Sounds from the Appalachian String Band Festival

The mood and music Appalachian String Band Music Festival has drawn thousands of fans to the mountains of Fayette County in West Virginia. Producers Jennifer Deer and Shea Shackelford take listeners there with an audio postcard.

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MADELEINE BRAND, host:

And finally, we end the week with a trip to West Virginia, home of the 16th Annual Appalachian String Band Festival. More than 3,000 musicians and fans have set up camp in the mountains for the event, and the main draw is the traditional string band contest; that's tomorrow. But for many of these fans, the real fun began last week when they all began to fill the woods with tents, tarps, lanterns and mostly music.

Unidentified Woman #1: If you stand on the top of this hill like on Friday night at midnight, you're just going to hear a cacophony of fiddle and banjo and guitar sessions, and it's going to blow your mind.

(Soundbite of music)

Unidentified Woman #2: The music grew up in these hills, and so it's almost like it sounds more at home. I feel like this is how the music wants to be played.

(Soundbite of music)

Unidentified Man #1: People come earlier every year and, you know, you end up having to get here a week early just to get a, you know, like a half-decent spot to camp. (Laughs)

Unidentified Man #2: They've got their cooking utensils, they got their little tiki lights at night that will be set up around their tent. And anybody can go visit any music spot. Wherever there's a tent playing music, you can stay there for hours if you want.

Unidentified Man #3: Yeah, like sleep deprivation's a big part of it, you know. It's just--you kind of know what you're getting into when you come.

(Soundbite of music)

JOE: Yes.

ED: Nice..

JOE: Hear that?

ED: Nice talking...

JOE: That's a great tune. I'm Joe.

ED: Hi, Joe. My name is Ed.

JOE: Ed, good to meet you.

ED: Thank you.

Unidentified Man #3: On Saturday, they'll have the string band competition, and somebody's going to win. And they're going to be up on the stage under the lights, winning, and people are going to be in the audience in their chairs, you know, cheering and all that. And then an hour later, they're going to be down here playing. And that's the beauty of the whole thing--is the performers and the audience are the same people.

Unidentified Man #2: And down in there last year, they had what I could only refer to as an old-time orchestra. They had 10 violins, six banjos, seven guitars, three or four mandolins. They had flutes, they had even a tuba, like a small French horn. They had all that going and singing besides. It was this gorgeous orchestral old-time style that I really liked. And I'm hoping I catch that again.

(Soundbite of music)

Unidentified Woman #3: It's a gathering of old-time musicians on a cliff top, and it's like camping with a thousand of your friends. I mean, what's wonderful is the beauty of this place. And did you see the Milky Way last night? I mean, just, you know--and just the music. You know, and then you hear the peepers in the background and it's just a wonderful combination.

(Soundbite of music)

BRAND: Sounds from the 16th Annual Appalachian String Band Festival. The festival continues through the weekend. Thanks to producers Shea Shackelford and Jennifer Deer.

(Soundbite of music)

BRAND: DAY TO DAY is a production of NPR News with contributions from slate.com. I'm Madeleine Brand.

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