Songs of the Mountains, Songs of Resistance

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Title: Songs of the Mountains, Songs of Resistance A study of protest music against "King Coal" in Southern Appalachia, historically and today
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Creator: Henry, Sara
Publisher: New College of Florida
Place of Publication: Sarasota, Fla.
Creation Date: 2011
Publication Date: 2011


Subjects / Keywords: Protest Music
Folk Music
Mountain Top Removal
Coal Mining
Genre: bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
born-digital   ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation


Abstract: The focus of this project has been compiling a collection of music about mountaintop removal coal mining and the history of coal mining in Southern Appalachia. The songs are ballads, folk, bluegrass, and old time songs of the past and present. Some songs already focused on this important environmental and social justice issue, and others were changed lyrically to encompass this subject. The practice of changing lyrics to suit a new cause has been common in the history of folk music in America. For example, in Mark Allan Jackson�s Prophet Singer, he spends part of a chapter outlining the ways in which Woody Guthrie�s classic song �This Land is Your Land� has been appropriated for many causes since it was written in the early 1940s (Jackson 2007). The purpose of this project is to spread awareness of mountaintop removal through the medium of music. I did my fieldwork during the summer of 2010 at the United Mountain Defense Volunteer House in Knoxville, Tennessee. During my stay there, I interviewed and watched several regional artists play the music I am studying. In the interviews, many activist musicians highlighted the power of music to inform and inspire listeners. Many said a person may not be willing to listen to what you have to say if it conflicts with his or her beliefs, but if you sing it in a song, if there is emotion and melody behind your words, the person is more likely to hear your words and consider. This thesis project has two main components: a thesis performance in the Black Box Theater which was held on March 12, 2011, where fellow New College musicians and I played selections from the music I have studied, and the following essay, which discusses my fieldwork and analyzes the role of music in Appalachian people�s resistance against the abuses of �King Coal.�
Statement of Responsibility: by Sara Henry
Thesis: Thesis (B.A.) -- New College of Florida, 2011
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
Source of Description: This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The New College of Florida, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Local: Faculty Sponsor: Clark, Maribeth

Record Information

Source Institution: New College of Florida
Holding Location: New College of Florida
Rights Management: Applicable rights reserved.
Classification: local - S.T. 2011 H5
System ID: NCFE004510:00001

Permanent Link:

Material Information

Title: Songs of the Mountains, Songs of Resistance A study of protest music against "King Coal" in Southern Appalachia, historically and today
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Creator: Henry, Sara
Publisher: New College of Florida
Place of Publication: Sarasota, Fla.
Creation Date: 2011
Publication Date: 2011


Subjects / Keywords: Protest Music
Folk Music
Mountain Top Removal
Coal Mining
Genre: bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
born-digital   ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation


Abstract: The focus of this project has been compiling a collection of music about mountaintop removal coal mining and the history of coal mining in Southern Appalachia. The songs are ballads, folk, bluegrass, and old time songs of the past and present. Some songs already focused on this important environmental and social justice issue, and others were changed lyrically to encompass this subject. The practice of changing lyrics to suit a new cause has been common in the history of folk music in America. For example, in Mark Allan Jackson�s Prophet Singer, he spends part of a chapter outlining the ways in which Woody Guthrie�s classic song �This Land is Your Land� has been appropriated for many causes since it was written in the early 1940s (Jackson 2007). The purpose of this project is to spread awareness of mountaintop removal through the medium of music. I did my fieldwork during the summer of 2010 at the United Mountain Defense Volunteer House in Knoxville, Tennessee. During my stay there, I interviewed and watched several regional artists play the music I am studying. In the interviews, many activist musicians highlighted the power of music to inform and inspire listeners. Many said a person may not be willing to listen to what you have to say if it conflicts with his or her beliefs, but if you sing it in a song, if there is emotion and melody behind your words, the person is more likely to hear your words and consider. This thesis project has two main components: a thesis performance in the Black Box Theater which was held on March 12, 2011, where fellow New College musicians and I played selections from the music I have studied, and the following essay, which discusses my fieldwork and analyzes the role of music in Appalachian people�s resistance against the abuses of �King Coal.�
Statement of Responsibility: by Sara Henry
Thesis: Thesis (B.A.) -- New College of Florida, 2011
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
Source of Description: This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The New College of Florida, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Local: Faculty Sponsor: Clark, Maribeth

Record Information

Source Institution: New College of Florida
Holding Location: New College of Florida
Rights Management: Applicable rights reserved.
Classification: local - S.T. 2011 H5
System ID: NCFE004510:00001

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Songs of the Mountains, Songs of Resistance Appalachia, historically and today by Sara Henry A Thesis Su bmitted to the Division s of Humanities and Social Sciences New College of Fl orida In partial fulfillment of the requirements for a degree of Bachelor o f Arts in Music / Anthropology Profess ors Maribeth Clark (Sponsor), Maria Vesperi and Stephen Miles S arasota, Florida May 2011


ii Dedication To the Southern Appalachian Mountains and the life and culture they support.


i ii Acknowledgements I am so grateful for having had the opportunity to carry out this project. Thank you to my professors for their support throughout this whole process: from deciding upon this topic to listening to drafts of my performance script to helping me work through theoretical ideas, to providing thoughtful edits for my drafts, you all have taught me so much. Thank you to all the United Mountain Defense and Mountain Justice volunteers. I could not have met all the great musicians I did without your guidance and enthusiasm. Thank y ou to all the musicians who gave their time to interviews and who I had the chance to see per form. Each of you is so talented and passionate and I am grateful for having met you! To everyone I met in Souther n Appalachia: you all inspire me! A Mountain Justice to live in the h ome so many have known for generations, and I have endless respect for you. Thank you to everyone who performed for Songs of the Mountains, Songs of Resistance: Sam Chillaron, Jeremy Zorn, Dinah Juergens, Ashley King, Sarah McManus, Chrissy Martin, Sara St ovall, Flint Blade, Elliott Countess and Kaitlyn Bock. Thank you to Skylar Ead the Black Box Theater TA for all her hard work running lights, sound and the slide show for the performance. Thank you to Audra Locicero for taking beautiful pictures, to Br ad Bryant and Ashley King for filming, and to Flint Blade for recording the performance. Thank you to my mother, Sabra Henry, for the incredible food she made for the event and the loving support she provided and thank you to the rest of my family for be ing there in spirit Thank you again to Sam Chillaron, without him I never would have gotten to Tennessee, never would have set up a tent behind the UMD house, traveled all over the region, known how to use a tape recorder and how to transcribe recordings You have been there for me unconditionally, thank you. You all are amazing people and I am so grateful to know you.


iv Table of Contents An Introd uction 1 Chapter 1: Method and Theory 9 Chapter 2: Music and Activism 3 3 Chapter 3: Songs of the Mountains, Songs of Resistance: a thesis performance 6 6 Conclusions 7 4 Thesis Performance Script 7 8 Bibliography 8 9


v Figures Figure 1: Photo by Sara Henry near Eagan in Campbell County, Tennessee water is orange due to iron sed iments from nearby coal mine 4 Figure 2: UMD water testing, 07 13 06 1 4 4 9 5 7 Figure 5 : Larry Gibson, standing at the edge of his property overlooking one of the la rgest MTR sites in West Virgina 5 9 F i g u r e 6 : E r i c B l e v i n s i n a t r e e s i t o n C o a l R i v e r M o u n t a i n W e s t V i r g i n i a 6 2


vi Songs of the Mountains, Songs of Resistance Sara Henry New College of Florida, 2011 Abstract The focus of this project has been compiling a collection of music about mountaintop removal coal min ing and the history of coal mining in S outhern Appal achia. The songs are ballads, folk, bluegrass and old time songs of the past and present. Some songs already focus ed on this important environmental and social j ustice issue, and others were changed ly rically to encompass this subject. The practice of changing lyrics to suit a new cause has been common in the history of folk music in America. For example, in Mark Prophet Singer he spends part of a chapter outlining the ways in which W causes since it was written in the early 1940s (Jackson 2007). The purpose of this project is to spread awareness of mountaintop removal through the medium of music. I did my fieldwork during the summer of 2010 at the United Mountain Defense Volunteer House in Knoxville, Tennessee. During my stay there, I interviewed and watched several regional artists play the music I am studying. In the interviews, many activi st mus icians highlighted the power of music to inform and inspire listeners. Many said a person may not be willing to listen to what you have to say if it conflicts with his


vii or her beliefs, but if you sing it in a song, if there is emotion and melody be hi nd your words, the person is more likely to hear your words and consider This thesis project has two main components : a thesis performance in the Black Box Theater which was held on March 12 2011, where fellow New College musicians and I play ed s election s from the music I have studied, and the following essay, which discusses my fieldwork and anal yzes nst Professor Maribeth Clark Division of Humanities


1 An Introd uction When driving north from South Florida to Tennessee, the landscape changes from flat pine woodlands, vast sawgrass swamps and oak hammocks to soaring mountains covered by temperate rainforests, filled with trickling streams that lead into deep, from horizon to horizon flat land to rolling hills in Georgia. Finally in East Tennessee, it seems like every city is in a valley, surrounded by a m ountain range that sweeps across the sky. All these terrains have their own value to the ecosystems they support and the people who call them home. In Eastern Tennessee, the mountains play a huge role in shaping the culture of those who live there. Many in the towns in the valleys think of environment, these mountains are endangered. The mountains that are visible to cities are safe, but hidden behind slopes in the backwoods o f Southern Appalachia in East Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina, the landscape is changing. Where once there were rolling hills covered with wildlife, farmland and pastures, there are now vast, desolate moonscapes, where nothi ng grows except spray on hydro seed grass. The coal companies call it mountaintop mining, but the activists who oppose it call it mountaintop removal. Either way, it is the annihilation of the natural beauty that is the Southern Appalachian Mountains. Coal is a fossil fuel. L ike oil and natural gas it is the ancient remains of plants buried Barbara Freese explains in Coal: a Human History,


2 It was a part of an enormous swampy forest of bizarre trees and gigantic ferns century writer described them that are no longer found on earth except for some that survive in greatly shrunken form. Most coal beds were part of the first great wave of plant life to leave the oce ans and colonize the land, paving the way for animals to do the same and sheltering them as they took important evolutionary steps. In other words, coal is the highly concentrated vestige of extinct life forms that once dominated the planet, life forms th at were themselves a critical link in the chain of environmental changes that made the emer gence of advanced life possible (Freese 2003: 3). Fossil fuels are finite resources : once we use them, it takes a very long time for ery essence of coal is carbon that was taken out of circulation over millions of years; burning coal suddenly puts that carbon Freese states supplies will not last f orever. There have been several different methods of extraction used during the history of coal mining. Mountaintop removal (MTR) / valley fill mining is the most devastating type of surface mining and began in the mid ems, transforming some of the most biologically diverse temperate forests in the world into The Tennessee Mountain Defender (Anonymous 2008, 4). Surface mining also refers to area and contour minin g, which date back to the late 19 th and early 20 th centuries. This is essentially any mining where the desired mineral is exposed above ground, as opposed to underground deep mining. The evolution of surface mining has been shaped by changi ng markets and technology. Non destructive forms of surface coal mining probably began during the colonial period, in the late 18 th


3 over, exposing white clay 17). The first surface mining was not destructive, only a product of lucky circumstance for those who discovered the exposed coal, which became increasingly valued as wood for fuel steadily became scarcer. Mountaintop removal is exactly what it sou nds like: the coal companies obtain a piece of property, remove the timber, and t hen use explosives to blast the areas of the mountain needed to access the coal seam(s) underneath. Thomas N. Bethell explains the aftermath Voices from the Mountains of gravity, in the valleys below. After a heavy rain, it becomes mud and moves like lava until it reaches the bottom of the This silt contains minerals which are harmless when underground, but extremely da ngerous when oxidized Sometimes these minerals end up in nearby streams and rivers, and often well water which woul d otherwise be used for drinking. One of the most easily recognizable of these minerals is iron, which has turned many streams


4 Figure 1: Photo by Sara Henry near Eagan in Campbell County, Tennessee water is orange due to iron sediments from nearby coal mine. In the activist directed documentary film Low Coal Owen Stout, a resident of Cabin Creek, West Virginia, held up a jar of murky grey n prefer. as white as snow when it comes o ut. What it is, I have no clue. A ll I know is it runs not there, it eventually will be. You just cannot get away from pollution, and this water runs into the streams constantly, and this runs in to the Kanawha River, Kanawha River


