Listen Up! Aunt Samantha Has Something to Say //

"I always know when fall is coming into these mountains. I see the early morning tendrils of woodsmoke reaching from the neighbor’s chimney and smell that aroma that assures a warm comforting  hearth. In the next hollow they are harvesting their sorghum cane to make that dark rich molasses which will drip off a cathead biscuit on another crisp fall morning.

Fall is always a time for celebrating the end of harvest. The cans are full, the tobacco is hung in the barn and I get called to play many  a hoedown these days. Summers long hot days give way to the crisp fragrant fall and the notion of readying for a hard winter. The black squirrels have been seen in these mountains for the first time in a long time and folks are stacking wood and getting ready for the snow that is bound to come.

Fall also is the time when many of our country churches celebrate Homecoming Sundays. Mama Sue will have her stack-up filled with corn, green beans and okra all from her garden. Aunt June will have her big pot of chicken and dumplings and there will be puddings and pies a plenty. Dinner will be spread out on the church lawn under the big oak trees. After a couple of cool glasses of  freshly brewed tea the singers will adjourn to the choir loft to sing the old shaped note hymns from the Christian Harmony. My favorite is that old song French Broad  “High o’er the hills the mountains rise.  Their  summits tower toward the skies.” I can still hear the high tenor pushing toward our high mountains.  

Another banjo player will be remembered this weekend, Carroll Best. He played the smoothest prettiest finger style I ever heard in these mountains. He lived over there in Crabtree in Haywood County.    Friday night we will all be celebrating him over at Stuart Auditorium  at Lake Junaluska."

- Aunt Samantha

Samantha Bumgarner of Sylva was one of the first women and first traditional Southern banjo players to record old-time mountain music. Best known as a banjo player, she played both fiddle and banjo on her 1924 recordings with Eva Davis which were among the earliest Southern string band records to be released.