Pickin’ Time Bios


Ron Pen
Ron Pen is professor of music at the University of Kentucky where he also serves as Director of the John Jacob Niles Center for American Music  and Coordinator of the Division of Musicology and Ethnomusicology. Previously he also served as Director of the Appalachian Studies Program. Dr. Pen has focused his research and writing on traditional Appalachian culture.  His recent publications in this area include I Wonder As I Wander: The Life of John Jacob Niles (University Press of Kentucky 2010) and “Preservation and Presentation of the Folk: Forging an American Identity” in Music, American Made (Harmonie Park Press 2011).  He has been an active member of the Society for American Music, serving as Vice President, Book Review Editor, and National Conference Local Arrangements and Program Chairs. He is a performer as well, playing traditional instruments fiddle, guitar, and dulcimer in solo concerts as well as with bands including the Red State Ramblers.  He sings music drawn from traditional Appalachian repertoire and is a founding member of the Appalachian Association of Sacred Harp Singers with whom he sang on Garrison Keillor's Prairie Home Companion radio program.  He has been on the staff of various Folk Music workshops and camps including Swannanoa Gathering's Old Time Music Week, Augusta Heritage Center's Old Time and Vocal Week, Berea College's Christmas Country Dance School, and Hindman Settlement School's Family Folk Week.
Dr. Pen has also been interested in World Music in his teaching and performance, and has been involved in several State Department-sponsored cultural exchanges with Kyrgyzstan.  Most recently, in February-March 2012 he and members of the Red State Ramblers old time string band collaborated with members of Ustatshakirt at a series of performances in Kyrgyzstan culminating in a concert at the National Opera House in Bishkek. In Fall 2012 he traveled with the Red State Ramblers to Ecuador on a cultural exchange program sponsored by the U.S. Embassy.