Ask 'Mimi' Aug. 17, 2014

Ask 'Mimi' Aug. 17, 2014

From an online archive of history to Urbana's acoustic open-mic, Melissa "Mimi" Merli has you covered.

Where can I access The HistoryMakers archives?

Actually, the nation's largest collection of videotaped oral histories of African-Americans is now at the Library of Congress state-of-the-art Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation in Culpeper, Va. But you don't have to go there to access it; it's also online at

It features thousands of hours of interviews about African-American life, history and culture & is the single largest archival project of its kind since the Works Progress Administration's 1930s documentation of the experiences of former slaves.

Among those interviewed for HistoryMakers: Harry Belafonte, Maya Angelou, Nikki Giovanni, Isaac Hayes, B.B. King and actors Diahann Carroll, Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee. Oh yeah, and Barack Obama when he was a U.S. senator. C-U people included are UI professors Ilesanmi Adesida and Philip Phillips, both scientists, and Leon Dash, a Swanlund Chair professor of journalism.

Is there anything new at the Urbana Sweetcorn Festival next weekend?

Yes, the Folk & Roots Festival Stage on Race Street near The Iron Post, featuring acoustic acts from 6 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The C-U Folk & Roots Festival curated the music.

"We have an abundance of talent in the area and the challenge was to program the stage with performers that can be heard above the din of a very lively street fair," said Folk & Roots steering committee member Jeff Zolitor. "Since there is not a lot of set-up involved, we can feature several different groups each night, plus, a select group of performers from the weekly Hootenanny at the Rose Bowl."

The Friday acts, in order: Bow-dacious String Band, Mae & The Dark Days, The Ol' No. 7, and The Curses. Saturday: Urbana Hootenanny with Dustin Norder and Sam Payne; Cowboy John Coppess and Friends; Cretaceous String Band; and The Strom Bros.

What is the Urbana Hootenanny anyway?

It's an open-mic event starting at 8 p.m. every Monday at the Rose Bowl Tavern, 106 N. Race St., U, that features acoustic acts only but differs from most open-mic events because spontaneous collaborations occur. Most of the acts are local but sometimes visiting musicians show up. Local musicians Sam Payne and Dustin Norder started the Urbana Hootenanny a couple of years ago and help create a warm and welcoming atmosphere. And there's no cover charge.

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