A.J. Gaither is not technically an Appalachian, he lives in Arkansas actually. He does though, live by the Appalachian belief in using what you have, repurposing things to make up for what you don’t have and making the best of your situation any way you can. He is a musician, an instrument builder, a songwriter, and an entertainer.
A.J. makes his own instruments too, so when I mentioned that in the title, I meant it. His guitars are what are known as cigar box guitars and often times they are made of…..well… cigar boxes. Other things too, but the box that cigars come in features very heavily in his instruments.
A year or so ago, A.J. was playing here on the Radford University campus and he kindly stopped in to visit us in the Archives and Special Collections area of the library to talk to us about his music, his life, his instruments and his philosophy of various things. He even sang us a few songs while he was here.
To learn more about this fascinating man and his music, check out this honest, somewhat irreverent interview: