Appalachian folk treasure plays twice in Camden

Oct 05, 2018
Joe Penland

Camden — Appalachian folk master Joe Penland will perform a daytime concert Tuesday, Oct. 16, at 1:30 p.m.; as well as an evening one at 7 p.m. at the downtown Camden Public Library. The performances will include traditional songs, stories and ballads from the Scottish and Irish heritage of the Appalachian Mountains.

Grammy winners; kids with their first guitar, banjo or fiddle; Hollywood producers; writers; and folk music collectors from all over the world have made their way to the “the farm” deep in North Carolina mountain country where Penland has been singing ballads and telling the stories for than half a century. Deemed a Cultural Treasure by The Asheville Citizen Times, and recipient of the coveted Bascom Lunsford Award (named for the founder of the longest running folk festival in America), Penland preferred the simple life of hard work and family.

In 2004, after a serious bout with a life-threatening illness, he was persuaded by some of his longtime friends to record the ballads he learned as a child growing up in these mountains. He recorded “Standing On Tradition, The Old Songs” and said he “didn’t realize that I knew so many songs until then.”

He has released additional recordings in the intervening years, toured Great Britain a number of times and is a permanent fixture at Folk Music Festivals and Venues near his Western North Carolina home. He also is writing the stories he’s been telling all these years. What was once available to a select few is finally out in the world.

Courier Publications’ A&E Editor Dagney C. Ernest can be reached at (207) 594-4401, ext. 115; or

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