AMS / Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum Lecture Series

The American Musicological Society and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum (RRHOFM) in Cleveland, Ohio, are collaborating on a new lecture series that brings scholarly work to a broader audience and showcases the musicological work of the top scholars in the field.

Free and open to the public, the lectures are held in Library Reading Room, Rock Hall Library and Archives (2809 Woodland Avenue, Cleveland). Directions and parking     Google maps

Future Lectures

7 p.m., 16 September 2015: Stephanie Vander Wel, "Rose Maddox’s Roadhouse Vocality and the California Sound of 1950s Rockabilly and Honky-Tonk"

Stephanie Vander Wel describes her lecture as follows: "The Maddox Brothers and Rose came to the forefront of California country music after World War II with their dynamic live performances that bridged the transition from western swing to rockabilly and honky-tonk. I argue that the stage manner and vocal style of Rose Maddox (the lead singer of the family ensemble) was essential to the musical and social context of dance-hall culture and the emerging presence of female performers in Los Angeles. While Maddox engaged with and expanded upon the conventions of western swing to a specific audience of displaced whites, she moved away from the 'sweet' renderings of the singing cowgirl to develop what I term a 'roadhouse' vocality. Within the architectural space of California’s nightspots, Maddox’s vocal technique combined the use of a resonating chest voice with southern vernacular idioms in rockabilly-inflected songs like 'George’s Playhouse Boogie' (1949) and 'Pay Me Alimony' (1951). Maddox’s performances beckoned migrants in general, and women migrants in particular, to the social and physical pleasures of the dance hall, where she evoked the aural vestiges of southern culture to highlight the cultural tensions of displacement in relation to the shifting roles of gender. In doing so, Maddox carved out a performance space for honky-tonk singer Jean Shepard and the 'Queen of Rockabilly,' Wanda Jackson. Thus Maddox created sonic versions of womanhood that not only resisted gendered and class norms in the 1950s but also served as important models for female performers within the production of California country music."

The lecture is FREE and reservations are recommended, but not required. To RSVP, visit or in person at the Rock Hall Box Office.

Past Lectures

See here for full details and video webcasts

Mark Clague (University of Michigan), spring 2015: "'This Is America': Jimi Hendrix’s Reimaginings of the 'The Star-Spangled Banner' as Social Comment for Woodstock and Beyond"

Samantha Bennett (Australian National University), fall 2014: "Rock, Recording and Rebellion: Technology and Process in 1990s Record Production"

Christopher Doll (Rutgers University), spring 2014: "Nuclear Holocaust, the Kennedy Assassination, and 'Louie Louie': The Unlikely History of Sixties Rock and Roll"

Loren Kajikawa (University of Oregon), September 2013: "Before Rap: DJs, MCs, and Pre-1979 Hip Hop Performances"

Andrew Flory (Carleton College), December 2012: "Reissuing Marvin: Musicology and the Modern Expanded Edition"

David Brackett (McGill University), April 2012: "Fox-Trots, Hillbillies, and the Classic Blues: Categorizing Popular Music in the 1920s"

Albin Zak (University at Albany, SUNY), October 2011: "'A Thoroughly Bad Record': Elvis Presley’s 'Hound Dog' as Rock and Roll Manifesto"

Call for Lecture Proposals

Follow this link for full instructions if you are interested in participating in the AMS/RRHOFM Lecture Series.

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