The Music of Western North Carolina

I’m not much a radio listener, but there’s one station we get in Upstate South Carolina that makes me smile every time I tune in. Most of the time they play mountain music—bluegrass, authentic country and Americana. A fair number of songs they play come straight from the heart of the Appalachian region that the radio waves cover.

There are other types of music I listen to more often, but there’s something about mountain music that’s hard to describe. It feels deep-rooted and full of story.

A few weeks ago I ran across a quote in a magazine that described it beautifully:

It’s found where the distance between saint and sinner is no further than the space between frets, where backsliders and Baptists sit together, right up on one another, listening to a mandolin that sounds like angels dancing on the rim of a Mason jar.It’s wound around the country lyrics of a story song, of folks leaving town on a ghost train or the wings of a dove. And it lives in the wail of the bastard child called rock and roll, whose family tree branches into juke joints and smoke-filled bars,its roots prying up the floorboards of front porches and barn dances.

The music that lives in Western North Carolina, either by birth or divine guidance, is as good at it is varied. The sound comes form the instruments, but the music comes fromthe souls of the boys pulling the strings. It rolls down the mountains and through the hills and and takes hold before the soil turns to sand, remaining on the solid ground it knows well. Let others shag on boardwalks. We pound boots on quartz and clay,nodding our heads in time and agreement. So it has been and so it shall be, forever and always. Amen.

—Shari Smith

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Practicing the art of bringing guns to a knife fight.

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