From loyal reader Ben:

Two Warren Wilson College professors, Dr. Kevin Kehrberg (Department of Music) and Dr. Jeffrey A. Keith (Department of Global Studies), are preparing for a two-week State Department tour of Kyrgyzstan as members of the Red State Ramblers, an Appalachian string band.

Formerly a part of the Soviet Union, the Central Asian Republic of Kyrgyzstan is celebrating two decades of independence and US-Kyrgyz relations. The State Department is sending Kehrberg and Keith to perform southern string band music as part of this celebration.

These American musicians will perform and collaborate with the traditional Kyrgyz band Tengir Too. Tengir Too, featured on the first volume of the Smithsonian Folkways Music of Central Asia CD series, is recognized as a masterful ensemble of Kyrgyz musicians who are aiming to revive the traditions of their nomadic ancestors. Once repressed by Soviet authorities, Kyrgyz music is now increasingly popular among the urbanizing population of Kyrgyzstan.

The Red State Ramblers and Tengir Too will compose music together during a stay in Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan. Departing on Jan. 26 Kehrberg and Keith will return to western North Carolina on Feb. 8. They look forward to performing music from this region for audiences along the Silk Road, and would invite the local press to interview them about their experience.

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