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Release of the Blair Pathways CD: A Musical Exploration of America’s Largest Labor Uprising

This fall marks the 92nd Anniversary of the March to Blair Mountain in West Virginia, a coal-field uprising of over 10,000. Rivaled only in scope by the Civil War, the rebellion lasted for nearly a week in an attempt to overthrow coal-field autocracy and establish union rights. Now a newly-released CD provides a fresh and invigorating vision of Appalachia’s coal-field history and the potential to preserve its past. Blair Pathways: A Musical Exploration of America’s Largest Labor Uprising is a collection of 20 engaging tracks drawn from archives and re-envisioned by contemporary musicians. Each piece focuses on a theme or event from West Virginia’s 20-year Mine War history, launching the listener through a diverse and engaging musical experience.

Declared “superb” and “inspiring” by musician Si Kahn, this collection truly reflects the diversity of coal-field culture in the early 20th century. “From forgotten labor anthems to gritty laments to soulful fiddle and banjo tunes,” writes labor historian Bruce Watson, “this collection digs deep into the lore of the region” and its musicians “perform with undeniable authenticity.” Over 25 award-winning musicians have created new works for the compilation, including Dom Flemons of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, Grammy-nominee band Jubal’s Kin and banjo player Riley Baugus, contributor to the Cold Mountain soundtrack.

In the past several years, the violent and complex story of coal extraction in Appalachia has been expressed through nationally recognized music media such as Kathy Mattea’s Grammy-nominated CD Coal and Robert Kennedy Jr.’s award-winning film The Last Mountain. Now the need to preserve Appalachia’s past and protect its contemporary ecosystems has become all the more urgent as Blair Mountain, WV- battle site of the 1921 miner’s uprising- faces destruction via mountain-top removal coal mining. CD Producer Saro Lynch-Thomason states: “We are in a critical moment which will decide the fate of Blair Mountain. This CD is a call to action for anyone who is touched by its music.” ­

As efforts to save Blair intensify, the Blair Pathways CD is an integral educational tool in helping audiences understand and celebrate Appalachia’s working class history. The CD is available in hard copy and digital download on the Blair Pathways website: blairpathways.com.

Saro Lynch-Thomason

blairpathways@gmail.com                                                                                 www.blairpathways.com

Phone: (615) 430-4323



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