The Quintessential American Barber Shop

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Pickin' & Trimmin'  features a classic barber shop in Drexel, North Carolina, and the men who have been meeting there to play bluegrass music, tell stories, and get an occasional haircut, for decades. Matt Morris, the director of the documentary, talks about the making of the film and what has happened at the shop more recently in a brief interview below. Don't miss Morris's new documentary, Mr. Happy Man, about 88-year-old Johnny Barnes and his commitment to spending hours every morning wishing Bermuda's commuters well.

The Atlantic:  How did you find this story and decide to tell it? 

Matt Morris: I came across The Barbershop when it was written up in the local newspaper in Wilmington, North Carolina. It sounded interesting and I was looking for a film subject so I took a trip up to the mountains. Visiting The Barbershop in Drexel was like traveling back in time. It's the living embodiment of Mayberry. The barbers were just as friendly and talkative as could be and the bluegrass music in the back room was so much better than I had imagined it would be. It was a dream come true, you could sit back and eat peanuts, tell stories, and listen to great music for hours. No pressure to ever get your hair cut there. In fact, Herb Lambert, the mandolin player you see ripping up a tune in the film, has never gotten his hair cut there. 

How are they doing now?

Lawrence, the head barber, passed away a few years ago but David continues to cut hair at the shop and Lawrence's son Carroll keeps it in good shape. A few years ago the shop fell into disrepair and there was some concern that they couldn't afford to fix it up. I made a short video when I passed through town and visited the shop and helped to solicit donations towards keeping the shop open. So far we've raised $1,500 and Carroll has done lots of renovation in the back room but there's always more to be done and any help is appreciated. Carroll just started a Facebook page for the shop and it's my new favorite thing on the internet -- every week he uploads new clips of the boys jamming in the back room.

For more films by Matt Morris, visit http://www.mattmorrisfilms.com/, where you can also make a donation to The Barber Shop Preservation Fund

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Kasia Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg is the executive producer for video at The AtlanticMore

Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg joined The Atlantic in 2011 to launch its video channel and, in 2013, create its in-house video production department. She leads the development and production of original documentaries, interviews, and other video content for The Atlantic. Previously, she worked as a producer at Al Gore’s Current TV and as a content strategist and documentary producer in San Francisco. She studied filmmaking and digital media at Harvard University.
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