Monday, September 04, 2017

Happy Labor Day; The Best Labor Movie Of All Time

John Sayles's Matewan.
   Containing, among other awesomeness, Hazel Dickens's rendition of "Hills of Galilee."
   Pour one out for Sid Hatfield.
   F*ck the Baldwin-Felts!


Anonymous Darius Jedburgh said...

It is a great movie. Kind of brutal though.

8:00 AM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Yeah man, totally agree.

9:14 AM  
Blogger Random Michelle K said...

I heard Hazel Dickens sing live at Mountain Stage a year or so before her death.

It's was emotionally powerful.

Kinda like Matewan.

6:59 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

>I heard Hazel Dickens sing live at Mountain Stage a year or so before her death.

Jeez I am envious.

8:53 PM  
Blogger Random Michelle K said...

As well you should be! ;)

That show also had Johnny Staats who, if you've never heard him, is a fantastic WV mandolin player.

If you ever get a chance to see Mountain Stage (they do occasional road shows, especially throughout Appalachia) you should take it. I've also seen live on Mountain Stage artists from Joan Osbourne to Angelique Kijo to The Dirty Dozen Brass Band.

8:24 AM  
Blogger The Mystic said...

I tell you what; one of the most powerful refutations of the idea that southern culture is a celebration of ignorance, to me, is bluegrass. It's not that there's no bad bluegrass, of course, but that genre is full of extreme technical proficiency and impressive musicianship.

I have long been curious about the manner in which bluegrass progressed as a genre. I don't know if there was an initial injection of knowledge from some sort of training or formal education which carried through it or if it is mostly an original development. If the latter, then it is truly a testimony not only to the intellectual and artistic prowess of the culture's participants but also the objectivity of music theory (having had its principles basically rediscovered in an isolated environment, if that were the case).

If anyone knows of any good books on that subject matter (something like the development and application of music theory in bluegrass), let me know.

9:34 AM  
Blogger Random Michelle K said...

Bluegrass is ... complicated.

Musically you're looking a good deal at the British and Irish child ballads--the folk tunes that those groups would have brought with them. (Someone found significant similarities between the way Appalachians speak and rural English as it would have been spoken several hundred years ago, but for the life of me I can't remember *where* I heard that.)

Instrumentally, the banjo is an American bastardized version of an African instrument. It could be made far more easily with found items that other instruments, so it became popular among the poor of the south and Appalachia. I know far less about the mandolin, so I can't give you more about its history in Appalachia.

As far as how those two things met, well, in truly rural areas (see: Matewan) you're actually going to have a mixing of those different cultures more than you would in southern cities or plantations. Sustenance farming and mining are *hard* lives.

The members of the Carolina Chocolate Drops are probably best known of those who have researched the slave/African roots of bluegrass and traditional music. (And their music is phenomenal.) Rhiannon Giddens recently put out a truly stunning and heartbreaking album focusing on the slave narrative. (

As far as learning significantly more, you'd want to check out the Augusta Heritage Festival. (

Also, you could check here:

1:23 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

This is better than my answer of "um...Celtic something?"

1:30 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Also, I should mention that I got to see Ralph Stanley once.

1:34 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Also: The Carolina Chocolate Drops are, indeed, excellent.

1:40 PM  
Blogger Random Michelle K said...

This feels like it should turn into a game of one-up:

"Well, *I* got to see Nickel Creek *multiple* times, once in a small ballroom that was fabulous AND I've seen the Chocolate Drops several times.... ;)

3:10 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

I don't think I'm going to win this...though my mom *did* see Elvis once

8:24 AM  
Blogger Random Michelle K said...

If it'd been Johnny Cash, you might have had a chance. ;)

8:31 AM  

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