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

Garrett Queen and Lana Lambert

Prior to the advent of photocopiers, short run quick print, email, and “social media,” the local letterpress (job-shop) was the primary producer of the vast majority of materials for mass …

Sights & Sounds

Walter Messick and Chris Testerman

The hills of Grayson County, encompassing the small mountain communities around Mt. Rogers, are a veritable hotbed of luthiers—builders of fretted, stringed instruments. Some of America’s finest guitars, mandolins, fiddles, …

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

Jimmy Boyd and Jared Boyd

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

Sights & Sounds

Gaye Adegbalola and Lorie Strother

The blues is a name given to both a musical form and a genre of music that originated in African American communities of the United States toward the end of …

Sights & Sounds

Wayne Henderson and Jayne Henderson

Wayne Henderson was born, raised and still lives in tiny Rugby, Virginia in Grayson County. He built his first guitar using traced patterns and the wood from the bottom of …

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

In loving memory of Audrey Hash Ham

The Blue Ridge Mountains of Southwest Virginia have lost one of their most cherished jewels with the passing of Audrey Hash Ham. Audrey was truly a “friend of the music,” …

Sights & Sounds

Dudley Biddlecomb and Peter Hedlund

Because of the Chesapeake Bay’s ideal brackish waters, its oyster population was once one of the most plentiful in the nation, and oyster harvesting was long a booming industry throughout …

Sights & Sounds

John Hollandsworth and Sam Gleaves

Patented in 1881 by German instrument repairman Charles Zimmerman, the autoharp first reached popularity in the United States as a novelty instrument. By 1900, by the time the fad had …

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

Earl and Scottie Blake

Earl Blake. (Peter Hedlund/The Virginia Folklife Program) The Latin roots of the term Carnival mean “farewell to meat,” as Carnival falls on the day before Ash Wednesday, the beginning of …

Sights & Sounds

Gankhuyag Natsag and Zanabazar Gankhuyag

Tsam is an ancient Buddhist ritual performed by skilled dancers wearing elaborately ornamented costumes and masks. The Tsam was first introduced in Mongolia at the beginning of the eighth century when …