One event on Tuesday, October 16, 2018 at 7:00pm
Deep in the Appalachian mountains of North Carolina there’s a front porch that has been the destination of many folk who love the music and stories of this magical place. Grammy winners, kids with their first guitar, banjo or fiddle, Hollywood producers, writers, and folk music collectors from all over the world, have made their way to the place Joe Penland simply calls “the farm”. Joe has been singing the ballads and telling the stories over half a century, but says with enthusiasm: “Privacy is pretty precious.” And he has maintained that for a long time now.
Occasionally coming out of “the shelter of these mountains” to sing at some festival or other, until recently he has been content to do it on the porch after the work is done. Deemed a “Cultural Treasure” by The Asheville Citizen Times, and the recipient of the coveted Bascom Lunsford Award (named for the founder of the longest running folk festival in America), Joe preferred the simple life of hard work and family.
Penland will give two free concerts at the Camden Public Library on Tuesday, October 16, one at 1:30 pm and the second at 7:00 pm.
In 2004 after a serious bout with a life-threatening illness, he was persuaded by some of his longtime friends to record the ballads he learned as a kid growing up in these mountains. “I guess that I finally realized I might not live forever. I remembered the stories of my Grandpa who died before I was born. My Mamma said he could play any instrument and he taught singing schools all over this country. He met Uncle Dave Macon on a train and Uncle Dave said Grandpa was the best banjo player he had ever heard. Now ain’t that something? I always thought how good it would have been to have known him or just have heard him sing. They didn’t have all these modern gadgets then that we have now, so I thought it might be the right thing to leave something for my children to have for their babies.”
Joe recorded Standing On Tradition, The Old Songs in 2004. “I didn’t realize that I knew so many songs until then. Someone would say: ‘How about that song you wrote or that song you learnt from Lee.‘ Well, I guess I‘ll have to stay around a little while longer to get ‘em all down.” Joe has released four additional recordings since then and will release his sixth in August 2016. He has toured Great Britain eight times and is a permanent fixture at Folk Music Festivals and Venues near his Western North Carolina home.
Encouraged by his friends, novelist and singer Sheila Kay Adams and four-time Grammy winner David Holt, Joe, with the help of his daughter, Laurin is writing the stories he’s been telling all these years.
And as Joe says: ‘Every morning on this side of Glory is a good ‘un and I’d best make the most of it.” What was once available to a select few is finally out in the world. If you get a chance to see Joe Penland, don’t miss it.