Blog — Folk Art RSS

Finding Mountain Music

 My grandparents had a couple volumes of the Foxfire series on their bookshelf, and I was captivated by them from a young age. I remember thumbing through Foxfire 2 again and again, amazed at the knowledge captured in those pages that seemed so outside of my own experience. Spinning wool into yarn, wild plants as food and medicine, and a spring-pole lathe, of all things! Who ever heard of that? And this knowledge seemed alive, because it was often conveyed through direct quotes from the skilled individuals who still practiced those arts. Rather than a dry historical treatise, this information had vitality. There was magic here, and I was entranced. Fast forward an odd number of decades, when I found...

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The Foxfire Museum

    In the southern Appalachian Mountains of the eastern U.S., a unique folk culture developed through centuries of hewing an existence from the ancient mountains. This hardscrabble way of life was marked by music (bluegrass has its roots here), faith, extreme poverty, storytelling, and a resilient connection to the land. I gained an early appreciation for Appalachian folk art when, as a child, I discovered my grandparents’ Foxfire books in their basement. Family trips to the Smoky Mountains, a fascination with old log cabins, and (more recently) learning to play the mountain dulcimer fed that appreciation. The folks who lived here (known as “mountaineers”) exemplified “making do,” surviving for centuries in mountain coves and inaccessible valleys while fashioning all...

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