Appalachia Music

Rock Of Ages – At JCCFS

The Pressley Girls at JCCFS

The Pressley Girls – JCCFS photo shoot for cd When it Ends in a Walk

Last week I mentioned a few happenings that had got me to thinking about the John C. Campbell Folk School and the role it plays in our lives. The school is one of the many reasons that make me happy to call Brasstown home.

It’s been about a month since Chatter came in saying David Brose, JCCFS Folklorist, told her one of our songs was going to be on the about to be released Nighthoots and Morningsongs Volume 2 cd. The two part anthology features live music from various artists at the Keith House and Festival Barn on the JCCFS Campus. The cd has 21 tracks on it and our song is number 8.

Paul and I peppered Chatter with questions about the cd. What song was it? Who was singing it? All of us? Or just Pap and Paul? Or just the girls?

Chatter told us it was Rock of Ages. I said “Oh then it must be Pap and Paul that’s good.” Chitter said “No he said it’s all of us.” I said “I don’t think so. I never remember doing that song when we were all playing together. Maybe you just helped sing with Pap and Paul or something, but I bet there was no fiddle and no bass.” Well she insisted David said it was all of us. But neither Paul nor I could remember a time that we played the song all together at the folk school.

We sort of forgot about the cd until Chitter came home with a copy for us. We all went out to Paul’s truck and put the cd in to listen. To say we were tickled pink is an understatement! We were thrilled with what we heard.

It was all of us! Chatter is chopping away on the mandolin and lending her pure voice to Paul and Pap’s amazing harmony, Chitter is throwing a fiddle piece in every now and then, I’m thumping on the bass, Paul is keeping us all on track with his solid guitar playing, AND Pap’s beautiful tenor voice is leading us all in our efforts. We must have listened to it a hundred times. It was like getting a gift of Pap that we didn’t even know existed. You can hear him tapping his foot all through the song-the tapping sort of lends a distorted sound to the song, but I wouldn’t change it for nothing. Pap always tapped his foot when there was music going on whether he was making it or not.

Paul said he was going to upload the song to youtube and give the folk school some advertising for the cd. He asked me to look for a photo to go with the sound and wouldn’t you know it I found a photo of what might have been the actual night the song was recorded! You can’t see me, but I’m back there somewhere. If you’ve ever been to see us play you already know I always sit in the back.

David Brose later told Paul that his friend said every time she heard the recording it made the hairs on the back of her neck stand up because it was that beautiful. I totally agree with her Pap’s voice never sounded so good.



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  • Reply
    Garry Ballard
    January 8, 2018 at 2:59 am

    Got all choked up listening to that beautiful song! God bless you folks!

  • Reply
    libby rouse
    October 23, 2017 at 9:46 pm

    Beautiful, one of my favorite hymns, thanks for sharing!

  • Reply
    Paulette Tonielli
    October 22, 2017 at 10:13 pm


  • Reply
    Keith Jones
    October 22, 2017 at 7:17 pm

    Did you ever notice that “Rock of Ages” was always the popular ‘funeral song’ in old Western Movies? This was better than any version of the song I’ve ever heard.

    • Reply
      Garry Ballard
      June 7, 2020 at 7:58 pm

      I have to agree! Fantastic version!

  • Reply
    Pam Danner
    October 22, 2017 at 7:11 pm


  • Reply
    Paula Rhodarmer
    October 22, 2017 at 5:10 pm

    Tipper, this song was beautifully played and sung. I truly enjoyed it. Thank you

  • Reply
    betty stephenson
    October 22, 2017 at 2:30 pm

    fabulous job on this just wish i could buy the cd here in new zealnd but will still enjoy it when you postit on utube have a great week

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    October 22, 2017 at 12:32 pm

    The quality of music is determined by the listener. I’m not much of a musician but I am one of the worlds best listeners. I give this six stars out of five. This is professional grade stuff!

  • Reply
    October 22, 2017 at 12:13 pm

    That’s beautiful! I’m glad the whole family of singers got in on this one. And I’m sure you’re back in there somewhere. There ain’t no conceit in you at all, that’s why we all like you so much, shyness and all. Sure is a nice song! …Ken

  • Reply
    Don Casada
    October 22, 2017 at 10:18 am

    Jerry Wilson smiling in world unknown this morning.
    Tears are forever flowing in the Smoky Mountains.

  • Reply
    David Templeton
    October 22, 2017 at 9:27 am

    Absolutely stunning. It’s bound to become one of the most-listened-to selections in the entire anthology.

  • Reply
    Ron Banks
    October 22, 2017 at 8:08 am

    One of my favorite hymns and that just might be my favorite version. Mighty fine!!

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