American family stories by audiographer Joe McHugh
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Gift of Music
Geese Honking watercolor painting by Paula Blasius McHugh

A bit of property. Some money in the bank. A cherished heirloom. All these our ancestors can pass down to us. For some, however, the gift of music is what they esteem most, as you will learn by listening to these special stories.

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Hermina
Playing Time: 3:27

There something about this story that really gets to me. It is told by Bill Durbrow who is a doctor in Grass Valley, California. He is also a gifted piano player. Here he tells about what happened to his grandmother during the early days of the Far West, and in particular, her love for the piano.

How I Got My Music
Playing Time: 6:30

Martin Simpson is an exceptionally talented musician who performed the theme music for our "The Telling Takes Us Home" radio series. He grew up in England and here tells how an appreciation of music came down to him through his family.

Dad's Fiddle
Playing Time: 3:04

Melvin Wine was one of the most beloved old-time fiddlers in the Appalachian mountains. His music was full of energy and joy. I recorded Melvin when he was well into his nineties. Here he tells about how he first came to learn to play the fiddle.

Fiddlers In the Family
Playing Time: 5:24

Anyone who has heard Kevin Burke play the fiddle has experienced the power of music to lift the soul and fill the heart with pleasure. I had the opportunity to interview Kevin before a concert one evening and he told me many stories about his family including one or two about other family members who played the fiddle before him.

Blind Bill
Playing Time: 3:25

While recording a number of authors at the Virginia Festival of the Book I had the pleasure of interviewing Lee Smith. Lee is an accomplished writer with many fine books to her name. She is also a wonderful storyteller as you will hear as she recounts a story about a rather colorful piano player in her family.