What is Mountain Money?

Some will tell you that toilet paper is the most valuable thing while on the mountain trail, but we know differently.

Mountain Money started as a fiddle and 5-string duo featuring Patrick Ross and Steve Wright; instruments that you can bring to any camp. Since that first concert in 2013, Mountain Money has evolved into a duo series featuring Masters of the fiddle and banjo with an All-Star, blow-out event once a year in April, known as the “Mountain Money All-Stars”, exhibiting a wide array of playing styles and instruments that all reference the banjo and/or fiddle.

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     Mountain Money is a currency. It isn’t traded in the financial markets of the port cities, and doesn’t have much value down in the railroad towns or river towns. You can’t deposit it in any bank, and you can’t use it to buy a train or bus ticket to escape from an urban center to a mountain retreat.  
     But to those carving out a living in hills and hollows of greater Appalachia, the value of Mountain Money is clear. Out in the woods for a long day of logging, sugaring, or hunting, the one who remembered to bring toilet paper has Mountain Money. During mud season, the guy carrying a chain in the back of his four-wheel drive pickup has Mountain Money. On a hot summer’s day, the one who knows the way to a secret swimming hole has Mountain Money.
     Truth be told, there are many who try to escape the hustle-and-bustle of the city life to live out their fantasies of a rural life. The ones that don’t make it past more than a few mud seasons are the ones who never learn how to trade in Mountain Money. The old-timers who know how to get things done in this-here-particular-neck-of-the-woods may not have much in the way of financial security, but are rich in Mountain Money. They’re the ones who tell the stories of the “flatlanders” who never quite figure it out. Those stories are currency. Those stories are Mountain Money. 
     The Mountain Money Concert Series is a celebration of these values. The melodies, chord progressions, and song structures are a currency long traded in logging and hunting camps, and in parlors and on porches of homes in mining and mill towns. Because hauling a piano up into the mountains makes about as much sense as building Fitzcaraldo’s opera house in the Amazon jungle, the fiddle and banjo are the instruments of choice for this celebration of Mountain Money. Both instruments are easily carried, project with equal loudness, and are complementary to one another—the banjo’s staccato pulse with the fiddle’s legato melody—and thus have a long tradition of being played in the places where Mountain Money is the only available currency.
     We welcome you to our celebration of value that can’t be quantified, and invite you to join in: stomp your feet, clap your hands, and get up and dance if you feel like it. Or just sit back and enjoy the show. Just remember to take a little with you when you go, because Mountain Money is creative energy that grows in value as it is shared in community.

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