Appalachia Music

Way Back in the Mountains

This post was originally published here on the Blind Pig and The Acorn back in 2012. And in case you’re wondering, we still like to go to bed early and we’re still a bunch of tired car sick babies on occasion.

Way Back In The Hills


I’m sure I’ve told you at some point, but if you missed it, the Blind Pig Family is not made up of night owls. We go to bed early.

Yesterday evening after a full day of work for The Deer Hunter and me along with a full day of Little Middle Folk School for Chitter and Chatter we headed out for a place way back in the mountains above Cashiers, NC. Its called Caney Fork and is just below a place called Little Canada.

Another thing about the Blind Pig family, two of us get car sick all the time and the other two get car sick about half the time. Being tired, hungry, slightly nervous, and sitting in the backseat of car you’ve never been in going around winding curves you’ve never driven pretty much guarantees all four of us will be car sick.

So why would we put ourselves through such an evening knowing 5:00 a.m. would come early the next morning? To travel back in the mountains, sit on a porch like my Granny Gazzie’s, and make music.

The green siding on the house, the flower pots sitting on the railings, and the various outbuildings made me feel like we had traveled back in time.

We visited Henry Queen-maybe you’ve heard of him or his mother Mary Jane Queen? The Queen family is well known in Western NC for their love of music. Mary Jane passed away a few years ago, but her love for the ballads and songs she learned as a child have been passed down through her family and beyond. I can’t help but think she’d be pleased to see her porch full of young musicians learning from her son in preparation to go out and share music with others.

The music was amazing, the company was good, but I felt a bitter sweetness sitting on that porch. Maybe it was because the house reminded me so much of Granny Gazzie’s house that now sits empty or maybe its because I know those old houses are far and few between these days and so are the people who inhabit them.

Ever since we left the Queen home I’ve been thinking of the Front Range song- Way Back In The Hills written by Bob Amos. I taped the video below back when I first started the Blind Pig-its just as good today as it was back then.

As we headed home after the music making, the girls and I were all car sick. Luckily The Deer Hunter wasn’t.

After the 2nd stop at a closed gas station to get a drink out of a machine I said “You know what? We’re a bunch of babies, why we can’t even stay up past 8 o’clock without getting sick.” Everybody in the car agreed with me. “But” I said, “even though I feel so miserable-I’m so very glad we went.” Everyone in the car agreed with me on that statement too.


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  • Reply
    Robert Wasmer
    October 15, 2021 at 2:02 pm

    I just read your repost of your family’s visit to Caney Fork, and music on the porch. I have started reading “Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone?” About the Carter Family and their legacy in keeping the music of Appalachia alive. The early chapters paint a picture of how far back in the mountains some communities were and how difficult travel must have been in those times, and perhaps even today. My family roots go back to eastern Monroe County in Tennessee, and I really appreciate all you do to keep the music, speech, and cooking of Appalachia alive.

  • Reply
    September 14, 2016 at 3:26 pm

    George-thank you for all the great comments! I do know about the Smathers family and actually got to spend most of last weekend with them : ) A great bunch of people for sure! And as you said amazing musicians too.

  • Reply
    September 13, 2016 at 2:55 am

    How bout some Dramimine.

  • Reply
    Pam Danner
    September 12, 2016 at 5:24 pm

    I really enjoyed listening to the song!

  • Reply
    Sally Hastings
    September 12, 2016 at 10:38 am

    Really enjoyed the music and the story, It’s good that the younger generations are keeping old songs alive.

  • Reply
    September 12, 2016 at 5:00 am

    My mama used to get car sick until she discovered ginger pills….she took two before riding a long ways and didn’t get sick anymore…..I think she got them at Walmart….
    I lost my sweet mama in May of this year…..

  • Reply
    George Pettie
    September 11, 2016 at 7:53 pm

    On the subject of musical families way up in the N.C. hills, is anyone familiar with the Smathers family Dutch Cove Old Time String Band? They were from up near Canton, N.C., about 15 miles further up from where you went to visit Henry Queen at Caney Fork. I have an ancient album of their very excellent instrumental music, and have wondered about them.

  • Reply
    September 11, 2016 at 5:53 pm

    I feel for anyone that gets Carsick. One time I remember Mama correcting me at the house and after it was over I said, “next time when we’re in the car going somewhere I’ll not Puke with you.” ha
    The roads are much better now, but that crooked Nantahala River Road still makes me sick unless I’m driving, or up-front. One time when we went to Don’s Birthday party, and you moved into the back with the girls just so I could ride in the front with The Deer Hunter. Thanks for switching places. I didn’t get Carsick that time…Ken

  • Reply
    September 11, 2016 at 11:53 am

    That is a really good song and done so very well.. Well,, my Wife and Daughter are night owls and I’m a go to bed early get up early, even on my off days, my wife tells me my eyes start to get puffy underneath them when the sun goes down.. and I can feel it, my body it starts to shut down, several years back, they put on a 2nd shift and 3rd shift, I was one of the unfortunate ones to have to be on both at one time.. I thought I would die because my body is not meant for that type of work hours.. I believe I lost 10yrs of life because of it..

  • Reply
    Kenneth Ryan
    September 11, 2016 at 10:24 am

    I love that song. I’ve listened to it dozens of times on your site playlist.

  • Reply
    anita griffith
    September 11, 2016 at 9:09 am

    That made me think of Dad an i and two other men going to a dying woman’s house to play music.She played the guitar laying in bed until she couldn’t play anymore.She wouldn’t let us leave.We must have played another hour and half.She really enjoye herself.She died a month later.

  • Reply
    September 11, 2016 at 8:56 am

    Oh the memories of car sickness! When the Cruiser car came out, I never liked it because it brought back memories of car sickness experienced on the winding roads. Those old cars had small windows and no air conditioning which made for some sick kids. My poor parents could only go a few miles it seemed without letting one of us out. When we arrived at our destination we would make a quick recovery. I outgrew car sickness.
    I attempted to train a young lady once, and it required driving on these rugged winding mountain roads all day. By the time we would arrive at the first home she was such a mess she couldn’t function, and she still had all day to go. She finally had to quit and find work in a stationary location.
    The only thing worse than carsickness has got to be homesickness. This is a beautiful song and so well done by your sweet family. It makes me so very homesick for the mountains even though I still live in a town in the mountains. I guess what is missing now is bunches of aunts and uncles sitting on the porch harmonizing while one strummed a guitar. This would have been during the Korean War where I had two uncles serving. Never since have I heard a song they once sung which had this line, “We read in the newspaper, hear on the radio, they’re fighting in Korea–the men are called to go.” They would take group pictures holding 8″by 10″ pictures of both uncles.
    We had those close family ties with a lot of patriotism woven in. Most of their descendants have been eager to serve in the military, and will be especially somber on this 9/11 day. We all stay in close touch.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    September 11, 2016 at 8:06 am

    You remind me of the old gravel roads of my childhood. Most of the county roads were gravel then – and dusty. The dust always got in the car somehow. As you might expect, speeds were relatively slow, distances were long and to rambunctious kids trips seemed to take forever. Little did I know that even those roads were a vast improvement over what the previous generation had known. Their roads had been what by my time had become ‘jeep roads’. I recall having bouts of motion sickness.
    I reckon it is true that an artist must suffer for their art. But I guess sometimes it seems you have suffered enough?

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