5 runs into the Ohio and Ohio into Mississippi, then into the Gulf. So this is actually polluting the world. From Cabin Creek is actually polluting the entire world. Many lives are at stake here. Not just ours but the The contamination of water i s a devastating side effect of MTR that affects communitie s in and beyond Southern Appalachia MTR also causes increased f looding and erosion. Plant life holds the soil in place; the roots of trees are what make a hillside sturdy topsoil and no trees t o absorb rainfall, many people who live near the mines live in fear of flash floods and landslides (MTR pamphlet made by The Alliance for Appalachia). Another impact of the use of coal is the dirty process of burnin g it in coal fired power plants, whi ch are plentiful throughout Southern Appalachia. Elevated levels of airborne, hazardous dust are documented around surface mining operations (Mrinal and Majee 2007: 17 25). A November 20 09 report on the effects of coal by the Physicians for Social Responsibility found that coal combustion affects not only the human respiratory system, but also the cardiovascular and nervous system fired power pl who live nearby. Yet it is important to remember that there are similar risks for those who live near coal fired power plants, which exist all over America, not only in the Ap palachian Mountains. Americans receive over half their electricity from coal fired power plants alone. Florida


6 Appalachian coal. As of 2005, there were 30 coal fired power plants in Florida and as of coal, and yet it has been the fourth most coal dependent state in the country, spending Today more than ever activists must work to end mountaintop removal in the wake of accelerating destruction. The brave people of this region are literally fighting for their lives. There are many important groups which are working for environmental ju stice in Appalachia, including Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, Climate Ground Zero, Southern Energy Network, and several others. For this project, my focus is on Mountain Justice and the local group I interned with, United Mountain Defense. Mountain Justice is a regional network of local grassroots environmental justice groups that work to stop mountaintop removal. Mountain Justice has annual summer campouts for education and action called Mountain Justice Summe r, which are held in different affected areas of Southern Appalachia each year. These campouts usually last two to three weeks. This gathering is based on events that other environmental activist groups have held in the past, like Redwoods Summer in nort hern California. Mountain Justice also holds annual Fall Summits and Mountain Justice Spring Breaks, which are organized in the same fashion, only the Fall Summits are usually a weekend and the Spring Breaks are a week long. In the summer of 2010, I worked as an intern with United Mountain Defense (UMD), a branch of Mountain Justice which is based in Knoxville, Tennessee. I stayed at the


7 United Mountain Defense Volunteer House with other interns and the volunteer coordinator, Matt Landon. On a clear day, when standing on the porch of the UMD House, you can see the garden fade into pastures, then new cookie cutter houses, then the Smokey Mountains in the distance, through t he haze of smog that hangs over Knoxville. Most interns who work with Unit ed Mountain Defense have a specific project they are working on. Mary, an intern who was there the whole time I was there, had completed her first year at law school and was working on an environmental law project with activist lawyer and UMD co founder C hris Irwin. Jenny, who arrived shortly before I left, was there to work on political art projects and to help produce a new issue of The Mountain Defender on protest songs about mountaintop removal, strip mining, and the dangers of coal mining, as well as celebration songs of the beauty of the rolling hills, valleys and project as a whole includes two main components: a performance of selected songs an d this essay. Music is an integral part of the Mountain Justice movement. Every activist I interviewed formally and spoke to casually agreed that it is an important tool for resistance, especially in Appalachia, where there is rich history of regio nal music. Chapter 1 details the methods and theoretical basis used for carrying out my fieldwork du ring the summer of 2010. I both praise and problematize the activist anthropology rhetoric. I introduce theories in this chapter which work to contextual ize the use of the performing arts to empower oppressed peoples worldwide, as well as to inform audiences of a particular cause or political situation Chapter 2 explore s the role of music in the Mountain Justice movement and its connection with the role that music played in the coal


8 th century, showing that activists today feel they have a tradition of local protest music. I discuss the musicians whose music I have collected, learned and performed, giving special attention to the musicians I interviewed and spent time with during my fieldwork. I review several songs which have been important parts of this project. Chapter 3 discuss es the experience of putting together and enacting Songs of the Mountains, Songs of Resistanc e the performance aspect of this project. In this chapter I consider artists whose performance styles influenced the way I structured my performance. Learning and arranging the songs, collaborating with other artists, technically putting the show togeth er, and the educational value of the performance wi ll be discussed. To conclude I explore the role music plays in education and in building healthy communities.


9 Chapter 1, Method and Theory I. Method I carried out the fieldwork for this project o ver four weeks during June and July of 2010. During that time I spent three weeks camping behind the United Mountain Defense Volunteer House in Knoxville, Tennessee and one week traveling to different parts of Southern Appalachia, most importantly to Rock Creek, where the Coal River property on Kayford Mountain, both in Southern West Virginia. My goal was to meet local musicians and activists, and to interview them about the role of music in the current fight against mountaintop removal coal mining, as well as the role of music in the history of regional resistance I used the method of participant observation as a guiding concept, and worked as a member of United Mountain Defense while carrying out my research. I also kept a journal in which I took notes at UMD meetings and reflected on my daily experiences. I had two sets of primary interview questions, one for activists and one for activist musicians. I started out by ask ing each person I interviewed how he or she came to be an activist and first learned about mountaintop removal coal mining. Then I would turn to This would usual ly lead into a discussion of protest music and what music is important in the Mountain Justice movement. If it did not I would more directly point the conversation toward the topic. I would then go on to ask about music as a tool for resistance: for edu cation, inspiration, and fundraising. At the end, I would check in again and ask if there was any other music that the person could think of that is important in the


10 tradition of protest music in Southern Appalachia. This turned out to be a very good way to stress my main research goal and brought up some relevant anecdotes. I would also ask the musicians about what inspired them to write political music if they had participated in any benefit concerts for United Mountain Defense or played at any of the Mountain Justice camps and what inspired them to write protest music. This interview structure encouraged interviews rich with stories and feeling. One person I interviewed, Chris Irwin, an attorney and co founder of United Mountain Defense, excla d to tell me the incredible story of how, as a teenager, he first knew he needed to fight for the wild lands of North America. I enjoyed this narrative immensely. The question helped to break the ice and get conversation flowing. I knew only two people involved with UMD and in the Knoxville area before starting this project, so it was always nice to start with a v ery general qu estion to make the interviewee and I feel more comfortable talking with each other. After getting an understanding of where each activist was coming from, it was easier to get into a more focused conversation about the role of music in activism. I al so spent time going to see local musicians play at venues and at homes. Most of the artists I interacted with were recommended to me by Matt Landon or other UMD volunteers I met at the weekly meetings. I saw some bands that I found in the local newspaper s, but I did not have much success finding artists with strong political motives going that route. I met the musicians who were most relevant to my project from being directly introduced to them by UMD volunteers.


11 In addition to carrying out my resea rch, I worked with UMD in other ways and participated in keeping up the volunteer house. Although everyone living at the volunteer house was working on individual projects, there were many chores and basic upkeep for the house and several acres of surroun ding land on the property. Every Sunday night we had a meeting where we assign ed responsibilities for cleaning each room and cook ing each lunch and dinner. Money was pooled for a collective food fund: everyone paid $3 a day for food, $21 a week. The rea son why the UMD House handles food and chores this way is because the group believes in sharing household responsibilities and resources. The idea was that we could have more free time and more quality food if we pooled our resources and shared instead of buying things only for ourselves. Taking turns cooking was key in creating an intimate, community oriented atmosphere, which was conducive to forming the group bonds needed to work together as activists. Many collective houses, as well as activist gathe rings, have community meals and organized, shared household upkeep. Another great example of this structure can be found at the Beehive Design Collective House in Machias, Maine, where I was an intern during the summer of 2009. United Mountain Defense us ed the Beehive Design Collective House as a model when they were deciding how to organize their living and working space. I ncidentally, the Beehive Collective released a poster in 2010 called The True Cost of Coal which is an educational illustration of the situation in Southern Appalachia as well as the global addiction to fossil fuels. Their art is a prime example of activist visual art. The UMD Volunteer House has beautiful gardens in its vast, downward sloping front yard. A big part of my work in giving back to the space was helping in the garden. It had a lot of weeds when we first got there, because the house had been vacant for a few


12 weeks during the Mountain Justice Summer Camp. Fellow volunteers and I worked to remove all the weeds, harve st crops, and plant new seeds. Another important task was collecting water for the house. The contamination of water and the destruction of watersheds is one of the most tragic side effects of mountaintop removal coal mining and the coal burning pr ocess. In Mingo County, for abandoned deep mines waste is stored in massive, dangerous coal slurry impoundm ents, often built in the headwaters of a watershed. The slurry is a witches brew of water used to wash the coal for market, carcinogenic chemicals used in the washing process and coal fines (small particles) laden with all the compounds found in coal, inc luding toxic heavy metals such These slurry impoundments are a serious danger to the health of local people. struggle folks here have been fighting since I activist Jen Jackson stated (Jackson 2006: 4). Apart from water contamination, MTR brings up the issue of watershed burial: between 1992 and 2010, 2,000 miles of headwater streams were buried as a result of surface m ining at a rate of 120 miles per year, according to the EPA (EPA 2010). At the UMD House, we never drank the tap spring which is said to have healing qualities. Matt Landon, the UMD volunteer coordinator, told us that all the locals swear by it; people say that it keeps them youthful and healthy.


13 An important volunteer activity for UMD has been water monitor ing coal impacted areas. Their website r We have sampled and tested water quality in streams in the New River Watershed, Elk Valley, the Eagan area of Claiborne County and after the TVA disaster in Roane County, TN. Test and data results are made available to TDEC (Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation) and OSM (Office of Surface Mining) and to members of the public either by request or through distribution online through our listserv and website. Our data advances science by providing a portrait over time of water quality in the Tennessee coalfields and of the impacts of surface mining and by providing samples for scientists and others to study ( UMD uses three main methods: chemical monitoring using a YSI digital monitor, biological survey of ma croinvertabrates, and visual stream assessment, such as noting discoloration. For example, UMD volunteers have found deadly levels of iron in the New River Watershed in East Tennessee. Environmental lawyer and co founder of UMD Chris Irwin noted in an art icle about water monitoring, began our water testing program, occasionally state officials and members of the strip mine industry would be condescending. This stopped w hen the field data began rolling


14 Figure 2: UMD water testing, 07 13 06 Unfortunately, many people in both the urban and rural areas of Southern Appalachia do drink the tap water. They do this largely out of habit, but also be cause many people are not lucky enough to live close to a spring anymore, because they are increasingly being covered by valley fills after mountaintop mining water has been contaminated. In the article quoted above, Jackson m entioned the appearing normal on the outside, but black as coal on the inside; of a hunted deer found rotting away from the inside out. Animals rotting on the insid e, walking around with a many humans experience living in coalfields. Coal River Mountain Watch Executive Director Judy Bonds, and warrior for the movement, died re cently from cancer. Many of


15 practice she worked so hard to end. CRMW co director Vern on Haltom said in an ode to Bonds arfork holler, where she remained toxic dust and led to the cancer that wasted no time in taking its toll Like clean water, air quality is also a major conc ern for those who live near surface mining. Another activity I participated in was the weekly UMD volunteer meetings. They were held every Tuesday evening at The Brewery in Old Town, Knoxville. There was a very spacious, quiet banquet room in the ba ck of the restaurant that they allowed UMD to use for meetings, which was very generous of them. It was no coincidence that Tuesday night happens to be $2 draft night at The Brewery, which most volunteers enjoyed. This helped to build a relaxing atmosphe re at meetings, and put volunteers in the mood to spend more time with each other after the meetings, which helped to build to stronger friendships among members. Another way I participated in the group was driving north to the surface mining impact ed community of Eagan, Tennessee with Matt and another volunteer to pass out flyers to residents about a community meeting at the local Clearfork Community Institute Cle arfork Community Institute is a community center which serves many purposes, including holding art classes and camps for children, employing senior workers, hosting college age interns to do community volunteer work, and hosting the Woodland Community land trust, whose mission is to purchase and hold lands for local residents who might otherwise be landless, because the land in this area is largely owned by out of state and out of country corporations (Center for Social Concerns website). Driving


