Our music Monday post to to welcome in the New Year features an archival clip of The Strange Creek Singers performing “New River Train.” In 1976 The Strange Creek singers, comprised of Hazel Dickens, Alice Gerrard, Mike Seeger, Tracy Schwarz, and Lamar Grier, were invited by After Coal project advisor Helen Lewis to come to Wales as part of the Welsh/Appalachian exchange she helped develop. This rare video clip was recorded during their performance as they perform at the Onllwyn Miners’ Hall in the Dulais Valley of south Wales. Go to After Coal archival videos for more historic footage from this era. NewRiverTrain from Tom Hansell on Vimeo.
This rockabilly tune by Billy Joe Shaver was made famous by country singer John Anderson, whose version made it to #4 on the Billboard charts in 1981. In between the backbeat, the lyrics remind us that everyone has the potential to be a diamond, a message that seems to fit this holiday season. You can listen to Billy Joe Shaver and John Anderson’s versions below: Billy Joe Shaver: John Anderson:
Songwriter Billy Ed Wheeler was born December 9, 1932 in Whitesville, West Virginia. While he is best know for writing the song “Jackson” (which won Johnny and June Carter Cash a Grammy for best duet in 1967), Wheeler’s song “Coal Tattoo” has been recorded by dozens of musicians ranging from the Kingston Trio to Kathy Mattea. As a result, “Coal Tattoo” has become a classic coal mining song. This song tells the story of the millions of mining families that left the Appalachian region during the 1960s to look for work in the factories of the Midwest. Scroll down for additional versions of the song by Kathy Mattea and fellow Hazel Dickens. Coal Tattoo by Billy Ed Wheeler: Kathy Mattea: Hazel Dickens:
Max Boyce is a songwriter and humorist from the former mining community of Glynneath, Wales. His song “Duw, It’s Hard” reminds us that “the pithead baths are supermarkets now”. This well-known performer made a cameo appearance at the Glynneath Rugby Club during a 2016 concert to celebrate the Welsh and Appalachian exchange. As he performed this song, the entire audience sang along, demonstrating the strength of the mining heritage in South Wales. This video clip was recorded at the historic miners’ institute in Treorchy, Wales