Music Duo

Guest singers preforming in the Ron Houston Center for Performing Arts in the Aug 23 Music Duo.

The 20th century was brought to life by The Lark & Loon, an Arkansas folk duo, Aug. 23 in the Ron Houston Center for the Performing Arts.

The Lark & Loon duo of Jeff Rolfzen and Rocky-Steen Rolfzen performed remakes of early 20th century music for Maryville residents and students.

Assistant professor Debra Brown invited the folk duo to campus and was excited for the influence the duo would leave on students who attended.

“It’s really hard when you start playing authentic music from the ‘20s and ‘30s to hear those old recordings and relate to it,” Brown said. “Hearing it live, though, really brings it to life.”

The Lark & Loon performed various classic songs like “St. Louis Blues” originally performed by Bessie Smith, and an original song called “Up on a Cloud.” 

“It’s kind of a testament to the music,” Jeff Rolfzen said. “Those early songs are so embedded in our culture, that no matter who you are or where you go, you’ll run into someone who knows like a third of all folk songs and not even know it.” 

Sophomore Tyrone Thronton said he was enthralled by the performance.

“I never really knew where some of those songs originated from,” Thornton said. “But I mean, their spin on the classics were cool, and I really liked the funky outfits they were wearing.”

Thornton also showed interest in the instruments used by the folk duo, describing them as something people would find in a museum.

The outfits and instruments used by the Lark & Loon are direct replicas of instruments used by bands and artists of the time period.

“This particular guitar was built in 1936 in Chicago during the Great Depression,” Jeff Rolfzen said. “And it used to belong to a guy by the name of Blind Boy Fuller, a prominently well-known blues guitar player.” 

The Lark & Loon duo also donned outfits involving denim overalls, loose fitting clothes  and bird feathers as a way to pay respect to the time period. 

Students conversed with the duo after the show sharing laughs and advice. 

“It is so important to listen to old music and learn the history of it,” Rocky-Steen Rolfzen said. “This is some of the most important music in the entire world, and a lot of the old recordings are disappearing, and it’s a freaking tragedy.” 

The Lark & Loon duo finished their performance by encouraging the audience to preserve the music of the early ‘20s and to incorporate it into their daily lives. 

Sophomore Isaiah Stowers said he was very interested in the duo’s portrayal of the music.

“I mean it’s pretty dope that they’re able to revive the music from that time,” Stowers said. “I didn’t really ever think about the music from that time but they did a pretty solid job at performing it.”

The Lark & Loon said they will be back to Maryville as the audience was very engaging and responsive to their performance.

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