Rich and the Po’ Folk, Letcher County Kentucky’s best old-time string band, dig into a wide range of traditional mountain music old and new in their new recording When the Whistle Blew. The recording draws on the band members’ home territory of eastern Kentucky and southwest Virginia, hot spots for one of America’s great musical traditions.
The oldest song on the recording is “The Golden Vanity,” a Perry County, Kentucky version of a British ballad first printed in 1635. The newest is “Dying to Make a Living,” written in 2006 by the southwest Virginia group Foddershock. In between, the band draws on songs traditional songs learned from Lee Sexton, George Gibson, Bruce Greene, Henry Reed, Sarah Gunning, Virgil Anderson, and the Couch Family, as well as original songs by Jean Ritchie, Si Kahn, and Mike Paxton.
The musical heritage of coal plays a large part in the recording. Bassist Nate Polly wrote the CD’s title song about the history of a Kentucky mining community. Jean Ritchie’s classic “The L&N Don’t Stop Here Anymore” and Mike Paxton’s “Thirty Inch Coal” round out the picture, and Foddershock’s “Dying to Make a Living” describes the price miners pay for a lifetime of work digging coal.
1. Thirty Inch Coal
2. Loving Nancy
3. Betty Baker/Durang's Hornpipe
4. The L&N Don't Stop Here Anymore
5. Station House Blues
6. Dying to Make a Living
7. Big Stone Gap
8. Go to Work on Monday One More Time
9. Red Fox
10. Southern Texas
11. Merriweather/ Old Billy Hell/ Sandy River Belle
12. The Golden Vanity
13. When The Whistle Blew
14. Hook and Line