16 around ha nding out flyers to local residents was interesting largely because of the scenery: we saw several creeks that had been dyed bright orange from iron run off after mining. Going to Eagan was one of the most exciting parts of my fieldwork. Knoxville is a big city where the damage is less obvious, but Eagan is a small town with a long history of coal mining. From Clearfork Community Institute there is a view of the beautiful Clearfork Mountain, which is slated to be surface mined. This will damage t he people who live in those homes. The meeting we were handing out flyers for was specifically about encouraging residents to ask the mining company for a pre blasti ng survey of their homes. That way, if their homes were damaged by the mining, they could prove it in court and hopefully be compensated. Overall, I aimed to be helpful to United Mountain Defense in every way I could. I balanced my time between vo lunteer activities and pursuing personal research goals. Interning with UMD was a rewarding, eye opening experience and I am thankful to h ave had the opportunity II. Theory As guiding theoretical frameworks for my research I used the ideas of activist a Critique: Indigenous Land Rights and the Contradictions of Politically Engaged affirm a p olitical alignment with an organized group of people in a struggle and allow


17 dialogue with them to shape each phase of the process, from conception of the research Hal e compares activist research with cultural critique and explains that the two types of hrough the content of the knowledge produced, not through the relationship established with an land rights struggle in Central America. He stated that he suspects these ideas could apply to varying degrees to other social movements. The research I carried out was activist research, as opposed to cultural critique. The group of pe ople, United Mountain Defense, a local branch of the bioregional group Mountain Justice. I maintained a dialogue with the people I was working with throughout the entire process. In fact, I came up with the idea for the project during a conversation with Matt Landon, volunteer coordinator, and Bonnie Swinford, nonprofit manager at UMD and a volunteer coordinator at the time. I was on an al ternative spring break trip organized by a New College Vista Volunteer to work with UMD in 2009. I told them what my interests were and what my major at New College was, and together we discussed ideas for projects I could do if I interned with them over the summer. Studying the protest music of Southern Appalachia and collecting songs relevant to the movement was one of the projects we came up with. I did not end up interning with them that summer, but never forgot t he idea. D ialogue with UMD volunteers shaped the musicians I interacted with as well as the historical music I learned about through


18 interviews and casua l conversation. Matt and Bonnie, as well as other volunteers acted in many ways as mentors to me, and I am grateful for having had the o pportunity to learn from them. Activist anthropology is very useful because it can contribute to knowledge about the work could be criticized for being biased towards the organized group one is aligned with, thus not providing objective data. This is especially tricky because I a m focused on the music of the organized group. This music is usually emotionally charged because of the emotional themes at hand. There are many proclamations made in the songs I have studied that describe what is going on in a sturdy and striking way. away our hills / noted above, are responsible for covering 2,000 miles of head water streams. In a booklet about surface mining made by Kentucky Coal and CAT (Cater pillar, a company which produce imply provocative are pointing fingers at one another, it can be hard to say what is true until objective research is done. That is why I have not relied completel y on the music protesting surface mining, which is my focus, but delved into other sources such as EPA records. I have seen mountaintop removal and strip mining with my own eyes, met people whose homes have been destroyed, whose health has been compromise d, and whose livelihood from collecting wild foods and medicinals in the incredibly biodiverse forests of Southern


19 Appalachia has been made impossible (the Southern Appalachian temperate rainforests have the highest biodiversity of any forest system outsid e the tropics) (Lindsay 2007). In this essay I weave scientific facts with the testimonies of people who have experienced the destruction firsthand and the accounts of passionate disapproval in protest music. I consider the counterarguments of coal and o ther invested companies and acknowledge that they have a capitalist interest in framing their actions in a positive light for the sake of profit. The people who fight coal mining have less to gain. Many have already lost so much: homes, jobs, and lives. Activists are planning their activities not for profit but for the health of the environment and the people of the future. Another inspiration for this work is the idea of anthropology of performance, a useful tool for education and frame for looki ng at this project. Tom Barone is one scholar who based of design that pervade the inquiry and writing process. These features include (among others) the use of contextualized and vernacular language, the presence of aesthetic form, the promotion of empathy, and the construction er 1997, quoted in Barone 2002: 258). Barone explains that although these features are found in Finding My Place an ethnographic play by Saldaa and Wolcott, arts social science This is interesting, because the idea of arts based research, particularly in the form of ethnographic performing arts has a strong connection to the social sciences. Barone notes audience to dimensions of human experience previously unnoticed, to meanings that


20 provokes him or her to move b 1991: 21, quoted in Barone 2002: 259). This idea is relevant to activist performing arts. In the case of my per formance, Song of the Mountains, Songs of Resistance I aim to use way than could be done through writing or other mediums. Through creative representations of the past a nd of hopes for the future, it is possible to imagine a brighter weather starts to get cooler in November and early December. It was a day long event, where all the neighbors would work together to help kill the hog and butcher and Appalachian family wanna eat, you gotta work and learn them old time ways, with a garden and chickens and movement so ng like several of his other compositions in the sense that it does not specifically address do, dependence of fossil fu els in order to sustain a human friendly planet for generati ons to


21 grocery store for food all the time, more people could find ways to produce their own food, like growing backyard gardens and keeping chickens. Therefore he imagi ned important today for Southern Appalachian groups who work to expose the dark truths behind the powerful coal industry. party, where I happened to interview Dodson, is a great example of how Mountain Justice works to build community through getting people together and sharing food. When I attended this event in summer of 2010, it seemed like almost everyone who came brought a dish; there was more than enough food to go around. Creating opportunities for activists to bond like this is important for grassroots movements who rely largely on volunteers. Barone also discusses ethnographic and journalistic playwrights Moises Kaufman and Anna Devere Smith. He believes that it is important for ethnographic theatre to be accessible to a wider audience than the strictly acade mic. In the performance I created, I worked to make the language and content as accessible as possible to a wide audience, including people who had never ys are jargon free, accessible, disturbing, powerful, and overwhelmingly theatrical. And they are ethnographic texts, studies of people from various cultures and subcultures. They enhance our understanding as they entice us to vicariously adopt the manne


22 (among other things) that those of us in academic departments such as anthropology and e ducation that are traditionally associated with the social sciences may need to confer with professors of the arts and humanities about learning how to research and write all owed ideas of anthropology to inform my representation of the music I played through my descriptions and discussions of their themes. The notion of creating art within academia for academics as well as the general public is appealing and applicable to my project. Again, I wrote the script for the performance (the speeches between songs) with the intention that it would be accessible to anyone who wanted to listen. I had two performers read quotations from people I met during my fieldwork in order to stress the voices of others and add a conversational character to the speeches. I wanted the speeches to be both engaging and informative. Another example of interdisciplinary work between the performing arts and (1995). In this article, the two professors of Anthropology (Allen) and Theater (Garner) wrote about their experiences teaching performance focused anthropology classes ethnodrama, Conday Qatay In the piece, they provide an account of the basic structure of their classes, explaining that they focused on using improvisation to explore different cultural practices of the Andean community with which Allen conducted fieldwo (1995: 70). This structure allowed students to develop a deeper relationship with the daily lives of the people who they were studying. Reading about a culture with which


23 one is unfamiliar can contrib ute to and the use of visual aids or experiential enrichment can strengthen that understanding. Although the process of acting out rituals from other cultures often does little justice to what the ritu al would actually be like, it is useful for the student of anthropology in understanding the life ways and worldviews of others, or at least their own. Before this project, I loved bluegrass and folk music, especially politically charged bluegrass a nd folk music. A major inspiration for this projec t was my previous research on the life and work of Woody Guthrie, who wrote folk songs about social movements throughout the United States. Learning about his passion for telling stories of the people and spreading awareness about different social justice and labor issues through folk music encouraged me to embark on a simi lar journey with this project. Guthrie did a lot of traveling throughout his life and his songs are about many different people and pl aces across the country. Thus, he contributes to a tradition of American folk music, recognizable and relatable to people around the U.S. With this project I have built a greater understandin g of the history of Appalachian folk music, bluegrass and balla d singing. I have c ome to appreciate the heritage of coal resistance music in Southern Appalachia largely through the experience of playing many of these songs myself. Of course I will never know what it is like to spend a lifetime in the coalfields of S outhern Appalachia. Yet I have gained a clearer insight into the thoughts, feelings and actions of people in surface mining effected communities, as well as people who lived in the impoverished coal towns of the 20 th century, through anthropological field work, singing their songs and strumming their chord progressions. Simultaneously, I see the connection s among Appalachian folk music and other regional American folk musics, I


24 see how they all inform and inspire one another and fit into the web of America n folk music as whole. Between Theater and Anthropology, Victor Turner addressed the idea of connection through cross cultural enactment. Turner warns the cross cultural study of performance because of his writing style, which includes many personal anecdotes. dip our toes in the waters of life for fear of contam ination by what seems to be a iguing about this passage, because it communities around the world. There he ponders the question: how much is participation rm intellectually illuminating versus imperialistic? In the case of my fieldwork and project, I do not think that I teeter on the edge of being imperialistic because I focused on working with and learning from the communities I studied, rather than posing as an objective observer. It is clear from rnational Center for Theater Research in Paris, an example of artists who have been criticized for supposedly i mperialistic behavior In the early 1970s, Brook traveled with a group of actors to several different countries in Africa and performed for/with communities, seemingly all


25 something to define the place where they performed and showed influenced by the surrounding environment. This interaction is very different from a traditional hough they were not only successful in learning about the communities they visited but also collaborating artistically with people they met. Schechner quotes a story by Brook of a collaboration of fternoon, singing. We and the African group sang, and suddenly we found that we were hitting exactly the same been criticized for leading an imperialist project, it appears that there was some value in it. Is a project imperialist if one is not looking down upon but trying to communicate with? It seems that artists do communicate cross culturally without crossing the line into imperialist or dominating territory. I tri ed to do just that: respectfully and openly work with artists outside of my immediate culture. Yet of course, the cultural gap between the people I spent time with was very small as opposed to groups that Brook interacted with. We shared language, natio nal and regional (southeasterner) identity, environmental and social justice beliefs, and with many an enthusiasm for folk and bluegrass music. I was not an outsider in the strictest sense of the word; in many ways I was their comrade. Also, I was not th e only volunteer who came from outside of Southern Appalachia to


26 work on the campaign. United Mountain Defense actively works to recruit volunteers from around the country at national events like Power Shift in Washington D.C. An experience I had wor king with anot her artist is an example of the kind of artistic connection discussed above. Eric Blevins and I sat in the living room of a campaign house in Knoxville and passed songs back and forth. He wrote great music but considered himself an activist first. Most of his songs were about the Mountain Justice movement. I played him some of my political songs, and then he taught me how to play one of his. In general, during my fieldwork I found that most people were excited about my project: they were excited to share music, traditions and stories with me and I wanted to learn. The great value of the kind of work S c hechner was writing about, branching out culturally and learning performance techniques is that it opens up a different kind of communicati on. In my case it was musical communication and bonding. I have considered activist anthropology and anthropology in performance, and I will now consider a source which considers both theoretical frameworks: both the position of an oppressed people a nd the art they create. In Dancing with the Dead, Christopher Nelson (2008) discussed the how the memory of the Okinawan genocide of the Pacific government. In the introdu Nelson writes a narrative of his experience at a speech by the Prime Minister of Japan at the time, Hashimoto. In the speech, Hashimoto apologizes d for some of the hardships that Okinawans endured d uring and after the war, and he goes so far as to refer to islands which closely surround it. However, Nelson points out that by using this word, he


27 overlooks the hist Hashimoto to speak of Okinawa as hondo is to willfully recategorize it, to ignore routine geographic and historical differences, and to efface the distinctions that have contributed to the discr imination that Okinawans have endured at the hands of other Japanese for This selective remembrance of history can never bring forgiveness from or reconciliation with those who have been oppressed. Mounta in Justice activists refuse to allow the history of the oppression in Southern Appalachia by the coal industry to be forgotten, just as Okinawan activists cannot be swayed by a politician to forget their dark history of Japanese colonialism. Nelson quotes Adorno, who stated after the Second forgotten by those who were wronged is expressed by the party that committed the o remembering the past, seeking healing through reflection and storytelling, through dancing with the ancestors. The same is true of the Southern Appalachians who fight against mountaintop removal coal mining: they also use their performances to tell the back. Nelson explores many examples of Okinawan arts which both evoke remembrance of their history of colonization and their contemporary occupation by American military forces in the form of the plethor a of American military bases on the island (7). One striking example of these artists was Fujiki, a storyteller. Nelson states in reference to recreating the communit


