Dr. Ed McKinney
Professor and Chair, History Department, West Plains Campus
“Ozarks Music Preservation”
Dr. Ed McKinney holds a life-long interest and passion for the old time music of the Ozarks. In his spare time he works tirelessly to promote and preserve bluegrass and folk music through leadership, education and entertainment. Ed is well known for his band “Sunnyside Up” and playing back-up rhythm guitar for old-time fiddlers, where he previously won 3rd place overall in Missouri at the State Fair Fiddlers’ Contest. Ed states that Sunnyside Up strives to entertain, uplift and encourage audiences at the Old Time Festival in West Plains, the HOBA Bluegrass Festivals, fundraisers, retirement groups and nursing homes. He shares his passion with multiple generations through workshops, shows and other activities, especially mentoring and educating the younger generation as they learn the music’s history and the art of playing old time music.
For over 20 years Ed has been active in the Heart of the Ozarks Bluegrass Association serving as both President and Board Member and also serves as Master of Ceremonies for a weekly local jam session where both young and old are encouraged to sing, pick, dance or simply sit and enjoy the great area talent. He is a fine luthier, building and repairing acoustic guitars and mandolins at his home in West Plains. Replicating unique construction techniques of the past, it can sometimes take years to complete an instrument. Dr. McKinney strongly believes that the music of the Ozarks is a unique and special branch of folk music, and works to see the genre preserved and expanded in a time when trends are focused on popular music. Folk music is the lyrical language of common folk, and McKinney says “there are more of us common folks than any other group.”
We are pleased to recognize Ed McKinney as April’s Public Affairs Faculty Spotlight for his civic and cultural engagement to preserving the musical legacy of the Ozark’s and for sharing his passion to the next generation of folk and bluegrass musicians.