Saturday, July 07, 2007

From the barrier islands to the tip top of the mountains.

I love NC. I love the land, the cities, the small towns, the deep forests, the long white beaches, the green mountains, the old things, the new things and those folks born of this state. The culture is full of stories and story tellers. From the country stores in farming communities to the barber shops of the State Capitol, there are North Carolinians who love to tell stories. Books have been written full of the stories and the tellers. There are stories that should be important to all those who call NC home.

I love the music of NC. The beach music of downeast, the rock-a-billy of the Piedmont, the acoustic bluegrass of the mountains all add to the sounds of the Tarheel State. Many week nights and almost every weekend, someone is playing music for someone to enjoy. Let me ask you this, How many top 10 finalists on American Idol have been from NC? Six or seven have moved on to recording contracts. That being said, music is a part of the culture of N.C.

If you read this blog you know I love stories. Once and a while I leave a little music. For me, when good story and good music come together you have a perfect mix. If the stories and the music have a NC flare that makes it a winner in my estimation.

In the first third of the 1900's the western mountains of NC and eastern hills of TN lived a great story teller. Not only did he tell a good story, but he wrote the stories down. Horace Kephart lived in the Great Smoky Mountains from 1904 until his untimely death in 1931. During that time, he wrote thousands of pages revolving around the outdoors and the people of the mountains. His book "Our Southern Highlanders" is still considered one of the best works on the "hillbillies" of the south. He kept well organized notes on his observations of flora, fauna and human. He also left behind hundreds of photographs. From moonshining to living off the land Horace Kephart wrote on the subject and he captured the essence of the life and people of western NC.

Almost 100 years after Horace Kephart walked into the mountains of NC, a NC native wanted the story set to music. Daniel Gore heard music in the pages of Horace Kephart's book and set about to turn the stories of the book into songs for an album. "The Ways That are Dark" is the musical companion to "Our Southern Highlanders". The liner notes are great and the book and the CD will open hours of enjoyment and education. If you love acoustical bluegrass and historical non-fiction get a copy of the book and contact Daniel Gore for a copy of the CD.

If you have never visited the Outer Banks of NC, you have truly missed a treasure of USAmerica. The Atlantic Ocean is warm six months out of the year and the beaches are world renown. Bogue Islands Banks is south of famous Cape Hatteras, but none the less beautiful. It is full of history, as many settlers began to squat on NC's barrier islands in the 1600's. The stories of the people have been written about many times. A trip to any Coastal museum will relay the stories of tough people, tough weather and a love for the sea. Fishing villages are all but gone on the NC coast. The land is much more valuable for condos or mansions for coastal vacationers than for men and women of the sea. An old way of life is fading fast in our lifetime and the stories must be told. "Will This Town Survive" is the story of one such fishing village fading away. Fielding Darden bought a piece of land in the village of Salter Path in 1998. Being a story teller himself, he heard the stories of the people and the history of the community. He wanted to retell the stories he was hearing. His love for writing songs that tell stories mixed with the stories he was learning and an album project was born.

Fielding uses many musical artists from Salter Path as well as other musical talent from the Old North State. One or two of the tracts could easily be heard on any music radio in the nation, but all of them are worth a listen, if for no other reason than the story behind the song. Not only are the songs haunting with the future end of an era, but the book included in the CD is worth the price of purchase. It alone is sixty pages worth of photos, history and first hand accounts of living on the barrier islands of NC. It is a great education in one of what was many such places like Salter Path gone in history. Any lover of history, the NC Coast or independent music will find this project worth every dime. It will also benefit the folks of Salter Path, as the more the story is told, the more the place will be cherished.

Spend a bit of money and buy a few books and music. You will not regret the listen and the reading.

PS These reviews reflect my opinion about these books and music. NO author, publisher or producer has asked me for a review, nor have they given me copies for review.

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