november 2009

A Tribute To Appalachian Music

In this issue we’ve spent a lot of time documenting the unfolding tragedy being visited on Appalachia by way of mountaintop removal coal mining. For us, it’s impossible to separate Appalachia from its gift of music to the world. In this month’s Video File, we supplement our coverage of the Coal Uprising with a salute to Appalachian music, then and now.

Founder of the Museum of Appalachia John Rice Irwin discusses the broad influence of Appalachian music

Filmed in 1993, 92-year-old Appalachian farmer Scotty Stidham is shown working his land, reciting poetry, playing a homemade banjo and singing folk songs, expounding on religion, politics, and other matters. Scotty lived to be 100 years old.

Jean Ritchie, one of the greatest of all Appalachian-style singers, performs ‘Payday at Coal Creek’ in this 1954 clip. She is accompanied by John Cohen on banjo.

‘Hey, Hey, I’m Memphis Bound,’ The Delmore Brothers

Doc Watson, ‘Amazing Grace’

Ralph Stanley & Patty Loveless, ‘Pretty Polly’

Ralph Stanley, ‘A Robin Built a Nest On Daddy’s Grave,’ from Bill Gaither’s
Gospel Bluegrass Homecoming, Vol. 1

The Carter Family, ‘Bury Me Under the Weeping Willow,’ the first song the group recorded at the Bristol Sessions, 1927; covered by Rosanne Cash on her new album,
The List

Founder/Publisher/Editor: David McGee
Contributing Editors: Billy Altman, Laura Fissinger, Christopher Hill, Derk Richardson
Logo Design: John Mendelsohn (
Website Design: Kieran McGee (
Staff Photographers: Audrey Harrod (Louisville, KY;, Alicia Zappier (New York)
Mailing Address: David McGee, 201 W. 85 St.—5B, New York, NY 10024