Spotlight On Music In Appalachia 2010

Spotlight On Music In Appalachia – Mountain Music & Medicine Show

One of the things I wanted to accomplish during the Spotlight on Music, was to highlight communities spread through out the Appalachian Mountains and beyond, where traditional music is alive and well. On almost every weekend you can find local musicians putting on shows that rival Nashville or Hollywood productions.

Over the weekend, me and Pap traveled to Dahlonega, GA to one of those venues.

The Mountain Music & Medicine Show is a live radio show-where you can be part of the audience and watch what thousands of folks are hearing over the airwaves.

Here’s a great description from their website:

“The setting is Dahlonega from Gold Rush days of the early 1800s to modern times of the early 1950s—? Doc  Johnson’s traveling Miracle Medicine Show has come to town and set up on the Square in front of Nix’s Store, the hub of local commerce and social center of the area. Doc brings musical acts of the time with him as well as his own brand of humor while he exhorts folks to buy his “Wizard Water” elixir for improving their lives. He also showcases local talent on his show. Folks come from all around to hear the music & Doc. His fast-paced style and rapport with the crowd keeps toes a-tapping and things moving briskly along. The scene occasionally shifts to “street scene” short skits where local people comment on the goings on of the day, mixing local history, culture and humor in the unique Southern Appalachian style of the time period. This is all presented in a live old-time Radio broadcast; sort of like going back in time without leaving your living room!”

Once we arrived I was tickled pink to see the pre-show entertainment was provided by children from the Georgia Pick and Bow Traditional Music School. I first learned about the Pick and Bow program earlier this summer when I was contacted by Alice Sampson, Ph.D., who is Director of Georgia Appalachian Studies Center. The goal of the school is too offer affordable lessons to kids in an effort to foster and encourage the traditional music of Appalachia. The kids we saw on Saturday night did a great job-both their playing and singing were impressive. You can see a few of the same kids performing for their Fall Recital on youtube by clicking here. Most of all it was encouraging to see another program, like Junior Appalachian Musicians, making sure the coming generations know about Appalachia’s rich musical heritage.

The Mountain Music & Medicine Show has received 3 GABBY awards from the Georgia Association of Broadcasters for best locally produced radio program in the entire state. After seeing the show I can clearly see why-but what makes the awards even more remarkable is knowing the radio show is put on by a volunteer effort.

From the radio announcer, J. Melvin Hawkins, to the Doc, Henry Johnson, the actors all did a great job-both realistic and humorous. The show was fast paced and very entertaining-in addition to the humor and music there was even some clogging thrown in. It was the 2nd time we’d seen the Buzzard Mountain Boys-and they were as good as the first time we saw them here in Brasstown.

While I enjoyed it all-my favorite aspect of the show was ‘discovering’ 2 bands I had never heard of but will be adding to my ever growing list of favorites. The music of Yahoola and Little Country Giants will be running around in my head for days to come. Neat to think they’ve been performing an hour and half away for a good while-and until last night I had never heard of them. See what I mean about great musicians being around every corner-all we have to do is take the time to look for them.

You can keep track of the Mountain Music & Medicine Show by listening in to GPB Radio (WNGU 89.5fm and WPPR 88.3fm local to north GA) and by checking out their past shows on Itunes (which are FREE to download). If you ever get the chance-I highly recommend seeing the Mountain Music & Medicine Show-I know you’ll be glad you did.



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  • Reply
    September 9, 2010 at 11:43 am

    Sounds like a great time, Tipper.
    I would have loved to have been there. I’ll bet Pap had a great time, too.
    I got to see a local bluegrass band a couple of weeks ago. I was in Heaven. It’s not real popular around here. Or I’m just not in the know. But I really loved listening to them.

  • Reply
    Chef E
    September 9, 2010 at 7:34 am

    You make me want to start a radio program for musicians and poets. Wish I could find a station that was open.
    Love it! I also wish I had a plot to plant a garden each year, but I am afraid I might get lost in its beauty and not write down my words, or be too busy and leave it to the bugs, dry sun, or a hard rain.

  • Reply
    September 8, 2010 at 11:42 am

    Now that sure sounds like some down home entertainment like it was all the time years ago. Thanks for sharing.
    Whitetail Woods Blog / Blackpowder Shooting

  • Reply
    September 7, 2010 at 9:20 pm

    Hi Tipper, From the looks of your comments, you are finding out alot of places where the Appalachian Music is performed… I hope you will compile it all –and give us a list with dates, etc…
    Sounds like you had a wonderful time in Dahlonega. Glad you found out about 2 new groups…

  • Reply
    Vicki Lane
    September 7, 2010 at 8:50 pm

    Great post, Tipper! Over here in Marshall, the county seat of Madison County, there’s jamming every Thursday night at Zuma(often with Bluegrass great Bobby Hicks)and a lineup of local bands and dancing every Friday night at The Depot.

  • Reply
    September 7, 2010 at 4:49 pm

    Traditional music in Cyprus mainly consists of what we call “tsiatista” (rhyme songs). This is actually a musical competition between two contestants – usually men. The first one begins to sing a song he has just made up and the other one must improvise on the spot and on the same theme by providing the appropriate rhyme. I’m planning a post on that! It’s fun to watch as the loser is the one who is unable to improvise! This often results into a…musical conversation.

