Southern Sounds

For the past several months, North Georgia folk artist Billy Roper has been hard at work on a special project with the goal of helping keep the music alive for the children of the Georgia Pick & Bow Traditional Music School. The end result of all this creative effort is an original work of folk art which is also a fine playable musical instrument.

Folk Art Bass

Now the folk art bass fiddle is the centerpiece of this year’s fund-raising efforts for the Dahlonega, Ga.-based Georgia Pick & Bow Traditional Music School.

Billy Roper, whose work is in art collections throughout the United States and in over 30 countries, decided to create the hand-painted bass fiddle because of a dream which is near and dear to his heart — that all children have the right to play — and this project is helping fulfill childhood dreams which could last a lifetime. An added incentive for the artist is that he has grandchildren who participate in the Pick & Bow program.

Ticket sales on the folk art bass raffle will continue until April’s 15th annual Bear on the Square Mountain Festival in Dahlonega, where the winning ticket will be drawn on April 17. Raffle tickets cost $10 each or three for $25, and all proceeds from the raffle will be used to help provide funds for the music instruction program for students in grades 4-12 which encourages learning and teamwork, while passing down the treasured tradition of Appalachian music to the next generation. More information about Pick & Bow can be found at

Checks for tickets should be made out to Georgia Pick & Bow and can be mailed to P. O. Box 1801, Dahlonega, GA 30533. Deadline for receiving mailed checks is Monday, April 11.

An after school program, Georgia Pick and Bow is a bluegrass and old-time mountain music school for kids, who are taught by top music instructors skilled in playing traditional string instruments.

The Georgia Pick & Bow Traditional Music Program, in cooperation with the Georgia Appalachian Studies Center at North Georgia College & State University, seeks to preserve the traditional “roots” music of North Georgia with a series of 10 lessons for participating students each semester at Lumpkin County Middle School. Each semester series ends with a recital featuring the students. In addition to appearing at the recital, several individual students from the program have appeared onstage at the Mountain Music and Medicine Show at the Historic Holly Theatre in Dahlonega.

Groups of Pick & Bow student musicians have been featured at numerous other public gatherings, including the farewell party for Kathy Cox, former Georgia Superintendent of Schools; the Georgia Supreme Court; the Appalachian Regional Commission; and visiting university leaders from Liaocheng, China. In October of 2009, the program’s representatives received a standing ovation following their performance at the SouthEastern Bluegrass Association (SEBA) Silver Anniversary Super Star Concert at the Gwinnett Performing Arts Center.

Pick & Bow Students
Jimmy Booth

Jimmy Booth

Lifelong Georgia resident Jimmy Booth, who was a longtime Atlanta area journalist and public relations consultant, moved in fall of 2006 from Peachtree City, Ga., to Dahlonega, Ga. He and his wife Margo have become involved with several Dahlonega-based not-for-profit cultural arts and historical organizations working to keep alive the traditional mountain music, art and folkways which are a vital part of the area's heritage. Jimmy graduated from Emory University, where he served as editor of The Emory Wheel. During his journalistic career, he worked as publisher or editor of several Georgia weekly and small daily newspapers, and he was a section editor for The Atlanta Journal and Constitution. Now officially retired, he handles publicity for some of the events and organizations in the Dahlonega area.

  1. Jimmy: Pick & Bow sounds like a great program. Thanks for telling us about it.

    1. Keith, you’re absolutely correct. Pick & Bow is a great program, and I’m really proud to have been involved in it since the beginning stages.

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