Appalachia Music

Secret Agent Man

Secrets in appalachia

Life is full of secrets, some important some totally trivial-think middle school crushes. I’ve always enjoyed being in on a secret, you know being part of the inner circle.

Truth be told, there are secrets I’ve kept for over 20 years. I take delight in knowing I was faithful to the person who trusted me, even though revealing most of the secrets wouldn’t matter after so much time has passed.

A few secrets are common in Appalachia, such as:


Ramp patches. Folks take ramps serious. You’d never want the location of your best ramp patch to get out for fear someone would beat you to the spring delicacy.

Secret Fishing Hole

Favorite fishing holes are also kept close to the vest. The Deer Hunter has a few buddies who almost stoop to blindfolding their guests to protect their secret fishing spots.

Hunting Ginseng is a common practice in my area. My brother, Steve, use to sell it to make extra money when he was in high school. All my life I’ve heard folks claim to know the secret location to the mother load of Ginseng-of course they aren’t willing to share that knowledge.

Horses in appalachia

Back in the day, before kids, The Deer Hunter and I did lots of riding horses and camping. One memorable trip we camped in Transylvania County, NC, way back in the mountains.

It was about mid-week and we hadn’t seen a soul since we’d been there. We were riding single file up an old roadbed that had weeds as high as the horses’ withers when suddenly we heard 2 sharp whistles, one off the side of the mountain, and one on the ridge above us.

Just as I was about to wonder aloud who it was-The Deer Hunter turned both horses sharply around and headed back the way we had come at a good trot. As we reached the bottom of the mountain, he finally stopped to explain. The whistles were used as warning signals by folks who were tending their pot beds-definitely a secret I’d rather not be in on.

I’ve saved the best secret until last. This week’s Pickin’ & Grinnin’ In The Kitchen Spot is Secret Agent Man. Paul and Guitar Man do some amazing flat top guitar picking in it-I know you’ll like it!

Hope you enjoyed the song! So are you a good secret keeper?


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  • Reply
    Rev. RB
    March 15, 2015 at 8:57 pm

    Having worked in law offices through the years, I had to keep many secrets, but truth be told, I’d rather not be in on them. That way you can’t get blamed if it gets out some other way.
    God bless.

  • Reply
    March 15, 2015 at 8:53 pm

    She’s passed on now, but Betty Jean
    Robinson sings one of the most
    heart-felt songs you could imagine.
    “In the Shade at the end of the
    Row” is one of my all time favorites. They play it sometimes
    on “” our local Murphy
    Radio Station on the Party Line.

  • Reply
    Granny Norma
    March 15, 2015 at 6:05 pm

    PinnacleCreek’s post reminded me of a favorite Greek proverb: “A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.” Another favorite, this one Chinese: “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” PinnacleCreek’s dad planted food for future generations, God bless him. And yes, I can keep a secret – till the day I die if need be.

  • Reply
    March 15, 2015 at 3:22 pm

    Secrets often keep the spirits high, knowing that you are trusted or that you can trust someone. Those types of friends are hard to find and should be valued. Just seem to enjoy the Secret Agent Man.

  • Reply
    Aggie Tater
    March 15, 2015 at 2:58 pm

    Tipper and
    I reckon you’re speaking of Morel mushrooms…It’s time for them in Tennessee too. We’ve had enough rain, all we need now is a bit of warmth and they will pop up in our secret hiding place in the woodland. We do have a small crop, NOT a secret spot, under the old apple tree in the front yard…always pick a bowl full there…
    We have to check our Ramps on the North side of the ridge as well…Hope they are spreading around!
    I love Spring!

  • Reply
    Aggie Tater
    March 15, 2015 at 2:49 pm

    “the other horse rider”?
    Why I believe he is the one that is taking the picture….HA..
    Just messin’ with ya!

