A few months ago the girls were contacted by the North Carolina Arts Council. The organization is making an effort to reach out to millennials who perform traditional music.
Last week the girls were invited to attend the Millennial Traditional Artists Gathering in Black Mountain NC. The NC Arts Council hosted the event in the hopes that they might help millennial music makers with marketing, grants, and a whole host of other things.
The girls let me tag along and let me tell you we had a great time! We learned a lot and met some wonderful folks to boot. It was very refreshing for the girls to meet and interact with people their age who have the same goal of keeping traditional music alive.
A very bright spot in the day was meeting Wayne Martin, Executive Director of the North Carolina Arts Council.
In 1998 Pap and his brother Ray were awarded the NC Folk Heritage Award for their musical achievements. Wayne was the person who presented the award to them. He was pleased as punch to meet two of Pap's granddaughters and even happier to know they were helping keep the music Pap taught them alive for future generations.
In Appalachia grandmothers love their grandbabies beyond reason...which is a good thing if you ask me.
p.s. The winner of the Jan Karon book and Granny's goodies is...Cheryl who said: The book looks wonderful, and Granny's crocheted goodies sound even better! Thanks for the opportunity to win! I hope you and your family had a wonderful Thanksgiving, and may God bless you all with a blessed and healthy Christmas season!
Appalachia is famous for its beautiful mountains. I can assure you we have some beautiful graveyards too.
Appalachia has a great tradition of story-telling. Many of the stories have been passed down through multiple generations and are continuing to be told today. There are more than a few story-tellers who read the Blind Pig and The Acorn. Keith Jones and Granny Sue both come to mind.
A local story-teller named Martha Owen Liden also comes to mind. She's a fixture in Brasstown. She and her husband made music with Pap every now and again through the years. Martha's stories are great fun to listen to. If you ever got a chance to watch the movie the girls and I were in you can catch a short glimpse of Martha story-telling.
There are other types of stories told in Appalachia too. The stories of our lives. The stories we pass down to our children about ourselves and their ancestors.
Several months back Ed Karshner left the following comment.
"I wanted to speak to your post yesterday. I wanted to say something, then but I needed to study on it. I'm glad you tell these stories and you should never tire or feel strange about sharing stories about your father. For us, people of Appalachia, stories are how we keep those most important things alive. I read once that humans aren't born with instincts to survive, instead we are born with the ability to tell stories. In that very old Germanic tradition that, I think, has influenced Appalachian storytelling, we don't have a future...just a past and a right now. When we tell those stories, that person (or people or event) is brought into the now and lives just as real as if they were physically breathing. They are here now (in the story) to instruct us, love us, and make us smile. This is why I tell my children about my grandparents, great aunts and uncles, friends every chance I get. Not just to make them live again for my kids but also for me. I don't think it is stretching it to say that storytelling about our ancestors is like spending time with them. I feel that way."
Ed said he'd been studying on my post, well I've been studying on his comment since he left it back in April.
Appalachians are often belittled and maligned for holding on to their past and for always talking about the good ole days in a sentimental fashion.
One of the most common Appalachian traits is being family centered. Everything revolves around family and those family ties run farther than just immediate family. It extends to uncles, aunts, cousins, and in-laws. And oftentimes those family members aren't even really family members, they're close friends who feel like family.
Part of our longing to talk about the past is related directly to those tight family ties that hold us together even beyond the grave. As Ed so rightly pointed out, it keeps those who have long gone on alive and near to us.
Another part of our longing to talk about the past is directly related to how our environments are changing at warp speed and we're left looking around at a world we no longer fit.
Creek and holler folks is one of many synonyms used to describe people who live in the mountains. A few others that come to mind:
- Branch water people
- Mountain people
- Ridge runners
- Hill people
I don't care what you call them, I just call them my people.
Brasstown is all a buzz with the preparations for the biggest doings of the year: the John C. Campbell Folk School's Annual Fall Festival. This will be the 43rd consecutive year of the festival and I believe it gets bigger every year.
Blind Pig reader, Rooney Floyd told me he attended the first festival and there wasn't but about thirty people there. These days the two day festival draws well over 10,000 people.
I always heard the name Brasstown came from a corruption of an Indian word that meant fresh green place or something like that.
The community of Brasstown is unique in that it is split between two counties. My portion of Brasstown lies within the boundaries of Cherokee County while the area down around the post office lies within Clay County. This anomaly causes some interesting tax mix-ups. One time years ago Clay County put a warrant out for Paul's drivers license because he didn't pay his taxes...only he didn't owe taxes to Clay County because he lived in Cherokee County.
Brasstown is unique in other ways as well.
It's the home of the annual New Year's Possum Drop, its one of the areas you can readily find fairy crosses, and hey it's the home of the Blind Pig and The Acorn too.
If you make it out to the festival The Pressley Girls will be playing on Sunday October 8 at 2:00 p.m on the Festival Barn Stage. We'll be hanging around the stage before and after so please come find us to say hello.
I've never seen Granny's zinnas as pretty as they are this year. She saves her seeds from year to year by snipping off the dried seed heads in late fall and storing them in an old paper envelope till the next spring when she plants them again.
Granny is continuing to improve and has even felt good enough to can a few runs of greenbeans over the last week. We were able to get her one of those life alert things and she wears it every day.
p.s. Chitter is having a great sale over in her Stamey Creek Creations Etsy Shop. 25% off everything in the shop, no minimums and it even counts on the existing sale section as well! Go check it out! Christmas is just around the corner 🌲
p.s.s. The Pressley Girls will be performing Friday September 22, 2017 @ 7:00 p.m. at the Historic Courthouse in Blairsville, GA.
The orange colored jewelweed grows all over my mountain holler, but I've never seen the yellow variety until this past weekend. Let me tell you it is beautiful! Especially when its growing right beside a patch of the orange as it is at my friend's house.
I was pleased as punch when my very young tour guide showed me how to pop the small seed pods by gently touching them. I love it when I see kids who know the same little tricks I took joy in as a child.
You can go here to read about the orange jewelweed that grows at my house.
p.s. The Pressley Girls will be performing Friday September 22, 2017 @ 7:00 p.m. at the Historic Courthouse in Blairsville, GA.
No matter which way you look the landscape is lush and green with blooms that intoxicate the air with their sweet alluring scent.
Gardens and orchards are hanging heavy with nature's bounty just waiting to be picked. Folks are taking advantage of the hot sultry air by wading in creeks and rivers and taking swims in lakes, ponds, and pools. With the kids out of school this time of the year is perfect for camping and playing in the great outdoors.
Summer is the season for homecomings, decorations, and all day singing on the grounds. People in Appalachia take the opportunity summer offers to visit one with another as they talk about those they miss, those that are still hanging on, those that are coming along, and the heat.
You might remember me saying I wish the girls would learn the song Summertime for me...well they never did! But Paul and one of our long time friends Wayde Powell III managed to film themselves doing the song not once but twice.
Was that some fancy picking and singing or what!
Summertime will be gone before you know it so soak up all you can.
If you're around a camping area or attend an evening cookout after dark in Appalachia (and in other places) you're likely to see citronella candles sitting around in an effort to ward off the bugs.
Instead of using store bought candles or torches Pap built a small fire and placed green or damp leaves and branches on it to produce a smoky haze to ward off the bugs.
Pap's fire didn't smell near as good as the citronella, but I do believe it worked a whole heck of a lot better.