Across the Blue Ridge #104 - Holiday Music, Thornton Spencer and Women In Old-Time Music

Across the Blue Ridge #104 - Holiday Music, Thornton Spencer and Women In Old-Time Music

3:38pm Dec 15, 2017
Thornton Spencer (left) with his daughter Martha Spencer, who apprenticed to her dad in fiddling through the Virginia Folklife Program. Thornton Spencer recently passed away, and we present some of his musical life story and his playing on this Across the Blue Ridge episode. Martha Spencer is also a performer and presenter in the upcoming Surry County, NC program Women! Mount Airy Old Time Retreat, featured this week in our Blue Ridge Music Trail series.
Morgan Miller, Virginia Folklife Program

This week’s action-packed and music-packed program brings you the outstanding fiddling of Billy Hurt, Thornton Spencer, and Kilby Spencer; some holiday-themed traditional music; and the latest installment in our Blue Ridge Music Trails series.

Fiddler Thornton Spencer recently passed away at age 82.  A stalwart of the square dance fiddle music scene in northwest North Carolina and neighboring southwest Virginia, he was also a carrier of tradition, and deeply committed to its continuance. His wife, Emily Spencer; his daughter, Martha Spencer; and his son, Kilby Spencer, are all outstanding musicians, and we hear their playing as we review Thornton’s musical life.  It is moving simply to hear such a musical family recorded in a variety of ensembles, and to consider how the Spencers have energized the old time music culture in the mountain south. 

Finally, we have a look-ahead at a fascinating upcoming event in Surry County, North Carolina.  In early March of 2018, the arts council there will sponsor Women! Mount Airy Old-Time – a series of presentations, performances, and instrumental workshops simultaneous with the annual Tommy Jarrell birthday celebration in Mount Airy, NC.  Hear our interview with Marsha Todd, who’s coordinating this new event along with Laura Shearing – and hear some great music as well from Alice Gerrard and Becky Buller. 

The Mount Airy events receive support from the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources and the North Carolina Arts Council.  ATBR’s ongoing Blue Ridge Music Trail series does too, and receives support as well from the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area.

Playlist

  1. Richard's Rag
    Billy Hurt
    Fiddlin' Billy Hurt
     
  2. Lonesome Scene of Winter
    Morgan Sexton
    Shady Grove
     
  3. Darkest Days, Brightest Nights
    Jay Ungar & Molly Mason
    The Pleasures of Winter
     
  4. Lights of Chanukah
    Jay Ungar & Molly Mason
    The Pleasures of Winter
     
  5. I'm Going Home, It's Christmas
    Balsam Range
    It's Christmas Time
     
  6. Christmas Time At Home
    Rhonda Vincent
    A Very Special Acoustic Christmas
     
  7. Break 1 - Cherokee Shuffle
    Crooked Road Ramblers
    It Ain't City Music
     
  8. Where The Mountain Laurel Blooms
    Whitetop Mountain Band
    Loafer's Dream
     
  9. Arkansas Traveler
    Whitetop Mountain Band
    Albert Hash & The Whitetop Mountain Band
     
  10. I'll Fly Away
    Whitetop Mountain Band
    Albert Hash & The Whitetop Mountain Band
     
  11. Did You Ever See The Devil Uncle Joe
    Whitetop Mountain Band
    Albert Hash & The Whitetop Mountain Band
     
  12. Sweet Fern
    Whitetop Mountain Band
    Cacklin' Hen
     
  13. Liza Jane
    Crooked Road Ramblers
    It Ain't City Music
     
  14. Break 2 - Sally Anne
    Whitetop Mountain Band
    Loafer's Dream
     
  15. If That's The Way You Feel
    Whitetop Mountain Band
    Loafer's Dream
     
  16. Interview Segment
    Marsha Todd
    ATBR field recording
     
  17. Memories of Mother and Dad
    Alice Gerrard
    Calling Me Home
     
  18. Speakin' To That Mountain
    Becky Buller
    single