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I've spent hours and hours doing research into Appalachian folk music. My grandfather was a fiddler. There is something very immediate, very simple and emotional, about that music.
Some people want to call me an Appalachian writer, even though I know some people use regional labels to belittle.
If you go out on the Appalachian Trail, you have to bring so much more equipment - a tent, sleeping bag - but if you go hiking in England, or Europe, generally, towns and villages are near enough together at the end of the day you can always go to a nice little inn and have a hot bath and something to drink.
When Merle and I started out we called our music 'traditional plus,' meaning the traditional music of the Appalachian region plus whatever other styles we were in the mood to play.
We don't intend to always keep this necessarily African oriented. Originally I had hoped to have African American Indian of this area, and the Appalachian of this area, but at the same time, just as we have the Haitian room, we will always have room for another exhibit.
I've never set out consciously to write American music. I don't know what that would be unless the obvious Appalachian folk references.
While writing 'Cold Mountain,' I held maps of two geographies, two worlds, in my mind as I wrote. One was an early map of North Carolina. Overlaying it, though, was an imagined map of the landscape Jack travels in the southern Appalachian folktales. He's much the same Jack who climbs the beanstalk, vulnerable and clever and opportunistic.
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