Family and tradition have always been a big part of bluegrass music, and the old time Appalachian sounds that inform it. When all those elements combine in a song, along with a touch of bluegrass history, we get a message that truly speaks to something inside us all.
John Cloyd Miller has written such a song, which is the latest single from Zoe & Cloyd, Chestnut Mountain, releasing tomorrow on Mountain Home Music. It combines his family’s involvement in the origins of bluegrass music – his grandfather played with both Bill Monroe and Flatt & Scruggs, and even introduced Earl Scruggs to Monroe – and the inheritance they have left for him to enjoy to this day.
“Chestnut Mountain is a song I wrote about our family homeplace in Wilkes County, NC. My late grandfather, bluegrass fiddler Jim Shumate, was born there in 1921. There is so much history on that mountain. When I was young, the whole area was relatively remote and undeveloped aside from a few almost impassable roads. Later, a developer came in and tried to get my grandparents to sell their part, but to no avail. To my grandparents, that land was priceless. I’m so thankful that they held out and that my cousins and I have this place to share with the next generation.”
“I remember Grandpa saying he used to hear his Uncle Erbie playing fiddle from across the holler when he was a boy. When I’m up there, I always try to imagine what it was like for him growing up there. I picture the cabin, the farm animals, and the garden and I always listen for the sound of the fiddle wafting on the breeze.”
Miller sings his story on this song, supported by his wife, Natalya Zoe Weinstein, on fiddle, Bennett Sullivan on banjo, and Kevin Kehrberg on bass.