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THE PERFORMANCES

Legends of Country Guitar includes selected live performances, both in concert settings as well as informal ones by the four guitarists profiled above. Since Mose Rager made few public appearances, film of him performing the classic “Muhlenberg Sound” on guitar are scarce. One illuminating segment leads off our retrospective featuring Rager, in prime form, playing Merle Travis’ “I Am A Pilgrim.” The mild-mannered interviewer who is comfortably seated in the chair next to Rager is none other than D.K. Wilgus (1918-1989), one of the century’s preeminent folklorists and a champion of old-time music. A performer himself, Wilgus hailed from West Mansfield Ohio, and while a student on the campus of Ohio State University in 1936, became one of the nation’s first campus folksingers, playing hillbilly and folk tunes. Wilgus would found the Kentucky Folklore Record in 1955 and later became a professor of folklore at UCLA, where he inaugurated the UCLA Folk Festival. He asks Rager about where he learned the thumb-and-finger style of playing guitar and Rager speaks of another Muhlenberg County guitarist named Levi Foster, who lived in the town of Depoy. Foster, who was a black man, played the style without a thumbpick. According to Charles Wolfe

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Chet Atkins, Merle ravis & Mose Rager

Photo courtesy of Mose Rager Estate

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