Thursday, January 7, 2010


Well, kind hearts, indulge me a bit. Neal Hutcheson just sent me this YouTube clip because it is part of his documentary work for my film/play, "The Prince of Dark Corners." These are inverviews with folks who write about moonshining in Appalachia. I guess Neal may send me additional clips later. The point is, I am going to indulge in a bit of shameless self-promotion. All of this is part of an effort to take advantage of the fact that "Prince of Dark Corners" and "The Outlaw, Redmond"have been combined in a new DVD (over two hours in length) and there is some interest in national distribution to PBS stations as a result of an endorsement from NETA (National Educational Television Association) who will be recommending the new revised edition to PBS stations everywhere. Two of the guys in the interviews are authors and moonshine authorities: Jerry Alexander and Joe Dabney. The other fellow has dubious credentials but showed up when Neal was filming in Sylva and insisted on being allowed to talk.


  1. I found this really interesting. I heard similar stories told in my childhood when the men in my family sat around the porch talking and reminiscising. And for one with dubious credentials that other fellow was fun to listen to. His accent kinda grows on you, you know.

  2. Guess I should have added that I hope it makes it to PBS. I'm a sucker for southern documentaries period.

  3. It has already made it. This clip is part of a two hour DVD that is currently showing on PBS in North Carolina and South Carolina. However, with a little luck, it might start showing up on PBS stations elsewhere.

  4. Great clip, love the editing of the different voices into one narrative. All the speakers contributed good information, but Gary's story-telling skills really stand out. Bravo to Neal.

    Am anxious to see it. Gary, if you know the broadcast schedule for WUNC TV, please share.

  5. Yeah, I really enjoy hearing the guy with "dubious credentials" talking about things.
    When I used to work at Foxfire in the early 80s there was an old guy in Rabun Co. that made liquor the old fashioned way in that he didn't use any sugar, just the malted corn. It was INCREDIBLE! Smooth, high proof and virtually hangover free. I doubt anyone does it like that anymore.

  6. Roger C. Elliott is a new writer who just published What Back Then Was Like and stories passed on by ancestors. He tells about stories from his ancestors who lived in the foothills of the Appalachians. This is recommened reading for all of us who like to reminisce about stories we have been told by old mountain people. Just reading it made me recall stories that I had forgotten. You might want to check it out.

  7. I checked Roger C. Elliott's book. You are so right. Wonderfully simplistic, yet descriptive and heart warming. Couldn't put it down.

  8. I noticed that I had some fans here so I'm sending you an exerpt from my book: What Back Then Was Like
    He was sitting on the front porch. This was where he often was when we arrived so we expected that he was better. As we walked down the steps from the street, he sat still. He was very pale and he was biting on a white cloth. He couldn’t talk. He was still in pain. So, Mom asked him if he maybe should go on to the dentist, he shook his head and appeared angered. At that point everone seemed to chime in and insist that Granddad get to the doctor. What we didn’t know at the time was that this “tough ole bird” had taken care of the situation himself by pulling not one but all of his teeth with a pair of pliers! Not believing in going to a medical doctor and never having been to a dentist (as far as I knew), he had developed an incredible pain tolerance.
    With this kind of pain tolerance, I still cannot understand how this old mountain man who came from Eastern Kentucky, was ever squirmish about anything that life had to offer. However, there was one thing he just couldn’t shake. See, according to Dad, Granddad was once an accomplished five-string banjo player, but I had never heard him play. I hadn’t even seen a musical instrument “over home.” Over the years I had heard numerous times that he was once a very good musician. But there was somehow an unwritten rule about never mentioning the banjo around “Poppie.” With this on my mind one day, and because I felt I could ask Granddad anything, I figured on asking him about the days when he played. I just wanted to hear him play, after all I really didn’t know what a banjo sounded like first hand. So, while Granddad was sitting in his chair near the front door I proceded to inquire about it.
    “Granddad, can you still play the banjo?”
    “What? How do you know?”
    “I just heard you were good.”
    “Yeh, I use to.”
    “Do you ever play anymore?”
    “New, I don’t. Haven’t played since I was back in Sandy Hook.”
    “Could you play if you really wanted too—if you got your fingers back in shape?”
    “Don’t know, but will never know. I won’t play that thing anymore. Something happened. I can’t play again.”
    I knew by the tone of his voice that he didn’t want to be questioned about it any more. So, I waited until I could ask Dad about why Granddad didn’t play music anymore. Although he looked at me closely before he rendered an answer, he finally told me that Granddad told him that back in Kentucky, Granddad was sitting playing his banjo when something happened. He said that is why he wouldn’t play any longer.
    “Yeh, that’s what Granddad said. But, what happened?” I asked.
    “Well he said he was just sittin’ there playin’ like he always did...In his chair, but he was playin’ his banjo a fast one. And right in the middle of the playin’ he heard something right above his head. It was somethin’ in the attic. It sounded like it was dancin’ along with the music. Well, he said it scared him so much that he put it down and never picked it up again.”
    “What was it?” I asked again.
    “Don’t know. All I know is that he never played again and told me after that happen’d he felt it was wrong to play—like it was sacreligous. --He had it in his mind that the devil or somthin’ was in the attic when he was playin’ and figured that if that was happenin’, it must be wrong to play.”
    This was, remember, the same man who was tough enough to kill snakes with his bare hands and yank out every tooth in his mouth with a pair of pliers! But sure enough, something happened that day in Kentucky that scared him nearly senseless.
    But on the other side of the family tree my other grandfather, John Skaggs, my mother’s father, played a musical instrument up until the last few years of his life. He lived 98 years and even though he continued to play the fiddle, he apparently was never visited by the dancing evil that apparently tapped the life out of Granddad Elliott’s banjo playing.

  9. I knew Jerry Alexander and he is a great person and really good in everything that he does I would like to share a little bit more with him because he's an interesting person that can teach a lot.Generic Viagra Buy Viagra

  10. Yes, I also read Roger C. Elliott's book titled: What "Back Then" Was Like and stories passed on by ancestors. I truly enjoyed it and recommend it especially for older persons who like to sit on the front porch and tell about the old days. He may soon be called the "front porch author."