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    March 15, 2015 at 2:10 pm

    Johnny Rivers was a “Secret Agent Man”!
    He SANG and “Wrote A Song For Everyone”, I reckon! “Lawdy Miss Clawdy” did he ever have a “Curious Mind (Um, Um, Um, Um,)”
    “When you have “A Hard Day’s Night” you can’t just go to “A Hole In The Ground, and live on “Borrowed Time”!
    “A Man Can Cry” and turn “A Whiter Shade of Pale” but “Help Me Rhonda”, you have to, (“Dang Me”), “Do What You Gotta Do” and “Cast Your Fate To The Wind”!
    You will “Feel A Whole Lot Better”, as you’re “Getting Ready For Tomorrow” to face the “Fire and Rain”, “Every Day” and “Every Night” Sure, you will have “Enemies And Friends”! Especially, when you are a “Secret Agent Man”!
    “It Is No Secret” that I am still wishing with a “Whispering Hope” that the Blind Pig Gang will learn and play my two requested songs….Just Sayin’
    Thanks Tipper…
    PS…The sun is a shinnin’ here today!

  • Reply
    Bill Burnett
    March 15, 2015 at 12:28 pm

    Great Job, I loved the way they effortlessly switched back and forth from Lead to Rhythm. This is kind of like the Louvin Brothers singing, they would switch singing Lead & Tenor without harming the amazing harmony they had. Like Paul & Guitar Man this shows great talent. Paul has Johnny Rivers nailed also.

  • Reply
    Annette Casada Hensley
    March 15, 2015 at 11:53 am

    Loved the music. Now that was some very fine guitar pickin’ and vocals!

  • Reply
    March 15, 2015 at 11:34 am

    Guitar man and Paul sure know their way around the guitar.
    For many years my Dad replanted ginseng seeds in the wilderness around his house, and he also liked to take a bucket of black walnuts and push them into soft soil. He never had the opportunity to reap the benefits of giving back to the earth. I am grateful as it made him happy, and the exercise made him healthier.
    Love secrets! I am certainly glad the Deer hunter knew to get you out of there. Growing up in these mountains, there were countless exciting experiences of running from wild dogs, stumbling upon a busted still, locating a long-forgotten cemetery with a civil war hero’s grave, and getting shot at by a drunken man when we explored an old logging trail. What may seem like a dull existence in a remote area can be very exciting and memorable. Never a dull moment in those days!

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    March 15, 2015 at 11:24 am

    “You want to know a secret?”
    “If you tell me then it’s not a secret!”
    “Just promise you won’t tell anybody!”
    “If it’s that good a secret, you better not tell me ’cause I’ll probably tell everbody!”
    What happened to the other horse’s rider? Or is that your secret?

  • Reply
    Gina S
    March 15, 2015 at 11:06 am

    Well done, Pickin’ and Grinnin,!

  • Reply
    March 15, 2015 at 9:30 am

    You are right, I did like it! If someone tells me something and ask me not to repeat it, you couldn’t pay me enough to betray them. My secret keeping has caused some hard feelings throughout the years.
    The Deer Hunter was smart to leave the pot grower’s secret alone. I hear they can be as violent as the moonshines used to be.

  • Reply
    eva nell wike, PhD
    March 15, 2015 at 9:04 am

    Tipper: When a body comes from a MOONSHINEINEN FAMILY that person knows how to keep secrets! Now I ain’t saying I am from one of them families, but I know folks who need to keep secrets!
    Eva Nell

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    March 15, 2015 at 8:51 am

    Your right, Tip, the guys sure did a nice job of playing those guitars!
    Yep, I’m pretty good at keeping secrets, got some I’ve held for many years. I consider them a sacred trust.
    When I first saw that picture of you on the horse, I thought it was one of the girls!

  • Reply
    Steve in Tn
    March 15, 2015 at 8:50 am

    Never had a patch but folks went to lot of trouble like driving in circles to ensure no one would follow them to their mushroom patch in the Arkansas hills. With social media I can’t imagine that there are many secrets left today.

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    March 15, 2015 at 7:38 am

    Tipper–Secret Agent Man was too big a technological secret for this challenged soul to unravel. In other words, I got a spinning circle rather than sound.
    Jim Casada

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