Sights & Sounds

HoustonFest 2014: Jewel of Festival Circuit

The city of Galax came alive in early May for the fourth annual Houstonfest. Born out of a community’s grief over the tragic passing of Houston Caldwell, a gifted banjoist …

Sights & Sounds

Wallace Gusler and Bruce Larson

The importation and manufacturing of firearms have been part of Virginia’s history since European settlement. The first documented firearms brought to Virginia in 1607 were muskets equipped with matchlocks, snaphances, …

Sights & Sounds

Harold Mitchell and Dale Morris

If you have attended the Galax Old Fiddler’s Convention any time in the last forty years, you will quickly recognize the familiar voice of Galax native Harold Mitchell. Always impeccably …

Sights & Sounds

Jessica Canaday Stewart and Vanessa Adkins

The Chickahominy Tribe, currently the second largest tribe in Virginia, is based primarily in Charles City County. Because of their historic proximity to Jamestown, members of the autonomous Algonquin-speaking Chickahominy …

Sights & Sounds

78th Galax Old Fiddlers Convention recap

The Virginia Folklife Program’s photographer Pat Jarrett joined Jon Lohman at the 78th Galax Old Fiddlers Convention. Here’s a photo recap of the week.

Sights & Sounds

John del Re, Kelly Macklin, John Alexander and Diane Ober

Shape note singing is a folk art dating to post-Revolutionary War days, when Americans set folk tunes to religious texts using patented shaped notes to facilitate sight-reading. Meant to encourage …

Sights & Sounds

Dave Young and Yvonne V. Young

A cobbler is a craftsperson who specializes in repairing shoes. Although traditionally, cobblers also made shoes, most modern cobblers focus on repair and restoration rather than manufacture of new shoes. …

Sights & Sounds

Remembering Earl Blake: Carnival Costume Master

We are shocked and sad to report the passing of Virginia Folklife Master Artist Earl Blake, who died unexpectedly at his home on Saturday, June 16. A dear friend of …

Sights & Sounds

Remembering Spencer Moore

The Virginia Folklife Program lost a dear friend this June in Spencer Moore, the “singing tobacco farmer” from Chilhowie, Virginia. He was ninety-two. Born into a large family in North …

Sights & Sounds

Emily Spencer and Kilby Spencer

The “clawhammer” banjo style is an essential aspect of “old time,” an ensemble-based, hard-driving music form that has inspired dancers across Southern Appalachia for generations. Unlike the more popularized bluegrass …

Sights & Sounds

Phyllis Gaskins and Blue O’Connell

Phyllis Gaskins of Elkton, Virginia, is a master of the Galax dulcimer, an instrument distinguished from the regular mountain dulcimer in numerous ways, with four equidistant strings of the same …

Sights & Sounds

Steve Kilby and Leah Hall

The guitar was primarily used as a rhythm instrument in the United States from the 1800s through the 1930s. As more and more players began to play lead breaks on …