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Inside Appalachia: Mountain Music Young & Old

Brian Blauser
Dave Bing and Ben Townsend live on Mountain Stage.


This week’s show includes stories of square dance junkies who are fanning the flames for a new generation of old time music fans, young indie rock musicians who hope to challenge Appalachian stereotypes in West Virginia and banjo players who are teaching age old tunes to young musicians and more.

Bristol Museum Celebrates the Birthplace of Country Music

Jimmy Rogers and the Carter Family were among those who recorded their earliest music in Bristol. Last year, The Birthplace of Country Music Museum opened in Bristol. WMMT’s Rich Kirby spoke with museum director Jessica Turner about the museum, its goals and how things are going so far.


Subscribe to our Inside Appalachia podcasthere or on iTuneshere, or onSoundcloud here or onStitcher here.

Travelin' Appalachian Tour Showcases Local Artists

Credit Jade Artherhults

Appalachia is drawing more and more people to the area to hear traditional music, but some younger musicians are trying to get the word out that Appalachians play all kinds of music- even indie rock.




Floyd, Virginia’s Famous Friday Night Jamboree Draws in Tourists From Across the Globe

Credit David E. Rotenizer Raleigh County Extension Agent – Community Development West Virginia State University Extension Service
Musicians gather to play informal jams every Friday evening outside the Floyd Country Store

On Friday nights in spring, summer and fall, the streets of Floyd, Virginia are filled with both the locals and tourists. People with guitars, banjos and fiddles play on one block of town, which is known as the Friday night Jamboree. However, it’s what’s going on inside the Floyd Country Store that most of the tourists are here to experience.

Credit Doug Arbogast, West Virginia University Extension Service
Inside the Floyd Country Store

On this week's Inside Appalachia, we travel to Floyd to witness the old time Jamboree. Floyd is part of a regional music trail in southwestern Virginia called The Crooked Road.

West Virginia’s Mountain Music Trail Looks to The Crooked Road for Inspiration

Credit David E. Rotenizer Raleigh County Extension Agent – Community Development West Virginia State University Extension Service
A group of West Virginians representing various economic development organizations, tourism development groups, and West Virginia University and West Virginia State University, recently toured the Crooked Road in southwestern Virginia for inspirations to bring back to the mountain state. Their guide was Todd Christensen, Executive Director of the Southwest Virginia Cultural Heritage Foundation and co-founder of The Crooked Road

The popularity of Floyd and the Crooked Road in Virginia has caught the attention of tourism groups over the border in West Virginia.

Credit Doug Arbogast, West Virginia University Extension Service
A group of West Virginia tourism developers recently took a tour along the Crooked Road. AmeriCorps VISTA, Ned Savage is in the bottom left.

AmeriCorps VISTA member Ned Savage is from southwestern Virginia. He’s been working with tourism groups in West Virginia to develop the  Mountain Music Trail, which is inspired by The Crooked Road.

What’s in a Name?

Sometimes here on our show we feature towns that get their names from animals. From Panther to Racoon to Monkey’s Elbow to Rabbit Hash Kentucky. Yes these are all town names in Appalachia and yes we do plan to find the stories behind each of these...one day. But today, we’re going to hear about a town that takes its name from a bird. Here’s a hint, nearby there are three different watersheds that run into the Elk River. Also, nearby was the Villanova train station.  Can you name the town in Clay County, West Virginia? Listen to the show to hear the answer.

If you know of another place in Appalachia with an interesting sound or mysterious folklore behind it, send us a tweet @InAppalachia #WhatsinaName, then listen to the show to hear if we figured out the story behind your suggested town name.

Traditional banjo master, Lee Sexton

Lee Sexton is nearly 90-years-old and he’s been playing banjo since he was eight. Four of his songs appear on the Smithsonian Folkways album, Mountain Music of Kentucky. He’s a native of Letcher County, Kentucky, Sexton sat down with WMMT’s Parker Hobson last summer to talk about his life, his music and why he keeps playing.

Swing Your Partner: W.Va. Circles Back To Square Dancing

A couple takes to the floor in Harmon, W.Va., in 2012. West Virginia is trying to revitalize its square-dance tradition.
Credit Jessie Wright-Mendoza / NPR

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Most of the traditional mountain music here in Appalachia is at risk of fading away, as so many of the musicians who know the music grow old and pass on. That’s what inspired folks at Davis and Elkins College to work on a project, called the Mountain Dance Trail, in West Virginia. The project is helping revive traditional square dancing in small communities like Helvetia, Marlinton, Sutton and Ireland- and it hopes to engage more young people to learn traditional dances and music. As you can probably imagine, that’s a huge challenge. Reporter Jessie Wright-Mendoza caught up with some of the organizers who are continuing to rebuild what was once a pillar of small-town life. Since this story first aired on NPR’s All Things Considered in 2013, the Mountain Dance Trail is now in its fourth year and has grown. Sixteen communities now host square dances along the trail in central West Virginia.

Young and Old: Traditional Music Inspires a New Generation

Credit Jessica Lilly

There’s a culture of music that’s been passed down orally through the hills of West Virginia for many generations. Old time music has roots in Celtic and Native American cultures, as well as American ballads and popular music and poems that passed on through oral tradition. The practice of learning young the tunes of their ancestors is alive and well in Sophia, West Virginia.

Music in today’s show was provided by Alabama, Glenville State Bluegrass Band, The Company Stores, and Dave Bing and Ben Townsend with “Red Mountain Wine” as heard on Mountain Stage.  Our What’s in a Name theme music is by Marteka and William with “Johnson Ridge Special” from their Album Songs of a Tradition.

Subscribe to our Inside Appalachia podcasthere or on iTuneshere, or onSoundcloud here or onStitcher here.

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