Graduate Student Mentoring

Lee with Kris Truelsen, one of the first graduates from the ETSU APST MA program - in his 2015 thesis (linked) Kris developed his idea of "non-secular song" by focusing on "The Great Speckled Bird."

Lee coordinates the graduate programs in Appalachian Studies at ETSU - contact him at with questions!

Online Projects with content from ETSU students

Online exhibit providing documentation and interpretation of soundscapes in Appalachia, and those from elsewhere that refer to the region - founded by graduate students in Lee's APST 5670 "Ethnomusicology and Appalachia" course at ETSU.

 We're eager to add more "soundposts" - /contact me if you are interested in being a part of this project!

(Image from mrgriffter, CC BY-SA 4.0)

Joe Morrell, local music entrepreneur with his Grand Guitar museum visible from I-81 near Bristol, TN/VA. Click on the image to see a student's exhibit based on this landmark.

Students' reports on Bluegrass, Old Time, and Country music-making today, from BLUE 4130, "Survey of Contemporary BLUE":



Click on this image to access student Jimmy Fitch's research on "Ameripolitan" innovator Dale Watson from BLUE 4130

Teaching in the Community

Lee teaching about work, music, and railroads at the 2014 Riddlefest event in Burnsville, NC.

Lee leading a play-party game at the Historic Orchard at Altapass, teaching kids (and parents) about how music and dance support and are supported by work.

Ireland Tour / Westport Festival and Symposium - 2024

Things to read and listen to:

*On the trip. you'll have chances to notice similarities / differences between the music scenes in Ireland and the ones you know in the US. Musician Toner Quinn made a list of "Impossible Ideas" for Irish Trad music in 2022 - I've used them as a framework for a travel journal to guide you in observing and reflecting on your experiences. 

First, some history of country music in Ireland, with an article by Stan Erraught (2020) - "The Country and Irish Problem" -  *   YouTube Playlist - History and Irish Country - with examples that Erraught mentions in the article. 

Erraught explains that promoters amplified connections between Ireland and US country music, creating the romantic coloring of our ideas of this relationship. While a grad student at ETSU, Amanda Morgan wrote a thesis about current Irish interest in US southern old-time musics. 

Sean Williams' "Focus on Ireland" book (2020). provides a general introduction to Irish trad music. 

There are all sorts of approaches to roots music in Ireland today - including groups like We Banjo Three and Alfi who use US sounds/songs; here is a playlist of examples of different styles and approaches, particularly in thinking about "belonging."

Westport is a very international event, and is one of many sites on the Wild Atlantic Way, a tourism/development initiative (founded 2014 - more details) that highlights localities to global tourist audiences (like the Crooked Road in SW VA) - the WAW phrase is used in all sorts of ways, including the songs on this playlist.

Ciaran Carson's book (1998) "Last Night's Fun" gives impressions of the kinds of scenes I remember from Westport in 2023 - the sharing of music, stories, etc. in and out of time.  Jams / sessions are a big part of the festivity - they can be high points in musical experience, and also places of control - as Tes Slominsky (2021) explains in her book "Trad Nation: Gender, Sexuality, and Race in Irish Traditional Music". 

For some more local context - here's a podcast about a County Mayo  (anti)heroine, Grainne O'Malley - honored in Westport with a statue and a pirate-themed amusement park (... and from these same folks, a podcast about Pythagoras!).

Zooming out a bit more, this book provides a good overview of contemporary Ireland

...and here are some packing tips:

Sound Studies / Community - 2023


Listen here: December 8, 2023 “Great Lecture” Recording

Works Cited:

Jonathan Sterne. The Sound Studies Reader. Routledge, 2012

Marianne Huang, Jacob Kreutzfeldt, and Anna Lawaetz. “Sound Studies Course” Open Educational Resources For the Digital Arts & Humanities (2017)

Lee Bidgood, Ed. “Soundscapes and Appalachia” Website for ETSU Course Ethnomusicology and Appalachia. (2017 - present). 

R. MURRAY SCHAFER PT. 2: CRITIQUES & CONTRADICTIONS” Phantom Power. Podcast. (2021) 

Hildegard Westerkamp. “Soundwalking” (2001)

Richard C. Rath. How Early America Sounded. Cornell University Press  (2003)

Douglas Reichert Powell. Critical Regionalism: Connecting Politics and Culture in the American Landscape. University of North Carolina Press. (2007). 

 Titon, Jeff Todd (2019) "Ecojustice, Religious Folklife and a Sound Ecology," Yale Journal of Music & Religion: Vol. 5: No. 2, Article 7.

Patterson, Beverly Bush. 1995.  The Sound of the Dove: Singing in Appalachian Primitive Baptist Churches. University of Illinois Press.

Sutton, Brett. 1982. Primitive Baptist Hymns of the Blue Ridge. Liner Notes

Ted Gioia. Music, a subversive history. Basic Books (2019). 

Eric Lott. Love and Theft: Blackface Minstrelsy and the American Working Class. Oxford Univ. Press (1993).

“Free Show Tonite” (Wagner and Zeitlin, 1983) 

Rhiannon Giddens. Keynote address to the International Bluegrass Music Association (2017). 

Francesca T. Royster. Black Country Music: Listening For Revolutions. Univ. of Texas Press (2022).  

Jake Blount. “The New Faith” Smithsonian Folkways (2022). 

J. L. Austin. How To Do Things With Words. (second edition) Harvard Univ. Press (1975)


Listening Together - Epiphany 2021

The season of Epiphany is a time of discovery, of gifts—and of listening. The lectionary readings during this season of the church year include calls from Jesus to the people who would become his disciples.  He offers gifts of life, and these people drop everything and follow him.   I invite us to use these five evening sessions to open our ears for a call, for a discovery, a gift: to listen together.  For Epiphany 2021, the Conversations and Compline meetings will be led by Dr. Lee Bidgood (professor in Appalachian Studies at ETSU) in a series entitled “Listening Together.” Through introductions to the discipline of ethnomusicology and the field of sound studies, this series will provide participants with new ways to engage in spiritually-informed listening to the world. Sessions will focus on a range of topics, including race and country music, soundscapes and bells, and the ways that we interact with hymn texts. There is no single book that we will use to guide the series; individual texts and media will be available for each session here.   Meetings will take place via Zoom on Wednesdays at 7pm, January 13 through February 10, 2021.  Register in advance using this link: After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

Many of these topics will be covered in more depth in Lee’s Spring 2021 ETSU course “Ethnomusicology and Appalachia” (APST 5670). To learn more about this series or the course, use the "contact" form on this website.