appalachian-folk

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Added a few more pendants to the old Etsy! Lots of ferns this week; Dryopteris intermedia, being an evergreen fern, is one of those few winter plants I still have access to.

As always, thank you for reblogging! It helps more than you know.

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Fuel the Fire by Sarah Jarosz.

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Cahalen Morrison & Eli West. Saw them this past summer live! Amazing.

Poison & Wine
  • Poison & Wine
  • The Civil Wars
  • Barton Hollow
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"Poison & Wine" - The Civil Wars

Give me harmony or give me death I always say. And by ‘always’ I mean ‘never’. If I had to choose between my own existence and the pairing of these magical voices though, I believe the voices might just win. It’s fair to predict the musical creations of these two would probably grab your attention better than I ever could.

A bio on iTunes describes their music as reminiscent of ‘Appalachian folk’, which probably explains why I gravitate towards their sound. The way my eyes light up with the sound of banjos and washboard-strumming is almost unnatural every time my favorite street band hits Madison during the summer months. What grabs me about this song however, is the pain that hangs throughout. It’s as if it hurts to sing each word. The conflict of emotions, the passion, the desire to persevere, the agonizing feeling that everything about a relationship is so right and so wrong at the same time, the love that could never cease to exist - this song embodies it all.

I’m getting a little too intense for my own liking.

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videos:: Mountain Man - honeybee

Appalachian Christmas Superstitions

I posted yesterday about some Appalachian Christmas traditions that have all but faded out of habit. Likewise, here are some outdated Appalachian superstitions about the holiday season we could all benefit from remembering. Source

  1. Children born on January 6 are special and often develop powers for healing the sick.
  2. Animals kneel at midnight on Christmas Eve as they did by the manger when Christ was born. They also talk during this time. However, it is bad luck to catch them speaking.
  3. Water turns to wine at midnight on Christmas Eve. It is bad luck to taste it (how convenient).
  4. Trees and plants bloom on Christmas Eve. (This legend is probably derived from the English legend of the Glastonbury Thorn, a thorn bush grown from the staff of Joseph of Armethea who fled to England after Christ’s crucifixion.)
  5. If you sit under a pine tree on Christmas Day you can hear angels sing. But, beware! If you hear them, you’ll be on your way to heaven before next Christmas.
  6. Breads and cakes baked on Christmas Day have special healing virtues. Some folks preserved them for use in curing illness during the coming year.
  7. Christmas Day visits to neighbors’ houses require eating a piece of stack cake or mince pie to insure good luck. Visits from twelve neighbors insure good luck for the whole year – and certainly bring a lot of people closer together.
  8. It is bad luck for a cat to meow on Christmas Day. If it does, evil spirits will visit every day during the coming year.
  9. Coals and ashes from the Christmas fire should never be thrown out that day, and no coal of fire or light should be given away. (The Druids believed that each individual coal represented the spirit of a dearly departed kinsman and that they protected the home during the Yule season.)
  10. A crowing cock on Christmas Eve scares away evil spirits. Shooting off guns and fireworks also works.
  11. Angels are so busy celebrating the birth of Christ that one hour before Christmas the gates of heaven are left unattended. Anyone passing over at this hour has a good chance of sneaking into heaven without having to give account.
  12. To hear the chirp of a cricket on the hearth is a good luck omen for the coming year.
  13. Eating an apple as the clock strikes midnight brings good health.
  14. Single girls who visit the hog pen at midnight on Christmas Eve can find out the kind of man they’ll marry. If an old hog grunts first, she will marry an old man. If a shoat grunts first, her husband will be young and handsome.
  15. Christmas Day dawns an hour earlier than normal causing elder, poke, and other plants to bud and sprout. Then, the earth is again plunged into darkness and the plants wilt until spring.
  16. Bees hum from dusk until dawn on Old Christmas (January 6). Some say they sing the hundredth Psalm, come out of the hive at midnight, and swarm as they do in summer.
  17. Christmas Day weather forecasts the kind of weather we’ll have for the rest of the year: a warm Christmas foretells a cold Easter; a green Christmas, a white Easter; a windy Christmas means a good corn crop.
  18. Christmas trees must never be removed before January 2; they must be down before January 6 or bad luck will follow. (Probably a result of past conflicts between Old and New Christmas.) 
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In Memoriam

Vintage photography taken by my grandmother, Georgia S Chappell, who used the medium to document her life in Appalachia (North Carolina). The final photo is my grandmother in her plane when she flew with the Civil Air Patrol during WWII.

