Jamison: “Hoedowns, Reels, and Frolics” (2015)

2015-Jamison-HRF+CoverHoedowns, Reels, and Frolics: Roots and Branches of Southern Appalachian Dance (Phil Jamison, University of Illinois Press, 2015)

This fascinating book investigates diverse historical influences and sources of American folk dance, effectively exploding modern myths of geographical isolation & cultural “purity” that surround the Southern Appalachian region.  It’s especially useful in complicating and deepening our understanding of the antebellum and wartime musical encounters of the 19th century.

In Hoedowns, Reels, and Frolics, old-time musician and flatfoot dancer Phil Jamison journeys into the past and surveys the present to tell the story behind the square dances, step dances, reels, and other forms of dance practiced in southern Appalachia. He argues that these distinctive folk dances are not the unaltered jigs and reels of the early British settlers, but hybrids that developed over time by adopting and incorporating elements from other popular forms. He traces the forms from their European, African American, and Native American roots to the modern day. From the Shoo-fly Swing to the Virginia Reel, Hoedowns, Reels, and Frolics reinterprets an essential aspect of Appalachian culture.

Jamison’s website also offers related links & resources, such as…


Including the following period visuals:

  • “Minuet of the Canadians” ~ George Heriot (1807)
  • “Rustic Dance After a Sleigh Ride” ~ William Sidney Mount (1830)
  • “Lynchburg (Virginia) Negro Dance” ~ Lewis Miller (1853)





One Comment Add yours

  1. Fatimah Abdul Basir says:

    Love it. Im learning more about my Appalachian forefathers and mothers!!!
    Blue Ridge Mts. Ga

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