Bascom Lamar Lunsford-Minstrel of Appalachia

The people of Madison County believe that we can rightfully claim to be the center of traditional mountain music because that person—Bascom Lamar Lunsford—was born in 1882 in Mars Hill. A historical marker can be found on Cascade Street marking the location of his original home.

The story of Madison County music is inextricably linked to the families who settled here. Many of the musicians are described first by who they are related to. And, to paint a true-to-the-voice-of-Madison-County picture, the best way to portray those musicians from past and present is to go straight to one of Madison County’s best known storyteller/ writer/musicians—Joe Penland. Joe’s great grandmother was a first cousin of Bascom Lamar Lunsford, Minstrel of Appalachia, and just one link in Joe’s rich musical heritage.

— Interview with Joe Penland, July 2010

The musicians who brought the ballads from Scotland and Ireland passed their music down orally for centuries. And those traditional folk songs and the dancing style of the southern Appalachian region might have disappeared if it were not for the efforts of a musician who traveled the southern mountains collecting the songs.bascom lamar lunsford

Lunsford historical marker1 350The people of Madison County believe that we can rightfully claim to be the center of traditional mountain music because that person—Bascom Lamar Lunsford—was born in 1882 in Mars Hill. A historical marker can be found on Cascade Street marking the location of his original home.

He began collecting songs at the turn of the century shortly after graduating from college. The types of jobs that he held allowed him to travel throughout the region. Those jobs ranged from selling fruit trees, working as an attorney and even serving for a short time with the FBI.

In addition to collecting hundreds of songs for the Library of Congress’ Archive of American Folk Song, in 1928 he was hired to organize The Mountain Dance and Folk Festival in Asheville. This gave him the opportunity to help spread the southern style of buck dancing. Buck dancing is an energetic technique of rhythmically accompanying a tune with one’s feet that fused Scottish, Irish, Black and Cherokee dancing. Up until he was hired to organize the festival he had held dance competitions in North Carolina, often at his home where he installed a special dance floor.

Lunsforddancer3 350Audio Selections:
The Minstrel of Appalachia, as Lunsford is known, composed now-standard songs such as:

 

Featured Businesses in Madison County

French Broad Rafting and Ziplines

9800 Old US highway 25-70 Marshall, North Carolina 28753
(800) 570-7238

French Broad Rafting and Ziplines

Mad Co. Brew House

45 North Main Street Marshall, North Carolina 28753
828-649-8600

Mad Co. Brew House

Sweet Monkey Bakery & Cafe

133 South Main Street Marshall, North Carolina 28753
(828) 649-2489

Sweet Monkey Bakery & Cafe

The Berry Farm, LLC

2260 Revere Road Marshall, North Carolina 28753
(828) 656-2056

The Berry Farm, LLC

Little Creek Cafe

11660 U.S. 23 Mars Hill, 28754
(828) 689-2307

Little Creek Cafe

Mosaic Gourmet

159 Bridge Street Hot Springs, North Carolina 28743
828-622-9400

Mosaic Gourmet

Walnut Creek Gallery

2970 Walnut Creek Road Marshall, North Carolina 28753
(828) 649-0568

Walnut Creek Gallery

Hot Springs Rafting Company

22 U.S. 25 Hot Springs, North Carolina 28743
877 530-7238

Hot Springs Rafting Company

Sandy Bottom Trail Rides

1459 Caney Fork Road Marshall, North Carolina 28753
(828) 649-3464

Sandy Bottom Trail Rides

Toops Photojournalist Services

774 Wilson Cove Branch Road Marshall, North Carolina 28753
(828) 649-3276

Toops Photojournalist Services

Madison County Tourism Development Authority

56 South Main Street
Mars Hill, NC 28754

Click here for Driving Directions

Contact
 

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Local: (828) 680-9031

Toll Free: (877) 262-3476

Mailing Address: PO Box 1527
    Mars Hill, NC 28754