It starts on September 4, 1960, the day Aunt Molly Jackson, after dying at age 80, was buried in Sacramento, California. Sarah Ogan Gunning, her half-sister, younger by 30 years, reflects on their tumultuous relationship from the loneliness of her Detroit apartment. Both are far from their Kentucky mountain homes, and they ended up in these far-away cities via New York City and the pre-World War II urban folk revival, closely tied to left-wing support of labor causes.
Thus opens songwriter, playwright, and activist Si Kahn’s new one-woman play, Precious Memories, starring Sue Massek. Massek has been a banjo player for almost 40 years with Louisville’s pioneering feminist old-time band the Reel World String Band. Massek’s Sarah tells the stories of both remarkable mountain singers and her brother Jim Garland, while bringing her songs and stories to life on stage and on a new album of the same name.