Mountain Stage officially kicks off our 40th Broadcast Season this week with our 39th anniversary celebration featuring Bela Fleck My Bluegrass Heart, The Brother Brothers, Alice Howe with Freebo, The Bing Brother feat. Jake Krack, and a special appearance from West Virginia’s Poet Laureate Marc Harshman.
Home » Does Holding on to Appalachian Traditions Matter?
Does Holding on to Appalachian Traditions Matter?
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In this episode of Inside Appalachia, we take a road trip to explore stories of people who are reviving Appalachian traditions, like baking salt rising bread or making sorghum sweeteners.
Some folklorists, artists and educators are wondering what the future of traditional arts in the country will look like. On Friday, the West Virginia House of Delegates approved a bill that would eliminate the state’s Secretary of Education and the Arts and reorganize several of the departments the position oversees. Most of those departments oversee cultural and arts programs like the state archives, the state museum, the annual Vandalia music gathering and West Virginia Public Broadcasting. The bill still needs to be approved by the state Senate to take effect.
Watch a video about James Shaffer, 87-year-old broom-maker:
Additionally, President Donald Trump has called for eliminating federal funding for many cultural programs, including the National Endowments for the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Humanities- two programs that provide some funding for cultural programs and scholars of folklore and traditional arts.
In this episode you’ll hear:
High school students in Appalachian Georgia who wrote a series of books and magazines as part of an oral history project called Foxfire.
The Guenther family, who grow and produce sorghum in Tennessee. The family is featured in a film called Sunlight Makes it Sweeter: A Story of Sorghum, directed and written by WETS’s Fred Sauceman.
James Shaffer is the 87-year-owner of Charleston Broom and Mop in Loundendale, WV. You can also find his brooms at Pile Hardware on Charleston’s West Side.
This recipe comes from an expert Salt Rising Bread baker from Mt. Morris, Pennsylvania, who has been making the bread for 80 years. Her starter, or “raisin,” as she calls it, uses fewer ingredients than most recipes and has no sugar or salt in it.
3 tsp Corn Meal
1 tsp Flour
1/8 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 cup Scalded Milk
Pour milk onto dry ingredients and stir.
Keep warm overnight until foamy.
After the “raisin” has foamed and has a “rotten cheese” smell, in a medium sized bowl, add 2 cups of warm water to mixture, then enough flour (about 1 ½ cup) to make like a thin pancake batter. Stir and let rise again until becomes foamy. This usually takes about 2 hours.
Next, add one cup of warm water for each loaf of bread you want to make, up to 6 loaves (e.g. six cups of water makes six loaves of bread). Add enough flour (20 cups for 6 loaves, or about one 5 pound bag of flour + 1/3 bag). Form into loaves; grease tops of loaves. Let rise in greased pans for several hours, maybe 2-6 hours. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aVAChVAI_S0
Bake at 300F for 30 to 45 minutes, or until loaves sound hollow when tapped.
We had help producing Inside Appalachia this week from the West Virginia Folklife Program, a project of the West Virginia Humanities Council, at wvfolklife.org, WETS in Johnson City, TN, and NPR’s All Things Considered.
Music in today’s show was provided by Dinosaur Burps, Dick Spain, Robert Johnson, Ben Townsend, Podington Bear and Teresa Brewer. Our What’s in a Name theme music is by Marteka and William with “Johnson Ridge Special” from their Album Songs of a Tradition. Patrick Stephens is our Audio Mixer. Suzanne Higgins edited our show this week. Roxy Todd helped produce. Jesse Wright is our executive producer.
On this West Virginia Morning, more than a decade ago, Huntington made headlines as the “fattest city in the nation.” We listen to an excerpt from our latest episode of Us & Them with host Trey Kay Kay, where we look at continuing efforts to teach healthy habits in West Virginia.
According to recent health rankings, West Virginia tops the charts for the rates of obesity and diabetes. More than a decade ago, Huntington, West Virginia made headlines as "the nation’s fattest city." Since then, some things have changed.
On this West Virginia Morning, news about book bans have been in the spotlight lately, but books are also being banned in prisons without much public attention. The Marshall Project, a nonprofit newsroom focused on the criminal justice system, published a searchable database of the books banned in 18 state prison systems. News Director Eric Douglas spoke with Andrew Calderon about the project and what it means in West Virginia prisons.
On this West Virginia Morning, Civil War historians are recognizing a unique local celebration that happened during the conflict in the wilds of southern West Virginia, when 20 Jewish Union soldiers came together during the conflict for a Passover feast known as a Seder.