Bascom Lamar Lunsford : Minstrel of the Appalachians

Bascom Lamar Lunsford, born in 1882 in Madison County, was a fruit tree salesman, teacher, and lawyer, who is celebrated for his lifelong devotion to Appalachian music and dance.  Lunsford learned to play the banjo and fiddle, and collected songs and tunes.  He began his repertoire during the folk revival of the 1920s. One voice […]

William Henry “Papa Charlie” Jackson

No wonder they all fall for him! He’s just a red hot papa in a class by himself and it takes a cop or two to hold the mamas back when he struts down the avenue. Papa Charlie sure knows how to sing this kind of Blues. Papa Charlie Jackson (November 10, 1887 – May […]

Hazel Dickens : It’s Hard to Tell the Singer from the Song

Hazel Jane Dickens (June 1, 1925 – April 22, 2011) was an American bluegrass singer, songwriter, double bassist and guitarist. Her music was characterized not only by her high, lonesome singing style, but also by her provocative pro-union, feminist songs. In the early 1950s she moved to Baltimore. She met Mike Seeger, younger half-brother of Pete Seeger and founding member of the New Lost […]

Frank Proffitt : Will the real Tom Dooley stand up?

Frank Noah Proffitt (June 1, 1913 – November 24, 1965) was an Appalachian old time banjoist who helped popularize the song “Tom Dooley” and was a key figure in inspiring musicians of the 1960s and 1970s to play the banjo. He was born in Laurel Bloomery, Tennessee and was raised in the Reese area of Watauga County, North Carolina where he worked in a variety […]

The high lonesome sound of Roscoe Holcomb

Roscoe Holcomb, was an American singer, banjo player, and guitarist from Daisy, Kentucky. A prominent figure in Appalachian folk music, Holcomb was the inspiration for the term “high, lonesome sound,” coined by folklorist and friend John Cohen. The “high lonesome sound” term is now used to describe bluegrass singing, although Holcomb was not, strictly speaking, a bluegrass performer. Bob Dylan once commented that Holcomb “… has […]

Charlie Parr : Extraordinary Performer

Charlie Parr is an American country blues musician from Minnesota. He was born in Austin, Minnesota and spent part of his childhood in Hollandale. He started his music career in Duluth, Minnesota. His influences include Charlie Patton, Bukka White, Reverend Gary Davis, Dave Van Ronk, and Mississippi John Hurt. He plays a custom made Mule […]