Appalachia Music

We’re Bards!


Chatter, Chitter, Paul, Tipper – Bryson City, NC 2017

“In medieval Gaelic and British culture, a bard was a professional story teller, verse-maker and music composer, employed by a patron (such as a monarch or noble), to commemorate one or more of the patron’s ancestors and to praise the patron’s own activities.

Originally a specific, lower class of poet, contrasting with the higher rank known as fili in Ireland and Highland Scotland, with the decline of living bardic tradition in the modern period the term “bard” acquired generic meanings of an author or minstrel, especially a famous one. For example, William Shakespeare, and Rabindranth Tagore, are known as “the Bard of Avon” and “the Bard of Bengal” respectively.”



We are bards…well we’re not actually employed by the monarchy nor are we famous like Shakespeare, but we do tell stories and make music.

A few months ago I was reading a fiction book that had bards in it, the book also had flying dragons but that’s beside the point. Anyway I got to thinking about the bard in the book going throughout the land telling stories and singing story songs for the people. I decided what we do isn’t all that different other than the computer I visit you through and the instruments we use to make music.

A few months ago Paul wrote a song and he has a humdinger of a story to tell about how he wrote it…and actually the song is a story too so I guess you could say it’s a story within a story. I’m planning on letting Paul tell you about it this Sunday for our Picking and Grinnin in the Kitchen Spot so be sure to tune in.

Tipper the Bard of Brasstown

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  • Reply
    Chuck Howell
    May 16, 2020 at 10:51 pm

    Does this mean I can now say “I Know A Bard,” or four Bards?” I suddenly feel so special. “Hey Lou I know a Bard; personally.” I didn’t know there were any Bards in these parts. Now I do.

  • Reply
    S. Taylor
    April 23, 2018 at 11:35 am

    Author, historian and 19th Century global correspondent, G.A. Henty, has written a collection of historical novels covering the span of time that relates to Western Civilization. Full of adventure, battles, intrigue, and model character, many of his books set in the ancient Britsih Isles feature the celebrities of the time- harpists, minstrels, and bards. Before writing was widely used, these talented rovers could wander across a country in turmoil, largely untouched, because as witnesses of events far and wide (and sponges for local gossip), they wove each thread of news, exaggerated and not, into a colorful oral tapestry that entertained a chieftain and his jarls, a king, and his court, or even a highway thief who spared his life and purse for a tale. The stories presented the oral history of a people chronicling the accomplishments and exploits of local rulers, nobility and warrior heroes, immortalizing them in the minds of the people. The more inventive performers told their stories in verse accompanied by music. Today, everyone still loves a good story and good music. The Pressley Family and “The Blind Pig and the Acorn” blog offer both at a time when people are so hungry for the good things of the past which have more currency than ever because they keep us grounded to what really matters in life. Thanks, Tipper, Deer Hunter, Chitter, and Chatter and your readers for carrying on the Celtic tradition in the Southern Appalachians.

  • Reply
    April 21, 2018 at 6:24 pm

    It’s neat learning about ”Bards” …and such a privilege to get to hear the stories, in song and word, especially what inspired them …, love when a song breaks out ,and lingers long in your heart, from those who are near, and ever so dear, when someone who loves you, sings straight at you…the love in their caring, everlastingly true. Can’t wait to hear the song and the story, … 🙂

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    April 20, 2018 at 4:48 pm

    I can’t believe your post today…It is connected to (a new favorite song of mine) I was going to email you about and ask if the girls every sang this song…I love it…I think it is beautiful and I almost cry every time I hear it…I am going to try and post the lyrics here less all of the chorus added in…too much type…hope it works…

    In The Rare Old Times…

    Raised on songs and stories
    Heroes of renown
    The passing tales and glories
    That once was Dublin town
    The hallowed halls and houses
    The haunting children’s rhymes
    That once was Dublin city
    In the rare old times

    Ring a ring a rosie
    As the light declines
    I remember Dublin City
    In the rare old times

