Mountain music documentary at library

Staff report

The Mount Airy Public Library will screen David Weintraub’s new film on the history of Appalachian music on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at the library.

The documentary, “A Great American Tapestry, The Many Strands of Mountain Music,” tells the story of the Southern mountains’ musical birth and evolution through the strands of the Scots-Irish legacy, oft-overlooked African-American tradition and through the longest-lived music in the Americas, the indigenous tradition.

According to director/producer David Weintraub, “Mountain music is often discussed as a Scots-Irish tradition that came over here by the Ulster-Scots and that’s true. It is a fascinating story.

“But what often gets overlooked is that the West African banjo was played in this country by blacks for over 100 years before it was ever picked up by white musicians. African-Americans also played a key role in developing the syncopated and rhythmic fiddle styles that are symbolic of old time and bluegrass music. The blended cultural result is exactly what makes mountain music as beautiful and captivating as it is.”

The film features the leading luminaries of the ballad tradition including balladeer extraordinaires Sheila Kay Adams, Joe Penland and Bobby McMillion as well as Grammy Award-winning founders of the world renowned black string band, the Carolina Chocolate Drops, members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee, David Holt, and musicologists and historians who tell the story of the great melting pot that became Appalachian music.

According to Phil Jamison, professor of Appalachian Music at Warren Wilson College and a participant in the film, “The reality of the Southern backcountry was a diverse mix of Europeans, African-American and indigenous native peoples. Not racially, culturally or economically homogeneous, it was home to wealthy landowners, poor tenant farmers, sharecroppers, merchants, subsistence farms and enslaved African-Americans.” All of them shaped the music and made it special.

“Tapestry” just won Best Documentary at the Tryon Film Festival and will be screened at The Mount Airy Public Library at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, July 27.

For information about future film screenings, online purchases of the DVD and more information about the film, contact the Center for Cultural Preservation at (828) 692-8062 or

Staff report