She inspired me to become a photographer and an artist, and her influence is integral to the woman and human being I am today. I hope her work can find the recognition and appreciation it deserves through this modern outlet. 

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I found this old gem at an antique store in Midway, KY. The owner wouldn’t sell it unless someone were to have it properly restored. Hearing him say that meant a lot because these old dulcimers can end up in the trash very easily, especially something in this condition. Thanks to his concern for the instrument’s history and condition, it will live on for another lifetime. This is dulcimer #60 by the Hindman, KY builder Jethro Amburgey and it is dated 1935. It is one of his oldest surviving dulcimers, the oldest known being from 1929. The third picture is #60 pictured alongside #869, built 32 years later in 1967.

How Witch Balls Are Made

An excerpt from a story that describes witch balls, similar to elf-shots, which are thrown at victims and cause them incredible pain, illness, misfortune or death. These are gifted to witches by the Devil, using ingredients they collect for him. If they fail to acquire their ingredients they are whipped viciously with a switch of rose thorns by the Devil.

“‘When we met at the crossroads down nigh the graveyard, the Devil fust drawed a big ring ‘bout nine feet acrost. The witches rounded up some firewood and built a big fire in the middle of hit. When hit started burnin’ good, the Devil poured a mess of thing on hit to make the blue, green, red and yeller flames. Then, he put a pot on to bile, and threw into hit a bottle of weazel’s blood and a handful of dried baby’s flesh. Then, each witch throwed in the stuff she’d brung into the pot, and the Devil throwed in any stuff they failed to bring. Atter this, we all joined hands and danced ‘round the fire while the Devil chanted:

A pair of dead spiders’ legs,
Guts and bladder of a black cat,
Dead baby’s toenails, buzzard’s eggs,
Blud of a weazel and tail of a rat.

The eye of a big, fat sow,
The whisker of a wildcat,
A tit of a milk cow,
And the brain of a bat.

The foot of a toadfrog,
The hair from a murdered man’s wig,
The dried turd of a feiss dog,
The hair of a Poland-China pig.

To this mystic myrrh,
To make a witchball,
I, the Devil, doth stir,
To place curses on one and all.

We let this brew bile for seven minutes then, whilst hit cooled, the Devil handed us candles made outten human grease. We lit the candles from the fire and marched ‘round the ring till they were ‘most burnt up, then threw them into the fire. Then the Devil took up blobs of the stuff from the pot and wrapped each one with hair each witch had cut from her haid, and this made the witchballs.
Witches who’d brung what they’se supposed to got thirteen balls, and those who jest brung part got seven balls. This wuz all I got. Them that didn’t bring nuthin’ got only three balls. The Devil told us these balls ‘d have to last us till anudder Friday the thirteenth when we could make some more. Effen a witch lost one ore let somebody steal one, the Devil would whup her with rose thorns. Thet’s why people don’t find witchballs: the witch slips back to git ‘em so’s she can use ‘em agin.’”

Collected by Gertrude Blair, Roanoke, Virginia, June 10, 1939. Told to her by Aunt Lucy Skinner, who lived in Montgomery County, not far from Christiansburg, Virginia. This story has been handed down through at least four generations.

Taken here from Hubert J. Davis’ The Silver Bullet and other American Witch Stories

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I was fortunate enough to be asked to help curate an exhibit of mountain dulcimers for the Hindman Dulcimer Homecoming this weekend in Hindman, Kentucky. Builders included in the exhibit are:

James Edward Thomas, Jethro Amburgey, Morris Amburgey, Art Stewart, Bob Young, Homer Ledford, John D. Tignor, Warren A. May, Douglas Lindsey, Mike Slone, and a few early unidentified instruments, one of which is an early Virginia style dulcimer with “1812” carved on the inside of the instrument.

If you are in or around Eastern Kentucky this weekend (November 6-9, 2014) please stop by and visit the Hindman Dulcimer Homecoming. This is a wonderful event put on by a whole crew of amazing people! Don’t forget to stop by the workshop and pick up one of Mike’s dulcimers or Doug’s guitars!