Jeni & Billy are a sweetheart duo from Nashville who sing new songs in the Appalachian-based tradition of the Virginia coal fields. Jeni Hankins sings in a fragile native style, with perfect harmonies and accompaniment provided by her partner Billy Kemp. If you’re a fan of Gillan Welch and Iris Dement, then read on.
Like the songs of Sarah Ogan Gunning and Hazel Dickens before them, their music reflects the gloom that hangs over the coal camps like the toxic air of Mordor. They tell tales of disease, addiction, danger, and poverty that somehow always seem to follow the coal industry. My father and his siblings grew up in southern West Virginia, not far from Jewell Ridge, and I’ve seen the blight that infests the region. It ain’t pretty, and it’s always superimposed on the grand natural beauty of the mighty southern mountains. Church and community, if not emigration, offer a ray of hope to the proud, hard-working locals, and that light shines through the darkness on Jewell Ridge Coal. Fiddlefreak recommended!