Episode 4: Jonathan Ferrell


For our final episode of BPoA, we follow Matt’s friend Jonathan Ferrell, a young man who keeps the traditions and skills of the late nineteenth century alive at The Homeplace — a working living-history farm outside of Dover, Tennessee.

Episode 3: Audrey Hash Ham


Very exciting to be releasing our third episode of The Back Porch of America! This time we join Matt Kinman as he visits with the late Audrey Hash Ham, fiddle builder from Whitetop, Virginia. Audrey, and her late father Albert Hash, were exquisite fiddle builders in the area. We hope you enjoy it!

Episode 1: Mark Newberry

Howdy Folks!

We are very happy to announce that the first episode of The Back Porch of America has been posted at thebluegrasssituation.com. It’s real exciting to be putting it out there for the first time! I have to give big thanks to my crew – Ian Arthur (Camera/Editor), Nick Weidner (Camera), Olivia Mori (Sound), our BACKBONE Jeremiah Campbell, and a dear friend who traveled with us, Gary Hamilton.

Thank you to The Bluegrass Situation, Boxer Films and to our Kickstarter supporters.

The Bluegrass Situation: A story on The BPoA

We are glad to have partnered with The Bluegrass Situation in funding part of our shoot this Spring (along with our great Kickstarter Supporters!).  They will be releasing our short versions of the videos over the next few months.  You can read the full piece here – or we have pasted it below.

BACK PORCH OF AMERICA: PORTRAITS OF AMERICAN SIMPLICITY

August 2nd, 2013 / BY ANDREW IDEN

Matt Kinman has always wanted to learn more.  He wanted to learn more about traditional old time music, and as a teenager he walked out of his house and began a trek across the country. During his travels, in addition to the music of old time fiddle and banjo, he learned a whole lot more. Between hopping boxcars and hitching rides along the highways, he found people, stories and communities far removed from the frenetic pace of modern day America. He met artists, craftsman, farmers and storytellers.  He communed musicians, fiddle makers, blacksmiths and gunsmiths.  Through his years dotting the back roads of the country, the people and the stories stuck with him.  Now, for the first time, Kinman and producer Ben Guzman of California-based Boxer Films are bringing these stories to light in The Back Porch Of Americaa new documentary series set to premiere on The Bluegrass Situation next week.

Kinman and Guzman — himself a musician, and one-third of LA-based old time trio Triple Chicken Foot — met four years ago at the Appalachian String Band Festival in Clifftop, West Virginia where the idea for the series was hatched. After some discussion, a wildly successful Kickstarter campaign, and support from Boxer Films and BGS, the two set out on the road with a small production crew.  And for Kinman, it was an opportunity to finally document and show the world the people and the cultures he’d experienced and grown to love. “The idea is to try and document as much stuff as I can,” Kinman said during a phone interview while driving through Kansas. “Saddle makers, boot makers, people that did things all their lives in their communities, and now you gotta go to them in order to find it.  If you understand the way people live, you understand their music, their culture, everything.”

For Guzman, an editorial producer based in Los Angeles, the chance to preserve the stories of a real and often forgotten America was what compelled him to take on the project. “So much of what we’re looking at, is people that make things, do things, and live this old way of life,” he said.  “There is storytelling that goes on, music that goes on, food that goes on with it, and all these things are a way of life that may be gone if people don’t carry it on.”  The first episode in the series tells the story of the Newberry family, who for five generations has made chairs by hand from the trees grown on their farm in Macon County, Tennessee.  Then there’s the story of Arthur Grimes, a traditional Appalachian clogger who learned to buck dance after watching Doc Watson play music on the streets of Boone, North Carolina.

Despite initial apprehension from some of the people who were filmed, their trust in Kinman, Guzman and the crew became paramount. I went to a lot of people that had been approached before to be filmed, and they wouldn’t because they were afraid,” Kinman said.  “I’d played music with these people, and been in and out of their lives, and their response was Matt, we believe you wont make us look like idiots, we’ll do it. I’ve gotta respect them to make sure its being done legitimately, and that they are respected and shown in a good light.”  And for Guzman, letting the subjects be their guide made all the difference. “I love hearing about other peoples’ lives, so that’s my basic starting point,’ he said. “When we walk in, after they get used to the cameras-Its however they would like to show us their life, you let them do the talking and showing.”

During shooting, they interviewed Houston Harrison, a Tennessee gunsmith who has since been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.  Their interview became a chance to capture Harrison doing what he loved to do: making guns and playing music.  And for Harrison’s son, the opportunity to see his dad the way he remembers him.  “He said to us, that video you made of my dad, when he passes away, I’m gonna play that at his funeral.  You captured him perfectly,” Guzman said.  “This is stuff for the families. It’s spot on, and if we can hit it spot on with the families, we know that what we’re telling the rest of the world is what’s within the boundaries and what they are comfortable with.”   While the series highlights the work, music and art of its subjects, there’s another theme that that Kinman hopes is evident: Relationships.  “You’ve got all these people that know all this wonderful stuff, they want to share it with somebody and want to teach them,” he said. “When you actually learn from somebody, you make a friend and carry them through your life.  And every time you do it, you’ll think about them.”

A Great Week in North Carolina

We drove all day from Paris, TN, to reach our new base camp down on Beaver Dam Road in the community of Vilas, NC.Beaver Dam
Our first visit was with Audrey Ham Hash, of Whitetop Mountain area of, VA. She is, and her father Albert Hash was, some of the finest fiddle builders in the area.
Audrey Hash in her shop
We were shown the process of fiddle building and the many of the tools in the shop that were built by Audrey’s father Albert – a truly ingenious man.  We were even treated to some great music in the afternoon from Martha Spencer and Matt Kinman.Martha Spencer and Matt Kinman
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Our next visit was with Leniavell Trivette of Beech Mountain, NC.  She and her mother and sister had been making rugs, clothes, fabrics and all kind of hand sewn items since the depression.  She is truly a one of a kind woman, full of kindness and tales life and growing up in the area.Leniavell Trivette and Matt Kinman
Leniavell saved a great surprise for last.  While we were leaving she declared we needed to see her hot rod.  We were all expecting a classic car – but no – she knows no boundaries – we heard the revving of the engine and there she was with her Mustang!liniavell-and-her-car
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The next day we drove into Boone, NC, and stopped by the coffee shop downtown to meet Arthur Grimes – a Boone native and an exceptional clogger.Doc Arthur and Matt
Arthur told us about growing up in Boone, and how Doc Watson had inspired much of his life, and definitely his dancing and love of music.  We asked Arthur back to Beaver Dam with us for some demonstrations of his steps, and we were joined by Josh Hayes and Trevor McKenzie to help out with the music.Arthur Grimes Dancing
That was a very fun day – and man did we eat good that night!
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Our last stop on the trip was to the Phipps Country Store out in Lancing, NC.Phipps Country Store
The store has been in the family for years and we got to meet Rita, her mother Robertine who grew up on the farm, and Rita’s husband Dawg (who is a great artist and sells his prints and t-shirts there).Rita_Dawg_Robertine_Matt

For the last handful of years the store has been hosting a weekly music jam. Phipps Store Jam
We heard some GREAT music – and met some friendly folks…oh and Levniavell and Martha were there too!
Leniavell Martha and Matt