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Bands tune up against mountaintop removal

Article Published: Jan. 27, 2011 | Modified: Sep. 7, 2011
Bands tune up against mountaintop removal

Songs of Water performs for the benefit of Appalachian Voices and Restoring Eden at a Jan. 31 fundraiser.

Photo submitted

Area activist organization Appalachian Voices is teaming up with a likeminded organization, Restoring Eden (RE), for a triple-bill fundraiser, and it's about mountaintop removal awareness. For RE's Anna Jane Joyner, it's also about musicians and community working together.

"I just really have always kind of seen that music and art play a primary role in inspiring people to take action," she said. "We're talking about the Appalachian Mountains, where there's this rich cultural heritage of music. It just made a lot of sense to put it together."

Restoring Eden is a national faith-based environmental organization and, like Boone's Appalachian Voices, it's got its eyes on strip mining in Appalachia.

"To date, over 500 mountains have been destroyed by this practice," Joyner said in a written statement.

While mountain top removal mining does not happen in North Carolina, Watauga's electricity providers, Blue Ridge Electric and New River Light and Power, both get their electricity from Duke Energy. Duke officials confirm that a percentage of their coal does come from strip mining.

That's where activists like Joyner come in, determined to educate the public on where coal comes from.

"Mountaintop removal is poisoning communities and destroying one of the most diverse ecosystems on this planet," Joyner said. "People from the Boone area should not be forced to hurt others and destroy mountains and streams just to turn on the lights."

And she, along with Kate Rooth, field coordinator for Appalachian Voices, hopes you'll take it a step further than attending the show.

"We are encouraging citizens to contact (U.S.) Sen. (Kay) Hagan, asking her to do the right thing by cosponsoring the Appalachia Restoration Act," Rooth said.

The Jan. 31 show features North Carolina's own Songs of Water and Matrimony, as well as touring group Dewi Sant.

Songs of Water

To front man Stephen Roach, it's a cause to get behind.

"I think it's just important to help bring awareness to this type of thing, especially in western North Carolina, where that tends to be more of a threat," he said. "We're just excited to get behind it and just help, help push it forward and help bring some awareness to mountaintop removal."

He, along with Jason Windsor, Marta Richardson, Greg Willette, Michael Pritchard, Luke Skaggs, Sarah Stephens, Molly Skaggs and Jon Kliegle, make up Greensboro-based Songs of Water. To him, helping isn't a choice.

"I think that anyone who is given a voice to the community in a public manner like this has a responsibility," he said. "I think that music and art is a very powerful way to convey the things that are important."

A self-described folk orchestra, Songs of Water brings a worldly element, Appalachian style, with an international twist on instruments like a hammer dulcimer. By bringing sounds from faraway places, Songs of Water creates an ethnic vibe that will stick with you long after the last chord. For more information, visit


Speaking of worldly, Belfast, Northern Ireland's own Jimmy Brown is bringing his own voice to the conversation.

"We really believe in supporting the whole goal," he said. "The organization seems to be really top notch ... We are just happy to do it, to do whatever we can do."

And, now that Brown's a resident of Charlotte, he's particularly interested in anything that could harm the state he now calls home.

He, along with his wife, Ashlee (Matrimony, get it?), and other band mates bring "high energy, indy folk music" to the stage.

Think male-female vocals in an acoustic string harmony, and all for a good cause. For more information, visit

Also joining Songs of Water and Matrimony on stage is Dewi Sant (

The show happens Monday, Jan. 31 at the Boone Saloon (489 W. King St.). Expect a $10 cover charge to benefit Appalachian Voices and Restoring Eden.

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