Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Deep-Fried Goodie...

In my almost 5 decades of life, I have ate a lot of different deep-fried foods. But the boy came home today with something that I have never had and sounded horrible. But it actually tasted quite good.

This is a fried dill pickle from a new Bar-B-Que joint in Christiansburg, Virginia, called Due South. I'll have to try it the next time I'm over there.

Now I want to make a trip this weekend to my favorite bar-b-que joint located in Bluff City, Tennessee...Pardner's Bar-B-Que & Steak.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Largest Concert in Southwest Virginia?

What I'm questioning is "A Concert for Virginia Tech" on September 6th. Taking the stage in Lane Stadium will be Nas, Phil Vassar, John Mayer and the Dave Matthews Band. These performers are playing without a paycheck for the students, faculty, staff and first responders of Virginia Tech as a way to celebrate the return of the school year and hopefully, the return of normalcy to Blacksburg. Now that the university community has reserved their tickets, the remaining seats will go on sale to the public for $65, at 10am on Tuesday, August 28th (follow the link above). The word is that 45,000 tickets were claimed and that another 30,000 will be up for sale. (update: the actual number of public tickets turned out to be 5,000. So much for 'informed' sources).

This number is what got me thinking about the size of the gathering and its place in music history of Southwest Virginia. As it turns out, this is not even the largest music festival in the New River Valley. That badge of honor goes to the 400 acres that lies seven miles north of Galax, Virginia, in rural Carroll County, back in April of 1976. It was there that an estimated 150,000 people tried to attend Stompin' '76 in a Woodstockian festival of sex, drugs, blues and bluegrass. I say tried because the festival promoter only expected 32,000 based on the sales of $12 tickets for the three day festival. What resulted was twelve miles of gridlock when people abandoned their cars on the sides of the road when the traffic stopped rolling, hippies camping in the locals back-40 and a lot of nudity and drugs. When cars couldn't pass any further up the road, motorcycles weaved their way through. That's when the Pagans rolled in and took over "security". Performing acts like Bonnie Raitt, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and John Prine had to be airlifted in.

Needless to say, the locals were not amused. This quote from Jazz News sums up their thoughts:

Many Carroll County residents were not happy during and after Stompin 76. Young, naked New Yorkers urinating on lawns, polite strangers camping in their backyards and not enough parking and camping led to epic backups. Only motorcycles could get up and down the road leading to the farm. Local residents just couldn't get home or leave, not that they wanted to leave- in fear of their homes being ransacked or burned down by the heathens.

Let's hope the concert next Thursday goes a little more smoothly and the potted up, urinating, naked heathens stay away.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Ramsey House Country Market

I spent yesterday in East Knox County at the Ramsey House Plantation, at the historic site's annual Country Market. Ramsey House is a beautiful limestone mansion that dates to 1791, and was built by one of Knoxville's earliest prominent settlers. The Country Market is the plantation's biggest event and fundraising effort of the year and is always great fun. Beautiful landscape, great food, loads of antiques, historic displays, and especially great old time music make this event one of my favorite of the year. Here are a few pictures from yesterday's festivities.

Also, it's not too late! If you're looking to make some last minute plans in the Knoxville area today, wander on out to Ramsey House for a very pleasant Sunday afternoon.

The Pea Ridge Ramblers

Heirloom gardening

Friday, August 24, 2007

Official Virginia Tech Wine

I found this the other day in a Blacksburg, Virginia, Kroger. Its the only official Virginia Tech wine. Looks like is suppose to be good with poultry.

Jones Diamond

When I saw this post about the famous Jones diamond from southern West Virginia, I recalled that I pass the site twice per day. At the site, in Peterstown, WV, is the following official sign.
What really interested me was the statement that "due to its “carry impact marks” and the size of the stone it had probably been washed down the New River into Rich Creek from a source in Virginia, North Carolina or Tennessee." This location of this sign is about 2 miles from the New River. How did it travel so far upstream?

Industries pony up for lawmakers on energy panels

Electric utilities, oil companies, automakers and mining interests donated nearly $4 million during the first half of 2007 to lawmakers in the three House and Senate committees responsible for writing energy legislation, according to Federal Election Commission records.

Looks like Big Energy, Big Oil, and King Coal continue to hold court. Read on:

Thursday, August 23, 2007

"...the best you can hope for is to go in your sleep."

the everybodyfields
Nothing is Okay

Here's your understatement of the week, courtesy of Sam Quinn of the everybodyfields: "We like sad songs..."

It's true; they do.

