Charlie Poole, banjo extraordinaire and founder of the old-time music pioneers, the North Carolina Ramblers, was born in Randolph County. A hand injury at a young age led him to play banjo with a distinctive three-finger style, often imitated today. Although he died on this day in 1931, at the age of 39, his legacy lives on with his songs “Don’t Let Your Deal Go Down Blues,” “Sweet Sunny South,” and more being covered by the likes of Bob Dylan, Loudon Wainwright III and the Steep Canyon Rangers.
Lauchlin Shaw was a Harnett County-based fiddler whose family was a part of the 18th and 19th century wave of Scottish immigration to North Carolina.
“His great-grandfather had come from the Isle of Jura off Scotland’s coast up through the Cape Fear River Valley,” says Wayne Martin. “That’s a really important story for North Carolina that we don’t hear about so much now.”
Shaw’s grandfather and father spoke Gaelic and he went to church services in Harnett County that were given in Gaelic. The many fiddle tunes he performed were passed down through generations of fiddle players in his family.
In our final installment of Director’s Cut, Wayne Martin shares a field recording of “Sally With The Run Down Shoes,” a traditional dance tune performed by Lauchlin Shaw and Chatham County banjoist A.C. Overton.
Director's Cut is a special music themed season of Arts Across NC, curated in celebration of Come Hear North Carolina, a campaign for the 2019 North Carolina Year of Music. In each episode NC Arts Council Director Wayne Martin will unearth a field recording from the archive he built during his 30+ year tenure with our agency. Each song represents a different region of North Carolina.
"These pieces that I've chosen are part of the fabric of who we are as a people," says Wayne. "They are pieces that tell the story of North Carolina.
Arts Across NC is a podcast by and about the North Carolina Arts Council.
Some of the most esteemed and respected women in old-time music will lead workshops in fiddle, banjo, guitar, bass, mandolin, flat foot dance/square dance calling, and harmony singing during the Women! Mount Air Old-Time Workshops scheduled Thursday, Feb. 28 to Saturday, March 2.
Hosted by the Surry Arts Council with support from the N.C. Department of Natural & Cultural Resources the workshops are being held in conjunction with the Tommy Jarrell Festival, which also kicks off on Thurs., Feb. 28 with old-time dance lessons.
Registration is still open, and students and adults of all ages are invited to participate. Register online through the Surry Arts Council's secure Eventbrite site. Tuition is $300 and includes classes, meals (lunch and dinner), event tickets, and a t-shirt.
Classes will be held at the Andy Griffith Playhouse and the Historic Earle Theatre in Mount Airy, N.C.
The following musicians are leading the workshops:
Caroline Beverley teaches mandolin, singing, guitar and string band classes at Alleghany JAM (Junior Appalachian Musicians) at Surry Community College in Dobson and plays mandolin for the Virginia based old-time band, the New Ballards Branch Bogtrotters, as well as other N.C. bands.
Trish Kilby Ford started playing old-time music as a young teenager under the instruction of Emily Spencer and many other old-time and bluegrass musicians around her hometown of Lansing in Ashe County, N.C. In the 26 years of playing old-time music, Trish has been influenced by legends in traditional music, including Thornton and Emily Spencer, Dean Sturgill, the Birchfield Family, Ola Belle Reed, just to name a few. She has played with many groups and traveled internationally.
Erynn Marshall is an old-time fiddler who lives in Galax, Virginia and is known nationally and beyond for her traditional music she learned Appalachian old-time fiddling from rare recording and visiting 80-95-year-old southern fiddlers for decades. Erynn performs at festivals and music camps around the globe and often tours with her husband – songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Carl Jones.
Terri McMurray has great chops on 5-string banjo, banjo uke, and guitar. She studied with many masters including the late Tommy Jarrell and has played with great banjoists including Dix Freeman, Fields West, Benton Fllippen and Kyle Creed. Terri co-founded the Old Hollow String Band and has also performed with the Toast String Stretchers, the Mostly Mountain Boys and the Mountain Birch Duo with Paul Brown. She has taught at numerous banjo camps, including in England.
Emily Spencer is a certified PK-12 teacher and has taught fiddle, banjo, guitar, mandolin, dulcimer and bass in the schools and at Wilkes Community College and Wytheville Community College. She has played music since childhood and started playing with the Whitetop Mountain Band in the 1970s with Thornton Spencer and continues with the band today.
Martha Spencer is the daughter of Emily and Thornton Spencer, the leaders of the Whitetop Mountain Band. She began dancing and playing at a young age and currently plays fiddle, banjo, guitar, bass, and dulcimer. She has won countless competitions for her Appalachian dancing and has taken part in master dance workshop at the National Folk Festival (USA), Woodford Folk Festival (AU) and Lowell Folk Festival (USA). Her music passion includes passing on the traditions and she has been an instructor in the Junior Appalachian Music (JAM) program in Ashe County and plays with numerous bands.
The mountains and foothills of North Carolina are known internationally as places rich in traditional old-time music, stringband music, ballad singing and bluegrass, and ways to experience authentic music flourish throughout the region. From hometown opry’s and informal jam sessions to concert stages, festivals and old-time music conventions, visitors can enjoy traditional music and dance in friendly, informal settings, some dating back almost a century. The North Carolina Arts Council developed the Blue Ridge Music Trails to encourage travelers to explore the regions incredible music experiences.
An important focus of Blue Ridge Music traditions is the town of Mt. Airy, the hometown of Andy Griffith (and inspiration for his famous Mayberry). Nestled in the foothills of the mountains, the town is home to the second longest currently running live radio program in the nation: WPAQ’s Merry-Go-Round. Every Saturday WPAQ presents live, local and regional music on the Merry-Go-Round, a live radio broadcast staged in The Earle, a vintage movie theater in the heart of Mt. Airy. The podcast Down The Road, a production of the Blue Ridge Music Trails by the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area, explores the history of WPAQ’s Merry-Go-Round in this episode.