28 Okinawan society; however, it could begin the process of reintegrating survivors into relationships with their ancestral sprits, and reestablishing a productive sense of community in what had be come a mere contiguous collection of households and presents several monologue like stories as different characters. One of the characters is an old Okinawan man in th e present day reflecting on his experiences in the war to his grandson. The performance explores the past as well as the present deeply through the lieutenant who is abusiv e and patronizing (46). Although Nelson says that the had been a common theme i n the lives of many Okinawans. Thus, performances which help people reflect on the past and the present through telling stories, whether spoken or sung, can build a stronger sense of community among oppressed peoples. Appalachian people share a her itage of resistance ; theirs is against the po werful coal industry. T elling stories of past protests can remind people of what is possible in the future. Like Okiniwan activists, Mountain Justice activists also work to build community through telling stori es of the past, such as the hard times people had in the coal towns in the first half of the twentieth century. ancestral spirits during Obon, the festival of the dead


29 nobility more than a century of travels encompassing life in the days of th [who ruled Okinawa and the Amami Islands from 1428 until 1879, when the kingdom was colonized by Japan], their impoverishment and exile to the mountainous northern forests [during WWII, experiencing violence from both Japanese and Americ an military forces], their struggle to return to the capital once more. Each of the songs narrates the experiences of a particular time and place where the former nobles lived along their journey. Some are songs that were composed during the period that they represent; others are later representations of that time and place. With their own particular chronotopes, their own narrative organization of space and time, the songs are bound together by the formal structure and the performative production of the d ance. Together they compose the unity of the work, the utterance. All are woven together, harmonized in dancers (20, 188). Nelson lived in Sonda, a wor king class neighborhood in Okinawa, for several years, 0). Nelson had originally told Iha Masakazu, the head o f the seinenkai time at the community center observing their practices, interviewing members, talking and weddings, during the grueling nights of Obon [the festival of the dead], and at the island wide E protest music, although his study was certainly more extensive and in depth. It was different in


30 that he was working with an organized performance gro up, while I was working with independent artists and bands in an organized environmental justice group. The focuses of the groups we were working with were different, but our goal in studying and actively t was also related to mine and to activist process, from conception of the research topic to data collection to verification and Nelson was in a somewhat liminal position; he was an exist in the daily lives of people. I also tried to function as both a folk music scholar and practitioner. The activists and residents of Southern Appalachia are purposefully bringing their memories of los s into collective consciousness as they work to end mountaintop removal coal mining. There has been a long history of coal miners resisting the abusive working and living conditions forced upon them by coal companies (the companies often had through unions and strikes, and there has been great folk and bluegrass music writte n about these historic struggles, which will be discussed in the next chapter. The tradition of music of resistance against the coal companies continues today, but against different kinds of abuse. Mechanization and the decline in union power have led to the availability of far fewer jobs for coal miners today, but residents of mining areas have a whole new


31 set of problems: the foundations of their houses are being cracked, their streams are being polluted, and their watersheds are being destroyed by the use of explosives to extract coal on the surface of nearby mountains. Activist musicians today are writing about their love of the land, love of their culture, their shared history, and the ecological desolation that is mountaintop removal, bringing toget her communities of resistance against a common experience of mistreatment by systematic, government maintained oppression. In reference to the situation Okinawans have faced since WWII, having to live with American military bases built on what was o nce fertile farmland, case after case of American soldiers raping Okinawan children, and the unfair distribution of social welfare of subjective nonsynchronism hat the future that ought to be available to them anticipated and expected lives that they would one day lead. Now, these bright images of the future exist only as remembered exactly what many Southern Appalachians feel towards the structural inequality the U.S. state and federal government agencies create when they approve permit after permit for surface mining throughout the r egion and do not adequately enforce Clean Water Act standards. Both Okinawans and Southern Appalachians unite in groups for social and environmental justice causes in their communities. For Okiniwans, it is symbolized in the fight against the America n military bases that are all over the island, far disproportionate to the number of American bases on mainland Japan (7). For Appalachians, it is the fight against mountaintop removal coal mining, which does not


32 occur at a high rate anywhere else in the United States. They have both experienced terrible atrocities in recent years, including loss of innocent children due to the malevolent actions of Americans at the U.S. military bases in one case, and the blasting of mountains, destroying entire ecosyste ms in the other. In one case, in 1995, an Okinawan child was raped by American solidiers young boy was crushed and killed in his bed at night while his brother lay sleeping next The miners were ordered to work in the middle of the night with no lights, and they were out of their permit zone. This kind of irresponsibility is not uncommon among coal companies. In different ways, both regions have been and continue to be national sacrifice zones. Yet they continue to resist against mistreatment by sustaining strong community bonds, largely through commu nity arts, by refusing to forget the past in order to build a better future. In this chapter I first detailed the guiding methods I used for my fieldwork as well as my approach toward holding interviews. I then delved into several theories which help to conceptualize the research I did within the larger picture of anthropological, activist and arts based research. In the next chapter, I will discuss the role of music in activism and the uniting, inspirational power of protest music in Southern Appala chia, historically and today.


33 Chapter 2, Music and Activism in Southern Appalachia, Historically and Today Music has played a vital role in the history of resistance against the abuses of King Coal in Southern Appalachia. From the union battles of the early 1900s, to the strip mining laments of the 1960s and 70s, to the passionate protest songs of today, there have been many songs written about the struggle for social and environmental justice in this region. During my fieldwork, the activists and musicians I interviewed told me about what music they thought was important to the Mountain Justice movement and the heritage of Appalachian resistance activists embrace. This chapter looks chronologically at this music, leading into con temporary activist artists that I intervi ewed and had the joy of seeing perform. I will provide background information about each artist and give examples of movement songs they have written, often quoting some of the most striking lyrics. As I transitio n from a discussion of the music of the 1970s to contemporary working to show how this music is a part of a continuing tradition by giving examples of artists who have played this song at different points in time. The mountains and the coal within them have shaped the culture of Southern Appalachia throughout the 20 th century including the rich traditions of ballad singing, folk, bluegrass, and old time music. Sin ce mining industries set up shop in this region, coal mining has become the main economic activity, and since that time, people have been singing songs and telling stories ie states in To Save the Land and People: A History of Opposition to Surface Coal Mining


34 in Appalachia he mines for only part of the year, and most miners also continued other work activities such as keeping personal gardens and livestock (16). The late nineteenth and early twentieth century marks the beginning of employment of full time coal miners and th e booming coal towns which came to characterize much of Southern Appalachia. Much of the region saw huge population increases, because local people eventually could not supply the whole workforce for the expanding mines. In Harlan County, Kentucky, a pla ce famous for union battles during both the 1930s and 70s, the population increased nearly 200 percent between 1910 and 1920, from 10,564 to 31,546 people (Shackelford and Weinberg 1977: 193). This population increase also raised the amount of diversity i n Southern Appalachia: in the state of West Virginia, f or example, there were few African American miners in 1880, but by 1910, there were 12,000. In the same time period, the number of recently immigrated Eastern European miners in Appalachia rose from 924 to 28,000 (Montrie 2003: 16). These coal towns were not too far off from slave quarters in the first half of the actual cash because the new industrial economy was b ased on scrip. Scrip was manufactured by individual coal companies and usually was a metallic or celluloid disk month, men received federally minted money. If employees wished to draw on their earnings betweentimes and by necessity most did (Shckelford and Weinberg 1977: 194). Scrip gave coal companies several advantages. It


35 spatially tied coal miners and their families to the coal towns, because the only places they could buy necessities were in company owned stores. It also ensured that the companies would make back most of what they paid the miners through the income of their stores. Finally, it kept the miners in debt to the co mpany, so that they could not leave at any time because they had drawn funds early out of necessity. The famous country singer songwriter Merle Travis was the son of a coal miner and grew up in the coal towns of Muhlenburg County, Kentucky. In his 1947 album Folk Songs of the Hills he included several spoken introductions, including introductions to many a Kentucky coal miner tha t pretty near owes his soul workin fer that he goes on fer years without being paid one red cent in real honest to goodness money. But he can always go to the company store and draw flickers or scrip example of how music has helped to write the history of those who have been oppressed by coal companies in Appalachia. Sara Ogan Gunning (1910 1983) is another songwriter who grew up in the coal towns at he was lucky to have found a career other than coal mining, lucky that he got to get out and explore the country, but Gunning


36 stayed in Appalachia for much of her adult life (Green 284). Both her husband and father were coal miners. Both men died befo re their time on the job. She felt the full weight of the poverty of living in coal towns: she lost her baby boy to hunger, and watched her neighbors babies die the same way (Guthrie 1967: 154). Her songs describe the terrible conditions many miners and nds, you are a wondering / What the miners eat and wear / This question I will try to answer / For breakfast w e had bulldog gravy / Fo r supper we had beans and bread / The miners / Guthrie 1967: 1 57). A song hard life Gunnin what do you get for a livin but a dollar at the company store? A tumble down shack to live in, snow and rain pours in the top? You have to pay the company rent, your payin never sto ps. Coal mining is the most dangerous work in our land today, with plenty of what capitalism can really mean for the workers, the backbone of the system. As the late great Woody Guthrie said in Hard Hitting Songs for Hard Hit People deadlier and s tronger than rifle bullets, and have cut a wider swath than a machine gun could. She working folks all over everywhere get together, shake hands, and stand side by side, and back to back, a fighting like hell out of the big rich guys that say they own all of the land, all of the hills, all of the crops, and all of the coal and iron an d gold that down under the ground They claim they


37 own all of this stuff. Sara says the few special families. It belongs equal and alike to all of us. Me, and you. Us Guthrie 1967: 154). working conditions and better pay during the first half of the twentieth century. In her (Gunning 1967: 161). The workers of course did not have total command over the power of the companies, but the unions and the powe r of strikes certainly leveled the playing field a bit. During the famous Harlan County strike of 1931, another strong union woman of dangerous for union leaders, who dealt with armed company deputies on the lookout for them. They would beat, jail, and sometimes even kill union organizers on strike. Florence Reece was the wife of one of the Harlan County union leaders, Sam Reece. Sheriff J. H. Blair and his men came to the ir home one night in search of Sam, and found Florence at home alone with their seven children. Sam had received word that there might be a raid, so he did not come home that night. They ransacked their house and then waited outside, hoping to meet Mr. R eece at his arrival. In a desperate rage after this incident, Florence Reece pulled a calendar page off the wall, sat at the kitchen table, and of their strike and so many others throughout the twentieth century.


38 Although Woody Guthrie was not from Southern Appalchia, he wrote some great songs about the unions of the region. Woody Guthrie was born in Okemah, Oklahoma, est, yellingest, preachingest, w alkingest, talkingest, laughingest, cryingest, shootingest, fist fightingest, bleedingest, gamblingest, gun, club, and razor carryingest of our ranch and farm towns, because it blossomed into one of our first Oil Boom Towns, Leventhal 1990: 3). He traveled around the Midwest and Southwest, ending up in Southern California, where he played in a group with his cousin, Jack Guthrie, called D radio program (6, 16). moved to New York City in 1940. talk it over and o out of work and where the job is or whose broke and where the money is or whose carrying a gun and history of American folk music. Because he traveled all over the country and met many people from different struggles, he had a wide perspective and was thinking about America as a whole. (Jackson 2007). He thought of the workers of America as united in sentiment; he believed that they needed to work together across movement and occupational boundaries in order to see substantial change, as shown in his words about Sara Ogan Gunning quoted above.


