Pickin’ & Trimmin’

Shave and a haircut… two bits.

That’s the way the classic bluegrass song ending is typically represented verbally. It’s also a great way to lead in to this piece about a charming film by Matt Morris that seems to have eluded the wider bluegrass community, despite our music being central to the story.

Pickin’ & Trimmin’ was originally released in 2008 and, since that time, has been screened at more than 60 film festivals around the world. Morris has picked up best documentary short awards several times, and the film has just recently been nominated for a Midsouth Emmy.

It tells the story of a barbershop in Drexel, North Carolina where, as Morris describes it “the atmosphere is laid back, the conversation free, and the music a cut above the rest.” Audiences have reacted intensely to this slice-of-life glimpse into a Mayberry-esque, rural culture that many folks feared had disappeared completely.

And yet, here it is…


Matt shared a few words about how the film came to be, how he was drawn to bluegrass, and how it has changed his life.

“My family is from North Carolina, so I grew up hearing bluegrass, but it never really took hold of me until I made Pickin’ & Trimmin’.

I was just out of college and had intended on writing a comedy short film to direct when I came across an article in the local paper about The Barbershop.  I was intrigued and made a trip to the Blue Ridge mountains to visit.  It was incredible- a time capsule of the Mayberry way of life, something I’d heard about but never seen.  Not only was the barbershop an incredible place, but the people were friendly and the music was incredible.  I had never made a documentary before but it seemed like the perfect subject.

The thing that struck me the most was something that of the barbers mentions in the film – the talent of the everyday working man.  I dabble in guitar playing but I couldn’t believe how great these guys were, especially since music was just a hobby for most of them.

The film ended up being more successful than I ever thought it would, screening at dozens of film festivals and picking up a handful of awards.  I’ve made a few other films since, but Pickin’ & Trimmin’ is still my favorite.  Mostly because I have such fond memories of hanging out at the shop, eating peanuts and listening to music.

Because of the film, I discovered a love for bluegrass music. I met my fiancée because she was a mandolin player and someone recommended she check out the film. I’m still hoping to direct comedies, but now I’m likely to be listening to Steve Martin’s music in addition to watching his films.”

You can order Pickin’ & Trimmin’ on DVD from Matt’s site for $15. There is also a link there where you can donate to a fund established to keep the shop in operation in perpetuity.

Keep up with Matt and his film work via Facebook and Twitter as well.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.