The Life and Times of Ray Hicks

Before his death in 2003, Ray Hicks was an unassuming Appalachian icon whose anonymity nearly doomed him to obscurity. Born and raised on Old Beech Mountain near Boone, North Carolina, Hicks gained unlikely celebrity as a storyteller of national renown.

via The Life and Times of Ray Hicks – by Lynn Salsi | April 2009 | Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine.

I stumbled across the above  link today. It reminded me I should put up something about Ray Hicks on theses pages.

I don’t remember when it was I first heard of Ray Hicks, but I know it’s been a long time ago. I probably first read about him in The National Geographic magazine. Later I would imagine I ran across him in other magazines before I finally styarted reading about him on the internet.

You can find out a lot about Ray’s life and legacy on the website that has been set up for just that purpose…

From Another Time: The Legacy of Ray Hicks
By Connie Regan-Blake

We have been looking up to him from the beginning…

the lanky 6′ 7″ man of the mountains, who came down from North Carolina, bearing old-world gifts that have enriched our modern lives beyond measure.

I first met Ray Hicks on October 7, 1973, in Jonesborough, Tennessee. It was an afternoon that changed my life . . . and the course of storytelling in the United States. The setting was the first National Storytelling Festival.

On that same day, Ray met his first microphone. The mic was perched on a flatbed truck and loomed above him. Ray stared up at it as if the mic was a preying mantis. Ray was ramrod straight, telling his Jack tale like the audience was in the sky and yet he charmed the 35 people sitting on folding chairs in front of him. From that Sunday afternoon, Ray Hicks has welcomed his mission.

via Ray Hicks Home Page ~ From Another Time: The Legacy of Ray Hicks.

Remembering The Father Of Jack Tales ~ Ray Hicks: A Legend in His Own Time

By Sherrie Noris

Ray Hicks: August 29, 1922 – April 20, 2003

News of his death came as no great surprise to many of us; his condition had begun to deteriorate over the last couple of years as cancer invaded his body, though each time he “took a turn for the worse,” he would bounce back again. That is, until Easter Sunday, when lilies on Old Mountain Road in the Old Beech Mountain Community were at their loveliest and the region’s “father of jack-tales” was a few miles over the ridge in a nursing home, taking his last breath.

Ray Hicks needed no introduction – his name was a household word for many miles around; not just in the mountains that he loved and trampled over throughout his lifetime – but in far-away cities, like Washington, DC, where the Smithsonian Institution once presented him with a Lifetime Achievement Award and closer home, in Jonesborough, Tennessee, where his natural storytelling abilities helped establish one of the nation’s largest yarn-spinner’s annual festivals.

Ray Hicks was a legend in his own time – and one that will live on in our hearts and minds for many years to come.

Ray grew up hearing his daddy telling Jack Tales, a family ritual each night as they gathered around the fire. Later, he too, learned to tell stories, and fast became a highly sought-after entertainer in adjoining communities. He never forgot who invited him to his first public appearance, and told us several times, “Miss Jennie Love, over at Cove Creek was the first one who ever had me come to school and talk to her young’uns. She offered me three dollars fer my trouble, but I didn’t want to take hit.” He added, “After that, they was a wantin’ me ever’wher.”

via Ray Hicks Home Page – Remembering The Father Of Jack Tales.

On his death the New York Times published this in his obituary….

Mr. Hicks spoke in a dialect scholars describe as Elizabethan, even Chaucerian. Yarns with roots in myths that gave rise to European fairy tales tumbled from his tongue. They had been passed seemingly intact through eight generations of his family, among the first white people in their nook of Appalachia.

Mr. Hicks became perhaps the best-known traditional storyteller in the United States, said Jimmy Neil Smith, president of the International Story Center in Jonesborough, Tenn., where Mr. Hicks appeared yearly.

In 1973 he was the first storyteller invited to the first National Storytelling Festival, which claimed the title because it seemed to be the only one. He was the only performer invited every year to the Jonesborough event. More than 200 such events are now held every year.

via Ray Hicks, Who Told Yarns Older Than America, Dies at 80 – The New York Times.

Each of the above quotes is just a snippit from the  referenced articles. Take the time and visit the sites linked to and really discover what a legend the man was and is.