Take these lines from "Aeroplane," the opening tune on their latest release, Nothing is Okay: "I had a dream where I went to your room/and I cut off my hand and I let go of the blood."

Nothing is Okay is the everybodyfields' third collection of melancholic harmonies that underlie tragic lyrical themes. Not that it's a bad thing, of course. This is indeed beautiful music, even if it is downright sad.

The upshot is that this album showcases some of the finest in contemporary songwriting. When pure sadness is what you're trying to capture, you could do a whole lot worse than having Quinn and Jill Andrews write and arrange it.

Nothing is Okay exhibits the typical production finish one might expect on the third album from a band whose career is on a decidedly upward trajectory. It seems the everybodyfields have upgraded about everything lately: tour length, concert venues, record label, and on this latest release, production quality.

Most of this album was recorded in a top-notch Nashville studio, which is a departure since some previous offerings were laid down in the rusticity of a rural East Tennessee barn. Those simpler recordings were effective in their rawness, but with Nothing is Okay the everybodyfields have refused to trade quality for the bells and whistles of high-end production.

In fact, the more complex arrangements only further the effectiveness of the band's songs. From top to bottom, the twelve songs on Nothing is Okay showcase a variety of production choices. Some tracks are anchored with well-placed, minimalist percussion while some swing along only on strings. Some have long, drowsy fiddle refrains, while others punch the listener with hard-hitting crescendos, topped-off with the slashing of Megan McCormik's distorted
country guitar.

This is an album that isn't afraid to take its time in setting the proper mood, even if it does wander just a bit. Many tracks feature long intros with slowly-layered instrumentation that gradually prepare the listener for lyrical imagery and vocal deliveries that evoke emotion as well as anything the Americana genre is offering these days. These songs are thick with gut-wrenching, southern country music that begs to be turned up in order to properly devestate the listener. And it seems obvious that devestation is the goal. The everybodyfields have staked their claim in the newest class of alt-country acts with a singular blend of frailty and force, that - with sometimes uncomfortable honesty - reduces listeners to a truly satisfying melancholy.

The fact that the inevitable comparisons to Gillian Welch have already come from the music press is evidence that Nothing is Okay is one of the finest releases of the year. That's pretty good company - and inadequate.

In the everybodyfields grandest effort to date, Quinn and Andrews have put forth a five-star collection that cements the band's status as not merely a talented country duo, but a culturally-significant event. This is more than an album of pretty music or sad tunes; there is a deft and deliberate artistry in these songs that comes along with only generational frequency.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Erwin TN Nuclear Leak

"We agree that NRC should withhold from public view any sensitive security information of this nature. However, NRC went far beyond this narrow objective," (John Dingell, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Bart Stupak, chairman of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee.)

I am not sure if any of you have heard this news but I just found out about a cover up over a nuclear fuel processing plant in Erwin Tenn. I am shocked and horrified to this kind of information and since my father’s family is from Erwin and some still living in the community this hits close to home. My uncle worked for this company and had many stories about strange behavior at the plant, including mismanagement and accidents. My Aunt lives right in front of the factory and also has many many stories. Anyway, read for yourself.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Long Way Home: A Bigfoot Story

I don't know how many cryptozoology fans we have here at HS, but there are at least two including me. Even if you're not a crypto enthusiast, you should still get a good laugh out of this.

I've seen this trailer linked on several blogs now, and it's high time it made its way here. For more information on the film, you can click here or here or here.

*NOTE* There is some PG-13 language in the trailer. Please use discretion. Please also use your sense of humor.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Somebody ought to give the true picture of them

“So many outside writers had come in and . . . and given such a terrible account of the people. They had put 'em down a lot in their articles that I didn't think this was true, because the people that I met were very intelligent and they were very civilized. They were not like they were pictured in these articles at all. And I thought that somebody ought to come through here and give the true picture of them.

Life magazine article on Frontier Nursing Service Left: 1937 LIFE magazine article profiling Mary Breckinridge's Frontier Nursing Service, for which Mary Brewer worked at the time.

"And, you know, the Mary Breckinridge . . . the hospital. Mary Breckinridge, of course, was the first one, I guess, that put the people in this area on the map by going out and soliciting aid, and naturally most of their material was slanted toward the poorer class of people. They didn't tell anything about the fine homes that were here. It was always the little shacks on the hillsides and people going without clothing and half-starved and barefoot. So that most people in . . . outside of Kentucky, they got the wrong idea, and I . . . I thought that ought to be corrected.

