Interview with Jack Wright, December 21, 2015

Project: Exploring the Legacies of Appalshop Oral History Project

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Interview Summary

Jack Wright begins the interview with a detailed remembrance of the Vietnam War and its meaning to him. He remembers the joys of returning to the U.S. via a formative trip to Hollywood, and recalls the way the war left him feeling restless and defensive even as he drove home to Virginia. After a year of music and experimenting with drugs, Jack returned to Clinch Valley College and became politically radicalized due to the courses he took - particularly those with Helen Lewis. In the context of Lewis' class, Jack started what eventually became Doc Boggs Memorial Festival. After graduating, he won a Ford Foundation fellowship, and became involved in the regional music scene. Jack eventually became part of the Appalshop fold through his work in music and theater, and he describes the founding of JuneAppal Records in the context of the 1960s and 1970s as well as how it was distinctive in its commitment to local performers. He makes a similar observation about the "Roadside style" of approaching storytelling. Jack describes how he and his peers operated between their own sense of authenticity and expression, and folkloric notions of purity. At this point Jack describes how his fellowship had empowered him to engage in theater, and remembers Roadside's origins growing from his own interest intersecting with Don Baker's interests. He remembers working to the convert "the loft" with Don Baker, and he remembers his own enthusiasm to take theater to people in rural communities. Studio recording became Jack's passion, so he used the studio for Appalshop projects, and began to branch into film. Jack discusses stereotypes as complex yet essential in the context of theater and cultural presentation. Jack believes this sometimes led to misunderstandings between Appalshop and the outside world. He concludes by discussing the making of "Sunny Side of Life" and his departure from Appalshop in 1985.

Interview Accession

2016oh028_appal022

Interviewee Name

Jack Wright

Interviewer Name

Jeffrey A. Keith

Rayna Gellert

Interview Date

2016-12-21

Interview Rights

All rights to the interviews, including but not restricted to legal title, copyrights and literary property rights, have been transferred to the University of Kentucky Libraries.

Interview Usage

Interviews may only be reproduced with permission from Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.

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Wright, Jack Interview by Jeffrey A. Keith. 21 Dec. 2016. Lexington, KY: Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.

Wright, J. (2016, December 21). Interview by J. A. Keith. Exploring the Legacies of Appalshop Oral History Project. Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries, Lexington.

Wright, Jack, interview by Jeffrey A. Keith. December 21, 2016, Exploring the Legacies of Appalshop Oral History Project, Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.





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