For another look check out this video:

Appalachian Journey

  • Film by Alan Lomax
  • Produced by Mike Dibb, Penny Forster
  • Cinematographer: Jim Brown, Nicholas Echeverria
  • Sound: Jack Gordeon, Robert Zieniewicz
  • Editing: Mark Tobin, Howard Sharp with Jenny Campbell
  • Copyright: 1991, Association for Cultural Equity
  • 58 minutes, Color
  • Original format: 3/4 tape, 1991

Alan Lomax travels through the Southern Appalachians investigating the songs, dances, and religious rituals of the descendents of the Scotch-Irish frontiers people who have made the mountains their home for centuries. Preachers, fiddlers, moonshiners, cloggers and square dancers recount the good times and the hard times of rural life. Performances by Tommy Jarrell; Janette Carter; Ray and Stanley Hicks; Frank Proffitt, Jr.; Sheila Kay Adams; and Ray Fairchild, the man reputed to be the fastest banjo-picker in the world.via FolkStreams » Appalachian Journey.

You can view the film in it’s entirety streamed from the link above.

I remember on my last long trip to Valle Crucis, I spent some time wandering the mountain roads on the backside of Beech Mountain and noticing that there were a whole lot of mailboxes that had the name Hicks on them. I remember thinking then about the storytelling Hicks of Beech and wondering if they were related…

Take some time to enjoy a little cultural history of these mountains we love…

The Life and Times of Ray Hicks

Before his death in 2003, Ray Hicks was an unassuming Appalachian icon whose anonymity nearly doomed him to obscurity. Born and raised on Old Beech Mountain near Boone, North Carolina, Hicks gained unlikely celebrity as a storyteller of national renown.

via The Life and Times of Ray Hicks – by Lynn Salsi | April 2009 | Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine.

I stumbled across the above  link today. It reminded me I should put up something about Ray Hicks on theses pages.

I don’t remember when it was I first heard of Ray Hicks, but I know it’s been a long time ago. I probably first read about him in The National Geographic magazine. Later I would imagine I ran across him in other magazines before I finally styarted reading about him on the internet.

You can find out a lot about Ray’s life and legacy on the website that has been set up for just that purpose…

From Another Time: The Legacy of Ray Hicks
By Connie Regan-Blake

We have been looking up to him from the beginning…

the lanky 6′ 7″ man of the mountains, who came down from North Carolina, bearing old-world gifts that have enriched our modern lives beyond measure.

I first met Ray Hicks on October 7, 1973, in Jonesborough, Tennessee. It was an afternoon that changed my life . . . and the course of storytelling in the United States. The setting was the first National Storytelling Festival.

On that same day, Ray met his first microphone. The mic was perched on a flatbed truck and loomed above him. Ray stared up at it as if the mic was a preying mantis. Ray was ramrod straight, telling his Jack tale like the audience was in the sky and yet he charmed the 35 people sitting on folding chairs in front of him. From that Sunday afternoon, Ray Hicks has welcomed his mission.

via Ray Hicks Home Page ~ From Another Time: The Legacy of Ray Hicks.

Remembering The Father Of Jack Tales ~ Ray Hicks: A Legend in His Own Time

By Sherrie Noris

Ray Hicks: August 29, 1922 – April 20, 2003

News of his death came as no great surprise to many of us; his condition had begun to deteriorate over the last couple of years as cancer invaded his body, though each time he “took a turn for the worse,” he would bounce back again. That is, until Easter Sunday, when lilies on Old Mountain Road in the Old Beech Mountain Community were at their loveliest and the region’s “father of jack-tales” was a few miles over the ridge in a nursing home, taking his last breath.

Ray Hicks needed no introduction – his name was a household word for many miles around; not just in the mountains that he loved and trampled over throughout his lifetime – but in far-away cities, like Washington, DC, where the Smithsonian Institution once presented him with a Lifetime Achievement Award and closer home, in Jonesborough, Tennessee, where his natural storytelling abilities helped establish one of the nation’s largest yarn-spinner’s annual festivals.

Ray Hicks was a legend in his own time – and one that will live on in our hearts and minds for many years to come.

Ray grew up hearing his daddy telling Jack Tales, a family ritual each night as they gathered around the fire. Later, he too, learned to tell stories, and fast became a highly sought-after entertainer in adjoining communities. He never forgot who invited him to his first public appearance, and told us several times, “Miss Jennie Love, over at Cove Creek was the first one who ever had me come to school and talk to her young’uns. She offered me three dollars fer my trouble, but I didn’t want to take hit.” He added, “After that, they was a wantin’ me ever’wher.”

via Ray Hicks Home Page – Remembering The Father Of Jack Tales.

On his death the New York Times published this in his obituary….

Mr. Hicks spoke in a dialect scholars describe as Elizabethan, even Chaucerian. Yarns with roots in myths that gave rise to European fairy tales tumbled from his tongue. They had been passed seemingly intact through eight generations of his family, among the first white people in their nook of Appalachia.

