Joe Featured in new
Voice of America Film Report

Voice of America reporter Malcolm Brown recently visited West Virginia for a film story on Appalachian music, a report that would soon go international.

He started at Joe's doorstep at Fret 'n Fiddle in late June and during the interview, Joe mentioned that the Malcolm and his crew should head to Glenville, W.Va., that weekend for the annual West Virginia State Folk Festival.

He did and the result was a wonderful video picture of the Mountain State music scene.

---

Joe Bids Farewell to W.Va. Public Radio
after Nearly 25 Years!

For almost 25 years, Joe Dobbs has brought you some of the best musicians you’ve never heard of on his weekly "Music from the Mountain" radio show on W.Va. public radio. They’re your neighbors – accountants, teachers, garbage collectors, and lawyers – and Joe find them and puts them on his show, Music from the Mountains.

Friday, June 22, was his last show. He’s 72 years old, and he wants to spend more time teaching, writing, and playing with his own group,The 1937 Flood.

On the day of his last broadcast, Scott Finn of West Virginia Public Radio conducted a wonderful 10-minute interview with Joe about the show and his plans for the future. Click below to listen to Scott's interview.

---


Joe's Service Recognized

Joe was recently named Volunteer of the Year by West Virginia Public Broadcasting, which has aired his weekly "Music from the Mountains" show for nearly 20 years. Shown here presenting the award is Rita Ray, executive director of West Virginia Public Broadcasting.

 

"Music From the Mountains"
Featured in Huntington

Mountain fiddlin’
Friday program by Joe Dobbs takes
listeners back centuries

Oct. 25, 2002

By DAVE LAVENDER - The Herald-Dispatch


Joe Dobbs performs in "Music From the Mountains" at 9 p.m. Friday on West Virginia Public Radio.

The old joke goes that "perfect pitch" on the bagpipes is about 40 feet -- and for some, 40 feet ain’t far enough.

But there is room in Joe Dobbs’ heart for the wailing pipes that drone those Scottish dirges most often at weddings, parades and funerals.

Fifteen minutes into Dobbs’ West Virginia Public Radio show "Music from the Mountains" this past Friday, and his warm voice has melted any icy pipes prejudice and is already packing listeners back a few hundred years when this country’s Appalachian mountains were being settled by mostly Scotch-Irish.

The fiddler, whose playing is tattooed with those deep, distinct Appalachian influences, thanked guest Bill Weed for stopping by and visiting and sharing his pipes. Then, he wondered aloud why the bagpipes never caught on like the fiddle.

"When you come to a new country, I guess one of the last things you think of is pipes," Weed said. "You’re thinking about a house and food."

For the past 19 years on every Friday night, Dobbs has been a one-man show tackling all of the technical work while also introducing radio audiences in the nine-station West Virginia Public Radio Network to any and everything Appalachian from storytellers to classical guitarists to even bagpipers.

Now, the kind, white-bearded man who looks exactly like "you-know-who," is getting an early Christmas present, of sorts: a producer, a theme song and even a Web site for his popular old-time music radio show.

The theme song, written by longtime band mates Dave Peyton and Charlie Bowen of The 1937 Flood, airs for the first time at 9 p.m. today.

Bowen, who built and maintains the Web site for Dobbs, said as a guest and a listener, he appreciates Dobbs’ natural interview style and his ability to run the show behind the scenes.

"I think it’s amazing listening to these smooth interviews, knowing he is also watching the clock and picking out the next CD, and doing the whole thing with one take and making it fit," Bowen said.

Dobbs won’t have most of those worries anymore. George Walker, a well-known radio and television man in the Charleston area, has been producing the show for the past eight weeks.

A fan of Dobbs’ show for about 10 years, Walker said it reminds him of the golden era in live performance radio when his mom would make his bed around the radio while he "tuned in the world."

Walker, who loved Honest John out of WNOX in Knoxville -- who would spin records and leave the microphone on to clap and sing along, said he jumped at the chance to join in with Dobbs on "Music From the Mountains."

"Most of what you have is formulated radio that could be anywhere radio, McDonald’s radio, and that is a shame," Walker said. "I grew up in the 1960s and early 1970s … and I would hear all of these wonderful live shows from Boston and Chicago and Wheeling, West Virginia. And I was always tuning into hear the connection that I could get from a live performance."

Although nothing is set in stone, Walker said there is talk of a number of possibilities for the show from live CDs from a collage of performances in Studio B to possible national syndication sometime down the road.

"The music is real, and I think the people out there can hear that," Walker said. "It is not the canned music you get on commercial broadcasting, which has a different motivation and dynamic. This is getting back to the essence and true nature of musical performance."

Dobbs, who turned the show into a live performance show when he took over in 1983, said he has always tried to feature the wealth of musicians in West Virginia and Appalachia.

He meets many at his shop, Fret ’n’ Fiddle in St. Albans, and at folk festivals and gigs around the region.

When taping the show (he works most Friday nights playing music with his band), Dobbs said he tries to think about what the audience would want to know about and hear were they there in the studio.

"I think I have always been interested in people and music," said Dobbs, who also plays banjo, mandolin, guitar and Irish flute. "Most of my music knowledge has come through osmosis. I’ve been playing since I was 10 years old. I have thought of Arthur Godfrey, a very popular radio host. When you listened to him, you got that feeling that he was talking just to you. I have cultivated that some. … And when someone asks what to play. I say, ‘Play what you do best, and play what the people want to hear.’ "

---

Joe Honored by FOOTMAD

Joe was honored recently by the Friends of Old Time Music and Dance (FOOTMAD) with its first "Footbridge Living Treasure Award" at the group's Fall Festival on Sept. 28, 2002, in Fayette County.

For the event, fellow 1937 Floodster Dave Peyton penned some of the remarks that were read as Joe was given the Footbridge plaque:

"I'm not sure whether Joe Dobbs chose West Virginia first or whether West Virginia chose Joe. It doesn't matter -- Joe and West Virginia are a team. And there's no denying West Virginia is a better place because he's made West Virginia his home. ... In fact, he's more of a West Virginian than many West Virginians I know."

"I met Joe shortly after he arrived in the region," Dave added. "Those were the days when fiddle players were few and far between in our neck of the woods and good fiddle players were as rare as hen's teeth. Joe mesmerized us with his playing the first time we heard him draw his bow across the strings. We've been friends ever since and even today, we play in a musical group known as The 1937 Flood, a band of six that would not be a band at all without Joe, his fiddle and his spirit."

"Joe's extensive travels both in the U.S. and abroad have made him the perfect West Virginia ambassador. He has probably done much to spread the word about the real West Virginia around the world as any native son or daughter. So what does it matter whether Joe chose West Virginia or West Virginia chose Joe? The fact that West Virginia has adopted Joe, who lives in West Virginia by choice, has made all the difference for both of them."

Home | About Joe | Radio | Discs & Tapes | On Stage | Contacting Joe | Fret 'n' Fiddle | News