Coal Miner Blues
Posted in Honey on 10.22.07

Continuing the trip through my past I stumbled upon this compilation of county and blues songs about Coal Mines produced by the Lonesome Pine Office of Youth, a community group located in Southwest Virginia (Wise, Lee and Scott counties.) I lived in Wise, Va for a time best known as the birthplace of George C. Scott, Dock Boggs and that they shot a few scenes of Coal Miner’s Daughter at the Wise Inn (that was closed the entire time I was there). The surrounding areas produced such country legends as the Carter Family and Ralph Stanley.

This set is Music of Coal: Mining Songs from the Appalachian Coalfields a two disc set of songs about coal mining and the effects it had on the people and land. Disc one is a collection of traditional songs recorded pre-1950 (or around there, I don’t have the set yet) and the second disc is more contemporary takes on the coal mining song. I’m particularly impressive of the inclusion of a blues number by Trixie Smith, the only blues song about the coal mining condition that i know of, and the number of field recordings and lost takes the researcher was able to pull together. This track is by Orville Jenks, the most noted writer of coal mining songs – who sings in a plaintive Irish ballad voice that’s one of the best I’ve heard. Trixie Smith I’ve posted about a few times(1,2), this song is a nice departure from the risqué and abusive blues she’s known for singing. I still think Trixie belongs on the short list with Bessie Smith, Victoria Spivey and Sara Martin, though I might be in the minority on that one.

Buy it here !

Orville Jenks – Sprinkle Coal Dust on My Grave
Trixie Smith – Mining Camp Blues


4 Comments so far
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By gustavoblues on 10.23.07 5:59 am


[…] Coal Miner Blues from Honey, Where You Been So Long? […]

By poker bonus koder on 12.30.07 8:39 pm

nice article…

nice article…

By John Bondurant on 01.08.08 12:37 pm

The Aunt Molly Jackson recording is from the Berea College Sound Archives holding of her Library of Congress recordings. Jack Wright has done a remarkable job with this compilation. Thanks for the article.

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