This Old Porch™

Sundays from 3 to 6pm

This Old Porch is a show of traditional and regional mountain music, songs and ballads, contemporary old time, dance tunes and more. Folklorist John Fowler and award winning musician Carol Rifkin host this show that keeps the music of the mountains alive.

Thanks to Brooke Lauer from South Carolina, who designed the logo for This Old Porch.

Someday soon we'll be able to open Studio B back up for live sessions... In the meantime, revisit this one with the Carolina Chocolate Drops from their heyday in 2010, on "This Old Porch."

Podcast of this session:

Female fiddler smiling in studio
Vicki Dameron

"It’s not unusual for a mountain musician to be a part of several different musical traditions. A Blue Ridge fiddler might play in a mountain swing session on Friday night, sit in with an old-time band playing for a square dance on Saturday night, and sing in the church choir on Sunday morning. In this respect, Carley Arrowood is in good company. But Carley stands out in her youth: few artists as young as she have already mastered so many genres.

Etta Baker picked up her ragtime influenced style of fingerpicking at the age of 3 from her father. She became a master of the Piedmont Blues, influencing musicians like Bob Dylan, Taj Mahal, and Kenny Wayne Shepherd.  Etta practiced her two-finger picking style an hour every day in addition to raising nine children with her musician husband. After raising nine children and working 26 years at a Morganton textile mill, she quit at age 60 to become a professional musician.

Today, the tradition of ballad singing is alive and well in the North Carolina mountains thanks in part to Sheila Kay Adams, a seventh generation singer.  Raised in the community of Sodom in Madison County, Adams learned from her great aunt Dellie Chandler Norton, sitting together and repeating the verses to each other knee-to-knee until the songs were “caught.”

When English, Irish, and Scottish settlers moved into Appalachia, they brought an ancient form of music with them – the ballad. The isolated mountains drew song collectors like Englishman Cecil Sharp. In Madison County, Sharp collected several hundred songs – including 70 from Jane Hicks Gentry from Hot Springs.

(These CD's are available online or call 1-800-245-8870 during Fund Drive hours)

Alan Jabbour and Stephen Wade Americana Concert
Altan The Gap of Dreams
Doc Watson Live at Club 47
Press Gang Fortune It May Smile
(Various): The Crooked Road A Century of Heritage Guitar Music * $100 2-CD Set

David Holt and Doc Watson performing
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Arthel Lane Watson, better known as "Doc," grew up on Osborne Mountain in Watauga County, NC. Doc lost his sight to an eye infection before the age of one but he would grow up to become the most celebrated Appalachian musician ever. Doc talked about his childhood in an interview with David Holt, included on the 2001 Legacy box set.

Man standing and playing banjo while singing
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Clarence “Tom” Ashley, a banjo player and guitarist from Mountain City, Tennessee, got his start in the medicine show circuit in the late 20s and 30s, but was “rediscovered”  in the Folk Revival of the 1960s. Ashley’s  famous solo recordings are probably “Dark Holler Blues” and its flip-side, “The Coo-Coo Bird,” both eerie clawhammer banjo performances recorded in late October of 1929.

Man's face
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Ray Hicks grew up on a hardscrabble mountain farm on Beech Mountain. From his grandfather, young Hicks learned a dozen Jack tales, part of the rich storytelling tradition of the Appalachians. Standing nearly seven feet tall and illustrating his stories with animated expressions and gestures, Hicks was naturally engaging teller of tales. Alan Lomax once called him “the greatest of all American folktale tellers.” Ray Hicks received the National Heritage Award in 1983.

Frank Proffitt playing guitar while sitting outside
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In 1938, Frank Proffitt of Beech Mountain recorded the song “Tom Dooley.” The murder ballad tells the true-life tale of a Civil War love triangle that ended in the death of a young Wilkes County, N.C., woman named Laura Foster, and the hanging of Tom Dula for her murder. Twenty years later, the Kingston Trio recorded their own version, helping launch the Folk Revival of the 1960s. The album sold more than 3 million copies.

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