The Popular Culture of Madison County, North Carolina
If your visit to Madison County inspired you to learn more, there are many ways to get a view of the county and its culture. Or, if you want to do some “research” before you travel to spend some time, your visit will be enhanced by the perspectives provided. You can get a literary view by reading books about the county or by authors who live in Madison County, a musical view by listening to music recorded by local musicians who grew up listening to generations of traditional musicians or a “Hollywood” view by watching movies that were partially filmed here.
The beautiful mountain setting and the people of Madison County are an inspiration to authors who have grown up here, are descendants of residents, or those who are just fascinated by the rich history and culture. Fictional stories range from a mystery series to those based on historical events–colonial times, the Civil War, and World War I. The non-fiction has that rich history to research and create fascinating reads on all of those topics. Beyond the events, Madison County has stories to be told about Mars Hill College, the Dorland-Bell School in Hot Springs, and the traditional music culture just to name a few. Beyond stories told with words, there are books about the county from photojournalists who tell such history and culture with pictures.
Just as the setting provides inspiration to authors, those who make movies are looking for sites to use as backdrop for scenes as well as the cultural surroundings that Madison County has provided for over 50 years. The stereotypical backwoods people and the visions of moonshine stills first drew location scouts to the area. But, more than that the geographical vistas and the small town scenery has also been used for more recent films. Road trip scripts or those that use the conflicts of city versus a rural lifestyle can easily fit with what Madison County provides. And, the rich music tradition is always one that can be drawn upon not only for the storyline but also for the backdrop.
Traditional music is the heartbeat of Madison County and there are many talented musicians who have recorded CDs. Available are both fiddle & banjo music, bluegrass, and ballad singing. Winners of Grammy Awards or Fiddler’s Grove competition are among the recording artists. Most pay tribute to the rich music tradition and often include old ballads on their selections. But, that doesn’t mean that you cannot find original compositions–especially when those musicians living here have been influenced by the important names of the past. Those stories woven into the new tunes provide further insight into the Madison County music heritage.