Spotlight On Music In Appalachia 2010

I’m Partial To Guitar Pickers & An Interview With David Grier

guitar pickers

I suppose in the array of musical instruments traditionally used in Appalachia-I’m most partial to the guitar. I’m positive it’s cause I was raised by a guitar picker-Pap. He was playing the guitar even before I was born-actually even before him and Granny met.

Del McCoury came out with a song a few years back that struck a chord with me-Nashville Cats. The gist of the song-there’s lots of guitar pickers in Nashville. When I was growing up-I totally assumed everyone had pickin’ and grinnin’ going on in their kitchen too-you know that every house had a resident guitar picker sitting on the couch playing the same song over and over while you tried to watch your favorite tv show. The guitar pickers weren’t just relegated to Pap’s house-they morphed out into the other houses of my family too. If I was a betting woman-I’d bet if you took a count of the guitars residing in the houses in my mountain holler today-you’d come close to 20. There’s 3 in my house alone.

After I was grown-one of my cousins remarked to me-“you know it’s like no matter what happens around here somebody’s got to get the guitar and sing-I mean it could come a tornado and somebody would say Did you bring your guitar?” He was right-that’s how common making music is to all of us-I can’t imagine not having a few guitar pickers around picking the background music to my life.



Of course growing up with guitar pickers galore-there was (and is) often spirited debate on the subject of who is the best guitar picker around. People like Chet Atkins, David Grier, and Tony Rice are always at the top of the list no matter who’s doing the arguing. Several months ago I contacted David Grier about interviewing him for my Spotlight on Music in Appalachia-even after all these month’s I still can’t believe he said yes-still can’t believe I talked to him on the phone. All the Blind Pig gang are huge fans of his-those of you have been with me from the start may remember Guitar Man tackling 2 of David’s original songs-Porkchops and Applesauce and Engagement Waltz.

Interview with David Grier:

Do you think traditional music’s popularity is as high as it’s always been?

I believe traditional music will always be around. I have no fear that it’s going away-ever.

Do you make any efforts to ensure traditional music does stick around?

No, I really don’t worry about keeping my music traditional-cause there are so many others already playing traditional, bluegrass, and old time music that I play what ever I want too.

As you travel around the country performing do you see the younger generation taking part in traditional music?

Yes, there are tons of talented kids making traditional music out there who have amazing talents.

Why do you think the guitar seems to be the most popular instrument played in traditional/bluegrass music?

The guitar is versatile by nature. The sounds a guitar makes fits whether you’re playing bluegrass, jazz, the blues or rock. Where as something like the banjo fits perfectly for old time string bands.

Is there anything you’d like to share with my readers or your fans?

Yes I’d like to tell them about my 2 latest cds. Evocative has 10 of my original songs on it. And Live At The Linda a solo cd was recorded live in Albany New York they can purchase both of them on my website

Not only did David Grier talk to me about music-he also sent me 2 of his cds to giveaway-the 2 he mentioned during the interview. Evocative-so perfectly named-cause it is evocative of all sorts of music-all with David’s superb picking influencing the flow. Hard for me to name a favorite-but I love Road to Hope, Two Turns Home, As Easy As Falling Off A Log, and Four Dogs Jogging-see I told you it was hard to choose a favorite.

Live At The Linda has outstanding music too. As a solo cd-you can hear every note of the song as David’s amazing musical ability brings it to life. Since it was recorded live-it also has David talking to the audience about his music. I always like hearing the give and take between a performer and their audience-it gives you a peek into the performer as a person.

While listening to Live At The Linda-I found out I had something in common with David Grier. I knew-David came from a musical family-just like I did. But hearing him tell the audience about growing up with music being played around his house on a regular basis-about being at other people’s houses where all the grown ups where inside pickin’ and grinnin’ while the kids ran wild outside-sounded exactly like my childhood memories (well except none of my pickers and singers were famous).

Hope you enjoyed my interview-jump over to David’s website by clicking David Grier to find out more about his music and his up coming events.

If you’d like to win one of his cds-all you got to do is leave me a comment on this post-the giveaway closes on Thursday-June 17 2010.



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  • Reply
    June 22, 2010 at 10:30 pm

    Well, I’m too late. Darn it.
    But I know whoever won it will enjoy every last note!

  • Reply
    Leslie @Farm Fresh Fun
    June 17, 2010 at 10:35 am

    Enjoyed this interview and continue to learn and love more as I explore your great blog. My family enjoys Bluegrass and countryisms, and if I were ever to steal from someone’s blog it would be your cute names “Chitter n Chatter” perfectly suited to my own kids! I linked to you in my post today. Thanks for all you share here.

  • Reply
    June 16, 2010 at 8:07 am

    I’m so encouraged to hear Dave say that he has no fear we’ll ever lose traditional music. 🙂

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    June 15, 2010 at 8:59 am

    What a nice interview. I envy your close musical family.
    Thanks to David for talking to us.

  • Reply
    June 14, 2010 at 10:03 pm

    I don’t play the guitar, but music has been a big part of my life for as long as I can remember. I enjoyed your article and interview.
    Thanks for stopping by my site.