39 Like Gunning, Jean Ritchie hails from the coal fields of Kentucky, specifically Viper, Perry County. Ritchie opposes surface mining and has throughout her life. She wrote some well surface mining (clear cutting forests as the companies do causes erosion which can lead family in work and relaxation, on walks through the hills and out on the front porch. Alan Lomax, the prolific folklorist, recorded the Ritchie family and considered them one of th e great ballad singing families of the Southern Appalachians. Now 87 years old, Jean Ritchie is both a folklore scholar and practitioner. She has published several songbooks of family favorites with personal anecdotes before each song. The foreword to o Ritchie, [Jean being the youngest], unblessed by television and radio, entertained themselves with games and songs. For the most part these were the same games and songs t hat their parents had sung when they were children. And, because there was little influence from the blossoming world outside the forbidding mountains, there was little change in the chain of song, dance, and story, that began when the first Ritchie arriv ed in the early 18 th (Brand 1964 no page number forward to Ritchie 1999 ). But those were the days of her childhood. Ritchie said in the 1970s,


40 This is the day of the giant bulldozer, the hideous grinding auger, machinery of the strip miner, an d the smoke and dust of them hang over the ridges and hollers of eastern Kentucky like a pall of sorrow. This is the time when all the sins of past generations have caught up with us. For my Grandpa Hall, it was an unwitting sin. He, along with most of h is neighbors, sold the mineral rights to his land to the friendly, likable man who said he represented a company that thought there might be a little coal on our land worth getting out. The company was willing to take a big chance and pay Grandpa 50 cents an acre and, since Grandpa had more than a thousand acres, this amounted to around $500, a handsome sum in those days. For a man with a dozen children, it was also impossible to refuse. explains the Broad Form Deed. While residents retain the right to live on their land, after coal companies to do whatever they need to the ground in order to reach coal seams 2011: 38). Mountain Justice. The annual Independence behind after mountaintop mining) is a meeting place for activists to socialize, share food, camp, and listen to many great politica l folk singers. As the sun was going down after the last musicians had played, the organizers of the event called everyone (about 50 or so of us) to come out to the lawn in front of the stage and hold hands in a big semi circle (which became two semi circ les as people crowded in). They announced that they we


41 to many in the crowd; I was told that this is something that happens at many events. It was lead by the prof essional musicians who had just played, Michael and Carrie Kline, as well as others on stage who knew it very well. The crowd was mixed: some people the cool of the with the fact that we were all so physically close worked to bond us all, relative outsiders and tight community members alike. Michael and Carrie Kline are active volunteers in t he Mountain Justice movement and widely respected professional folk musicians and scholars. Michael Kline has been Kurby put out the anti strip mining album t It Back: Songs of Miners and Mining Communities in the early 1970s. Now the Klines are an Appalachian guitar duo with two guitars and two voices. They are experienced folklorists and scholars of Appalachian music. Dr. Michael Kline has a Ph.D. in Pub lic Folklore from Boston SUNY/Buffalo. We, as musicians, are preoccupied with West Virginia songs, from the ancient ballads of the Hammons Family i n the central highlands, to mining laments and songs of resistance in the coal fields. We present our music both as entertainment and social history, with engaging ease and hard hitting passion. As two people absorbed in the study of oral tradition, we spe nd time with old time singers and tellers living in the Appalachian region. Singing to audiences of all ages, we perform in a variety of situations; from classrooms to prisons, from coffeehouses to picket lines Their album Damp As Dew: A Tribute to Appa lachian Miners (2009)


42 includes songs by two artists discussed above, Merle Travis and Jean Ritchie. The arrangements of the songs include beautiful harmonies and great guitar melody lines. p endence Day celebration, Mountain Justice Summer and Mountain Justice Spring Break. They performed at the recent nationwide protest and conference against mountaintop removal in Washington D.C. called Appalachia Rising. Another artist whose music th e Klines perform is Billy Edd Wheeler. Born in 1932, strip mining ballad written in 1966. The narrator of the song laments the destruction of his eat up a hundred tons at a bite / He can rip it out with cappella, which adds to the somber, eerie mood. The way Wheeler personifies the o the fact that mountaintop removal is orchestrated by people, thus it will only be stopped by organized groups of people. Sarro, a UMD volunteer and prolific visual artist, performed this song and other Appalachian ballads when I interviewed her during s emotionally to music about these tragedies than I do to the actual site of a strip mine. I can much more easi ly cry or be angry as a result of experiencing that musi c than to


43 reach listeners on a deeply emotional level. Another moving song about coal mining by Billy Edd Whe eler is explored below, transitioning from those who played it when it was written in 1963 to the artists who perform it today. mornings interning with United Mountain D efense. I was asking him about what songs he thought were important to activists in Mountain Justice, and that was the first song he heard of it too. and appeared minutes later with several sheets of paper and a t homemade booklet, popular among radical activists), titled Songs of the Mountain, Songs of the Summer catchy melody and four chord harmonic structure were not too hard to pick up, and soon enough I was playing it by heart Appalachia, and continues its relevance in the current fight against mountaintop removal. It has retained the same spirit of resistance since its birth, and has evolved to hold new meaning as the fight against all destructive forms of coal mining continues today. Below


44 by different artists. These versions represent different points in time, different styles of with coal mining. Throughout the history of Appalachian coal mining, deep miners have had pride for their work, despite the horrendously d angerous conditions they face. A coal tattoo is a veins have been stained dark blue permanently because of breathing in too much coal dust. This would usually happen o n the side of the head or the neck. These discolorations are also known to occur when coal dust enters an open wound, creating a black scar. Despite the terrible health issues that came from being a miner, the coal tattoo being only one and black lung be ing another, miners felt a sense of belonging in the coal mining culture of Southern Appalachia, a sense that this was their home and this was before that. The followin rumble and Today miners still take a lot of pride in their work, but they are fewer in number and political song meant to draw attenti on to a current issue. Today it relates to contemporary issues in more subtle ways. Simultaneously, it is a window into history, peered through


45 in honor of all the hardworking miners who have been abused by coal companies and too often died in mine shaft collapse accidents or from work related illness. layering with the banjo, fiddle, stand up bass, and mandolin. All the recordings discussed below include some comb ination of these instruments. As noted above, the song has a simple structure: four verses sung with the exact same melody and harmonic structure; it has no chorus. It was written in the key of Em, and is usually played with four chords: Em, C, D and G It is not difficult to play on the guitar; a begin ner could easily learn it. Its accessibility is part of what makes it a folk song, a song of the people. fol k revival band that was popular in the 1950s and early 60s. The group helped to pave the way for other political folk artists like Bob Dylan and Joan Baez, who became popular in the 1960s. The Kingston Trio was made up of three men who sang and played tw o guitars and a banjo. A folksy and upbeat rendition, they recorded the song in 1964 for their album Time to Think ; they sing it swiftly and with enthusiasm. The harmonies of the backup singers give the song more power and intensity, evoking a crowd chan ting recording, many Appalachians were beginning to chant together against the environmental degradation and loss of jobs from the mechanization that occurs with str ip Cause I got no job and I got no pay, just got a worried soul and this blue tattoo on the side


46 matter of fact attitude of the lead vocalist and the passion with which he sings. In 2008, Kathy Mattea, a famous country singer, released an album titled Coal on history of coal mining, and feels a strong connection with coal mining songs. Hearing a woman sing this song adds to its storytelling qualities, rather than it being a personal narrative. It makes the song more wholly humanistic, because women have not historically worked in the mines and thus did not get coal tattoos. Her strong, rich voice brings a unique, contemporary feeling to the song and helps draw connections between the past and modern day issues. Mattea actively opposes surface mining has performed at benefits for mountain defense organizations, as well as at ral lies and other events. stand up bass, fiddle, and banjo. After the second verse, there is a long, dramatic fiddle solo which emphasizes the role of the band in mak ing the song powerful and rich. She combines the third and fourth verses to finish the song. This gives a more contemporary focus, because it omits the lyrics about the UMWA, which are not as relevant today. Her Some day w t o heaven, the land of my dreams, t o bad times and big machines. For I got no house and I got no pay, just got a worried soul a nd this blue tattoo on the side of my head le ft by the number ni


47 Ap they are losing the much natural landscape of their home, and those same big machines are causing the damage. Strip mining at the environment and people as the mountaintop removal mining that occurs today. Below I embark on a boat ride down the river of the contemporary Southern Appalachian protest music. focused old time and bluegrass b and founded by musicians Joe Overton and Willie Dodson, who met in 2006 at a Mountain Justice Summer Camp and played their first show at Mountain Justice Spring Break 2007. They have had a few other varying members and have played at countless benefit con certs, as well as Mountain Justice Summer gatherings and other Mountain Justice events. Their name is a reference to the way another activist would sign her e mails with e of the autobiography The Long Haul by Miles Horton, one of the founders of the Highlander Research and Education Center in New Market, Tennessee. Joe elaborated rea lly long time reminding people of where we come from [through playing traditional Appalachi an


48 music] can hopefully help us get some kind of joy and hope in spite of what a long, question the way in which Americans receive over half of their electricity (through coal), but they give educational workshops about mountaintop removal coal mining at colleges li ke New College of Florida, where they have played twice. The music they play is an act of resistance two fold: it is both preserving Appalachian traditions and educating people about preserving Southern Appalachia itself. As of the summer of 2010 when I was doing my field research and I interviewed both musicians, they were not currently playing together, but they were both continuing to pursue their passions for politically charged old time and bluegrass music.


49 the Long Haul. recorded live at The Shrieking Shack in Lexington, Kentucky on March 20, 2008. It is s ame tempo, and use a guitar (Joe), banjo (Kyle), and mandolin (Willie). A major


50 more improvisational soloing. This may have to do with the fact that the HttLH version was recorded live and in a small, casual venue, but it also relates to their consciously chosen style. Overton and Dodson are both from Southern Appalachia (Dodson from the foothills and Overton from the Cumberland Plateau) and have a commitment to preser ving and teaching the heritage of traditional Appalachian music. They are not afraid to let their accents ring strong, whereas the Kingston Trio sounds much more like the listener is right in the living room sharing some whiskey and swapping stores with the musicians. nother song HttLH played, written by band member Willie Dodson. This piece tells a tale about the formation of the Mountain Justice movement and a major event which spurred action against MTR: the death of Jeremy Davison, the little boy who was killed by a falling boulder while asleep in his bed in the middle of the night. It turns out that the miners were working illegally: they were outside their permit zone and they had no lights to see what they were doing. The song is primarily about two women, Eri n and Sue, who were integral in starting and connecting people for the Mountain Justice movement. The story below is what Willie told me of the meaning behind this song, which is implied in the lyrics but not explicitly stated. [This story] is basically about the beginning of Mountain Justice, from my perspective, where I was in Blacksburg, [Virginia]. I had two really good friends named Erin McKelvy and Sue


51 Daniels. Erin lives in Massachusettes now, but i s lookin towards movin back to S outhern Appalac hia. And Sue Daniels is no longer with us, she was killed. But, Sue Daniels is who brought Larry [Gibson] to speak at Virginia Tech, [where I first heard about mountaintop and Sue and Erin and a whole bunch of other people, came up here [ to West Virginia, where the interview was conducted], met Larry and everything, and came back to Virginia and started our little Mountain Justice group, a nd started, for me anyway, tryin to figure out grassroots organizing. I really got motivated by this issue to figure that out. So, me and Erin and Sue and a number of other people were kinda organizing this Mountain Justice group, and kinda figuring out what we were gonna do in Blacksburg and how it was gonna build and stuff, and just a few weeks into it, A & G Coal knocked a boulder off a mountaintop removal operation in Wise County, Virginia, and it rolled down the hill, and into [a] trailer, and killed this little boy. After that, a bunch of people from different parts of Appalachia all came there and marched she was a real key connector of people in the very early, almost the prelude, not even the fi rst chapter, but the prelude to Mountain Justice [as the regional movement that exists today]. She did a lot to bring some college students and some Earth Firsters and Coal River Mountain Watch [members] together, to the table, and decide that we need to take cues from Mississippi Freedom Summer and we need to send a call, and we need to bring everybody here and do whatever can be done. And she got that ball rollin and then, who was not happened if not for Y, but this whole movement as we know it would not be happening in the what she did.


