Today’s Music Monday post features a song that was written in Harlan County, Kentucky but has been performed around the world, including by miners and musicians supporting the 1984 national miners’ strike in the UK. Florence Reese wrote Which Side Are You On in 1931 after mine guards raided her house searching for her husband, who was a coal miner and union organizer. In 1984, British Musician Billy Bragg recorded the song in support of the national coal strike. Which Side Are You On continues to be sung by people organizing around social justice issues today. Scroll down to listen to compare Florence Reese’s original version with Billy Bragg’s more recent recording. Which Side Are You On by Florence Reese Which Side Are You On by Billy Bragg
This film clip Friday we share a few highlights from the 1975 documentary Nimrod Workman: To Fit My Own Category, directed by Scott Faulkner and Anthony Slone for the Appalshop media arts center. Workman was a coal miner and singer who was active in the mineworker’s union. He was awarded a National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1986. This clip includes Nimrod singing “Looking For the Stone.” An updated version of this traditional song is part of the soundtrack of the After Coal documentary. Nimrod Workman: To Fit My Own Category
Foddershock is a group from the coal mining community of Dickenson County, Virginia. Their song When Coal Was King is part of the soundtrack for the After Coal documentary. Dyin’ To Make A Livin’ is a story of modern mining in Appalachia. The song was included in the Music of Coal compilation, which was nominated for a Grammy in 2007. Foddershock, Dyin’ to Make a Livin’
After Coal is on the road this month with five events in the next two weeks. On Thursday, January 24, the After Coal documentary will screen at Mars Hill University’s Ramsey Center in Marshall, North Carolina. Saturday January 26, After Coal author/director Tom Hansell and associate producer Angela Wiley will present at the White Whale Bookstore in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Monday, January 28, 100 Days in Appalachia producer Ashton Mara will host a panel discussion of After Coal with Caity Coyne, Nick Stump,and Tom Hansell at the West Virginia University Humanities Center in Morgantown, West Virginia Tuesday, January 29, After Coal author/director Tom Hansell will appear at the Ohio County Public Library, in Wheeling, West Virginia And on Wednesday, February 6, After Coal director Tom Hansell will present with author and historian Steven Stoll and New York Magazine writer Sarah Jones at Book Culture in New York City. We hope you […]
For our second installment of Film Clip Friday, we move to the UK and share a story that reveals the power of solidarity. Pride is a 2014 film written by Stephen Beresford and directed by Matthew Warchus that dramatizes the true story of an unlikely alliance forged during the national miners’ strike of 1984-1985. During the strike the London based group Lesbians and Gays Support The Miners traveled to the Dulais Valley of south Wales, providing vital financial and moral support for the miners and their families. The following year (1986), a delegation of Welsh miners travelled to London to participate in the annual Pride parade. Many historians credit this alliance between miners and London’s gay community as the catalyst that led to the Labour party’s support for gay rights. The film review site Rotten Tomatoes said “…uplifting without stooping to sentimentality, Pride is a joyous crowd-pleaser that genuinely works”. […]
This week’s Music Monday post celebrates the fact that this week American singer-songwriter Steve Earle turns 64. Born January 17, 1955, Earle grew up in Texas, but may be best known for his Appalachian anthem Copperhead Road. In 1998, Steve Earle collaborated with the Del McCoury band on a bluegrass album titled The Mountain. The title track of this album can be interpreted as referring to Black Mountain in Harlan County, Kentucky. We hope you enjoy this live recording from the eTown radio show. The Mountain, Steve Earle
For 2019, We are starting a new weekly feature to share films about coal mining and life after coal in mining communities. Over the coming months, we have selected a mix of documentary and feature films from coal communities around the world to share with you. We will start with one of our favorite films: Harlan County USA. The film, which documents the 1973 – 1974 Brookside strike, won the Academy Award for best documentary in 1976, and launched legendary director Barbara Kopple’s career. We hope you enjoy the film, and our new weekly feature. Harlan County USA
This Music Monday we pay tribute to American coal miners who are in danger of losing their black lung benefits. West Virginia singer Hazel Dickens penned this song after losing her brother to black lung in the 1970s. Last month Congress failed to extend the tax that supports the federal black lung disability trust fund, leaving many former miners uncertain about how to pay future medical bills. For more information on the black lung disability trust fund, check out this story from National Public Radio . Hazel Dickens, Black Lung – From the Appalshop documentary Hazel Dickens: It’s Hard To Tell The Singer From the Song directed by Mimi Pickering.