  • Reply
    David Templeton
    June 14, 2010 at 9:04 pm

    I remember when I first attempted to learn guitar. My instructor was an orchestral, classical guitarist. He played a piece of music and I complimented him and he said “Well, I may be good, and I believe I’m pretty good but I know of only one truly faultless guitarist” and I said, “Oh, you mean Chet Atkins” and he looked at me incredulously and said, “No, I mean Andres Segovia”.
    Well, I guess I never was very sophisticated.
    There are so many truly great guitarists from so many genres such as Joe Walsh from Rock music and Tony Rice is amazing anywhere he plays. I am sincere when I say though that your brother can stand with the best.

  • Reply
    June 14, 2010 at 7:25 pm

    Wow, great interview! I’ve always loved country & bluegrass as does my whole family but not one of us plays. I never found that odd until now, lol.

  • Reply
    June 14, 2010 at 5:42 pm

    tipper i so love hearing about your younger days.. i wasnt blessed with the talent of music.. but my brother plays the guitar.. and i understand what you mean.. about people telling them.. be sure to bring the guitar.. it only takes a few strums .. and everyone quiets and starts singing along.. 🙂
    thank you so much for your interview.. its wonderful to hear about how other musicians got started and what formed their styles and likes..
    big ladybug hugs

  • Reply
    Nancy Wigmore
    June 14, 2010 at 3:46 pm

    My daddy, who died in 1971, was musically inclined. I was always amazed as a young child how he could pick up about any instrument and begin playing. My older sister inherited daddy’s guitar, my brother, the banjo…but I got some good memories of music streaming from daddy’s instruments that will forever fill my heart with fond memories of days gone by. Thanks for sharing these heartwarming stories.

  • Reply
    Bob Dalsemer
    June 14, 2010 at 12:27 pm

    Thanks for a great interview, Tipper. I didn’t grow up in a musical family, but was lucky enough to have lots of great musicians to listen to and play with around the Baltimore-Washington area where I lived until moving to NC in 1991. One of them was Lamar Grier, David’s father, who had played banjo with Bill Monroe in the 1960’s (in that great edition of the Bluegrass Boys that also featured Peter Rowan, Richard Greene and James Monroe). Lamar was one of the most original and creative banjo pickers I’ve ever known, so its great to see David following a career in music and making such wonderful music of his own. Of course guitar is much safer – how many guitar jokes have you ever heard?

  • Reply
    Cindy Bergeron Scherwinski
    June 14, 2010 at 6:31 am

    Hi Tipper,
    What a fabulous interview! The joy in your post makes it very clear how much David Grier’s music is a part of who you are. I must confess I was not aware of his music until now but as they say … so much music to enjoy and so little time. (I also loved the song Nashville Cats – msut6 be true they play clean as country water after listening to the snippets on David Grier.) Thanks for sharing –

  • Reply
    June 13, 2010 at 11:28 pm

    Wow Tipper you should feel honored that you got to interview David, That is awesome. Nothing like good guitar picking and singing

  • Reply
    June 13, 2010 at 9:40 pm

    I heard about your giveaway over on Facebook. I would love to have these CDs to listen to at work. (I do data entry and we are allowed). Also, I just signed up for your email alerts. Sign me up for a chance.

  • Reply
    June 13, 2010 at 8:52 pm

    I wish I had grown up in a musical family. I sang in church and we always had the radio on at home but that was about it.

  • Reply
    Patty Hall
    June 13, 2010 at 8:02 pm

    well, you know I’m partial to guitar cuase my son plays.
    Enjoying your music series.
    Patty H.

  • Reply
    June 13, 2010 at 7:13 pm

    What a treat to have grown up with that much home-grown music. My folks were music lovers but not music makers – but I loved hearing my dad sing the songs from the radio or singing next to me at church. He was a whistler too, you could actually identify and understand the song he whistled, I thought all dads could do that.

  • Reply
    June 13, 2010 at 4:29 pm

    When you are able to do something or talk to someone that has something to do with what you care about there is always a bit of satisfaction there that can’t compare to anything else.
    Whitetail Woods
    Sharing the Outdoors, One Piece at a Time

  • Reply
    Trixie Goforth/Sherry Austin
    June 13, 2010 at 4:15 pm

    Another wonderful post. I put up a mountain gospel song on Facebook today, got lots of responses and sent those folks here. This is THE best cultural blog they is anywhere!!

  • Reply
    June 13, 2010 at 4:04 pm

    David’s CD would be an awesome win! thanks for a chance at it.

  • Reply
    June 13, 2010 at 3:21 pm

    I must admit I had never heard of David Grier before and I greatly enjoyed the interview. I’ve learnt from you so much about a culture which is very different from mine. As for traditional music, I suppose the guitar is to you what the bouzouki is to Greeks. However much I like the guitar, the sound of the bouzouki has something magical to me. My grandpa’s most valuable posession was his bouzouki and my father played the violin very well. I only wish I had learnt to play a musical instrument!

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