52 The song talks about coal and Jeremy Davidson [who was the little boy who was crushed by the boulder] getting killed, and startin Mountain Justice, but I never have written any lyrics to go into He told me that while it is an important story for people to know in order to understand the full meaning of the song, he does not always tell it because it is there and beginning, middle, and end. However, if one did not know the story Willie told me, I am not sure if he/she would understand all the details of the meaning of the story within the song. What comes across through the swift and passionate vocal delivery and quick strumming of the guitar in the key of G major is a sentimental tale with an activist message. It is ambiguous who exactly Sue and Eri n are, but their mission and the awareness about its impacts on people and the environment. Also, the layering of two guitars and the voices of Willie with a woman named Becky Jean as well as band mate Joe Overton create a rich sound which evokes a community spirit. Lyrics which refer I had the pleasure of interviewing both of these musicians about h ow they became involved in activism and writing activist music, the role of music in the Mountain Justice movement, and their ideas about music as a tool for social change. One idea that was important to both of them was that music can be a tool for resis tance as well as an act of


53 different ways. Local communities and individual kind of smaller cultures that are different from this sort of mainstream culture are bein g destroyed in a lot of different ways and a lot of different economic tools, mountaintop removal being one, is going after this community and is attacking this culture. And so I think that playing traditional music from this culture and trying to preserv e these cultural identities and community roots is a really important act. And playing traditional music is an act of resis tance in and of has been one of my guiding ideas throughout this project: learning Southern Appalachian traditions an d spreading awareness about this culture can help to keep people in coal impacted communities from being bought out and forced away from their homes. Many people say they feel like they live in a national sacrifice zone. his lineage in the valley back six or eight generations, Coal River about the surface mining impacted communities around Coal River Mountain and Coal River Valley in Southern West V quilting and woodcrafts, ramp feasts, home gardening and canning, moonshine stills, (Shnayerson 2008: 8). Like blu egrass music, fishing has long been a popular activity in family get together and deep fry fish and other food like potatoes and onions, making c fried green tomatoes. Yet at a fish fry I attended in Eagan, Tennessee, the fish were mostly store bought. This was not for lack of will or knowledge as to how to get fish out the streams: on the contrary, it was due to lack of edible fish in the strea feminist


54 and ginseng root digger who spends a lot of time in the forest around her home and has seen firsthand a gradual decline in wild food supplies, clearly due to mining and the pol lution it leaves behind. She is a bright light in the world, shining with her positive attitude. Although she has experienced much hardship and destruction around her, she am for a healthy ecosystem and yes I know you have to stop takin that mountain off to enable that. But I also know that a healthy ecosystem needs people workin in em, and I Like Shnayerson, I have been to Coal River Valley, West Virginia, as well as Eagan, rotest local surface mining including MTR projects. When I visited their head quarters, they occupied one of four activist houses in a row in Rock Creek, West Virginia. There I interviewed an intern named Paul, a student at Oberlin College in Ohio. I wa s sitting around in the backyard talking with a few interns when he told us the story of how he and a friend had bonded with a group of miners the night before. This does not often happen in Coal River Valley, where tensions are high between mountain defe nse activists and the coal miners who are inundated with anti environmentalist propaganda by the companies who employ them. Paul said, Mountain, just to kinda get aw ay from the crowd a little bit. And I had my banjo, and we ran into ing for them, and then he asked if we wanted to go play for his dad who was sick, and you know, [we]


55 agreed to do it. And ended up borrowing his truck to drive there, and it was, it was interesting. The next thing we knew we were at his house. And peopl e were definitely, you know, we got weird looks when we got outta the car, cause like, we're obviously outsiders. But as soon as we played a song, it was like we had made these friends, and it was really amazing and really In the summer of 20 10 when I met Paul, he was working on setting up a workshop to teach community members how to make gourd banjos, a skill he learned at Oberlin. that's dyi ng. And so I'm trying to put together a gourd banjo building workshop using local materials. Cause when I took the workshop it was really wonderful when I built my gourd banjo to find something that I knew I loved and wanted to continue for the rest of m y life. So, I'm Again, he brought up the miners he met. one of them made a comment that it was so wonderful to have people playing music there, because This story speaks to the power of music to connect people in unexpected ways. It is vital to the success any social and environ mental movement to find some kind of common ground with those who are pitted against the cause. In this case, there is no reason for miners to have malicious feelings toward activists, who are concerned about the loss of mining jobs due to mechanization. Yet company officials spread lies about environmental groups. At a Friends of America rally sponsored by Massey Energy in Holden, West Virginia, Massey CEO Don Blankenship, after listing other organizations like the EPA which regulate coal mining, stated


56 I said your trees. You see you own the tr ees, we have a deed to the trees and the trees are of the land they work on, they do not own the water they pollute or the people whose bodies they poison. Blankenship a dded that so are destroying American labor o pportunities as they destroy mountains through increasing mechanization (Freeman and Evans 2011). defending the ecology and people of the mountains, but also the mounta in culture of the they met at a United Mountain Defense march in the summer of 2009 against the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), a government owned corporation which does a lot of work with coal and functions suspiciously like a private corporation, not a public institution. Jason Robinson, lead vocalist, reminisced that Bonnie, a non profit manager of UMD knew half of the band members separately from the others, and suggested that they put their musical skills together and play at the TVA march. to em on


57 was at the TVA march. That morning we met, and then we played like, an hour maybe. It worked Now the group has played at many benefits for UMD and the Knoxville activist/art space While the members of Catfish Mercury Load were very modest and would not refer to themselves as activists, their very name is a reference the water pollution that is common side effect of surface mining, causing fish like catfish to accumulate high levels of mercury in their bodies, making them dangero us for human consumption. Tony, the upright bassist, said


58 h The band had just played live on the local Knoxville radio station, WDVX. Band member Corey Dugan added, gotten on the radio and said, you know, mountaintop removal is bad, you all, every time you flick been a popular anti strip mining song for decades. Dugan said, John Prine in the 1975 concert at Royal Albert Hall or whatever, if he said his opinions about coal mining, it would have been lost probably forever. But the fact that he wrote a song about coal mining that was catchy, it lasts. So music is a ver y powerful way of getting people to think about making this you know, no one likes to be lectured at I agree with Dugan wholeheartedly: music is both a way of writing history a nd communicating with those who otherwise would not want to listen. Wendell Berry, the noteworthy environmental writer and activist, wrote about the destruction of the town of Paradise, Muhlenburg County, Kentucky. in its desecration by the strip miners, there is no shallow irony. It was named Paradise because, like all of Kentucky in the early days, it was recognized as


59 Paradise, as they would harrow heaven itself were they to find coal there. Where the little town once stood in the shade of its trees by the river bank, there is now a blackened desert. We have despised our greatest gift, the inheritance of a fru itful land. And for such despis e for the destruction of Paradise Like Paradise, Kentucky, Kayford Mountain, West Virginia has seen a drastic change th century. Once a lush mountain forest filled with bears and tower ing trees, Kayford Mountain now looks like this. Figure 5 : Larry Gibson, standing at the edge of his property overlooking one of the largest MTR sites in West Virgina.


60 highest point. This is why he started his group, Keepers of the Mountains Foundation, which works to end MTR. He hosts tours of his property to spread awareness about MTR and serve as a space for environmental education. Several activists I interviewed said that they did not understand the horrors of mountaintop mining until they saw it for been shot at multiple times, and the activist events he holds have been crashed by angry coal miners Despite the dangers of publicly protesting the industry which employs many people in the area, Larry and many others continue to speak their minds and work to end on a dead Elaine Purkey is a West Virginia songwriter who sings passionate songs about Larry Gibson I learned this ballad and included it in my performance, Songs of the Mountains, Songs of Resistance I have only heard it sung a cappella, and cannot imagine it any other way. The lyrics are striking and dramatic, the narrator is enraged at the destruction she sees back to where they came from, let us live in our brings up the fact that many politicians in West Virginia and throughout Southern Appalachia are paid off by the coal companies to make policy decisions that benefit businesses, not people. In reference to coal executi ves like Massey CEO Don


61 Eric Blevins is yet another Mountain Justice volunteer who write s songs about the movement. Blevins is a young activist who has perched high in the trees to defend against deforestation and blasting in an organized tree sit and has traveled the country with the Mountain Justice Roadshow spreading awareness about the w orldwide addiction radition of ginseng root digging, great grand kids. But people flip on lights and mountains explode, from New York to Will the mountains still be there, or will they all be stripped bare? Will the mountains set us free, or will we all be washe within the mov


62 mak es me feel we need to do something about it. And I started writing songs and it just became a natural thing to start writing songs about, since it was something that was such rst, and that is where he devotes most of his time. Yet his political folk music is really great to listen to and accessible to learn. It is clear that the lyrics are coming from a person who is well versed in the issues he sings about. F i g u r e 6 : E r i c B l e v i n s i n a t r e e s i t o n C o a l R i v e r M o u n t a i n W e s t V i r g i n i a David Rovic s is a political folk singer significance and environmental justice causes such as the anti war and Earth First! movements. He wrote a song abo


63 about one of the largest union uprisings in American history. Ironically, this mountain of historical significance is slated to be mountaintop mined. Many Mountain Justice activists are working to stop this desolation of what has become not only a mountain but There are many artists writing music about what is happening in Southern Appalachia. It has been a life changing phenomena for those who live in t he thick of the coal fields. I have heard many involved say that they never thought they would become activists, but they have been forced by these drastic circumstances to fight for the home they know and love. Many activists are also branching out and writing new movement related lyrics to popular folk songs, even though they may not have pictured themselves becoming musicians. The practice of changing lyrics to suit a new cause has been common in the history of folk music in America. For example, in Prophet Singer the early 1940s (Jackson 2007). Dana Ku hnline lives in Charleston, West Virginia, and is one example of a passionate activist who has changed the lyrics to folk songs to be sung by groups at protests. She wrote cause Down th appropriation fits well with its original theme: the mass migration of people out of the Dust Bowl in Ok lahoma and nearby states during the Great Depression in the 1930s.


64 out of their ancestral homelands because of surface mining. The s trip mine hit and it hit like thu nder i t dusted us over and it dusted us under i t blocked up our eyes and it clogged up our lungs and straight from their homes all the people did run singin S o Long, it's been good to know yuh t his dusty old mine is a getting my home and I've got to be moving along. Matt Landon, the UMD volunteer coordinator, has also written some catchy versions a train a coming, coal barons in prison and keep our mountains free, but that train keeps rollin for the coal Always be a good kid, ain Defense in 2005, Tennessee that was slated to be surface mined, and he decided to do a lot more singing himself. When I started working on the Mountain Justice campaig n in 2005, I made a conscious effort to stop listening to pre recorded music. So, at that point I had just copied down a lot of songs that I knew, or songs that I wanted to sing, and had the Mountain Justice Songbook, and camped out in Elk Valley. So I c projects, and I just sang. I sang to myself and I sang to other people.


65 This is yet another way of looking at the connection between music and activism. Matt was going out and d oing fieldwork, and this intense project he was doing, camping every night, inspired him to practice singing himself rather than relying on electricity and recorded songs to provide him with music. Since hearing this story I have been inspired to d o less head phones wearing and more singing as I walk through the world. Music and activism have been woven closely together throughout the twentieth century and into the twenty first in Southern Appalachia. From music about coal mining, to musi c about MTR, from songs of sorrow and loss to songs of joy and community, from contemporary homegrown tunes to keepin the old ones ringing strong, the people of Appalachia have been singing. I am so thankful for having met all the amazing activist/musicia ns I have met, and I wish them strength in the journey ahead


66 Chapter 3, Songs of the Mountains, Songs of Resistance: a thesis performance The idea of learning and performing songs as I researched them was at the heart of this project from the beginning. For the structure of this performance, I looked at the way other political singer songwriters present their material. It was meant to be both educational and entertaining. In this chapter, I will discuss several artists who influenc ed the way I organized the performance. I will reflect on what I have learned through this process and how I have grown as a musician, as well as my methods for learning and practicing the songs. The life and music of Woody Guthrie was a major infl uence for this project. of America. It was playing practically everywhere: in the diners, in the stores, on the radio, and people ate it up without considering its message Guthrie saw it as preaching blind nationalism towards a country with a government that allowed masses of people to live in poverty during and after the great depression. T his pro America song was targeted to t hose masses of people Woody saw the awful, unsanitary refugee camps that whole families had to live in that sprung up all over the country during that time. They preaching nationalism that allowed a sm all minority of the population to hoard most of


67 which was the original name of his song (Jackson 2007 19 47). Like the music in my ng in the shadow of the steepl e / By the relief office I saw m y people As they stood hungry, I stood wondering if God blessed America for me [later became: if th as well as ente rtain. Other verses in this song are satirical and funny; Guthrie uses those moments to lead into the darker, more realist place of the sixth verse. In the performance I put together, I worked to balance humor and songs of joy with songs of lamentation. A combination of these approaches can help create a dynamic piece of art that maintains an project. HttLH has traveled around the country playing politically charged bluegrass and old time music. Along with their concerts, they offer e d free workshops about mountaintop removal coal mining and other grassroots skills and methods, which they led The ir traditional arrangements celebrate the culture and life of the mountains while their original songs tell stories of everyday people living everyday lives and trying to stand up for what's right The band embodies a synthesis of ar tistic expression, grassroots activism and transformative education. this project. I worked to spread awareness about the same issues they did, and through a


