R.G. Absher
R.G. Absher
R.G. Absher

Gypsy Wagon: The Celtic Tradition in The Southern Appalachians

Almost anywhere that you travel to, cultures have been altered and molded by the roving peoples of the world. Certainly the romantic legends of the roving gypsy bands throughout the British Isles are and example. Yet another example occurred as the migrations into the southern Appalachians took place over 200 years ago when the Scotch-Irish people settled the mountainous regions of western North Carolina. They brought with them their hard working and hard playing spirit which made a significant impact on the early colonial frontier. They would help a young country earn its freedom, frame its Constitution, and fashion the art and music that have come to be associated with the Southern Appalachian culture.

Of the many ways that Celtic traditions show up in the Appalachians, the muscical heritage has been one of the easiest to identify. Although modified and different in aspects, certainly modern day bluegrass and old timey music styles have a strong connection to earlier forms. Of those forms, it's the Celtic music which often carries those acienct but familiar folk music themes such as longing for a lost love, pining for the home place, or even struggling to live, work and raise a family. The connection can be felt in the rich melodic style which tends to set one's feet in motion. Also notable is the presence of haunting modal and minor keys which may even be a forerunner to our own high lonesome music. Here I've attempted to combine traditional and even contemporary Scottish and Irish folk music with those of traditional American acoustic forms.

I hope that the sounds which you hear will reflect some of the folks influences that have shaped my music. The spirit of moving to a new place, adapting to one's new surroundings and then blending and perhaps even influencing the folk art culture is what the theme of this recording is all about. Let's climb aboard and head into the west country. I hope you enjoy the ride on the Gypsy Wagon!

                                                     R.G. Absher


The following is an excerpt of a review of Gypsy Wagon in the October, 1997 issue of Bluegrass Unlimited.

"Instrumentally, this album is quite good. 'Gypsy Wagon', 'Night Flight' and 'Pirates Of Okracoke' show off Absher's nice banjo work, while 'Abshire's Jig', 'Across The Moor' and the medleys on cuts 10 and 12 focus on his guitar skills. There are also good renditions of 'Blackberry Blossom' and 'Salt Creek'."


1. R.G. Absher- banjo on (1,2,5,9,11,13), lead guitar on (2,6,8,10,12,14), hammered dulcimer on (3,10), fiddle on (7)
2. Richard Beard- hammered dulcimer on (8), bousuoki on (10)
3. Robin Dobyns- harmony vocals on (14)
4. Billy Gee- bass on (1,2,3,4,5,6,8,9,10,12,13,14)
5. David Johnson- guitar on (1,2,3,6,8,10,12,14), mandolin on (6), lead guitar on (9), dobro on (13)
6. Tony Joines- lead guitar on (4,5,13)
7. Mike Palmer- guitar on (4,5,13)
8. Jeff Pardue- fiddle on (1,2,4,5,8,9,10,12,13), lead vocal on (2)
9. Wes Tuttle- mandolin on (1,2,4,5,8,9,10,12,13)
10. Wilkesboro Men's Ensemble on I Sing The Mighty Power Of God