Tag Archives: Appalachian ballads

Breakin’ up Christmas

Breakin’ Up Christmas is both the name for 12 days of partying, dancing, and music making ending up on January 6th, Old Christmas day, and also a song sung during that period. The tradition harks from the area that roughly includes Surry County NC, nearby Grayson and Carroll counties in VA, and the independent city […]

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I were tellin’ some mount’n stories

Jane Gentry — piano teacher, Appalachian folk-music historian, weaver — was an inspiration for the movie Songcatcher. She was born Jane Hicks in 1863, the first child of Ransom and Emily Hicks, in Watauga County, NC. “My pappy were a minister, name of Ransom Hicks. Mammy were always peckin’ me over the head with a […]

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"Their bodies were covered with the wreckage of logs"

“The Barrenshe Run mishap was one of the worst log train wrecks in West Virginia history. “As the story became legendary, the runaway train gained additional notoriety as the subject of a local blind poet, who supported himself by selling copies of his works for a nickel on Oakford Avenue in Richwood WV. The poem […]

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She came rollin’ down the mountain

Some know the song as “Nancy Brown,” others as “The West Virginia Hills,” but according to The Frank Gullo Music Sheet (sic) Collection at Millersville University, “She Came Rollin’ down the Mountain” was written by Arthur Lippmann, Manning Sherwin, and Harry Richman and published by Crawford Music Corporation in 1932. The ditty tells the tale […]

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Jean Thomas: Kentucky’s Traipsin’ Woman

She had hosted Susan Steele Sampson, wife of Kentucky’s governor, the previous year at her first American Folk Song Festival, held at the Traipsin’ Woman Cabin. Now, in August 1931, Jean Thomas found herself invited to the Governor’s mansion in Frankfort to discuss the creation of an American Folk Song Society and an annual festival […]

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