Poets have long understood the metaphorical power of music to move mountains, but Mark Utley hopes his new compilation album, Music From the Mountains, has the literal power to stop mountains from moving.
Years ago, major coal mining operations abandoned shaft mining and embraced strip mining and mountaintop removal (or MTR), where Appalachian hilltops are leveled with huge quantities of explosives and coal is sifted from the rubble. Opponents of MTR say the process results in the loss of deep mining jobs; lowland floods due to vegetation loss and massive rainwater runoff; the deaths of hundreds of residents whose wells were poisoned by the process’ chemical byproducts; the literal destruction of homes from flying debris; and a genocidal assault on the Appalachian culture.
When Utley first heard about MTR, the frontman for local Americana ensemble Magnolia Mountain was hesitant about increasing his knowledge on the subject.
The Music for Mountains benefits start Friday at UC’s MainStreet Cinema (in the Tangeman University Center) with film screenings and musical performances. Saturday’s main event at the Southgate House features nearly 20 acts. Go here to read Brian Baker's full interview and get performance details.