    My name it is Sean Dempsey
    As Dublin as could be
    Born hard and late in Pimlico
    In a house that’s ceased to be
    By trade I was a cooper
    Lost out to redundancy
    Like my house that fell to progress
    My trade’s a memory

    I courted Peggy Diagnam
    As pretty as you please
    A gentle child of Mary
    From the rebel liberties
    I lost her to a student chap
    With skin as black as coal
    When he took her off to Birmingham
    She took away my soul


    The years have made me bitter
    The gargles dims me brain
    ‘Cause Dublin keeps on changing
    And nothing stays the same
    The Pillar and the Met have gone
    The Royal long since pulled down
    As the great and unyielding concrete
    Makes a city of my town


    Fare thee well sweet Anna Liffey
    I can no longer stay
    And watch the new glass cages
    That spring up along the quay
    My mind’s too full of memories
    Too old to hear new chimes
    I’m a part of what was Dublim
    In the rare old times

    [Chorus: X2]

    That’s it…I would love to hear the girls do this song…yes it’s of course Irish….
    Thanks Tipper for your post today….

  • Reply
    April 20, 2018 at 1:00 pm

    As I came out of the house and walked across the porch, I noticed my little dog, Whisky, diggin’ at the bottom step. I couldn’t bend over that far so I flipped the plank over with my walkinstick. Immediately Whisky snatched a blue-tailed lizard up, leaving part of it’s tail flopping in the dirt. Whisky ran into the grass, done away with the lizard, and turned upside down to waller on his bounty. I think he thinks he can capture it’s Spirit. Those things have about destroyed some of my porch, and it’s made out of 2 x 8’s. …Ken

  • Reply
    April 20, 2018 at 12:39 pm

    . . . are you rolling your eyes. . . ?

  • Reply
    April 20, 2018 at 12:38 pm

    Got me to thinking about “bard” and how we talk. Guess you could have been “bard” from the courthouse, or maybe you were “bard” in the courthouse (wearing stripes), which got be to thinking about the “barred owl” here in Texas and any other critters referred to as “barred” and wouldn’t you know it, my search of “barred” (I didn’t even get the “owl” in the search bar) turned up an article “Barred Owls – Troubadours of the Trees” ( )! So-o-o-o . . . next time you play you can all wear stripes and be “Barred Troubadours of the Mountains” – – or hills- – or creeks – – or draw – – or woods – – or forests – –

  • Reply
    April 20, 2018 at 12:31 pm

    Besides lovin’ you all’s singing and playing, I love reading your stories. You are a Great Storyteller. …Ken

  • Reply
    Papaw Ammons
    April 20, 2018 at 10:56 am

    I would have thought of you all more as troubadours or balladeers than bards. Whatever you want to call it, I love it!

  • Reply
    April 20, 2018 at 10:51 am

    Ok call me dumb, but I didnt know where this one was going when I
    Read the title, shhww, Ok, I learned something today.

  • Reply
    April 20, 2018 at 9:35 am

    Not being employed by nobles may mean you are more like wandering minstrels. In any event, your efforts are greatly appreciated by we commoners.

  • Reply
    Ann Appplegarth
    April 20, 2018 at 9:06 am

    Tipper, as a 21st Century Bard, you have one wonderful advantage over Shakespeare: you come to me every single day!

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    April 20, 2018 at 7:48 am

    Bards, you are with lots of stories to tell!

  • Reply
    Ed Karshner
    April 20, 2018 at 7:41 am

    I was reading a book about Ray Hicks and Jack Tales and the writer said that in Appalachia stories weren’t possessions but experiences. That’s why Bards are so important. They give us more experiences, so we know more, and that is a good thing.

    I’m looking forward to the story, Sunday. As my great uncle Russel used to say, “Go on. I’m curious y’all.”

  • Reply
    Sheryl A. Paul
    April 20, 2018 at 7:21 am

    An apt description of what you all fo. This is why folk music is so popular

  • Reply
    Candace Esch
    April 20, 2018 at 7:19 am

    What a great profession. You are a bard! I save and share often from Blind Pig and the Acorn.

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