Mr. Hicks became perhaps the best-known traditional storyteller in the United States, said Jimmy Neil Smith, president of the International Story Center in Jonesborough, Tenn., where Mr. Hicks appeared yearly.

In 1973 he was the first storyteller invited to the first National Storytelling Festival, which claimed the title because it seemed to be the only one. He was the only performer invited every year to the Jonesborough event. More than 200 such events are now held every year.

via Ray Hicks, Who Told Yarns Older Than America, Dies at 80 – The New York Times.

Each of the above quotes is just a snippit from the  referenced articles. Take the time and visit the sites linked to and really discover what a legend the man was and is.

For another look check out this video:

Appalachian Journey

  • Film by Alan Lomax
  • Produced by Mike Dibb, Penny Forster
  • Cinematographer: Jim Brown, Nicholas Echeverria
  • Sound: Jack Gordeon, Robert Zieniewicz
  • Editing: Mark Tobin, Howard Sharp with Jenny Campbell
  • Copyright: 1991, Association for Cultural Equity
  • 58 minutes, Color
  • Original format: 3/4 tape, 1991

Alan Lomax travels through the Southern Appalachians investigating the songs, dances, and religious rituals of the descendents of the Scotch-Irish frontiers people who have made the mountains their home for centuries. Preachers, fiddlers, moonshiners, cloggers and square dancers recount the good times and the hard times of rural life. Performances by Tommy Jarrell; Janette Carter; Ray and Stanley Hicks; Frank Proffitt, Jr.; Sheila Kay Adams; and Ray Fairchild, the man reputed to be the fastest banjo-picker in the world.via FolkStreams » Appalachian Journey.

You can view the film in it’s entirety streamed from the link above.

I remember on my last long trip to Valle Crucis, I spent some time wandering the mountain roads on the backside of Beech Mountain and noticing that there were a whole lot of mailboxes that had the name Hicks on them. I remember thinking then about the storytelling Hicks of Beech and wondering if they were related…

Take some time to enjoy a little cultural history of these mountains we love…

$2.5M Smokies visitor center gets environmental OK : News : Knoxville News Sentinel

News from the web…

CHEROKEE, N.C. – A federal environmental assessment has cleared the way for construction of a new $2.5 million visitor center at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, officials said today.

The planned Oconaluftee Visitor Center will be built adjacent to the existing 1,100-square-foot center on U.S. Highway 441, about two miles inside the Cherokee entrance, according to park officials. The complex will include the new 6,000- to 7,000-square-foot visitor center, restrooms, a redesigned parking area, an information kiosk and improved entrances and exits to U.S. 441, according to a news release.

via $2.5M Smokies visitor center gets environmental OK : News : Knoxville News Sentinel.

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$2.5M Smokies visitor center gets environmental OK : News : Knoxville News Sentinel

News from the web…

CHEROKEE, N.C. – A federal environmental assessment has cleared the way for construction of a new $2.5 million visitor center at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, officials said today.

The planned Oconaluftee Visitor Center will be built adjacent to the existing 1,100-square-foot center on U.S. Highway 441, about two miles inside the Cherokee entrance, according to park officials. The complex will include the new 6,000- to 7,000-square-foot visitor center, restrooms, a redesigned parking area, an information kiosk and improved entrances and exits to U.S. 441, according to a news release.

via $2.5M Smokies visitor center gets environmental OK : News : Knoxville News Sentinel.

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Discover Floyd, Nature’s Mountain Paradise – Virginia Is For Lovers

On the crest of the Blue Ridge, Floyd County’s lush mountainscapes portray the diversity and beauty of the mountain plateau and present a natural playground whether your fun is hiking, biking, fishing, camping and/or photography.

Never traversed by a four-lane road or rail-line, Floyd County’s heritage and natural beauty are remarkably well-preserved. Chosen for 40 miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway, it’s among the most beautiful counties in Virginia with scenic overlooks, picturesque working farms, and historic sites, including the famed Mabry Mill, which is maintained and operated by the National Park Service and serves as a visual centerpiece of the Parkway and tourism magnet for the region.

Hike up Buffalo Mountain, part of a 1,000-acre Natural Area Preserve that stands nearly 4,000 feet in altitude. Enjoy panoramic views of the forest, fields, sunrises and sunsets. This mountain was once part of a large land grant given to Robert E. Lee’s father, “Lighthorse Harry” Lee for his military service. Along the hike on the Rock Castle Gorge National Recreational Trail, you’ll see tunnels of rhododendren and other thick mountain foliage, a splashing stream, and high open meadows.

via Discover Floyd, Nature’s Mountain Paradise – Virginia Is For Lovers.

