Heritage Music

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 inside circle. Truth be told, there are secrets I’ve kept for more than 20 years. I still take delight in knowing I was faithful to the person who trusted me-even though revealing most of the secrets wouldn’t amount to much now.

Chitter and Chatter are not good secret keepers. For them it’s like a disease-if they know it-it has to be told. They are equal opportunity tellers-they’ve both dished about the other’s private business and our family’s. At this point, The Deer Hunter and I would just as soon not know about the details they spill to anyone who’ll listen. See-they’re not called Chitter and Chatter for nothing.

A few secrets are common in all areas of Appalachia, such as:


Ramp patches. Folks take ramps serious-and you never want the location of your favorite patch to get out-or you might run the risk of missing out on this 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 older 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 their knowledge.

horse rider

Back in the day, before kids, The Deer Hunter and I did lots of riding horses and camping. One memorable week 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 road bed that had weeds as high as the horses’ withers- suddenly we heard 2 sharp whistles-one off the side of the mountain-one above us. Just as I was about to wonder aloud who it was-The Deer Hunter turned us 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-Secret Agent Man. Paul and Guitar Man do some amazing flat top guitar picking in it-I just know you’ll like it!

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


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  • Reply
    Dona DiBernardo Silver
    February 21, 2021 at 2:35 pm

    I love this post, the song and the amazing talent!
    I’m the worst secret keeper. Horrible

  • Reply
    Gaye Blaine
    September 27, 2020 at 12:03 pm

    I have two secrets told me by a good friend who has passed on. One involved her when she was a pre-teen and the other as a young naive lady. She never told her offspring she said. She trusted me and I trusted her very much.
    Good friends are jewels along life’s way.

  • Reply
    November 20, 2008 at 7:45 pm

    I am a great secret keeper. There are still secrets today that will never leave my lips. We have huckleberry patches, morel mushroom sites and fishing spots that are hidden as well. Great post.

  • Reply
    November 19, 2008 at 2:18 am

    Hi, just wanted you to know, that my husband, (sweetie) is never interested in “blogland” , however, I was listening to your wonderul music,….he walked in, pulled up a chair and sat and listened, as I gave him a tour of your blog. He loved it. I always love to visit here. Blessings, Kathleen

  • Reply
    November 18, 2008 at 10:39 am

    I was very much like Chittar and Chatter as a kid. If you had a secret, you didn’t tell me! I’m much better now, but not perfect~
    Many secrets here in the Pacific Northwest also: chantrell mushroom spots, fishing holes, hunting spots, truffel spots, best crawdad holes. Very similar to your Appalachian secrets I suspect…

  • Reply
    November 17, 2008 at 9:52 am

    Secret Asian Man! One of my favorites too. Like Carolyn, Farmchick and Fishing Guy…morel mushroom spots are something you take to the grave. Yes, I’m a good secret keeper and it’s a trait I look for in my friends. Wow, that made my life sound so mysterious and borderline outlaw. 🙂

  • Reply
    November 16, 2008 at 6:33 pm

    i’m a good secret-keeper! even if i do forget most of what i’m told!! :-]

  • Reply
    November 16, 2008 at 5:15 pm

    Yes, I am a good secret keeper, although I don’t have any secrets personally. I have no life, what can I say?{: Everyone confides in me, I guess,cause they know they can. I just love this song!! Blessings, Kathleen

  • Reply
    November 15, 2008 at 11:11 pm

    Such things as fishing and mushroom places were held quite secret where I was raised. (In MO)
    And, I am a good secret keeper. 🙂
    I really enjoy your music! 🙂 It’s very nice.

  • Reply
    November 15, 2008 at 9:37 pm

    I love those kinds of secrets! Don’t have too many around here. Though there are some country roads I don’t tell anybody about. Don’t want them wrecked!

  • Reply
    Jennifer in OR
    November 15, 2008 at 9:25 pm

    Great post! I’m a pretty good secret keeper, which I suppose is the same as not being a gossip. I can definitely make improvements though!
    Boy, that horse-riding incident would have scared me to bits!

  • Reply
    November 15, 2008 at 8:02 pm

    Love the song! I’m sure I’ve never heard it anything like this!
    I’m EXCELLENT at keeping secrets. Chic, though only 6, seems like she is going to be pretty good, too. Chicklet? Not so much. She can’t even keep her own secrets. She says, “Don’t tell Daddy…..” (some surprise she has). Daddy gets out of the car after work, and she spills it before he can hug and kiss her.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    November 15, 2008 at 5:31 pm

    Good job on the song!
    We Leo’s are known for loyalty and do not tell secrets!

