For as long as I can remember my dad would blast old school blue grass music as soon as he got home from work. So at an early age I had a real appreciation for good Appalachian music and all the different instruments mashing together to make something beautiful. I have probably listened to just as much blue grass in my lifetime as I have any other genre of music.
In Bill Malones chapter in High Mountains Rising he says, “No style is more traditional or more rooted in mountain culture.” I couldn’t agree with that statement more, at all my family reunions on Bent Mountain in Virginia someone is always playing blue grass themselves or its being played over the radio near the apple butter kettle. People from Appalachia still relate to blue grass music the same way they did when it first became popular. A lot of the stories in blue grass songs are very relatable for someone who grew up in the area. For example the song Rabbit in a Log is very relatable to my family because we pretty much live for hunting rabbits.
The song that I listen to frequently that I think is a great representation of Appalachian music is Mountain Dew by the Stanley brothers. It has great instrumentals, especially the banjo. In the song it talks all about moonshine and you cant really get more Appalachian then that. Here take a listen by clicking this link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ug8p5pVsj9U
Some old people think that Appalachian music is best off with no singing at all, those people think the instruments speak for themselves and shouldn’t be heard behind voices. I disagree, I love to hear a singers voice jive with the rhythm of a banjo or mandolin. Why do you think old people like bluegrass music without words? Does it have to with their age or is it something more then that?
I am from Salem, VA. It is an extremely awesome place filled with close friends and family. The population is around 25,000 people which feels like a lot less than it really is. Pretty much everywhere you go you see people you know. And most of the time you know the people that are working where you are at also. There is an image that the city officials sometimes choose to put on the front of our newspaper. It’s of a baseball stadium we have in town.
We just happen to have a minor league baseball team called the Salem Red Sox, that no one is very interested in. I think that the city manager makes a huge mistake in putting the picture seen above on the front of our city news letter because it is an inaccurate representation of this town and what we care about.
Around here we care about football on Friday nights and that is it. Any sporting events you go to in this city there will maybe be a couple hundred people there. But on a Friday night in Salem there is at least 15,000 people packing the stands waiting to see the Spartans play. So why in the world the city manager doesn’t use a picture like the one below we will never know…. Its the only thing that shows what this city is really about.
Image From: https://www.google.com/search?q=salem+va&espv=2&biw=1280&bih=619&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjl-6nNkZ_PAhVBdT4KHVNqBg0Q_AUICCgD#tbm=isch&q=salem+red+sox+stadium&imgrc=eAj7MriS2p7gNM%3A
The definition of feuding from Websters Dictionary is a mutual enmity or quarrel that is often prolonged or inveterate. In Appalachia there have been many famous feuds. I would say the most famous feud has been between the two families the Hatfields and Mccoys.
But when I think about feuding in Appalachia I think about my mothers mom who grew up on a dairy farm on bent mountain in southwest VA. My grandmother, Gaynelle Simpson, was the youngest of eight and they lived in a three bed room farm house on about one hundred and sixty acres which is still in the family today. Down the road at the bottom of the mountain lived another family. I don’t even know there last name all I know is that Russel was the dad and or head of the family. The Simpsons and Russel’s family absolutely hated each other and no one really knew why. My mom has told me stories before of them getting into fights at the market and stuff like that, the feud was so intense physical altercations happened often. The feud between the two families runs deep and never really got resolved. I remember a time when I was about seven or eight years old. We were at a big family reunion and one of Russel’s relatives drove past in his car. I heard my great uncle Nelson say, “Well there goes one of those idiots.”
Above is a picture of the Hatfield’s armed and ready. Taken from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hatfield%E2%80%93McCoy_feud
After thinking about it for awhile I think that most feuds like this in Appalachia are probably caused by something minor. Then it would grow into something bigger because typically the men involved were never interested in working things out. In some ways I am sure feuds like this sort of helped the region. I say this because it brought families together, all those Simpson’s had at least one thing in common and that was they hated Russel’s family. They also had extremely hard lives back then, I mean they basically woke up and busted there backs in the sun all day. Feuds gave those people something to hate other then there daily lives.
To me long standing feuds like this seem sort of ridiculous, especially if no one can even remember the origin. But hey I guess that was just a way of life back then.
In reading Ghosts, Boundaries, and Names I was extremely intrigued that he said Wytheville, VA was, “one of the crossroads of American history.” I guess that sort of jumped off the page at me because it is fairly close to where I live. I have even bought a couple dogs from a man that lives there. So then as I read on I learned that you can basically get to anywhere in Appalachia using one of the routes out of Wytheville, VA. After hearing that I would now consider Wytheville a ghost of Appalachia just due to the fact that at some point so many people went right through that place. Now its just a place with an extremely small population, nothing ever even really gets said about that town anymore.
What was once a pivotal place in Appalachia is now kind of pointless. Wytheville is now just a ghost of Appalachia.