68 similar artistic expression. I told stor ies in a similar way that they did before each song, gave a workshop version of the performance at the 2011 All Power to the Imagination Conference, in which I facilitat ed a conversation similar to the kinds HttLH led in their workshops. A final influence for this performance was the style of the political folk singer songwriter David Rovics, who I interviewed in November 2010 when he performed at New College. When I saw him play music, he told colorful, informative stories before each of his songs which provided a background for the narratives within the music. The stories and songs combine to build excitement and an introduction to the issues he sings about. Many of his songs serve as short history lessons. David said, I think music can be a great way to introduce somebody to a subject : i ntroducing them to maybe some little bit of the feeling that people have that's associated with the subject, or the kinds of fe elings that were at play at the time that an event was taking place. And then, of course, to really learn about the subject, you have to read books and get a lot more information than can be provided in a song. But a song, it can be the best vehicle for bringing somebody to a situation or a historical event, at le ast in the beginning. I t's really useful. I absolutely agree: in my performance, I hoped to spark an interest in the Mountain Justice movement in my audience. Outside the theater, I provided free pamphlets about The Tennessee Mountain Defender One of my goals was to encourage the audience to learn more about this cause and help them to see how this issue affects all Ameri cans, not just people in Appalachia. It also affects people around the world: MTR is practiced at


69 increasing rates in China and Columbia, for example, although I did not explore this aspect of the topic in the performance. Instead I focused specifically on coal in the U.S. I aimed to make my performance, Songs of the Mountains, Songs of Resistance educational in a few different ways. I discussed the impacts of mountaintop removal coal mining on people and the environment and connected this to the hi story of coal companies abusing Appalachian residents in camp towns and in the dangers of the deep mines. I focused on the music of resistance of three different time periods: the 1930s and 40s, the 1960s and 70s, and today. I also discussed my internshi p with United Mountain Defense and my experiences with other Mountain Justice affiliated groups like the Keepers of the Mountains Foundation and Coal River Mountain Watch. Hopefully the information I provided about these groups had the potential to inspir e audience members to research the organizations and maybe even volunteer on their own. Another goal was that I grow as a musician by learning the collection of songs. I ve of them. While I have been singing and playing guitar for years, this performance stretched me in I am certainly no virtuoso, but I have learned some rudimentary banjo chords and classic picking patterns. Also, I learned about traditional Appalachian ballad singing for this project. Sarro, a United Mountain Defense volunteer, helped to introduce m e to this Gunning, which I sang for my performance. The artists Michael and Carrie Kline were


70 ballads, including that one. I have gained an understanding of how to sing in this style and the importance annunciating each word of the narratives in the b allads so that the audience can follow the story. The process of learning material and performance styles for this project began during my internship with United Mountain Defense. I spent much of my down time during the internship sitting down with t he songbook Songs of the Mountains, Songs of the Summer by a Mountain Justice activist called Icky and practicing the first two songs I learned: songs. Voices from the Mou ntains: The people of Appalachia their faces, their words, their songs collected and recorded by Guy and Candie Carawan, also played a key role in the songs I chose to learn for this performance. This book was useful because it provided sheet music for many of the songs I researched. This made it possible for me to practice singing melodies as I played them on the piano. I also used the music in both songbooks to determine the guitar chord progressions. I used recordings to help determine guitar strumming patterns, because these were not provided in the songbooks. While this is not the most precise way to learn strumming patterns, I have found it effective. Spending time listening to recordings was also helpful in understanding singing styles li ke ballad singing. I spend significant time with both embellished the melodies I read in the sheet music. While I aimed to make my renditions my own, I gave attention to both the


71 In addition to using songbooks and recordings, I used transcription as a method of down the chords and lyrics to many of his songs, which are worked out both the chords and the melody, which would be very useful for someone who had never heard the song be fore. Although I did not perform it, the process of transcribing was a valuable experience. Transcribing can record folk music and other oral traditions that might not otherwise transcend time if not passed on to enough people. It is an important abilit y for anyone interested in the study of folk music, and I am glad I improved on this skill during this project. I started working with the group of friends/musicians who performed around the end of January. We met in a large group to start off, where we all discussed the songs I had researched and which ones each person was most interested in learning. As a group (with Crow Medicine Show would be the large group numbers. included the third verse by Michael Kline. Sarah McManus, Sara, Chrissy and I sa ng Jeremy Zorn plays the guitar, bass, banjo, trombone, harmonica and pretty much any very familiar to both of us. We sang it this time with


72 We worked together to build a sound that we hope captured its eerie, striking subject to the Long Haul before I played also read a quote, this one by activist Larry Gibson. Kaitlyn Bock joined the ensemble Stick, an electric guitar with the range of both a six string guitar and a bass guitar, designed for tapping the strings on the fret board with both hands instead of strumming with a pic k or fingers with the dominant hand and hitting the strings on the fret board with the opposite hand. His instrument points to the fact that Mountain Justice is a movement which promotes cultural diversity, where djembe drums have been known to be played alongside banjos and acoustic guitars around the fire at training camps and designed in California, not by any means a traditional Appalachian instrument. Yet it was played in the performance, begging the question, what is folk music? Is it still folk if you plug your instrument in? Who decides what constitutes folk music? Personally, I


73 w w to fix it or it could be who s hungry a nd where their mouth is or who s out of wo rk and where the job is or who s broke and where the money is or who s The concert was held in the newly built Black Box Theater at New College. I chose to set up the theater around the built in projector screen, which faces directly toward t he main doors. I put the musicians at stage left, angled in the corner to face the audience, whose chairs were set up in a semi circle facing the musicians. I placed a big rug on stage to mark the performance space. There were three chairs and two music stands set up, as well as two amps for electric instruments and two microphones with boom mic stands. For this performance, I learned 16 songs and performed twelve. I played the banjo, guitar, djembe drum, and I sang accompanied and a cappella. I was joined by 11 instrumentalists and singers playing a range of styles from bluegrass to ballads to folk to music in between genres. I told stories about the resistance of the past, of my own experiences in Southern Appalachia, and of the people there w ho proactively work to save the mountains they call home.


74 Conclusions Environmental and cultural devastation like that which is caused by mountaintop removal begs the question, what can be done to alleviate the damage? How can we bu ild a society that does not rely on fossil fuels like coal, on the deforestation, blasting and contamination of our planet, nor on the endless taking and consuming of resources required by the capitalist system and the military industrial complex it suppor ts? Activists in Southern Appalachia and across the globe are thinking about the ways we as a human species can work to repair the damage that has been done. We can look to the past for life ways that have been practiced before industrialization as well as to the innovations of the present to build a community centered, just and ecologically healthy society for the future Replacements for coal that many activists advocate for are wind and solar energy. According to The Appalachian Regional Commissi on, the four states of the Central and 26,000 in Tennessee alone (Glasmeier 2007). However, these sources of energy do not address the larger power structure which keep s people out of control of their own lives. Wind and solar energy are possible to maintain at a personal level, but they can never replace the amount of power humans get from fossil fuels. As suggested in ots level ways of making the world a safer, cleaner place, such as growing gardens. like the mountains themselves (2008: 8). Like fishing and traditional music, gardeni ng is


75 another past time that many activists today see as valuable and worthy of continuation. For example, the United Mountain Defense House had several plots about 12 feet by four feet which they have used for growing vegetables. Also, the Coal River Mo untain Watch and Climate Ground Zero houses I visited in Rock Creek, West Virginia had a healthy from green tomatoes picked in her garden. This is a great way to use green tomatoes that have fallen off the branch before ripening and turning red. Turning the lawns many Americans maintain in their yards into food forests, gard ens or at least sites for native plants which require small amounts of water is an essential way to decrease the use of fossil fuels like coal which oppress the people and wildlife who live in extraction areas. Industrial agriculture, which dominates the U.S. food market, uses fossil fuels at all levels of production, from the gasoline run tractors that plow the fields to 18 wheeler trucks that deliver produce to supermarkets across the country. In Michael Pollan explains, Ecology teaches that all life on earth can be viewed as a competition among species for the solar energy captured by green plants and stored in the form of complex carbon molecules. A food chain is a system for passing those calories on to species that lack the synthesize them from sunlight. The industrial revolution of the food chain, dating to the close of World War II, has actually changed the fundamental rules of this game. Industrial agriculture has supplanted a complete reliance on the sun for our calories with something new under the sun: a food system that draws much of its energy from fossils fuels instead. (Of course, even that energy d industry burns nearly a fifth of all the petroleum consumed in the United Sates. Today it takes


76 between seven and ten calories of fossil fuel energy to deliver one calorie of food energy to an American p late (Pollan 2006, 7 and 183) It is clear that the way Americans eat plays a huge role in the amount of fossil fuels our country consumes. Thus, many activists in Southern Appalachia, like many who lived there before the economy was centered on coal, are using their land to grow food for family consum ption. People today cultivate their land despite challenges like local water pollution. Like music, gardening can be a community building activity that residents continue in spite of the difficulties mountaintop removal creates for those who continue to live in coal impacted areas. Music and the arts in general can spread awareness about these issues of oppression in a different and equally important way as more scientific presentations of knowledge and stories can. Music has the power to touch peo ple on a visceral level. This is a way of reaching a wide audience, a way of communicating to the masses. Singer songwriter he powers at be really know how useful music is too. You know, it's n ot just some fantasy that ideal istic hippies have about the power of music, it is something that is well recognized by the military, b y the corporate elite. T hey all use music to inspire their troupes and sell their produ cts Appalachia use the power of music in more positive, inclusive ways, such as for education about political issues, historical events, and the importance and beauty of nature and wildlife. Music can also help to build the ecological communities of the future. Music brings people togeth er to relax, be entertained, to dance, and sometimes to learn. Folk music in particular provides many opportunities for group sing a longs, which give singers a


77 feeling of group solidarity. This is a feeling I have felt while watching many folk concerts and playing music in group jam sessions. As people work to keep the mountains and culture of Southern Appalachia alive, they are singing. As I imagine a brighter world, I am singing and full of hope.


78 Thesis Performance Script Sara: Hello, welcome eve ryone. [Image of Caudill Homeplace before MTR] Today I will play a series of songs which evoke the place and culture, and the struggle and defiance, of Southern Appalachia. The people of this region have a rich history of resistance: from the early twent ieth century to the 1970s with union organizing against the economic hegemony that was and still is King Coal, and from the 1970s to today in the form of resistance against the most destructive method of coal mining: mountaintop removal. [Image of Caudil l Homeplace after MTR] The U.S. currently gets half its electricity from coal fired power plants. Coal has been extracted by deep mining since the late 18 th century. There are many health problems for those who work in deep mines. Yet deep mining does not destroy entire ecosystems, and it does not put the people in surrounding communities in danger. Before mountaintop removal, other forms of surface mining were practiced, like strip mining, where workers blast into the sides of a mountain. Starting in the 1970s, coal mining reached a level of mechanization more destructive than even other forms of surface mining. This new kind of mining has been using enormous, twen ty story high machines to blast away entire mountaintops. The machines require few workers to operate and can access thinner seams of coal than the old deep mining could. The incredibly biodiverse temperate rainforests and the culturally unique communiti es of Southern Appalachia are being devastated for smaller and smaller amounts of this coveted black rock we call coal. [Show image of coal.]


