“Has anybody seen J.P.?” Annadeene Fraley usually began performances at the J.P. Fraley Mountain Music Gatherin’ with this phrase. Her husband, the esteemed old-time fiddler J.P. Fraley, would be nowhere in sight, so the audience would respond, “J.P. who?” Fraley would then chime in from the parking lot, “I’m here,” make his way to the stage, and another year’s celebration of traditional mountain music would be under way.
The one-hour Kentucky Muse documentary “Mountain Music Gatherin’,” directed and produced by Tom Thurman, takes viewers to the 2007 gatherin’ at Carter Caves State Resort Park near Olive Hill, Kentucky. Through interviews with musicians and fans, live Music Performances, and rare home movies and photographs, the program explores what “mountain music” is and tells the story of how J.P. and Annadeene Fraley created a beloved Kentucky musical tradition.
Jesse Presley Fraley, who grew up near Grayson, learned fiddle tunes from his father and other fiddlers in the area. Annadeene Prater sang and played guitar as one of the Rachel Valley Girls at WCMI radio in Ashland. The two met as teenagers, married, and settled down to raise a family. Eventually they began performing together at contests and concerts throughout the region.
Paul David Smith
The gatherin’ began as a Fraley family reunion in the early 1970s but soon grew to encompass an extensive extended musical family. The festival attracts performers and music fans from across the United States to share music and swap stories. The annual event attracts champion fiddlers and top players, who share billing with those just learning. And some of the most important music making takes place away from the stage—at parking lot and campground jam sessions that go on day and night.
Annadeene Fraley died in 1996, and poor health prevents J.P. from playing. But as “Mountain Music Gatherin’” shows, the unique musical gathering they founded is still going strong, reflecting their—and many others’—love of traditional music and desire to keep the sounds of the mountains alive for future generations.