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Discover Floyd, Nature’s Mountain Paradise – Virginia Is For Lovers

On the crest of the Blue Ridge, Floyd County’s lush mountainscapes portray the diversity and beauty of the mountain plateau and present a natural playground whether your fun is hiking, biking, fishing, camping and/or photography.

Never traversed by a four-lane road or rail-line, Floyd County’s heritage and natural beauty are remarkably well-preserved. Chosen for 40 miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway, it’s among the most beautiful counties in Virginia with scenic overlooks, picturesque working farms, and historic sites, including the famed Mabry Mill, which is maintained and operated by the National Park Service and serves as a visual centerpiece of the Parkway and tourism magnet for the region.

Hike up Buffalo Mountain, part of a 1,000-acre Natural Area Preserve that stands nearly 4,000 feet in altitude. Enjoy panoramic views of the forest, fields, sunrises and sunsets. This mountain was once part of a large land grant given to Robert E. Lee’s father, “Lighthorse Harry” Lee for his military service. Along the hike on the Rock Castle Gorge National Recreational Trail, you’ll see tunnels of rhododendren and other thick mountain foliage, a splashing stream, and high open meadows.

via Discover Floyd, Nature’s Mountain Paradise – Virginia Is For Lovers.

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New Hiking Permit Policy at Grandfather Mountain

from the news…

As Grandfather Mountain completes its deal with the State of North Carolina the rules surrounding hiking permits to Grandfather’s trails will change. Once this deal is finalized, yearly permits will no longer be required to access trails from out of park trailheads. Until this happens, one day only permits are being issued to hikers.

Currently, hikers wishing to access trails from the off-mountain trailheads will need to purchase a day hiking permit from the Grandfather Mountain ticket gate. Trails with off-mountain trailheads include the Profile Trail with access from Hwy 105 and the Boone Fork Trail with access from the Blue Ridge Parkway. After the sale of land to the State, no hiking permits will be required to access these properties from off-mountain trailheads.

via New Hiking Permit Policy at Grandfather Mountain.

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New Hiking Permit Policy at Grandfather Mountain

from the news…

As Grandfather Mountain completes its deal with the State of North Carolina the rules surrounding hiking permits to Grandfather’s trails will change. Once this deal is finalized, yearly permits will no longer be required to access trails from out of park trailheads. Until this happens, one day only permits are being issued to hikers.

Currently, hikers wishing to access trails from the off-mountain trailheads will need to purchase a day hiking permit from the Grandfather Mountain ticket gate. Trails with off-mountain trailheads include the Profile Trail with access from Hwy 105 and the Boone Fork Trail with access from the Blue Ridge Parkway. After the sale of land to the State, no hiking permits will be required to access these properties from off-mountain trailheads.

via New Hiking Permit Policy at Grandfather Mountain.

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Housing bust hits hard in small NC factory town

In the news…

In small towns like West Jefferson across the country, factories and families had thrived on the back of the housing boom. Now, employers are fighting for survival and laid-off workers are conserving cash.

Local officials still cling confidently to the long-term viability of their manufacturing-dependent economies. But states most reliant on this sector have some of the highest unemployment rates.

For the 12 months ending in December, Labor Department data show North Carolina‘s unemployment rate grew at the second-fastest clip nationwide. The biggest increase was in Rhode Island, another state with a heavy manufacturing base.

via Housing bust hits hard in small NC factory town.

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A New Location for an Iconic Conference–and Here Come the TED Fellows | Kara Swisher | BoomTown | AllThingsD

The well-known Technology, Entertainment, Design conference–better known to its techie fans as TED–will make its move from Monterey to Long Beach in California, starting tomorrow night.

It’s a big change for the longtime gathering of digerati and others who have come to love its eclectic and outward-looking program, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary.

First held in 1984, Chris Anderson’s Sapling Foundation bought TED in 2001 from its founder, Richard Saul Wurman. TED has since grown to include an international conference, TEDGlobal; media initiatives, including TED Talks and TED.com; and the TED Prize.

TED2009 is titled “The Great Unveiling.” And BoomTown is glad to be attending after several years away, especially since I always learn something new at TED (and I have a lot to learn).

via A New Location for an Iconic Conference–and Here Come the TED Fellows | Kara Swisher | BoomTown | AllThingsD.

I’ve linked often to TED Talks here and on my other blogs. Now TED is moving …I look forward to being able to attend…Electronically…once more.

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