West, Jardine said.
"For the performances at the Library of Congress, we tried to do a similar thing thematically," he said. "We want to show the roots of Mormon music. And demonstrate shape-note music."
Shape-note music is a merging of folk music and hymns, Jardine said. "It is basically folk melodies that contained religious words. The reason why it's called shape-note is the fact that in early rural America, there were dancing and singing masters that would travel around and teach music and dance to settlements.
"In addition to the notes, they would mark the music with shapes triangles, diamonds, circles to help people sing easier.
"One of the shape-note songs we do is 'All Is Well,' the original version of 'Come, Come Ye Saints.'
"The main difference in shape-note singing and regular hymn singing is that hymn music is blended harmonically and shape-note singing is solely to praise God with heart, mind and soul. It is boisterous, raw and full of energy."
In addition to the roots of Mormon music, the Beehive Band will perform original works that were written in the style of the early rural West.
"We have a lot of songs we wrote dealing with the area and the times," Jardine said. "A song called 'We Left Our Homes in Utah' is about men who are called to watch the Colorado border for Indians during the 1850s."We try to do bits of original stuff we've written in the style to show the traditions are still alive," Jardine said. "And I'm kind of jaded, because I was born and raised and still live in Utah. And I'm glad the Library of Congress is about preserving music that wouldn't get normally a commercial acknowledgement, even in times of controversy."
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