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North Country Donor Funds Bluegrass for Next Generation

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 begin the Bluegrass for the Next Generation project. His hope is to promote the genre to future generations both at the college and in the community.

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 bluegrass program will air from noon to 1 p.m. every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday throughout the semester, except for March 13-15, when the college is on spring break.

Not to be confused with the college’s independent, student-run WQKE radio station, WARP is run by students 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, it will also stream music 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.

“We’re really excited to offer opportunities for students to be involved with bluegrass music and to bring it to listeners in the North Country,” said Tim Clukey, the associate professor of communication who oversees student efforts at WARP. Clukey added that students at the station don’t usually get to choose their music. “But I’ve had a lot of students who, when they heard about this project, wanted to be involved.”

The second phase of the project will take place Friday, March 23, when SUNY Plattsburgh alumni Eric and Leigh Gibson of the award-winning Gibson Brothers return to their alma mater for a benefit concert. The International Bluegrass Music Association honored the group 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 this project, the donor plans to give bluegrass instruments to several local school districts to foster the learning and performing of bluegrass music at the middle and high school level.

Individuals wishing to donate to this project or to SUNY Plattsburgh in general should contact Faith Long at 518-564-3615 or [email protected].

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