Boogertown Gap - The Band
Keith and Ruth form the "core" of Boogertown Gap (BTG). They have been married since 1988 and began playing Old-time music together since their move back to their home in the Great Smoky Mountains. There they discovered their rich mountain heritage and the joys of keeping an old musical tradition preserved. Both Keith's and Ruth's family have a long history of family musicians that have played and sung this Old-time music here in East Tennessee and the Great Smoky Mountains.
Keith began playing electric guitar in a high school band way back in the late 60's, eventually moving over to acoustic guitar in college. Decades later in 2004 he took up Scruggs style picking on b
Keith's family has been in Sevier County since the late 1700's and is one of the First Families of Tennessee. There are numerous accounts and recordings of these relatives playing their folk music and singing the ballads all over Boogertown and areas that are now in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. At left are four Trentham brothers, and Keith's cousins, who lived in the Forks of the River community (where Sugarlands Visitor Center is now located) in the early 1900's. Surprising to Keith was once when "old-timing" it around a campfire with Ruth and Scott, at Keith and Ruth's home, his parents began to sing some of the words to the tunes being played! This music reaches everyone.
One day, Keith asked his lovely wife, Ruth, to take up the guitar because he wanted to play this music spontaneously, not having to track down a fiddler or another musician. Now Ruth is a classically trained musician on flute so playing the guitar was as foreign to her as speaking Martian. She began to experiment with chords a bit and then, Scott (again) introduced her to playing Old-time guitar. Then friends McLean and Derek(also friends of Scott) helped and encouraged her even more. And then they started adding words to the tunes that have lyrics. Does pat your head while rubbing your stomach and hopping on one foot ring a bell? Now she plays guitar, wooden spoons, penny whistle, washboard and sings old mountain songs and ballads. Looking back, Ruth learned a lot of the Old-time songs when she was a child, but she wasn't made aware of their roots or significance. The first song her Daddy taught her to sing when she was a wee lass was about an out house. At right is Ruthie, age 2, already getting her training on the piano by brother Charles. This old traditional music lives deep in her soul, and she is grateful to now be able to express it freely and share it with whomever wants to play along or sit and listen.