  • Reply
    September 7, 2010 at 1:17 pm

    Anastasia-the music scene in your area sounds great-makes me wish I could come for a visit : )
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Music, Giveaways, Mountain Folk
    All at

  • Reply
    David Templeton
    September 7, 2010 at 11:04 am

    Enjoyable post, Tipper. Very enjoyable. Thank you for your support of our mountain music heritage. This month, we’ll be traveling to the Tennessee Fall Homecoming at John Rice Irwin’s Museum of Appalachia and to Bristol’s Rhythm and Roots Reunion. I hope someday we can get to Dahlonega and I’m happy that you and Pap got to go.

  • Reply
    Cathy ~ Tadpoles and Teacups
    September 7, 2010 at 9:43 am

    Always a treat to step back in time and listen to a little music here.

  • Reply
    September 7, 2010 at 8:18 am

    Can never get enough of this music! Soothing to the soul!

  • Reply
    September 7, 2010 at 7:31 am

    I am very jealous of all the wonderful music you have around you!

  • Reply
    September 6, 2010 at 4:45 pm

    These mountains are just full of
    singers and musicians. Mostly just
    musicians, some can’t sing a lick.
    But you can talk to folks and learn that a lot of ’em can play
    things you didn’t even know about.
    Mike McLean is right, the best old
    timey tunes are heard right on a
    neighbor’s front porch. And I’m glad to got to share the special
    times with dad, he probably knew
    a bunch of ’em at the Dahlonega
    venue. Thanks for doing all the leg work for us…Ken

  • Reply
    kenneth o. hoffman
    September 6, 2010 at 4:43 pm

    tipper:while we wait for our next trip to the smokies. we travel around the northwest,takeing in the shows . check out if you will the washington bluegrass association festivals page. most of these perfomers are transplants from tenn, n.c.,and other southern states or are 2nd growth as myself,love your writting. friend k.o.h

  • Reply
    September 6, 2010 at 4:16 pm

    First of all, I’d like to thank you for this very informative post. I keep learning from you a lot about your wonderful Appalachia heritage. In Cyprus, traditional music is often played in festivals such as the Flood Festival in Larnaca (in June) or the Wine Festival in Limassol (in September), and on Easter Day. There are also many other festivals all over the island – especially in the summer – aiming at keeping our musical tradition alive. Traditional music is also played at private parties, weddings and christenings.

  • Reply
    September 6, 2010 at 2:12 pm

    thanks for all those great links!

  • Reply
    September 6, 2010 at 11:15 am

    Staci-check out this website: they showcase events that happen in the North GA mountains.
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Music, Giveaways, Mountain Folk
    All at

  • Reply
    September 6, 2010 at 10:35 am

    I’m traveling to North Georgia next weekend without a specific destination. Do you know of any events I should check out?

  • Reply
    B. Ruth
    September 6, 2010 at 10:06 am

    Coming up… The Museum of Appalachias 2010 Tennessee Homecoming Oct 8 thru Oct 10…
    It is featuring no less that 93 musicians, this year as well as…cloggers and buckdancers…(My dad loved to buck dance)I haven’t been to the homecoming in a while, (illness)…but have been there on several occasions since the beginning of the museum …There is always traditional mountain music and also everyday that it is open thru the year..
    John Rice Irwin wrote the book.. A People and Their Music..and one of the features of the museum is old time displays of instruments, handmade etc…and people playing, singing and dancing..It is well worth a trip to East Tennessee to see the past and how authentic mountain music played an important part in the everyday life and struggle of the Applachian people..and their ability to survive everyday with the happiness of their music…
    The Museum has a wonderful website…and there were several local places around our area where folks gather to pick and grin and dance…a lot are never advertised just folks gathering to enjoy playing…

  • Reply
    haystack jackson
    September 6, 2010 at 9:55 am

    tipper. i really want to visit the appalachia area this fall. never have been there. want to hear the music live.

  • Reply
    Mike McLain
    September 6, 2010 at 9:49 am

    Looks like I have added a place to go on my list for when I move back to the mountains. I think that some of the best music that happens there, however, occurs on a friend or family member’s front porch on Sunday afternoon. Usually no audience, but this is a great training ground for mountain musicians.
    The good news is that there are all sorts of opportunities to get together and jam all over the country.

  • Reply
    Janice MacDaniels
    September 6, 2010 at 9:42 am

    There’s a radio station in Hyde Park, NY – the last privately owned and operated station in the Hudson Valley – WHVW -950AM that plays ‘oldies’. One of their DJ’s, Darwin Lee, has a program on Sundays that showcases ‘hillbilly’ music. It’s a real step back in time! Here’s a little feature about the station – scroll down to read about Darwin Lee.

  • Reply
    September 6, 2010 at 9:34 am

    I always look forward to visiting this blog, Tipper. It makes me proud to live in a country that clelbrates its roots and heritage. We don’t have places to hear traditional music (not sure what it would be), but and glad to know your neck of the woods does.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    September 6, 2010 at 8:22 am

    We have Mountain Music about 15 minutes from Black Mountain. It’s just down the Mountain in Old Fort. This is in North Carolina. It’s open every Friday Night year round with lots of good country and blue grass music. It’s been a few years since I went but I recall that you have to come early to get a seat because the building is packed!
    Like Dahlogena it’s all volunteer. And at Old Fort the music is even free.

  • Reply
    September 6, 2010 at 7:45 am

    Sounds like you had a fun time. So glad traditional music is being kept alive in parts of the country. There’s alot of talent out there just waiting to be heard.

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