Sights & Sounds

Remembering Spencer Moore

The Virginia Folklife Program lost a dear friend this June in Spencer Moore, the “singing tobacco farmer” from Chilhowie, Virginia. He was ninety-two. Born into a large family in North …

Sights & Sounds

Emily Spencer and Kilby Spencer

The “clawhammer” banjo style is an essential aspect of “old time,” an ensemble-based, hard-driving music form that has inspired dancers across Southern Appalachia for generations. Unlike the more popularized bluegrass …

Sights & Sounds

Mac Traynham and Robert Browder

While the first European and African settlers of Southern Appalachia carried with them a strong stringed-instrument music tradition, instruments were often difficult to acquire, leading players to be resourceful in …

Sights & Sounds

Breaking Up Christmas

When Christmas is over, the fun is just getting started for many in Southern Appalachia. The tradition of “Breaking Up Christmas” is a week-long series of gatherings, where people get …

Sights & Sounds

Acoustic Youth

Many of the musicians who perform at fiddler’s conventions and music festivals throughout southern Appalachia are, in fact, young kids. Late in the night, long past their bedtimes, children and …

Sights & Sounds

Kathy Coleman and Callie McCarty

When the American Folklore Society was established in 1901, a critical part of its stated mission was to document the “oral literature” of the southern Appalachian Mountains, as this region …

Sights & Sounds

Sandra Bennett and Linda Wright

An appreciation of Appalachian fiber arts has often been hindered by stereotypical images of Appalachia as a poverty-stricken region, where women had to make every article of clothing and bedding …

Sights & Sounds

Jack and Nannie Branch and John Maeder

There is probably no other traditional food more associated with Southwest Virginia than country ham. Unlike the more commonly known wet-cured ham, which is soaked in brine or injected with …

Sights & Sounds

Spencer Moore and Ben Moore Jr.

When the late folklorist Alan Lomax set out on one of his legendary “Southern Journeys” in 1959, he stopped in Chilhowie, Virginia, to record a tobacco farmer named Spencer Moore …

Sights & Sounds

Larry Counts and Dee Puckett and Thomas Vail

Broom making has enjoyed a long history in Appalachia and throughout Virginia. Initially, brooms were made primarily as a home craft, and then later became a vibrant cottage industry. Broom …

Sights & Sounds

Ganell Marshall and Sarah Mullins

A version of corn shuck doll making was likely first introduced to settlers in Southwest Virginia by Native Americans, though it was also a staple craft of early Mission Schools …

Sights & Sounds

Joe Ayers and Patrick Hester

Joe Ayers has literally written the history books regarding the development of the banjo in America. Joe, who lives in an eighteenth-century house in the gently rolling hills of rural …

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