“Well, in 1958, the . . . Berea College had asked me to do some research for the Ford Foundation. And I started out in the field, traveling with Rufus Fugate and Ruth Baker, who was a home agent at that time, and I began to find all these old people that had these interesting stories to tell me and I began writing them down. And it just grew and grew from that until I got a good collection and I thought well, it ought to be shared with others and I decided then to have it published. And Vernon Baker came to see me then. He knew that I had this material and said he was interested in publishing it. And he published it under the title Of Bolder Men, but it fell apart. It was just a disaster. [Chuckle]

“So I quit selling the book because it did fall apart. It wouldn't stay together. And then I decided there were so many requests for it that I would write it over again. And they decided to use it as a part of the centennial celebrations for Leslie County then. So I did it over for that purpose mostly, that it might be used for that. [A large part of it is sort of a genealogy] of people who live in Leslie County. I got the history from Leslie County by going to the courthouse and talking to old people who were here, you know, and knew the history of it. The first part of it is involved with the history and development of Leslie County itself, and . . . and the second part of it contains the genealogical history of about forty families.”

Originally blogged at Appalachian History

1978 interview with Mary Brewer,
author of "The Rugged Trails of Appalachia"
Oral History Project, Frontier Nursing Service, Kentucky Virtual Library

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Larry Gibson featured on CNN Heroes

A great feature on Larry, one of Mountain Top Removal's staunchest opponents, on a major cable network. The mainstream media is really starting to sit up and take notice of what is happening in the Appalachian coalfields.

View the video on

Nothing Is Okay

Just thought I'd mention that the everybodyfields new album hits stores next Tuesday. From what I've heard, it sounds like another winner. If you're a fan of country/folk, I recommend you give it a listen.


band website

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Cataloging Dirt Tracks

A Race Against Time

With the Help of Former Drivers, a Professor Hits Back Roads To Document a Vanishing Part of Virginia's History.

Photo taken at the Wythe Raceway, located in Rural Retreat, Va.

Monday, August 13, 2007

This 'sang, sung!

300-year-old ginseng sold for $400k

---ever wonder why your kinfolk spent/spend so much time out on the mountain in search of the stuff?

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Last Public Hanging in West Virginia

Recently, I was talking to one of my picking buddies about different musicians and songs. We frequently swap CD's and thoughts on them. He asked me if I had listened to Dave Evans before. I had not, so he played one of his songs for me. The title of the song is the same as that of this post. I found it to be very interesting, and I was taken by the narrative styling of it, as well as the story in general, so I decided to do a little research on it.

I found that the song is entirely historically based, and even more interesting than the song. Check it out.

This is quite a little piece of history to say the least. The incident sparked a wide variety of reaction, but most significantly a moral reevalution of capital punishment and the manner in which it would be carried out. I'll leave it to you to form your own opinions on the matter, but I think that you will find the story extremely interesting.

As for the song, you can see the lyrics here. It was written by the great Tom T. Hall. This is the Flatt and Scruggs version, but it is largely the same as far as I can tell. As for the Dave Evans version, you can find out about it here. Check it out.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Ah, Mitchell Stadium

Mitchell Stadium
Bluefield, West Virginia
(Image from

Listen up chiefs - I have another update for you kids on my hometown of Bluefield (West Virginia and Virginia), or more specifically, on one of Bluefield's greatest landmarks, the relatively reknowned Mitchell Stadium. Ahh.

The fact of the matter is that Mitchell Stadium, built back in Bluefield's hayday (well before Old King Coal died, so to speak) has aged pretty damned well. That said, some serious renovations are going on in the old house right now, to be finished in time for Friday, August 24th's high school kick-off, the granddaddy of 'm all, the Graham-Bluefield game (aka the Bluefield-Graham game). This decades old rivalry between the West Virginian and Virginian denizens of the East River Valley, should be even more visually stimulating than ever before. Why? Well, there is the new Shott Field, an artificial turf field, is incredibly cool-looking, emblazoned as it is with both a portrait of the two Virginias at mid-field as well as the tactfully neutral maroon and white "Bluefield" written at both ends of the field (maroon, for those of you know, is a major color for both the Graham G-Men and the Bluefield Beavers, and white is found in the uniforms of both, traditionally as piping and stripes for Graham and as stripes and stars for Bluefield). Furthermore, the rear of the stadium, opposite the main gates, has been improved with beautiful native stone walls (Bluefield and our neighbors, such as Bramwell and Tazewell, are mildly well known for our native stone buildings and walls) in the old, glory-days Bluefield style, and though I didn't see it, a blue vinyl fence is going to be installed around the field itself. There are also rumors that new gates will be installed at the front gates of the field (I've heard they're going to be blue, but I haven't seen any confirmation of that yet) as well as, and get this, a jumbotron (again, I have read plenty of rumors but haven't seen anything definitive).

