Thursday, May 16, 2013

Mountain Music


In the town of Floyd, Virginia, there sits a place called the Floyd Country Store. Every Friday evening they host a dance called the Jamboree. They do a special type of dancing called clogging (some call it flat-footing as well as other names). Clogging in the Appalachian Mountains is a type of social dancing. Joe took a few lessons on how to clog before we left for the trip and he even packed along his cloggin’ shoes!

The band began to play and we worked harder on that dance floor than we did carrying our packs on the trail. The people ‘round here must really be in shape because they weren’t sweating as much as we were. Or maybe we were just having more fun. Hard to say. One thing’s for sure; we learned a thing or two about square dancing.


We met a remarkable musician named Elizabeth LaPrelle during our continued exploration of Appalachian music. We got to sit down with her at her home in Rural Retreat, Virginia. She played some songs with us as well as told us about her interest in old-time Appalachian music. She particularly likes old ballads. Ballads are songs that tell a story (like the story of when old Justin spilled pipin’ hot beans on his foot at dinner time).

Now, Elizabeth—we call her Elizabeth for short—has really taken to the old time music tradition despite being quite young. She told us that one of the reasons she likes the old mountain music is because it helps her connect to the folks who lived a long time ago. It can be hard to understand what life was like before there were microphones, video cameras, and Denny’s. However, Elizabeth finds the old songs of the Appalachian area to be a very helpful tool. She says that the songs she sings have been passed from person to person through the years. Kinda like a gigantic, multi-generational game of telephone.


The rainclouds finally cleared and we hiked through 4 days of sun. We climbed up rocks, walked through a cave, slept in the wind, and met a lot of cool people hiking the trail. We began to notice that nearly every single person out hiking the Appalachian Trail had a story. Their reasons for hiking were all very different, but all wanted the same thing; adventure.

Adventure becomes easy to find when all the distractions of your normal life begin dissolving away. The things we normally worry about such as, “how cool is my phone and does it have internet and how fast is that internet and how much money does it cost and how am I going to get that money?” all become very heavy to carry on your back. What becomes important is the simple stuff. What am I going to eat? Where am I going to sleep? How far can I walk today? That’s when we start looking for things to leave behind in order to lighten the load. I don’t need that MP3 player—I’ll sing my own songs. I don’t want to carry my video games—the screen looks too dull anyhow. I don’t need that e-reader—I’ll make my own story.


  1. Joe and Justin,

    My grandchildren love your music and your message. The are excited about the next album and seeing you both this summer in and around Minnesota. The are huge fans just like grandpa.

    Have fun and enjoy the adventure.

    Harry Hartigan

  2. “Not all those who wander are lost.”

    ― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

    I am really enjoying following your adventure as you wander through the woods. We as a family are huge fans if yours and are looking forward to hearing this Appalachian Adventue Album. My 2 year old gets up every morning and says "opposites attract mamma" and afterLycy and Tighty we listen to Cay-you (Can you Canoe). A feat way to start our day.

    Rebeca, Shawn, Robyn and Graeme

  3. SWOON! Ya had me at CLOG...and I ain't talkin' toilets this time, Bros. A jumbo sized Laffy Taffy is in play if a clog song appears on the album. YeeeeeeHAW, just thinking 'bout the idea makes me so giddy I wanna jump up and start cloggin'. Think I shall...