Considering the vast array of musical genres--renaissance to rockabilly to reggae to rap -- it seems somewhat adventurous, if not downright pretentious, to concoct yet another candidate, what we call "Celtalachian." This would, obviously, be a melding of two different types of "roots" music, Celtic and Appalachian, the latter having its "roots" in the former. So, can we say we've created something new, or are we simply re-hashing the same-old-same-oldtime? And the question of even greater weight is this: is it artistically ethical to mess with PURE art forms?
The answer is certainly not. And then again, maybe.
"Let me tell you a story," which is a mountaineer's way of saying anything of any importance. I once took a class at Appalachian State University that was certainly mind-altering, if not life-changing. It was taught by the founding editor of the Appalachian Journal, Jerry Williamson, and had to do with films about Appalachia. What a great class! Every Thursday night from six to nine we watched movies, then talked about movies, then wrote about movies until it was time to go home. One of the true gems was a film called "Sergeant York," starring Gary Cooper as Alvin York, a WWI Medal of Honor recipient. What was unusual about this reluctant hero (York had initially been a conscientious objector) was that he was a semi-literate "hillbilly" from Kentucky, who almost single-handedly brought in 132 German prisoners due to his cracker-jack shooting ability--honed with a squirrel rifle in the hills of Old "Kain-tuck"--and his craftiness in fooling the enemy into thinking there was more of him than there was of them.
Barely two decades after "the war to end all wars" was over, America found herself perched on the precipice of WWII, with legislators both "fer and agin" entering the fray. Those wanting to persuade the "agin"ers of the necessity for war hit on a sure-fire piece of propoganda: that it was the PURE Anglo-Saxon blood of the mountaineer, exemplified by the heroic "Sergeant York," that had built this country and it was that same PURE Anglo-Saxon blood that would save this country.
Excuse me? "PURE Anglo-Saxon"?? That hyphenated word represents two strains of people--the Angles and the Saxons--who were melded through a lengthy period of conflict leading to gradual assimilation, but were anything but PURE. Even Ivory Soap, the blindingly white cleansing agent of the Eisenhower years, is .56% something-other than PURE, and within this miniscule "otherness" lies the mystery and magic of all melding.
The three voices that meld into Thistle Dew harmony spring from three individuals whose backgrounds and influences are in some ways similar, and in other ways quite dissimilar. The two Dew Drops who were mountain-raised, Laura and myself, have been influenced by divergent sub-sets of Scots-Irish culture; Lonny, our "Thistle Dude", was a flat-lander from South Alabama but has chosen to live the remainder of his life in the mountains, assimilating aspects of Appalachian culture into his more coastal upbringing. All three have been strongly influenced by the ancestral imperative of "musicianers" of various ilks, and find great joy in co-creating something new from the old, which is far from PURE but is very close to magic.
And In the end it's all about confluence--the way old rivers flow from different places and then travel on together, the water itself ever-changing and new, but the essence of the river always the same. The Celtic people, who in ancient times lived north of the Black Sea where Europe and Asia meld, flowed always to the outer edges of the world--into the depths of India, the Iberian peninsula, the British Isles--and finally settled in Appalachia, the frontier-edge of the New World. We are thankful for the opportunity to carry this confluence in our hearts and in our voices, as we meld them into PURE-tee "Celtalachian" harmony. In-JOY!