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Mount Airy Fiddlers Convention

Banning Eyre discovers American folk music from the Appalachians, visiting Mount Airy, North Carolina, talking to folk musician Mike Seeger and visiting a local radio station.

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.

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1 hour

Music and featured items

  • Appalachian musical legends.

    Banning Eyre talks about the Appalachian musical legends.

    Duration: 06:17

  • Music Played

    • 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.

    Duration: 10:06

  • Appalachian songs.

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

    Duration: 06:44

  • Music Played

    • 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.
    • 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.

    Duration: 05:39

  • Mount Airy Fiddler’s Convention.

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

    Duration: 04:42

  • Music Played

    • 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.
    • 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.

    Duration: 06:56

  • Two more singers.

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

    Duration: 04:40

  • Music Played

    • 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.
    • 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.

    Duration: 07:37

  • Music Played

    • John Hermann

      Chilly Winds

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

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