Steve Earle, Fly Rods, and Moonshine

It is difficult to pack a fly rod around some of the more remote portions of Southern Appalachia and  not occasionally find yourself humming fellow fly fisher Steve Earle’s “Copperhead Road.”  The illicit “licker” making culture, about which Earle sings, is still alive in such places (heck, there even seems to be an old still in the forest behind our house).  For instance, a couple of years back, my friends and I were investigating some backcountry streams.  One morning, a couple of us popped into a tiny store, built of logs, to buy some junk food for breakfast.  After a short wait, a middle-aged fellow hobbled to the rickety counter and rang up our purchases.  While doing so, he engaged in a rather poetic pitch for his moonshine.  “You boys ever taste pure goodness?  You boys know what it’s like to swallow a ray of sunshine?”  I had to head back to town, but my friend was camping another night and decided to check out the clerk’s special product.  The man’s hand reached under the counter and brought out a mason jar full of crystal clear liquid.  My friend took the jar back to our camp, and I took the clerk’s phone number back to town.

Here is an excellent scholarly essay by Jason Sumich, on contemporary North Carolina moonshine production:  “It’s all Legal Until you get Caught: Moonshining in the Southern Appalachian Mountains.”

And here is a great version of “Copperhead Road,” by Steve Earle:

5 Responses to “Steve Earle, Fly Rods, and Moonshine”

  1. Mike Sepelak Says:

    I remember that trip. Good times.


  2. Chuck Mound Says:

    I have been listening to Steve Earle for years. An Americana music scholar and the Woody Guthrie/Pete Seger of our times.

    I’ve tasted some of the best Kentucky and West Virginia moonshine of its time and plenty of it. A while back I gave it up. Picked up fly fishing a couple of years ago. One addiction for another. A ‘Jones’ is a ‘Jones’.


  3. cofisher49 Says:

    I only remember my “once was enough” experience because of the stories that still circulate among my friends.


  4. Kenov Says:

    I’m afraid it too my a few times to learn the lesson. Thankfully, though, all those times were long ago.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: