Several years ago I met a fiddler at a pickin’ circle by the name of Bethany Baxter. Bethany was working on a masters project at the time that had her interviewing people about the American chestnut tree. The American chestnut dominated many forests and cultures throughout Appalachia until a fungal blight wiped the trees out in the first half of the twentieth century. After accepting Bethany’s invitation to help her with a few of her interviews, I was quickly hooked, and have been thinking about a story informed by those interviews ever since.
This summer I started putting my thoughts on paper. I don’t know exactly where it is going, but the more I work, the more excited I become. A couple weeks ago, I was asked to share a little bit of what I had at the River City Session Radio Show in Chattanooga. This rough piece is my vision, thus far, of the beginning of the story bearing the working title: Moonshine on Chestnut Ridge. I’d love for you to give it a listen, and let me know what you think. Thanks!
Photo below of Jim with an American chestnut tree in East Tennessee taken in the summer of 2012 by Amelia Harris during a chestnut census outing.