acoustic · banjo · female singer · male singer · rock · singer-songwriter

Coal Country Music

BlackwaterRiver. Photo by Jim Clark.
Blackwater River. Photo by Jim Clark.

I was born in Upshur County, West Virginia, an area where mountaintop removal and strip mining are an unfortunate way of life. I learned that even if the coal companies put the land back to something resembling its orginal contour, and planted it with trees and grass, the damage could not be undone. Where beautiful brook and rainbow trout once thrived, many watersheds are permanently ruined, creating acidic streams no longer capable of supporting fish or people. The acid main drainage will go on and on–long after the coal, the fish, and the people are gone. Other problems follow the coal industry as well, such as pollution, flooding, and the erosion of long-standing social communities.

Coal Country Music is a compilation CD produced by Andy Mahler and Jason Wilber for Heartwood®. Coal Country Music is a companion to the film Coal Country, which documents the devastation wrought by mountaintop removal and the cycle of coal mining and combustion. 100% of the net proceeds from the sale of the CD go to the Alliance for Appalachia to help stop mountaintop removal.

This collection is a real gem. It runs the gamut from heart-wrenching folk songs to ancient gospel and indie rock. From the opening number by Ralph Stanley to the final chorus by Willie Nelson, you will hear the likes of Gillan Welch, John Prine, Justin Townes Earle, Natalie Merchant, Jean Ritchie, and the Klezmatics–19 songs in all, and all for a good cause. Coal Country may be previewed and purchased on Amazon com. Here is a trailer for the movie.

WATCH: Coal Country

“Mountaintop removal is the most devastating peacetime activity in human history — in fact, if the destruction to our nation’s natural and
cultural heritage were being perpetrated by a foreign power, it would be considered an act of war — because in a very real sense, it is — it
is a war against the Earth. Every week, mountaintop removal coal mining detonates more explosive force on the land and the communities
of Appalachia than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, to extract the coal that is warming the planet and poisoning the water, air and land.
We should all be dedicated to ending this unsustainable, and ultimately suicidal practice. And to promoting renewable energy alternatives and the green jobs they will create.” – Woody Harrelson

4 thoughts on “Coal Country Music

  1. I am the webmaster from Coal Country, and involved with Jason Wilber and Andy Mahler and the making of the CD. Please don’t take this the wrong way, we totally appreciate the publicity, but the songs here are available for free download, without authorization. Please just link to the amazon link on the Coal Country site ( here’s the link: ) and suggest that people can sample all the songs there, and buy them online, or from the website. I got a call from Liaison Distributing (who made all the arrangements for the artists to be on the CD) because this could be a problem for everyone involved. We are trying to keep the possibility of pirating the songs to a minimum. You have to have a release from the artist, record company, label, and management in order to offer a song for download. I hope you understand, and again, we really appreciate the blog! – Rich

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