Yeah. All this for a high school football stadium in the dead center of Appalachia. Eat your heart out Texas (just kidding - I don't want to get into that spitting contest).

Okay, I know this may not be huge news for everyone, but today, while I was in town for a baseball game (after a bachelor party with no less than 10 preachers - don't ask), on the recommendation of my friend Catfish, I drove up on the mountain above the stadium - sadly I didn't have a camera with me, but wow, I was impressed. I felt compelled to throw this out there on the old internet. So, after my brief ramblings, I want to share some links I've found on old Mitchell, its renovations, and of course, a couple on the Beaver-Graham game. I'll be there, by the way (assuming Sarah and I can get away from Knoxvegas), and I hope you can be too - it is an experience that rivals the finest college experiences - you're just going to have to trust me.


The Bluefield Daily Telegraph: "Dirt churned at Mitchell Stadium"

The Bluefield Daily Telegraph: "On schedule: Mitchell expected to be ready for 'The Game'" "Welcome to the Big Time, Pulaski County Cougars!
PC defeats Graham in preseason action" "Mitchell Stadium: New and Improved"

WVRSN: "Be a Good Sport, Charleston"

Wise County's Future?

According to the Bristol Herald Courier, Dominion Power expects a "challenging" hearing next January before Virginia's State Corporation Commission relating to the 1.6 billion dollar "clean coal" burning power plant proposed for Virginia City on the outskirts of St. Paul, Virginia. As I have posted before, opinions vary widely on whether this plant will be an needed economic boost or environmental nightmare for the region. I suspect that no one really knows the answer to that question, and I hope that the Commission will do a fair and thorough job of weighing the testimony. At least that would be the right thing for them to do, regardless of the political power (or lack thereof) of the concerned parties.

In the report, James Beazley, Dominion’s external affairs representative stated that "[t]he plant would need 800 workers during its construction and 75 permanent plant operators". He also added that "[t]he annual payroll would be more than $4 million and the facility could generate as much as $6 million in tax revenue for the county."

But Exeter resident Larry Bush had this to say about the proposal:
"Wise County is going to look like a moonscape. There is no such thing as clean coal. You can’t burn coal clean."

The full article is posted on the Herald Courier's website at

Weekend Trip

If I get in trouble for using these images I am sorry but I have to.
(I will remove if you want)

Natural Bridge, VA...WHAT ARE YOU DOING.

You, Natural Bridge are AWESOME

(Yes this is Foam instead of Stone)

Dinosaurs fighting civil war soldiers in
Dinosaur Kingdom.

I am going this weekend.

There is even a Merlin.

To see more of the stuff go to the flickr site, click on Virginia and go forward.

Dude in the last pic, thank you soooooooo much for enlightening me to the world of Merlin, large fake rocks, and a film Spielberg never even thought of making.

Castanea Dentata Redux

American Chestnut leaves, Carroll County, Va. Photo by Will Cook, Duke University Reclaiming mined lands-good. Reintroducing a nearly extinct species of tree that once was a foundation of the Appalachian economy-even better. Combining the two efforts to not only reclaim, but reforest Appalachian mountains scarred by mining activities, totally AWESOME!

This post by jdub over at Appalachian Voice Front Porch Blog recently caught my attention. With some good links and thoughts for consideration, it highlights reclamation efforts that are coinciding with the renaissance of the American Chestnut.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

New Developments That Require Your Attention (and Stuff)

(Series of loud, high-pitched squeals)

Two key announcements coming up from your Emergency Hillbilly Announcement Jonx.

(Again, high-pitched onomatopoeia).

1. You may have noticed that we're re-working our links to our Kith and Kin (left column). Don't worry, the changes will continue. We're trying to localize them to specific towns and cities, so that people interested in those specific locales can focus on them at a glance. As you might notice, several of the blogs and sites lack grounding in any particular area, much less town. If you know their location, please let us know so we can, in turn, let our readers know. Right along with that, you may notice some towns and cities are underrepresented or entirely absent. We suggest that you suggest sites and blogs to us either through commenting or at immediately, if not sooner. If you have recommended in the past and I have screwed up and not added you, apologies - I want to make it better, so recommend away again. Note: if it is bigoted or pornographic, we ain't adding it, so don't even bother. We need your help to make this place even more awesometastic.

