Tag Archives: Tom Dooley

North Carolina music, old time, bluegrass, Bach

North Carolina has a rich music tradition that goes back hundreds of years and evolved from music traditions from the old world in places like the British Isles and Africa. My own love of music began in my childhood and covers a broad range of styles from Bach to bluegrass. I play a little guitar, banjo and fiddle. I believe some of it is in my blood. My grandfather played the fiddle and played for square dancers many years ago. I am a member of the High Lonesome Strings Bluegrass Association, and if I can spend more time in Greensboro, I hope to jam more with them.

I have been very fortunate in my life to encounter interesting and sometimes famous people. In the late seventies, I was teaching at a community college in the piedmont of North Carolina. Frank Profitt Jr, traveled the state sharing his old time music, much of it passed down from the British Isles as part of a oral tradition. His father, Frank Profitt, sang and played the old music and ballads. In the years leading up to the folk revival of the 50’s and 60’s, people would come to North Carolina to experience and record the old songs. One such song was Tom Dooley, which was made famous by the Kingston Trio. Frank Profitt Sr sang and played this song, but he sang it as Tom Dula, based on a real character that was hanged for killing Laura Foster. Tom Dula and Laura Foster lived in the North Wilkesboro NC area near the mountains. Frank Profitt Jr sang and played the song for us as performed by his father.

Another song that Frank Profitt Jr sang for us was 4 nights of a drunk. It has 4 stanzas, each relating the nightly return of the drunken husband and what he believes he sees upon returning home. The song is humerous and I still remember the words. A few years ago, I was listening to NPR and music from the British Isles. They began playing the same song, but it was the original version that was carried to America. Same theme, with slightly different words, but immediately recognizable.

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