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Ebook Information

My Curious and Jocular Heroes

Tales and Tale-Spinners from Appalachia

A joyous blend of life story, learning, and lore

We were going down the road, and we came to this house. There was a little boy standing by the road just crying and crying.

We stopped, and we heard the biggest racket you ever heard up in the house.

“What’s the matter, son?”

“Why, Maw and Paw are up there fightin’.”

“Who is your Paw, son?”

“Well, that’s what they are fightin’ over.”

Brimming with ballads, stories, riddles, tall tales, and great good humor, My Curious and Jocular Heroes pays homage to four people who guided and inspired Loyal Jones’s own study of Appalachian culture. His sharp-eyed portraits introduce a new generation to Bascom Lunsford, the pioneer behind the “memory collections” of song and story at Columbia University and the Library of Congress; the Sorbonne-educated collector and performer Josiah H. Combs; Cratis D. Williams, the legendary father of Appalachian studies; and the folklorist and master storyteller Leonard W. Roberts. Throughout, Jones highlights the tales, songs, jokes, and other collected nuggets that define the breadth of each man’s research and repertoire.

“Loyal Jones’s engaging collection of biographies brings to life four prominent figures of twentieth-century Appalachian folkways whose names will be familiar to many readers but only distantly. This is a major contribution to the study of America’s most distinctive regional culture.”—Norm Cohen, author of Long Steel Rail: The Railroad in American Folksong

"The colorful tales, anecdotes, word lore, customs, riddles, and songs that Loyal Jones has chosen bring us into the humor, accents, and often ribald color that marks our first frontier and its inhabitants."—Stephen Wade, author of The Beautiful Music All Around Us: Field Recordings and the American Experience

Publication of this book was supported by a grant from the L. J. and Mary C. Skaggs Folklore Fund.


Loyal Jones is the author of numerous books on Appalachian culture, including Country Music Humorists and Comedians. He served as director of the Appalachian Center at Berea College for twenty-three years.

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