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Gratitude, for a start

Mark DeWitt and Jeff Titon at a California winery, 2018

Not having really blogged much before, it's hard to know where to begin, so I'll just begin by expressing gratitude to some people who have helped me get this far, and since I plan to keep to professional topics I will concentrate on my intellectual and musical inspirations and mentors. Foremost on my mind at the moment is Jeff Todd Titon, partly because I have recently had the privilege of contributing to a chapter to a volume on Cultural Sustainabilities inspired by Jeff's work (due to be published in Spring 2019 by University of Illinois Press) and partly because Jeff himself has maintained his own excellent blog, Sustainable Music, for the last ten [10!] years now. I started knowing Jeff back when he wrote me a postcard from his sabbatical leave at Berea College when I applied to graduate school at Brown University. While I did not attend Brown, I did get the opportunity to work with Jeff on two SEM conference panels that led to special issues of the world of music, on tourism (41.3) and sustainability (51.1). His vision and example of doing applied ethnomusicology from an academic position have provided sturdy support for the work I do now at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

I thought to apply to graduate school in ethnomusicology at all due in part to the enthusiasm and intellectual example of my first ethnomusicologist-teachers, whose classes I took while a music theory student at New England Conservatory: Bob Labaree and Peter Row. I was ready to catch fire and they knew what to do with the matches. Where I did decide to go for my doctoral studies, UC Berkeley, Bonnie Wade and Ben Brinner provided steady guidance through my years of study and dissertation writing, followed by many years of loyal support as I struggled in the academic job market, published Cajun and Zydeco Dance Music in Northern California, and, finally and miraculously, landed a tenure-track job. Thanks also to some of my other teachers in graduate school who stood by me during this period, including John Ogbu, Olly Wilson, and Eddie Meadows.

Usually, the acknowledgments at the beginning of a book are written at the end of the project, when the author knows what shape it took and whom to thank for what, but here I'm writing these acknowledgments at the beginning of the blog, before I've written anything else or even know what I'm going to write about. So I'll leave off here and return to the gratitude theme again later.