Native Ground Music

Native Ground Music, founded in 1973, is your comprehensive resource for authentic southern Appalachian music and traditional music of rural America, the Civil War, and the Old West. Our gospel, bluegrass, and old-time folk music collections are unsurpassed, and we have a full catalog of outlaw ballads, cowboy music, pioneer music, Lewis & Clark music, and railroad songs.

INSTRUCTION BOOKS written by author, teacher, and musician Wayne Erbsen teach total and absolute beginners how to play the clawhammer banjo, bluegrass banjo, fiddle, mandolin, guitar and dulcimer. We also publish a series of best-selling cookbooks of traditional pioneer recipes by Barbara Swell.

Many of our recordings capture the sounds of Celtic music played on historical instruments such as hammer dulcimer, lap dulcimer, violin, and guitar. Instrumental recordings include Cold Frosty Morning and Waterdance, produced by Katie LaRaye Waldren and Candace Kreitlow.


Wayne Erbsen has put his Masters Degree in U.S. History from the University of Wisconsin to good work with his series of five best-selling recordings of music of the Civil War. He recently served as an adviser to the Civil War feature film, Gods and Generals, a sequel to the acclaimed Gettysburg.


In 1995 Erbsen produced the book, Cowboy Songs, Jokes, Lingo ‘n’ Lore, and recorded Cowboy Songs of the Wild Frontier. These were followed by the book Outlaw Ballads, Legends & Lore and the recording, Authentic Outlaw Ballads. Historian Mark Gardner produced a landmark recording entitled Songs of the Santa Fe Trail and the Far West, recreating the authentic sounds of the days of the covered wagon and the Gold Rush.


Naturalist, storyteller and harmonica wizard Doug Elliot has produced a number of recordings for Native Ground highlighting the music and lore of the natural world, including Raccoon and a Possum, Crawdads, Doodlebugs & Creasy Greens, and Bullfrog on Your Mind. Elliot has twice won the prestigious Award for Notable Children’s Recording from the American Library Association.


Adding richness and flavor to Native Ground Music’s catalog, Erbsen’s wife, Barbara Swell, has collected old-timey pioneer recipes, kitchen wisdom and sayings, romantic advice, and cooking secrets from rural women now in their eighties and nineties who grew up using wood cookstoves in the southern mountains.  Also, be sure to check out Barbara’s Log Cabin Cooking Classes and Workshops.


Native Ground Music’s all-time best-seller is the book Front Porch Songs, Jokes & Stories, and its companion recording Front Porch Favorites, available on CD and cassette. Wayne Erbsen’s newest book, Rural Roots of Bluegrass, digs deep into the history of bluegrass music and contains the words and music to ninety-four traditional bluegrass songs. The recording features Laura Boosinger’s crystal clear voice and Erbsen’s instrumental wizardry.


Our traditional railroad books, Singing Rails and Railroad Fever, include railroad songs, music, lore, jokes, tall tales, railroad oddities, strange railroad laws, and photos of vintage steam engines. Listeners to Native Ground’s three recordings of music of the railroad swear they can smell the smoke of the locomotives when they listen to them.


Open your heart and soul to Native Ground’s books and  recordings of your favorite gospel songs and Christmas carols. Our recordings feature old-time and bluegrass banjo, fiddle, guitar, mandolin, hammered and lap dulcimer and bass (not all at once!)

As we continue to grow, we hope you’ll check back with us to see what’s new….. Or join our listserv for new release pioneer and old time books, sales on Native Ground recordings and instruction books and promotions.