Various Artists- Appalachia: Music from Home   Leave a comment


Various Artists

Appalachia: Music from Home

Lonesome Records

 Recently, I have spent my Monday evenings watching Appalachia: A History of Mountains and People. A beautifully assembled documentary of the Appalachia area, the four-part series captures a region of the Americas too often portrayed in stereotype. And if the geography and people of the region are central to the story, the third pillar of the series has to be the music serving as soundtrack.

Appalachia: Music from Home is a 20-track collection of largely old-time mountain tunes that fleshes out the history of the region through song with a bit of blues, folk, and bluegrass mixed in. It is an impressive collection featuring music from varied sources. Naturally, it works as a companion to the PBS series, but it also stands on its own as a summary of the importance of music to the people of Appalachia.

 While many of the songs are familiar (Soldier’s Joy, Roll On Buddy, Shady Grove) the performances are not necessarily ones most will have in their collections. Highpoints are a live take of Darrell Scott’s Banjo Clark, Dock Boggs’ Coal Creek March, and Jean Ritchie’s Pretty Saro. Ralph Stanley delivers Gloryland and the Traditional Sacred Harp Singers perform Weeping Mary.

 Beautiful arrangements place focus on instrumentation, capturing the sense of place that cannot easily be duplicated by those not of Appalachia. In a few words, singers capture generations of family and community history.

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