"The green rolling hills of West Virginia
Are the nearest thing to heaven that I know
But someday I'll go back to west Virginia
To the green rolling hills I love so well
Yes someday I'll go home
And I know I'll right the wrong
These trouble times will follow me no more"--"Green Rolling Hills," Utah Phillips
So-called "green" music festivals and concerts may abound like bunny rabbits these days, but tickets go on sale today for the "Green Concert of the Year," the take-no-prisoner mega-stars lineup of the Music Saves Mountains campaign to stop mountaintop removal on May 19th at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville.
Check out this mountain of a lineup! Dave Matthews, Emmylou Harris, Patty Griffin, Buddy Miller, Patty Lovelace, Kathy Mattea and other special guests.
That's right--Nashville, the nation's "Music City," the heart of country music in the coal state of Tennessee, is hosting a tribute to the Appalachian headwaters of American music, from blues to country to gospel to jazz and rock'n'roll, and calling on the nation to halt the destruction of the mountain region and its historic communities and heritage.
Says Emmylou Harris: "The mountains of Appalachia are responsible for countless folk, country and bluegrass songs. Now, the home of that rich tradition is being destroyed."
Tennessee's own US Senator, Lamar Alexander, is also the co-sponsor of the Appalachian Restoration Act. In their Senate floor testimony last year, Alexander and co-sponsor Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) noted:
More than 1 million acres of Appalachia have already been destroyed. An estimated 1,200 miles of headwater streams have been buried under tons of mining wastes. Over 500 mountains have been permanently scarred. Homes have been ruined and drinking water supplies contaminated. It is time to end this especially destructive method of coal mining.
Our bill, the Appalachia Restoration Act, will make clear that mining wastes cannot be dumped into our streams, smothering them and sending plumes of toxic run-off into groundwater systems. This Cardin-Alexander legislation amends the Clean Water Act, specifically preventing the so-called ``excess spoil'' of mining wastes from entering our streams and rivers. This simple legislation will restore the Clean Water Act to its original purpose. In doing so, it will stop the wholesale destruction of some of America's most beautiful and ecologically significant regions. Mountaintop mining produces less than five percent of the coal mined in the United States.
There's no harder working man in Nashville than Rob Perks, the Director for NRDC's Center for Advocacy Campaigns in Washington, DC. Working with NRDC's extensive network, Nashville stars and agents, the Gibson (guitar) Foundation and other musician organizations, Perks and the NRDC have brought together a powerful and mind-boggling array of country and rock stars--from Sheryl Crow to Big Kenny to Kid Rock to Randy Travis--to speak out against the reckless and needless destruction of Appalachian communities.
Please pass the word on the amazing Music Save Mountains campaign!
Musicians like Grammy Award-winning Kathy Mattea have been in the forefront of the anti-mountaintop removal campaign for years.
Andy Maher and Jason Wilber of Heartwood have also produced a star-studded lineup of musicians against mountaintop removal in their CD collection, Coal Country Music.
Paul Kudzo and Jack Wright also put together a groundbreaking collection of musicians from the coalfields, and the impact of mountaintop removal on their CD collection, Music of Coal.
And Aurora Lights put out a great collection of musicians active in the coalfield justice campaign in Appalachia, with Still Moving Mountains: The Journey Home.
The writers and musician collective, Public Outcry, have appeared at coalfield rallies and concerts for years.
Folk heroes Michael and Carrie Kline recently put out the coalfield ballads collection, Damp as the Dew.
And Kentucky musicians Ben Sollee and Daniel Martin Moore have just released a new album, "Dear Companion," exploring the impact of mountaintop removal.
Here's the wondrous Emmylou singing Utah Phillips' classic, "The Green Rolling Hills (of West Virginia)":
Check Patty Griffin and Buddy Miller on their amazing version of "Never Grow Old":
Here's Matthews singing "When the World Ends," warning us:
"We're going to float / Through the criss cross of the mountains / Watch them fade to nothing / When the world ends / You know that's what's happening now"
Follow Jeff Biggers on Twitter: www.twitter.com/jeffrbiggers