The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

Bell Spur String Band

By Imogene Turman © 1984

Issue: October, 1984

bell spur string bandBell Spur String BandEditor’s Note… Imogene Turman stopped by the other day and brought over a record for us to hear. Although it was taped in August of 1963, it was recently made into a record. Aside from the fact that it's a good example of pure mountain music, Imogene is particularly proud because one of the four men in the Bell Spur String Band was her father.

Three of the four men, Ernest Stanley, Edgar Jessup and Johnnie Jessup are now deceased. Edgar Jessup was her father. When he was still quite a small boy, he wanted to learn how to play the organ. His mother purchased one when Edgar was too young to reach the pedals and she had to pedal while he played the notes. When he was 10 or 12 years old, he bought his first banjo from a man and learned how to pick a tune on it before he arrived home with it. Edgar Jessup often sang and played music for his neighbors and at church, whenever he was called on.

The other three men in the band learned how to play musical instruments in much the same way, through their families. They played the old tunes, handed down through the generations. One song on this album is "Wild Hog In The Woods.” Martin Marshall said his grandfather taught him the music and said there were once words to it but they had been forgotten. If any of you know the words to "Wild Hog In The Woods," they would appreciate hearing from you. A lot of the songs were probably made up in this very area of the Blue Ridge.

If any of you are interested in this album, it may be ordered from Mrs. Edgar Jessup or Mrs. Martin Marshall, both of Route 1, Laurel Fork, Virginia 24352. The cost is $6.50 plus $1.00 for postage.

This album includes instrumentals of Wednesday Night Waltz, New Richmond/Flop Eared Mule, Mississippi Sawyer, Home Sweet Home and Wild Hog in the Woods. Vocals include May I Sleep In Your Barn Tonight, Blue Ridge Mountain Blues, Kicking Mule, Sweet By and By, Susanna Gal, Sourwood Mountain and Going Down The Road Feeling Bad.