New Film Features Old Time Appalachian Music

Jun 5, 2020

Dale Farmer, writer and director of The Mountain Minor, says his goal was to make an authentic music film.

That’s Asa Nelson on the fiddle.  He plays young Charlie Abner in the film.

The Mountain Minor, that’s m i n o r, it’s set in Kentucky and tells the story of Charlie, who, as a child, moves with his family to Ohio for his father to find work.  Years later the elder Charlie, played by Dan Gellert, longs to return to his childhood home and to the music which was a vital part of his life there.

Writer and director Dale Farmer, says when he started developing the screenplay, the focus was on the music.

“I really wanted have a very authentic music film. I just thought that since old time musicians are usually just channeling the old guys anyway, that they would be able to connect with the characters.”

Farmer says he made the right choice in casting, including Elizabeth LaPrelle, who plays Charlies’ mother Oza; a southwest Virginia old time musician, collector of songs and half of the duo Anna and Elizabeth.  LaPrelle says, too, the music is the thing.

“It’s really just trying to tell the story. That’s how the music got chosen. There’s a song I sing in there called Young Emily. That is one that I learned from Sheila Kay Adams from Madison County, North Carolina. That’s one that came down through her family and she’s a seventh generation ballad singer.”

“It’s such a familiar story to anybody, for many of the people I learned this music from or that played this music on recordings. It’s a very familiar story, indeed.  So, even if we didn’t have some kind of experience like that in our family history or in our lives, which of course many of us do, and of course for Dale it is literally the story of his family.”

“I spent a lot of time with my grandparents; just about every weekend and summers.  And grandpa was from Jackson County, Kentucky and he would take me down there and told me the stories over and over again.  And, he passed away in 1985 and I found that even though he told me those stories a thousand times they were starting to get away from me, so I wanted to write them down.”

Farmer says he initially wasn’t thinking of producing a film, he thought a screenplay was the best way get the story down. And, now he says with the film resonating with so many people, he hopes it will open eyes to the rich Appalachian heritage and to the migrants who came from the mountains to Ohio, where he lives.

“I think that over the generations the Appalachians that have moved up here been the butt of a lot of jokes and they’ve been depicted in the media in so many negative ways. And I hope that through our film we can at least be part of that changing narrative.”

The Mountain Minor makes its television broadcast debut Saturday night on the Heartland Network; a film about music and home, as Charlie Abner explains.

“Let me tell you something. A man never knows who he is until he knows where he comes from. This is where you come from.”

More information:

The Mountain Minor

The Hearland Network