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Joe Wilson on Mountain Music: “This area has more musicians per acre than any other place... [Musicians] keep the spirit and values of a place better than its historians. They are participants in a musical community, not spectators, and music is a part of their lives, not an industry controlled from some distant place. Most of these artists make no speeches, but they are the keepers of the true vine. Now, nearly 400 years old, [traditional Appalachian music] is still influencing America and is in a state of vigorous health... In seeking to explain the popular culture of this nation and how it came to dwarf European popular art, the deepest musical roots are found in fiddle and banjo music. Old Europe and Old Africa are combined in it. It may be the constant combining and recombining of black and white culture in American musical arts that keeps them so vigorous and vital.”

Generally, legends are made by acts of great heroism: beating back an enemy, rescuing the helpless, bringing justice to the oppressed.

Another component of heroism is simply in doing: committing acts and going forward.

Curious, then, that Joe Wilson, who died on May 17 at 77 years of age, is a legend in folklore, traditional arts and roots music when he was barely known to pick up a guitar.

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