Music of Coal

Volume One1. Down in a Coal Mine (Excerpt) 1:25
The Edison Concert Band2. Mining Camp Blues 2:59
Trixie Smith

3. Sprinkle Coal Dust on My Grave 2:46
Orville Jenks

4. Coal Miner’s Blues 3:04
The Carter Family

5. Hard Times in Coleman’s Mine 2:36
Aunt Molly Jackson

6. He’s Only a Miner Killed in the Ground 2:35
Ted Chestnut

7. Coal Black Mining Blues 1:13
Nimrod Workman

8. ‘31 Depression Blues 2:52
Ed Sturgill

9. Prayer of a Miner’s Child 1:51
Dock Boggs

10. That Twenty-Five Cents You Paid 2:25
Sarah Ogan Gunning

11. The L & N Don’t Stop Here Anymore 3:10
Jean Ritchie

12. Dark as a Dungeon 1:55
Merle Travis

13. Come All You Coal Miners 2:21
The Reel World String Band

14. My Sweetheart’s the Mule in the Mines 0:22
Mike Kline

15. Thirty Inch Coal 2:36
Hobo Jack Adkins

16. Black Waters 3:38
Jim Ringer

17. Roof Boltin’ Daddy 2:26
Gene Carpenter

18. Dream of a Miner’s Child 2:46
Carter Stanley

19. Coal Miner’s Boogie 2:57
George Davis

20. The Yablonski Murder 3:00
Hazel Dickens

21. What Are We Gonna Do? 3:01
Dorothy Myles

22. Explosion at Derby Mine 4:02
Charlie Maggard

23. Blind Fiddler 3:05
Jim “Bud” Stanley

24. Loadin’ Coal 2:29
John Hutchison

25. Coal Town Saturday Night 3:06
Randall Hylton

26. It’s Been a Long Time 3:15
Sonny Houston & Roger Hall

27. Fountain Filled with Blood 3:56
Elder James Caudill & Choir

Volume Two1. West Virginia Mine Disaster  2:48
Molly Slemp2. Union Man 3:36
Blue Highway

3. Blue Diamond Mines 4:26
Robin & Linda Williams

4. Set Yourself Free :50
Billy Gene Mullins

5. Redneck War  5:22
Ron Short

6. Sixteen Tons 2:32
Ned Beatty

7. There Will Be No Black Lung in Heaven  2:05
Rev. Joe Freeman

8. Deep Mine Blues 3:45
Nick Stump

9. I’m a Coal Mining Man 2:22
Tom T. Hall

10. Dirty Black Coal 4:27
Kenneth Davis

11. Black Lung 3:21
A. J. Roach

12. Coal Dust Kisses 4:06
Suzanne Mumpower-Johnson

13. Coal Tattoo 4:06
Dale Jett

14. A Strip Miner’s Life 3:00
Don Stanley & Middle Creek

15. Daddy’s Dinner Bucket 3:26
Ralph Stanley II

16. In Those Mines 3:43
Valerie Smith

17. Miner’s Prayer 3:14
Ralph Stanley & Dwight Yoakam

18. Dyin’ To Make A Livin’ 3:47
W. V. Hill

19. You’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive 6:06
Darrell Scott

20. They Can’t Put It Back 2:31
Jack Wright

21. Which Side Are You On? 5:04
Natalie Merchant

The Lonesome Pine Office on Youth announces the release of the two-CD set “Music of Coal: Mining Songs from the Appalachian Coalfields.”

Two years in the making, this pair of audio CDs contains 48 songs addressing various aspects of coal mining history and culture, including black lung, union  organizing, environmental impacts and the contribution of coal to the national economy. The CDs are accompanied by a richly detailed book of liner notes with striking historical photographs.

“This has been a collaborative effort involving many people in the Wise County area as well as noted experts across the country,” said Paul Kuczko, director of the Lonesome Pine Office on Youth and executive producer of the CD project. “We’ve assembled more than two hours of music that truly gives the flavor of our coal mining heritage.”

According to Jack Wright, who produced the CDs and wrote the liner notes, the musical collection is a “hybrid” of old and new songs—some previously recorded, others produced specifically for this project. “We chose some songs that came out previously on independent labels and may not have been well known, but are vital in telling original stories from the heart of the coalfields,” Wright said. “In addition, we have well established artists represented here, like Ralph Stanley, Dwight Yoakum, Natalie Merchant, Tom T. Hall, Blue Highway and the Carter Family.”

Kuczko emphasized that the project made extensive use of local talent, including Maggard Studio in Big Stone Gap, where Alan Maggard served as associate producer and his father Charlie recorded a song chronicling the 1934 mine explosion at the Derby mine. Other local performers include Molly Slemp of Norton, Ron Short of Big Stone Gap, Jim Stanley of  Derby and the Rev. Joe Freeman, a former Wise County resident. Ron Short of Big Stone Gap and Rich Kirby of Dungannon served as assistant producers.

For Wright, who hails from Wise but now lives in Ohio, the Music of Coal project was a chance to delve more deeply into the history of his native region and to discover archival photographs and recordings that had been “lost” or overlooked. For example, he became interested in the work of John “Ed” Sturgill, a well known musician around the town of Appalachia who died in 1965. Wright tracked down Sturgill’s daughter, Sally Sturgill Gibson, who sent him a post card of her father playing his banjo in the outdoor drama “Trail of the Lonesome Pine.” He also learned that Ed Sturgill had sent a tape of his original music to famed folklorist Alan Lomax. The tape eventually ended up at the Lomax archive, which made a copy available to Wright.

“It was a thrill for me to be able to give Ms. Gibson a copy of her dad’s music. She had no idea that the tape existed and got to hear her father’s voice and music forty years after he’d passed away. That was one of the many small joys of producing this project. Another was to include a song from a live performance by Dock Boggs from the first festival I produced at Clinch Valley College in 1969. My longtime friend Mike Seeger had recorded it and made it available.” Wright said.

The Music of Coal project began in 2005 with the formation of an advisory group of representatives from around the region. Funding was provided by the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities as well as Wise County Sesquicentennial Commission. The work is dedicated to Archie Green, a noted author and expert on coal mining music, who served as an advisor to the project.

The CD set and book can be purchased for $35 at the Lonesome Pine Office on Youth at 219 Wood Ave E, Big Stone Gap, VA 24219. It may also be ordered through the website or by calling the office at 276-523-5064 ext. 10.

Supplies will be limited. You can pre-order your copy today click on LPOY Shopping to get your copy.

Please note a small shipping charge will be added to your order. 


This project is in honor of Wise County’s 150th Birthday and is funded in part by the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities. 

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