An Appalachian dulcimer-maker carries on the traditions.

The dulcimer has long been considered an Appalachian instrument. The mountain dulcimer — also called the Kentucky dulcimer, Appalachian dulcimer and lap dulcimer — basically is a fretted zither, consisting of a narrow fingerboard with strings attached to a slightly larger sound box. Although traces of the dulcimer date back to the crafts movement in the 1800s, it’s only been since the 1940s that the dulcimer has captured the heart and soul of Appalachian musicians.

Appalachian courting practices through the years

Storytelling is an Appalachian art form. Before the Internet, before television, before telephones and radio, before even newspapers made the scene, storytelling was one of the best forms of entertainment. People huddled together on the front porch, around a wood stove, at the general store or anywhere a few people could congregate to hear someone tell a fresh tale.

Gary Ray grew up in Weaverville, North Carolina, the son of a tobacco farmer and local builder. His daddy, Frederick Prince “Dan” Ray, had a hand in many of the buildings that grace the Appalachian city of Asheville. Gary was the middle son of three children who lived a stone’s throw away from his grandparents and spent weekends and holidays with a slew of relatives on both sides.

Appalachian Bluesman

The northern hills of Georgia, shining bright with the blue ridges of the southernmost tips of the Blue Ridge Mountains, is not necessarily known as a hotbed of blues music. But in its day, Macon and other Georgia towns were just that. And no one delivers the blues from the Blue Ridge better than Georgia native Robert Lee Coleman.

Classic Blues Meet the Mountains

The simple Christmas traditions of the Appalachians convey timeless sentiments of the season. Although money was always in short supply, the ever-practical Appalachian people always found ways to make Christmas meaningful, a characteristic of Appalachian people that continues today. Some traditions varied throughout the region, but many traditions were common for all.
These days, it is common to see galvanized tubs as decorations in flower gardens but not too long ago these were recognized as luxurious bath tubs.
When I was up at my Dad’s garden recently, I saw where he had been burying potatoes in the ground, and I snapped a picture. It reminded me of a story about my Great Grandfather, Burly Azor Suddreth.