2. Nathan Fortner has, through due diligence, procured a domain name for us - - - oh-ho-ho, eh?
Presenting (onomatopoeia of a drumroll):

Buya. Cheers and salutations to Mr. Fortner. Now, update your links and, when you tell your friends about our humble little site, they'll find it even more simple and pleasant to remember. So spread the word, chief.

Many thanks for your attention, and please have patience with us while we kick the tires and light the fires on the new link-set.


(series of dolphin-like shrills and clicks indicating end of pseudo-governmental blither-blather)

Monday, August 06, 2007

Back From the Dead (With Charon's Recommended Appalachian Assorted Links and Stories)

Bam. I am back. You may have noticed I have been AWOL for an age. Reason? Well, (1) I moved most of my stuff to Christiansburg, VA from Knoxville, TN, then moved it back (long story), (2) I finished editing and defending my dissertation, now rendering me Doc Smith, (3) I put together a fund-raiser to help fight cancer (concert/art show), and (4)have traveled up and down the length of the Southern Appalachians repeatedly (e.g. Radford, Virginia; Greenville, West Virginia; Bastian, Virginia; Kingsport, Tennessee; Salem, Virginia; and so on) for everything from weddings to job interviews. But as I (re)settle into my life here in Knoxville, opportunities to blog are more readily available. Which is awesome.

That said, I haven't gotten together anything too mind-blowing yet. Sure, I'm working on a football preview, and yeah, I have been reading up on native American political-economies and societies so I can write up some jibba-jabba on the great Shawnee culture, and I'm putting together a link on Islam in Appalachia, but let's be honest, those require sustained attention that I'm still not capable of. And stuff. So, in the interim I'm going to return to my tried, true, and relatively interesting method of putting together some contribution to this hodgepodge of hillbilly heuristics - a long list of links. Enjoy and stuff.

Paper that looks like one of my students
turned it in from the
San Jose Mercury News

China, West Virginia, and Lawyers

Alligator (you can tell from the snout)
from Southwest Virginia Community College

The Community College I Can't Get a Cell Signal At

Sweet, delicious blueberries (not Gummi Berries)
from Virginia Tech's
Virginia Cooperative Extension

The Honaker mountains by Volker. B. Radek, a German bicycle enthusiast.

Repetition of negative word from swissmiss

Friday, August 03, 2007

That old-time tent revival

It’s tent revival season throughout Appalachia! Last week the Voice of the Word Ministries tent revival took place in Johnson City, TN. This week the Blue Ridge Foothills annual tent revival kicks off in Wolftown, VA. You can bet there are hundreds more throughout the region – the region that invented the tent revival.

The first camp meeting took place in July 1800 at Gasper River Church in southwestern Kentucky. A much larger one was held at Cane Ridge, Kentucky, in August 1801, where between 10,000 and 25,000 people attended, and Presbyterian, Baptist and Methodist ministers participated. It was this event that stamped the organized revival as the major mode of church expansion for denominations such as the Methodists and Baptists, who were newly converted by the teachings of John Wesley.

“The significant and most recurring theme in mountain preaching,” according to Deborah McCauley, author of Appalachian Mountain Religion, “is that of a broken heart, tenderness of heart, a heart not hardened to the Spirit and the Word of God. Mountain people teach through their churches that the image of God in each person lives in the heart, that the Word of God lodges itself in the heart, and the heart is meant to guide the head, not the other way around.”

Elkridge WV Tent Revival 1930s
“God led me into the Free Methodist Church when in 1935 I was sanctified in a revival preached by Brother Albert Faust from Pittsburgh,” said West Virginian Dewilla Lemmon of her revival experiences. “Melrose Uphold, a neighbor, and Sister Eva Young, a local Free Methodist preacher, arranged for a meeting in a vacant building near my home. This came as an answer to prayer for me because I had been privately seeking holiness, not really knowing what it was, only that for many months I had craved a pure, perfect condition of heart with God, notwithstanding the knowledge that I had been born again.”

One of Lemmon’s fellow worshipers, “Sister Uphold,” explained to her that the experience she sought was “sanctification.” “So I went to the altar and prayed for it. I also made various restitutions. Brother Faust quoted the Scripture: ‘The Lord whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple.’ And Jesus did just that for me on the night of September 22, 1935 after Brother Faust had delivered his sermon and while Sister Young walked up and down behind me at the altar quoting in a strong voice: ‘This is the will of God, even your sanctification.’”

Lemmon, Dewilla. “Camp Memories” journal exercise recorded by Pauline Shahan. July 6, 1980
Appalachian Mountain Religion. University of Illinois Press: Chicago; 1995

Related Posts: "Warmly Tactile Worship Behavior"

Originally blogged at "Appalachian History"