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Mount Airy Fiddlers Convention

Duration:
1 hour
First broadcast:
Saturday 17 October 2009

In the first of two programmes recorded on-location for World Routes, broadcaster, writer and musician Banning Eyre embarks on his own Appalachian roadtrip to discover and record the uniquely American folk music that was born in the southern Appalachian mountains through the 18th and 19th Centuries.

He visits the small town of Mount Airy, in Surry County, North Carolina, home to the Mount Airy Fiddlers Convention, where he meets the extraordinary players and singers that are keeping this music alive, and finds out how Old Time music is the direct precursor of what we now call Country and Bluegrass.

In an interview with musician and field recordist Mike Seeger, recorded just a few months before he died, Banning discovers the roots of the music in the parallel histories of the European settlers and African slaves, and how post-Emancipation a distinctly American music was forged from the interplay of the African banjo and the European fiddle. Surry County musician Paul Brown explains the record companies' part in defining Old Time music as a predominantly white occupation, and what's so speacial about this part of the country. He visits local radio station WPAQ to hear how they are keeping this traditional rural music alive, and tries the festival delicacy that is deep-fried Oreos.

Producer: Peter Meanwell

Repeat.

Music and featured items

18 items
Timings (where shown) are from the start of the programme in hours and minutes
  • Appalachian musical legends.

    Banning Eyre talks about the Appalachian musical legends.

  • Music Played

    • Image for Haywire Family
      00:03

      Haywire Family The Boatsman

      Recorded by BBC on location at the Mt Airy Fiddler’s Convention, Mt Airy, North Carolina, USA, 5th June 2009

  • Interview with Mike Seeger.

    Banning talks to Mike Seeger who is at the forefront of the revival of Appalachian music.

  • Appalachian songs.

    We hear two songs from Appalachian musicians Benton Flippen and the Smokey Valley Boys.

  • Music Played

    • Image for Benton Flippen and the Smokey Valley Boys
      00:16

      Benton Flippen and the Smokey Valley Boys Woah Mule

      Recorded by BBC on location at the Mt Airy Fiddler’s Convention, Mt Airy, North Carolina, USA, 5th June 2009

    • Image for The Midriffs
      00:19

      The Midriffs June Apple

      Recorded by BBC on location at the Mt Airy Fiddler’s Convention, Mt Airy, North Carolina, USA, 5th June 2009

  • Radio station WPAQ 740AM.

    Banning visits the local radio station WPAQ 740AM.

  • Mount Airy Fiddler’s Convention.

    At the Mount Airy Fiddler’s Convention, Banning describes the scene.

  • Music Played

    • Image for Elizabeth LaPrelle
      00:30

      Elizabeth LaPrelle Hop Old Rabbit

      Recorded by BBC on location at the Mt Airy Fiddler’s Convention, Mt Airy, North Carolina, USA, 5th June 2009

    • Image for Mark Campbell
      00:31

      Mark Campbell Kiss Me Sweet

      Recorded by BBC on location at the Mt Airy Fiddler’s Convention, Mt Airy, North Carolina, USA, 5th June 2009

  • Interview with Paul Brown.

    Banning talks to Paul Brown, who has been studying the music of Surrey County.

  • Two more singers.

    We hear two more contestants perform on stage at the Mount Airy Fiddler’s Convention.

  • Music Played

    • Image for Karly Dawn Higgins
      00:40

      Karly Dawn Higgins Undone in Sorrow

      Recorded by BBC on location at the Mt Airy Fiddler’s Convention, Mt Airy, North Carolina, USA, 5th June 2009

    • Image for Slate Mountain Ramblers
      00:43

      Slate Mountain Ramblers Sugar Hill

      Recorded by BBC on location at the Mt Airy Fiddler’s Convention, Mt Airy, North Carolina, USA, 5th June 2009

  • flat-foot dancing

    Banning meets flat-foot dancer Phil Jameson.

  • Music Played

    • Image for John Hermann
      00:46

      John Hermann Chilly Winds

      Recorded by BBC on location at the Mt Airy Fiddler’s Convention, Mt Airy, North Carolina, USA, 5th June 2009

    • Image for Snow Creek Old Time Band
      00:52

      Snow Creek Old Time Band Cotton Eye Joe

      Recorded by BBC on location at the Mt Airy Fiddler’s Convention, Mt Airy, North Carolina, USA, 5th June 2009

    • Image for Cool Springs Ramblers
      00:55

      Cool Springs Ramblers Cluck Old Hen

      Recorded by BBC on location at the Mt Airy Fiddler’s Convention, Mt Airy, North Carolina, USA, 5th June 2009

  • Appalachian road trip blog

    Read producer Peter Meanwell's account of the Appalachian road trip on the Radio 3 blog

    Read blog
  • Sheriff's cars

    Sheriff's cars

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