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Thursday, June 6, 2013


joseph dicosimo and mike bryant

The Blue Ridge Music Center is on the Parkway exactly 4 miles from the NC/VA line into Virginia, Milepost 213. Saturday night, June 1, they presented music of eastern Tennessee. Started off with two guys from SE Tennessee, one, Joseph Dicosimo, from just a few miles from the home of my ancestors at Ninemile, on highway 28 between Crossville and Pikeville. I was especially interested in hearing the music of these two guys as they played the sound of the region, the Sequatchie Valley of the South Cumberland Plateau. I look to hear the sound of the SE Tennessee region whenever I can. Another banjo picker from central Tennessee played, Daniel Rothwell, accompanied by his dad on guitar. Quite good. The Dave Macon part of the state. He plays Dave Macon style very well.

joseph dicosimo

I remember Dicosimo's name because I bought his cd titled Sequatchie Valley. He has a smooth fiddle that is fast. I took my friends Lucas and Judy Carpenter from the greater Atlanta area. They have a place across the road from my house. They appreciate mountain music. They have such a wide range of musical interests their daughter in her teens had a difficult time finding a music to rebel with, to call her own that her parents could not listen to. She found Enya. They have listened to enough mountain music to have something of a feel for it. I took Judy to the Albert Hash Festival at Whitetop a couple years ago, mountain music all day long. Not many city people have an ear for it. Lucas and Judy's ears are wide open, always, to hear something new.

daniel rothwell, banjo

                                                                                                                thomas maupin, buck dancer

Dancer Thomas Maupin of the Cumberland Plateau did some buck dancing to the music, with the music, became one of the musicians. Beautiful dancing. I took it for the dance my ancestors danced when they listened to their old-time music. I'm interested in the music of that region, because I want to hear the music my ancestors heard. Maupin danced a polished version of the dance they did more than likely. Hearing the music is another aspect of my ancestors. I went to Ninemile some years ago, stood in one spot and looked at the landscape all the way around, very slowly, soaking it in so I'd never forget it. That's another aspect. I've seen the place where great-great grandpa Jesse Carroll Worthington had his house, which has been replaced by another house. He drank white liquor. It may be what drove his boys out of the county, to get away from the old man.

joseph dicosimo and mike bryant

That's my theory, being a Worthington with an idea of the temperament that goes with the name. A rugged, tough man. Worked with railroad in Alabama making money to buy some land back home, got a farm going and the War of Yankee Aggression took him and his 3 brothers away for four years. He rebuilt the farm after the war. I've seen the big spring where great-great-great grandpa Big Spring Bill got his name. I've seen the graves of my great-great grandparents, the Hales, parents of great grandfather Jim's wife Dora, my great grandmother. I met her a few times when I was little. The last time I saw her I was 7. She and Jim moved to Perry, Kansas, after they had a few kids. What a trip that must have been, by wagon, possibly pulled by oxen, and a horse to go hunting with along the way, maybe more than one horse.

the roan mountain hilltoppers
Finding a spot on the grass to sit when we first came in for the show, I heard, "TJ!" I look up and it's Sandy Hayes from Boone and her husband Tony with their granddaughter. I'd not seen them in several years and they're the sort of people I miss. We talked as fast as we could go. Sandy is one of my hillbilly friends. She's from Wilkes County and related to the Millers of Alleghany. Their boy Josh I'd known when he was around 12 maybe, early teens. He was taking up banjo playing. Sandy said, "He's really good now." Then she said he was playing banjo with the Roan Mountain Hilltoppers. I said that's all I need to know. He's good. And he was. Old Bill Birchfield used to play the guitar for the band, and his daddy, Pop Birchfield, played fiddle and Pop's brother Creed played the banjo. Creed Birchfield's shoes are some mighty big ones for a banjo picker to step into. Josh has it. He plays that old music right. The Hilltoppers gave a show. Bill has been playing fiddle for some time now and has become a serious old-time fiddler, made his own fiddle. The Roan Mountain Hilltoppers have drive in their music that sets them apart. Janet Birchfield who plays the washtub bass is the band's speaker. She's a character, as is Bill. It's always good to hear the Roan Mountain Hilltoppers.
bill birchfield
janet birchfield
josh hayes
bill birchfield and josh hayes
roan mountain hilltoppers / josh hayes flat-footing
terry tester banjo,  bill birchfield guitar


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