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.

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.

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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.

Rev. Sparks & the Jubilee: An Appalachian roots old-time string band with Jake Blount, Mason Via, Clarke Williams, Landon George will join Carol live in the studio this Sunday, March 11 at 4:00pm during This Old Porch.

Man holding banjo
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One of the pioneers of country music, Charlie Poole was born in 1892 in Franklinville, a small town in Randolph County, NC. He played the banjo from an early age, and developed a distinctive three-finger style to compensate for a baseball injury. Poole was famous for his rough and rowdy ways, and you can hear the voice of experience when he sings songs of drinking and rambling. With his band the North Carolina Ramblers he made dozens of records between 1925 and 1930, mostly for Columbia Records.

Two men playing instruments and smiling
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Surry County’s Round Peak area, and the surrounding communities between Mount Airy, N.C., and Galax, Va., have shaped the sound of Old-Time music heard across the nation and around the world.  Two of the best-known members of this tradition were Tommy Jarrell and Fred Cockerham.

Host John Fowler welcomes Crescent Moon Rounders to This Old Porch on Sunday, February 4th at 3:30 for an interview and live session with songs from their new album Ain’t Gonna Get No Supper Here Tonight. The Crescent Moon Rounders have been performing together at musical festivals in North Carolina for over a dozen years. Reid Ringer, from Saluda, South Carolina, and Rob Morrison, from Chapel Hill, have played in various bands together for over 30 years. Ray Owens, from Charlotte, has come from a mixture of bands from Asheville to Charlotte before he joined the Rounders.

Two men playing instruments and smiling
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In the Blue Ridge, the Christmas season was celebrated for days on end, with gatherings of family and friends, good food, and lots of music. This was especially true in the area known as Round Peak, around Mount Airy, North Carolina, and Galax, Virginia. The tradition was called Breaking up Christmas, and December 25th was just the beginning.

Woman singing from book
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In 1821, Sequoyah singlehandedly created a syllabary, or writing system, for his people, the Cherokee Indians. Within a few years, the tribe’s literacy rate was far higher than their white neighbors. First published in 1829, the Cherokee Hymnbook contained the lyrics to sacred songs, written in Cherokee, using Sequoyah’s syllabary. It was a groundbreaking achievement, created for an audience who could both read the Cherokee language and sing by heart the tunes that went with the lyrics.

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