Appalachian Documentaries Galore

Hand-painted shot from the vintage documentary Sunny Side of Life, which explores the musical legacy of The Carter Family. Photo by William Blanton.
Hand-painted shot from the vintage documentary Sunny Side of Life, which explores the musical legacy of The Carter Family. Photo by William Blanton.

Whether you’re looking to learn about hillbilly history or Ralph Stanley’s story, you’re in for a treat when you visit Bristol, Tennessee this winter. The Birthplace of Country Music Museum is showing a series of Appalachian documentaries produced by the good folks at Appalshop, arguably the region’s most distinguished film and arts organization.

“Appalshop has been doing great work for decades,” says Thomas Richardson, curator of education and outreach at Birthplace of Country Music Museum. “When we opened the Museum we asked ourselves, who do we want to partner with that’s doing similar work, and doing it really well? Appalshop was one obvious answer.”

True to form, Appalshop has produced quite a line-up for the series—Sunny Side of Life, Sourwood Mountain Dulcimers, From Wood to Singing Guitar, Hazel Dickens: It’s Hard to Tell the Singer from the Song, Quilting Women, The Ralph Stanley Story, Strangers and Kin: A History of the Hillbilly Image, and His Eye is on the Sparrow.

These films run through February 28 with select showings featuring speakers, concert performances, and panel discussions. You can find a complete schedule on The Birthplace of Country Music Museum website. Best of all, the films are free with the price of museum admission.

Can’t make it to Bristol? Don’t despair, you can purchase all of these films on the Appalshop website.

6 Comments

  • jack wright

    The older man dancing was Mr Barker. The photo is by Bill Blanton.

  • Richard Waddell

    I ill be moving to the Ashland, KY region and wanted to know if you could ever use a photographer/videographer for some of your productions?

    Respectfully,

    Rick lee

  • Mark Lynn Ferguson

    Hey, Rick. Good question. You might email Appalshop directly. Their website is linked above. Best of luck with the move!

  • Marguerite Leishman

    I would love to get some book recommendations of Appalachian writer/books.

  • Mark Lynn Ferguson

    Marguerite, you want to keep me up until 2 AM, don’t you?! So many options–Pinckney Benedict, Ann Pancake, Ron Rash, Rita Mae Brown. Bastard Out of Carolina is a classic. Oh, Barbara Kingsolver’s latest book. And if you like breathtaking language, you might start with The Stories of Breece D’J Pancake. It changed how I think about writing.

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