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Mountain Culture

The music, the folklore, even the traditional diet of southern Appalachia is very similar to what you find in the Ozarks. Gordon Mc-Cann has collected and catalogued more than 3 thousand hours of traditional Ozarks music and has studied the history of Ozarks culture.

He says there are so many similarities between the Ozarks and the mountains to the east because it was people from Appalachia who settled the Ozarks.

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Of all the places in the United States for people from the southern Appalachian Mountains to settle, they chose the Ozarks. Mc-Cann says it was a logical choice.

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And Mc-Cann says it's important to understand the ethnic background of the settlers from Tennessee who came to the Ozarks.

According to Mc-Cann the traditional tunes, ballads and stories come directly from the British Isles.

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The Scotch-Irish descendents in the Ozarks and Appalachians share a common history and Mc-Cann says there's one area in which it's very obvious.

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That's a recording of Ralph Blizzard, a well-known fiddler from the southern Appalachians. Blizzard's fiddling closely resembles that of a fiddler Mc-Cann knew in Strafford, Missouri whose ancestors came to the Ozarks years ago from Bristol, a town nestled in the Appalachian mountains of Virginia.

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While there are clear similarities between Appalachian and Ozarks culture, Adriana Trigiani says there are some things that are common to all mountain people.

She's an author who grew up in Big Stone Gap, Virginia in the southern Appalachians but whose family came from the Italian Alps.

Her big stone gap book series traces a woman's journey of self-discovery that takes her from the Appalachians to the Italian Alps.

Trigiani says she's struck by the similarities shared by all mountain people.

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Mc-Cann agrees.

He says there's something about the mountains that fosters a certain brand of music, storytelling and culture.

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Mc-Cann says it's important to discuss the heritage of the Ozarks because it's quickly fading as modern music drowns out the old time tunes of Appalachia and the Ozarks.