Vernacular Sounds

music + interviews on folk music / traditional music / field recordings

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Episodes 1 and 2 of this podcast are designed to accompany the digital collection Folk Songs of the Coalfields linked below, you can find additional contextual information about the Chappell Collection and the musicians it documents, as well as listen to more recordings.

Folk Songs of the Coalfields

Join Vernacular Sounds for two episodes  focusing on Louis Chappell’s summer of 1940 song collecting trip to the Southern West Virginia counties of Lincoln, Logan and Mingo. These landmark field recordings give a glimpse of the vibrant Appalachian music and culture of a region known for its coal camps, historic border feuds, and for the violent labor uprisings of the West Virginia Mine Wars. Included are recordings of Kate Toney, from whom Chappell made a staggering 85 recordings in one day-long session. Toney, a Logan County ballad singer, had a high lonesome vocal style, and a sizable, unique repertoire that compares to the likes of Texas Gladden and Almeda Riddle.

These episodes were produced with the assistance and cooperation of the West Virginia and Regional History Center at West Virginia University, thank you to Lori Hostuttler, Elizabeth James, and the staff there. 

Produced and recorded by Caleb Paul

Production help from Jon Ehrens.

Additional music provided by Chris Haddox




Sunday Mar 13, 2022

Ep 1 is an in-depth look with scholar Gloria Raheja at newly digitized 1940 West Virginia recordings from the Chappell Collection.
Listen to the songs and stories of Sarah Workman, C.C. "Lum" Pack, Mary Jane Dyson, and the greatest ballad singer you may have never heard of- Kate Toney.

Sunday Mar 13, 2022

Ep 2 goes in-depth with Logan County traditional musician Chris Haddox on newly digitized 1940 West Virginia recordings from the Chappell Collection.
Hear Rhoda Nelson, Kate Toney, fiddler Tom Whitt, and discussion of West Virginia fiddle, technique and repertoire.

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