“Recording is the primary document used now. It used to be that the transcript was the primary document, but that’s no longer true,” said Eileen McAdam, one of the presenters of a two-day oral history workshop recently hosted by the Floyd Country Store.
McAdam is the director of the Sound and Story Project, a non-profit program of the World Sound Foundation, based out of Hudson Valley, New York. With a mission of strengthening community through the power of listening, the project works to preserve the community memory by recording the first-hand stories of everyday people.
The Floyd workshop, held upstairs in the Country Store community room, was co-led by McAdam’s husband, Jim Metzner. Metzner is an independent radio producer, best known for Pulse of the Planet, a weekly radio series that provides listeners with two-minute sound portraits from all over the world, blending the rhythms of nature, culture and science with interviews.
The workshop focused on basic recording and interview techniques, using digital recorders and earphone headsets. Metzner spoke about the wealth of interview material in Floyd and emphasized the importance of producing quality audio through the use of sound and equipment checks.
“Take your time,” McAdams told the workshop group, which was made up of individuals interested in historic documentation and production, and included Kathleen Ingoldsby and Catherine Pauley, co-directors of the Floyd Story Center, which has partnered with of the Old Church Gallery, Radford University’s Center for Social and Cultural Research and the Floyd County High School to conduct over 60 local interviews as part of a place-based educational project.
McAdam reviewed an outline of the interview process. She suggested interviewers ask open-ended questions, such as ‘tell me something about where you born.” Participants paired-up and role-played mock interviews with each other before practicing their skills in the community.
The workshop was planned to coincide with the Friday Night Jamboree to provide participants with a variety of interview possibilities that would reflect the diversity of people, the history, and creativity of Floyd, said Woody Crenshaw, co-owner of the Floyd Country Store.
“We felt we had a story that we wanted to gather, the music, the images, and the history of the people who come to the store and are part of the atmosphere,” said Crenshaw. He knew of Metzner’s work, and, when he learned that Metzner would be in the area to give a lecture and workshop at Virginia Tech, he suggested the workshop in Floyd.
About 20 interviews were conducted in the Country Store, the barbershop, at the Farmers Market, The Station, and at jam sessions on the sidewalk by McAdam, Metzner and workshop attendees. A handful of interviews were set up ahead of time.
Crenshaw stated that he was happy with the success of the workshop and that it provided a “pulse of momentum” to the growing interest in the community to capture a snapshot of the music, arts, agriculture and way of life in Floyd at this time in history.
“This is not a stand alone project, but the beginning of a process. We want to include more voices and more stories,” Crenshaw said. He reported that he and his wife, Jackie, began intentionally documenting the music played at the store after realizing how little was being archived. After the collating and organizing of the recent sound files and photographs, the finished products will be presented to the Floyd Historical Society as archived documents available for future generations, he said.
An unexpected highlight near the conclusion of the weekend workshop was a Saturday stage performance of an original song, written by Metzner. Drawing the title, “The Republic of Floyd,” from the downtown emporium sign, the song was inspired by Metzner’s experience of being in Floyd. … Your singing old time music / You remember your roots / and you dance with metal on your cowboy boots / and every day is one that you have enjoyed / when you belong to the Republic of Floyd.
The song was captured on video by Kathleen Ingoldsby. She summed up the weekend by saying, “The entire experience was solidly real, not to mention, fun!”