  • Reply
    Fishing Guy
    November 15, 2008 at 4:28 pm

    Tipper: I enjoyed Paul on quite a different song, nicely done.
    I am a man of my word, you tell me something that is a secrete and it won’t pass my lips.
    The guys are doing a great job on your player. It is a fun listen if they aren’t picken in the kitchen.

  • Reply
    November 15, 2008 at 1:06 pm

    I agree with Farmchick, the location of morel mushrooms is a secret kept in these parts.They are so good.I’m not the best secret keeper, but I guess I’m OK. Mom never could keep secrets, she liked to give hints.

  • Reply
    Amy @ parkcitygirl
    November 15, 2008 at 12:31 pm

    I figured Chitter and Chatter were used as their alias’ for a reason! Secrets? I try not to keep too many, but there’s some thing kids just don’t need to know 🙂
    Great song again this week!

  • Reply
    noble pig
    November 15, 2008 at 11:19 am

    And there’s those ramps again, I wonder if I’ll ever taste them?

  • Reply
    November 15, 2008 at 8:36 am

    I don’t guess I am good at secrets or lies. You know the old saying, tell me not secrets and I’ll tell you no lies?
    I remember the song Secret Agent Man from when I was little. For years and years I thought the song was Secret Asian Man. Those transistor radios wasn’t that good on sound back then. lol..
    Have a great weekend.

  • Reply
    November 15, 2008 at 4:59 am

    I’d keep a secret safe as long as I wasn’t threatened. Ever see the movie, Goonies? If so, I’m like Chunk – the threat alone would have me spilling my guts. 🙂 Great post, btw

  • Reply
    Granny Sue
    November 14, 2008 at 9:11 pm

    Don’t forget moonshine! You never, ever tell the source of your shine.
    Recipes can be mighty secret too. Some people just won’t share certain ones. I remember a lady here who was famous for her hickory nut cake, but never told the recipe to anyone. I guess it died with her.

  • Reply
    November 14, 2008 at 9:07 pm

    Wow! They are great! Very talented. Where ar thes talents when they have the American I dol tryouts! I am a good secret keeper! I try not to gossip either. Small towns have plenty of those!

  • Reply
    November 14, 2008 at 6:57 pm

    Yes, I’ll take a secret to my grave!
    Way to go Paul and Guitar Man!
    That was some mighty fine singing AND picking!

  • Reply
    Carolyn A.
    November 14, 2008 at 5:41 pm

    What a toe tapper! I have always enjoyed this song. Thank you Paul and Guitar Man … I had to watch it twice to watch both of you play. Excellent!
    I am a great secret keeper. I think I told you that my Grandma told me her real name when I was a child and said I was not to divulge it until the day she passed. I kept my word.
    My brother, James, is the “Rona Barrett” of the family. You can’t tell him anything because as soon as you do the rest of the family knows. We only give him information on a need to know basis.
    I have kept a secret of my own my whole life and it will go with me to the grave. xxoo

  • Reply
    November 14, 2008 at 5:25 pm

    I am going to have my own “Secret Agent Man” listen to this week’s Pickin’ & Grinnin’, he will love it. Around here people like to hunt for Morel Mushrooms (we call them dry land fish). Those hunting spots are top secret.

  • Reply
    Helen G.
    November 14, 2008 at 4:36 pm

    I am a good keeper of secrets. I’ve gotten better as I’ve gotten older. You can tell me a secret now and by supper I will have forgotten what you told me…
    Seriously, yes I am a secret keeper.
    Enjoyed this post and music.

  • Reply
    Eric E.
    November 14, 2008 at 2:16 pm

    Great web site! Love the music!

  • Reply
    Nancy Simpson
    November 14, 2008 at 2:14 pm

    Tipper, I enjoyed this so much and the music too.
    I remember back in the 1960s when I was walking across this then totally undeveloped mountain with my family, we came upon a moonshine still. My husband instructed us ever so quietly to back out, not to breath, not to make a sound. When back at our camp, he said, “Don’t ever tell anyone about this.” We never did, but years later we read in the paper that the still was found and seized by the law. The headline was, Last Still in the County Shut Down.”

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