CHESTERTOWN, MD— When Ned Sublette spoke to a packed house last September in “The Egg” performance space at Washington College, he promised to return in the spring to share more of the music and writing for which he’s known.
Now, after a year’s residence in Chestertown as the College’s 2010-11 Patrick Henry Writing Fellow, he’s making good on his word. Sublette will present Kiss You Down South Part 2: Return to the Egg on Tuesday, April 26 at 7:30 p.m.
The performance will take place in two parts: first, a brief reading from Sublette’s most recent book, The Year Before the Flood, a memoir of New Orleans, and then a concert of songs from his forthcoming album, Kiss You Down South. He will sign books during an intermission.
Sublette is an internationally renowned musician. Trained in classical Spanish guitar, he is known for merging the music of Cuba with that of the American west to create “cowboy rumba” and for championing Cuban music in the United States. Sublette’s albums include Cowboy Rumba and, together with artist Lawrence Wiener, Monsters from the Deep and Ships at Sea, Sailors and Shoes. His song “Cowboys Are Frequently Secretly” was recorded by Willie Nelson (25 years after Sublette wrote it) and released to coincide with the movie premiere of Brokeback Mountain in 2006.
Sublette has been a producer for Public Radio International’s Afropop Worldwide, where he co-founded its scholarly Hip Deep series, was co-founder of the record label Qbadisc, which distributes Cuban music in the United States, and headlined on New Year’s Eve at the now-vanished CBGB club in New York City.
A native of Lubbock who grew up in Texas and New Mexico and has spent most of his working life in New York City, Sublette brings a special perspective to his work as a cultural historian. In addition to The Year Before the Flood: A Story of New Orleans (Lawrence Hill Books, 2009), Sublette has authored two other highly praised books: The World that Made New Orleans: From Spanish Silver to Congo Square (Lawrence Hill, 2008), and Cuba and Its Music: From the First Drums to the Mambo (Chicago Review Press, 2004). All three will be available at an intermission book signing.
During his residency in Chestertown, Sublette has been working on a new book. Centered on the Chesapeake region, The American Slave Coast explores the importance of the slave trade in the making of the American economy. As Patrick Henry Fellow, Sublette is living with his wife, the writer Constance Ash, in a restored 1735 house in the heart of Chestertown's colonial historic district, and is co-teaching a course at Washington College with music professor Kenneth Schweitzer.
The Patrick Henry Writing Fellowship, provided by Washington College’s C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience and supported by the Rose O’Neill Literary House (the College’s center for literature and creative writing), offers a yearlong residency to authors doing innovative work on America’s founding era and its legacy. It is permanently endowed as part of a $2.5 million challenge grant package that the National Endowment for the Humanities awarded through its nationwide “We the People” initiative.
Founded in 1782 under the patronage of George Washington, Washington College is a private, independent college of liberal arts and sciences located in colonial Chestertown on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. The College’s C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience is dedicated to fostering innovative approaches to the American past and present. Through educational programs, scholarship and public outreach, and a special focus on written history, the Starr Center seeks to bridge the divide between the academic world and the public at large. For more information on the Center, visit http://starrcenter.washcoll.edu.