Throughout the mid- and late 1960s, Jack Guy hosted concerts at Guy’s Folk Toys, his store in the Beech Creek community of Beech Mountain. A skilled field recorder, he made hundreds of reel-to-reel tapes, preserving the music — old-time, bluegrass, ballads, gospel, country, rock-and-roll, and more — of his friends and neighbors, and of artists who played at the store when they visited from other areas. Jack created a remarkable archive of community music-making in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Not long after Jack’s death, many of his tapes joined the W. L. Eury Appalachian Collection at Appalachian State University’s Belk Library. ASU has made those recordings available for free listening online, and they can be heard at this link.
When the North Carolina Folklife Institute received the donation of Jack Guy’s collection in 2016, we discovered more than 100 additional audio reels that he had recorded. These tapes include more performances by some of Beech Mountain’s most influential traditional musicians — Tab Ward, Buna Hicks, Stanley Hicks, Ora and Arlie Watson, among others — as well as artists from surrounding communities. NCFI has digitized the full collection, and we’re uploading the recordings to our Soundcloud account for free streaming. You can browse the collection at the link below. (More recordings will be added as we finish cataloging them!) The original reels have been donated to Appalachian State University to be reunited with the rest of Jack’s collection.
For a taste of what you’ll find in the Jack Guy Collection, check out the individual tracks below.
“There Is a Fountain,” sung by the Beaver Dam Trio (Lonnie Ward, Russell Ward, Earl May, Clay Moody)
“Rocking Chair Blues” by A. B. Combs (banjo)
“Merry Golden Tree,” by Tab Ward (banjo)
“Fly Around My Pretty Little Miss,” by Arlie Watson (banjo)
“When Shall I See Jesus?” by Buna Hicks
“Pretty Saro” by Willard Watson
“Sourwood Mountain,” by E. J. Blackburn (or Blackman?) and Tab Ward
“Lost John,” by Lewis Hicks, with Lonnie Ward and Russell Ward
“Roving Gambler” by Arlie Watson
“Mystery Train,” by Houston Presnell and L. C. Trivette
“Rambling Hobo” by Willard Watson
“Just a Little Talk with Jesus,” by the Beaver Dam Trio
“I Want to Be Ready to Meet Him,” by Lonnie and Peggy Ward
“The Time is Swiftly Rolling/Hymn 241” (aka “Hicks’ Farewell”), by Buna Hicks and unidentified singer
“Matthew 24,” by Janice and James Greer
“House Carpenter,” by Tab Ward (banjo)