79 The music you are about to hear is from a range of time periods, from the union battles of the early 1900s, to th e strip mining laments of the 1960s and 70s to the passionate protest songs of today. started work on this project. [new slide, view from porch of UMD house ] I had just started my internship with United Mountain Defense in Knoxville, Tennessee. [new house and grabbed several tattered booklets and loose pages, one of them a songbook made by an activist a few years ago called Songs of the Mountains, Songs of the Summer in which I [new slide, miners loading coal] The song tells the story of a miner who has been used abused. A coal tattoo is a condition which stains the veins on the neck and side of the head dark blue. It is caused by breathing in coal dust over a long period of time. Even today, many deep mines do not have proper ventilation on a regular basis and only follow safety regulations when they know there will be an inspectio n. Despite the health problems miners faced, the coal tattoo being only one, miners felt a sense of belonging in the coal mining culture of southern Appalachia. [new slide, barren road on a strip mine site ] The narrator in this song is out of work, and laments that he fought so hard for the


80 Merle Travis was a famous country singer, born and raised in Rosewoo d, Mulenburg County, Kentucky. He lived in a coal m ining community where his father worked as a miner. His family was all very musical, but it was thanks to a couple of other miners that he grew up to be the widely respected musician he was. They taught eager young Merle their bluesy yet bouncy style tha t shaped his musical education. He developed his two of his most famous songs about the hard lives of the coal miners of his childhood. xteen Tons written in 1946, have become popular movement songs and are still played by many at rallies and other events. This first one of T This song laments the harsh working conditions coal miners dealt with. Yet, much ( Aaron read quote. [new slide, group picture at MJ summer] This next song is skipp ing ahead in history about sixty years to the formation of the Mountain Justice movement, which resists against the abuses of coal companies in a different way than the unions did: they work to end mountaintop removal coal mining. They are a regional gro up which, among other goals, works to unite local anti mountaintop removal groups and plan large actions and education events, like the Mountain Justice Summer and Mountain Justice Spring Break Camps. More specifically, this next song is the story of for


81 of two women activists who inspired him and many others to embark on this path. It is called the Ballad of Two Women. I interviewed Wi story in this song. (Aaron read.) Justice group in Blacksburg, [Virginia], and just a few weeks into it, A & G Coal knocked a boulder off a mountaintop removal operation in Wise County, Virginia, and it rolled down the hill, and into [a] trailer, and killed this little boy. After that, a bunch of people from different parts of Appalachia all came there at that march that Sue Daniels did a lot to bring some college students and some Earth Firsters and Coal River Mountain Watch [members] together, to the table, and decide that we need to take cues from Mississippi Freedom Sum mer and we need to send a call, and we need to bring everybody here and do whatever can be done. She was a real key connector of people in the very early, almost the prelude, not even the first chapter, but the prelude to Mountain Justice [as the regional movement it is today]. And she got that down her cabin.


82 that she did. [new slide, Jean Ritchie young] My next song is by Jean Ritc hie. As a native of Perry County, eastern Kentucky, she opposes surface mining and has throughout her life. work and relaxation, on walks through the hills and out on the front porch. Alan Lomax, a folklorist, recorded the Ritchie family and considered them one of the great ballad singing families of the Southern Appalachians. [new slide, Jean Ritchie now] Now 87 years old, Jean Ritchie is both a folklore scholar and pra ctitioner. She has published several songbooks of family favorites with personal anecdotes before each song. [new slide, contaminated creek in E ast Tennessee] severe, toxic flooding that is a common side effect [new s lide, same creek farther away] of strip mining, mountaintop removal and coal fired power plants One of the most recent examples was the Tennessee Valley Authority coal ash disaster. [new slide, coal ash in river] A TVA storage pond breach at a coal f ired power plant caused over 1 billion gallons of toxic waste to flood into the Tennessee river, a major source of drinking water for Tennessee and surrounding states. [new slide, flooded houses] As you can see, it destroyed a way of life for the people who lived along the river, not to mention the local wildlife. Dead fish were seen washed ashore all along the affected area, 5.3 million cubic yards. More total toxic material was flooded into the Tennessee river than oil was


83 flooded into the Gulf of Mex ico during the recent BP oil spill. This song imagines a Thanks, Sara! [new slide, Sara Ogan Gunning young ] This next song is by an incredible woman, who also happens to be named Sara. Her name was Sara Ogan Gunning, and she fields of Kentucky. Her father was a coal miner, and so was her husband. They both died before their time in the mines. Coal miners worked so hard, during parts of the year enough to feed his family, and going hungry for days was not uncommon. Sara lost her what capitalism really means. [new slide, S ara Ogan Gunning smiling] As the late great peeches, made up from actual experience, are deadlier and stronger than rifle bullets, and have cut a wider swath than a everywhere get together, shake hands, and stand side by side, and back to back, a fighting like hell out of the big rich guys that say they own all the land, all the hills, all the crops, and all the coal and iron ew s lide, S ara Ogan Gunning looking strong and serious older ]


84 feller, no r no one special family, nor no few special families. It belongs equal and alike [new slide, scenic nature] My next song includes pretty much all the musicians who are playing with me t oday. This song is by John Prine, who grew up in Chicago, but went t he [new slide, strip mined area] Paradise is so powerful largely because it speaks to the fact that the decisions we make now will effect generations to come. Coal companies bl ast entire mountain ranges. Those beautiful rolling hills will no longer be there for our that is left! [new slide, overloaded coal train] largely from a songbook edited by Willie Dodson, although not fully quoted.) [new slide, strike picketers] In 1931, coal miners in Harlan County were on strike. Armed company deputies roamed the countryside, terrorizing the mining communities, looking for union leaders to beat, jail, or kill. But the coal miners, brought up tough and strong in the Kentucky mountain country, were not afraid to fight back. Heads were bashed and bullets fired on b oth sides in what is referred to as Bloody Harlan. The mine owners and their hired deputies were on one side, the independent, free wheeling Kentucky coal miners on the other.


85 Florence Reece was the wife of one of the Harlan County union leaders, Sam Reece Sheriff J. H. Blair and his men came to their home one night in search of Sam, and found Florence at home alone with their seven children. Sam had received word that there might be a raid, so he did not come home that night. They ransacked their house and then waited outside, hoping to meet Mr. Reece at his arrival. In a desperate rage after this incident, Florence Reece pulled a calendar page off the wall, The son g became a theme of their strike and so many others throughout the twentieth century. [new slide, coal mining women] Michael Kline, a great Appalachian folk artist and protester of surface mining since the 1970s added on the last verse I will sing. I am definitely inspired by the way he sings it. [new slide, strip mining in Claiborne county] mountain, that lies above the coal seams, the land is left in a state of disrepair. e of land loses its topsoil, it becomes barren. T do because they are legally required to reclaim the damaged area is spray hydroseed, which makes the appearance of a grassy plain. Hydroseed is a mixture of seed and m ulch that retains


86 its moisture and could grow on literally anything. It could grow on my shirt. It could grow on your shoes. Companies because we are providing flat land for development, which will creat study came out in May 2010 that showed that 90% of MTR sites of not been used for where you have to look out and say, some of these mine sites are as big as the island of Manhattan how many Manhattan sized islands of development do we need in southern Appalachia? The fact is that the coal industry is turning temperate rainforest and clear flowing streams cannot be put back, but the people can stand up and fight for mountains that remain. [new slide, women blocking coal trucks] [new slide, nature] This next one is about the lost shady grove I was just singing about. [new slide, this machine kills fascists] Woody Guthrie, who I read a quote from earlier about the late great Sara Ogan Gunning, wrote this next one. O ne of the great things mass migration of people out of the Dust Bowl in Oklahoma and ne arby states during the Great Depression in the 1930s. Now, we will sing this song about how people in southern Appalachia are being forced out of their ancestral homelands because of surface


87 mining. The foundations of their homes are cracked, their lungs are damaged, and their water is poisoned, and many are saying that they aint gonna be treated this way. [new slide, Larry] Keeper of the Mountains Foundation is a group started by Larry Gibson. His family has lived on or near Kayford Mountain since the late 18 th century. the mountain. Now he owns the highest point. His home has been shot at multiple times, and the activist events he holds have been crashed angry company thugs. Despite the dangers of publicly protesting the industry which employs many people in the area, Larry and many others continue to speak their minds and work to end mountaintop removal. from Larry. ( S a m r e a d q u o t e ) "You could walk through the forest. You could hear the animals. The woods like to talk to you. You could feel a part of Mother Nature. In other words, everywhere you looked there was life Now you put me on the same ground where I walked, and the only thing you can feel is the vibration of dynamite or heavy machinery. No life, just dust. [new slide, fire] ever, it is about the home a lot of artists from around the country know and love. United Mountain Defense


88 a ch many musicians played was thinking when they wrote those verses. The l Cumberland Gap! So, here tonight we will be singing the geographically correct version, in which Johnson City is in fact east of the Cumberland Gap. Bob Dylan wrote the chorus to this song, or so they say. There is something about if Dylan really did write it from scratch, or if it was something he someone sing somewhere but could quite ctically all my friends. Thank you so much everyone for coming, and everyone who helped to put this show together! I


89 Bibliography Books: Carawan, Guy and Candie. 1975. Voices from the Mountains: The People of Appalachia their faces, their words, their songs Athens, Georgia: University of Georgia Press. Freese, Barbara. Coal: A Human History. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Perseus Publishing. Green, Archie. 1972. Only a Miner: Studies in R ecorded Coal Mining Songs Urbana, Illinois: University of Illinois Press. House, Silas and Howard, Jason. 2009. Mountaintop Removal. Lexington, Kentucky: The University Press of Kentucky. Jackson, Mark All en. 2 0 0 7 Prophet Singer The Voice and Vision of Woody Guthrie The University Press of Mississi ppi, Jackson, Mississippi Lomax, Alan, Guthrie, Woody, and Seeger, Pete. 1967. Hard Hitting Song for Hard Hit People New York, New York: Oak Publicat ions, Inc. Marsh, David and Leventhal, Harold, editors. Guthrie, Woody, author. Pastures of Plenty: A Self Portrait. New York, New York: HaperCollins Publishers. Montrie, Chad. 2003. To Save the Land and the People: A History of Opposition to Su rface Coal Mining in Appalachia Chapel Hill, North Carolina: University of North Carolina Press. Nelson, Christopher. 2008. Dancing with the Dead Memory, Performance, and Everyday Life in Postwar Okinawa. Durham and London: Duke University Press. Pollan, Michael. 2006. New York, New York: Penguin Group Inc.


90 Reece, Erik. 2006 Lost Mountain: A Year in Vanishing Wilderness: Radical Strip Mining and the Devastation of Appalachia New York, New York: Riverhead Books. Ritchie, Jean. 1999 (Originally 1952). Lexington, Kentucky: The University Press of Kentucky. __________. 1965. Folk Songs of the Southern Appalachians As Sung by Jean Ritchie Lexington, Kentucky: The University Press of Kentucky. Shackelford, Laurel and Weinberg, Bill. 1977. Our Appalachia: An oral history. New York, New York: Hill and Wang, a division of Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Shnayerson, Michael. 2008. Coal Rive r Mountain: How a few brave Americans took on a powerful company and the federal government to save the land they love. New York, New York: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux. Schechner, Richard. 1985. Between Theater and Anthropology. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. Articles: Allen, Catherine J. and N. Garner. 1995. Condor Qatay: Anthropology in Performance. American Anthropologist 97 (1): 69 82. ctions of the Field Anthropology and Education Quarterly 33 (2): 255 267. Glasmeier A m y 2 0 0 7 Energizing Appalachia: Global Challenges and the Prospect of a Renewable Future Regional Commission (ARC)


91 Activist Research v. Cultural Critique: Indigenous Land Rights and th e Contradictions of Politically Engaged Anthropolo gy Cultural Anthropology. Vol. 21, Issue 1: 96 120. zardous Airborne Dust Around an Indian Environmental Monitoring and Assessment 130 (2007): 17 25, as cited in Margaret Palme Mountaintop Mining Consequences Science 327 (2010): 148 149. Lindsey, Rebecca. 2007. NASA Earth Observatory and Telling Stories: History and Resistance in Earth First! The Radical Environmental Journal. 30 th Anniversary: Vol. 2: 36 9. EPA Review of Appalachian Surface Coal Min ing Operations under the Clean Water Act, National Environmental Policy Act, and the Environmental Justice Executive ng_detailed.pdf. Newspapers: A


92 Tennessee Mountain Defender 4 th edition. Pan Appalachia Defender. Fall 2006 edition. Justice Pan Appalachia Defender. Fall 2006 edition. Pamphlets: The Alliance for Appalachia. Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining: Devastating communities in Appalachia and destroying Amer Films: Freeman, Jordan and Evans, Mari Lynn. 2011. Low Coal. 84 mm. Evening Star Productions. Akron, Ohio. Websites: sourcew Zines: Dodson, Willie. Mountain Justice Songbook to defend and celebrate Appalachian culture and ecology. Icky. Songs of the Mountain, Songs of the Summer