down the road

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.

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.

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