Today In Mountain Dulcimer History: 29 August 1922

A dose of mountain dulcimer history throughout the year

Today In Mountain Dulcimer History: 29 August 1922

Postby dbennett » Tue Aug 29, 2017 5:44 am

Lenard Ray “Big Ray” Hicks (1922-2003) was born in Banner Elk, North Carolina, a few miles from the North Carolina-Tennessee state line to Nathan Talbert Hicks (1896-1945) and Corena “Rena” Loucinda Hicks Hicks (1899-1975).

Though Ray was known as a story teller and not a dulcimer player he certainly grew up in the middle of an extended family of dulcimer makers and players. If Ray did play the dulcimer his playing was eclipsed by his story telling skills. Hicks is the eighth generation of Hicks storytellers on Beech Mountain. Ray’s storytelling repertoire were often what are known as “Jack tales”, many of which he learned directly from his grandfather and some were original. Jack tales are about the antics of a poor but clever mountain boy, named Jack, who had many adventures similar to Jack in “Jack and the Beanstalk” and “Jack the Giant Killer.”

Both of his parents sang ballads, and his father was one of the earliest dulcimer makers in the Beech Mountains region where they lived.

As a storyteller who Hicks the subject of numerous films, audio tapes and books preserving stories that captured the native oral traditions of the Appalachian Mountains, who appeared in the PBS series “The History of English.”

In an entry in at blueridgeheritage.com “Ray Hicks: Storyteller of Watauga County, NC: ...Standing nearly seven feet tall, Ray was a striking figure. But the true marvel was his verbal presence. He spoke a dialect of English that retained much of the vocabulary, phrasing, expression, and accent of earlier English and Scots-Irish immigrants to the region. For this, he was featured on Robert McNeil’s PBS series The Story of English...”

The inscription on his headstone reads: MASTER STORYTELLER
Hicks Ray1.jpg
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dbennett
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Re: Today In Mountain Dulcimer History: 29 August 1922

Postby dholeton » Tue Aug 29, 2017 9:31 am

Thanks David
As I review each of these "Today In Mountain Dulcimer History" posts, if I have time I'll search the web for other related information and/or videos. I've seen Ray on some other Youtube videos but I think this is the first time I've watched his version of "Reuben". His smile is contagious at the end.



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Re: Today In Mountain Dulcimer History: 29 August 1922

Postby dbennett » Tue Aug 29, 2017 3:56 pm

Great Dave. Anything to add to the history is much appreciated.
I love that big grin on his face at the end!

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Re: Today In Mountain Dulcimer History: 29 August 1922

Postby Robin T » Tue Aug 29, 2017 5:02 pm

I recall seeing Ray on a different YT video quite some time ago. He was quite a presence.
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