We crossed paths with Ethan in Sparta, North Carolina. He participated in my songwriting workshop with Alleghany JAM. We also often heard him playing his guitar outside the JAM House during our time there.
Ethan is young – still in high school – and his passion for music shines clear. Another student told me that outside of school, Ethan is rarely seen without his guitar.
After his recording session I asked him, “Why do you love music?” He replied:
It’s calming. It makes me happy and keeps me calm. When I lay down in bed at night, I put my earbuds in and just lay there and listen.
Appalachian folks songs and carrying forward tradition
Here is Ethan singing “Mountain Dew”, a tune originally penned by Bascom Lamar Lunsford and later adapted by Scotty Wiseman. It is now considered a standard Appalachian folk song.
It’s quite beautiful that so many young people in Alleghany County are connecting with the traditional folk music of the region. It is important that young people across the globe carry forward the art forms of their place in the world.
Only then can we maintain the reach tapestry of musical genres we see throughout our world today.
Alleghany JAM is a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving Appalachian Heritage by enriching the lives of youth in our community through traditional music.
JAM encourages a sense of belonging both through offering opportunities for students to play traditional music with others, and through activities that foster an appreciation for their ancestors and place in history.
Since its inception, over 1200 students have participated in Alleghany JAM, and it has become a well-respected entity within and beyond Alleghany County. Today it serves students in grades 3-8 teaching classes in guitar, banjo, fiddle, mandolin, bass, dulcimer, dancing, and singing.