A Medley of Mining Music from Appalachia and Wales

We are starting a regular feature of the After Coal blog called Music Monday.

To kick things off, we thought we’d share unreleased footage of a collaboration created by Welsh and Appalachian musicians for the After Coal project. In this video clip BBC Radio Wales presenter and folk musician Frank Hennessy works with Welsh fiddler Iolo Jones and Appalachian musicians Trevor McKenzie and Rebecca Branson Jones to create a medley based on the Welsh hymn Calon Lan.

Welsh and Appalachian musical exchange from Tom Hansell on Vimeo.

Frank told us how the Welsh migration to America brought the song Calon Lan across the Atlantic more than a century ago, where it evolved into Life’s Mountain Railway – a bluegrass gospel standard also known as Life’s Railway to Heaven. Eventually, the tune returned to Wales, and miners’ choirs changed the words, creating Miner’s Lifeguard (also known as A Miners’ Life), now a standard in the repertoire of Welsh male voice choirs. The musicians’ goal was to create a musical arrangement that that traced music across the Atlantic and back again.

This clip was recorded during a rehearsal in the BBC Radio Wales Studios on May 25, 2016.