This is a copy of a note I wrote to a friend on Facebook who also has a musical family history. I have added photos which can be enlarged if you click on them.
...Jane, It must have been really neat having family jams! My grandfather played guitar and mandolin when he was young. His photo is in my music picture folder of facebook. My uncle says that when his picking friend moved away, he stopped playing. I can only remember him playing once, when I was 12. I received a guitar for Christmas and he taught me to play the chords to Red River Valley. I squirreled away in a bedroom at their house with my new found information and practiced until I could play it. My fingers were so sore!!! My Mom finally came in and told me not to be unsociable, so I laid it aside until I returned home. They lived in Ironton, and South Point, OH and we lived in Louisville, KY. That was the only time he played in front of me. He also played mandolin and I have his mandolin now. It has a crack and needs repair so I am going to find someone to fix it.
...Mom has memories of him and his friends picking on the front porch of the house where she grew up. She used to sit and listen and eventually he taught her to play too. Although she does not say so, I think that religion played a part in why they did not keep playing. She learned to play piano because I think it was the main instrument that the church allowed. Guitars and such were more “heathen” I guess than they are today! The photo of the girls is my Aunt Betty, Aunt Oakie, and my Mom, Carol, sitting on my Papaw's 1929 truck which he paid all of $100 for. Thank Goodness for our Mamaw, who had a pingent for saving things!
...On my Dad's side of the family, my Granny Bayes lived in Johnson County,KY, not far from Paintsville. Her name was Martha, but in that area, names ending with "a" were pronounced "ee", so she was called "Marthy". She belonged to the Free Will Baptist Church and they did not allow any instruments at all. She wanted to play organ when she was young but never had the chance to learn. She was always humming and quietly singing songs when she was older and living with us. I wish now that I had asked her to teach me some of the songs she knew. I am sure they were mostly hymns, but they were not the hymns we sang in our Baptist church. When she passed away at 102, they had an old fashioned funeral for her, the way she would have liked it. The preacher and the choir sat at the front, men facing women, and there were no instruments. They sang songs I had never heard before, unaccompanied and with little harmony, mostly in unison or in question/answer manner. The preacher then followed with a sermon in which he would inhale deeply between phrases. (My citified, pastoral trained husband from California, could not figure out how he kept from hyperventilating!) If I lived there now, I would try to learn the songs they used. I doubt if that type of funeral will be in existence for many more years, although that style of preaching can still be heard on the radio on Sunday mornings in the mountains of Eastern Kentucky. Just tune in sometime when you are driving through the area; If you don't hear a gasping preacher, you will certainly hear singers in their pure, mountain voices! It is a whole different world.