Ruth McLain Smith, Rich and the Po' Folks to Perform at UK


LEXINGTON, Ky. (Nov. 9, 2012) — From a music legend of the McLain Family Band to an eastern Kentucky string band, the next two concerts in the "Appalachia in the Bluegrass" will be sure to have something for everyone. The first concert, featuring Ruth McLain Smith, will be presented noon Friday, Nov. 9, in the Niles Gallery, located in the University of Kentucky Lucille C. Little Fine Arts Library and Learning Center. The following week, the string band, Rich and the Po Folks, will perform noon Friday, Nov. 16, at Niles Gallery. Both concerts are free and open to the public.


Family Band Lives On


Much of Ruth McLain Smith’s musical background is intertwined with the story of her family’s band. Her father, Raymond Kane McLain, was the leader of the McLain Family Band. He was born in Alliance, Ohio, on April 18, 1928. His study and collection of Appalachian music took him to eastern Kentucky and a job at the Hindman Settlement School as recreation director in 1954.


Their children, Raymond W., Alice, Ruth, Nancy Ann and Michael, grew up with a love of music of all kinds, especially the music of the Appalachian region. McLain formed the McLain Family Band in 1968 when they began performing and doing a weekly show at WKYH-TV in Hazard, Ky.


The McLain Family Band’s overseas touring began after playing for the National Endowment for the Arts music committee. Composer Gian Carlo Menotti was so charmed by the band that he invited them to play at his Spoleto Festival in Italy in 1972. While abroad that summer, they also had musical engagements in Germany and Belgium. During the course of the next 18 years, the family toured overseas 14 times, performing in a total of 62 foreign countries.


Ruth, a member of the band, sang, danced and played bass all over the world. Recently, she has returned to Berea, Ky.


To hear a preview of Smith performing, go to


Eastern Kentucky String Band to Take the Stage


The band Rich and the Po' Folks was founded in the spring of 2006, when a group of friends got together with a common goal; to build a band on their shared love for the traditional music of eastern Kentucky and southwest Virginia. They have found their inspiration in the work of old time giants such as Art Stamper, Ed Haley, Charlie Osborne, George Gibson and John Morgan Salyer, and they use the fiddle, banjo, bass, mandolin and guitar to kick it up as only a string band can.


The band's recent CD, "When the Whistle Blew," released in November 2010 by Appalshop’s June Appal Recordings, digs into a wide range of both old and new traditional mountain music. The recording draws on the band members’ home territory of eastern Kentucky and southwest Virginia. This is the best and most important music to come forth from the coal fields in many years.


Some of the band's past performances include appearances at the Carter Family Fold, the Ralph Stanley Museum, Rhythm and Roots Reunion, Hillbilly Days, the Morehead Old Time Fiddlers Convention, Home Craft Days, and the Dock Boggs Festival.


To hear samples of the band's new CD visit their website online at


Presented by the UK John Jacob Niles Center for American Music, the "Appalachia in the Bluegrass" concert series celebrates the old time roots of American folk music by featuring a diverse range of traditional musical expression. This year's concert series showcases 13 different performers, duos and groups from the Kentucky area ranging from artists straight off their front porch to those who have earned international acclaim. The Niles Center is a collaborative research and performance center of the UK College of Fine ArtsUK School of Music and UK Libraries.


For more information on either Ruth McLain Smith or the Rich and the Po' Folks, or on the "Appalachia in the Bluegrass" concert series itself, contact Ron Pen, director of the Niles Center, by email to or visit online at




MEDIA CONTACT: Whitney Hale, (859) 257-8716 or