Inside Appalachia tells the stories of our people, and how they live today. Hosts Caitlin Tan and Mason Adams leads us on an audio tour of our rich history, our food, our music and our culture.
What Ballads And Science Fiction Tell Us About Appalachia’s Past, Future And Present
This week’s episode is all about ballad singers and storytellers. If you’ve listened to Inside Appalachia over the past year, there’s a good chance you’ve heard music by Anna & Elizabeth. This week on Inside Appalachia, co-host Mason Adams sits down with Elizabeth LaPrelle, who grew up in Rural Retreat, Virginia. She and her husband Brian Dolphin moved from Brooklyn back to southwestern Virginia just before the pandemic hit. As longtime performers and new parents they took to Facebook Live, posting weekly livestreams of lullabies and stories. We’ll also hear about a song called “Tom Dooley,” which was first released shortly after the Civil War. It resurfaced 60 years ago, when it topped the Billboard charts. It had everything: A love triangle, a grisly murder, a manhunt, and a hanging. Folkways reporter Heather Duncan is a native of Wilkes County, North Carolina, where the song unfolds. Recently she set out to explore why ballads like Tom Dooley, based on real tragedies and real people, have such staying power. And we’ll hear from a contemporary ballad singer Saro Lynch Thomason, who uses the tradition of ballad singing in protests and marches.
A 91-Year-Old Diner, DIY Zines And Remembering A Legendary Hot Dog Maker
This week on Inside Appalachia, we listen to an encore episode about places in Appalachia that are drawing visitors and newcomers, sometimes at a cost. The region needs new residents to drive economic prosperity, but an influx of buyers can also squeeze out lower income people and put stress on community infrastructure.
West Virginia’s New River Gorge was recently designated as a National Park. That change will likely attract even more visitors — but it will also cut hunting rights in part of the park.
Even with these changes, there remain stalwarts across Appalachia, places that hang on even as the world around them transforms, including a restaurant in downtown Roanoke that has remained open more than 90 years.
We also remember Russell Yann, the longtime owner of Yann’s Hotdogs in Fairmont, who passed away earlier this year. “If there was a fire in the community, usually when the firefighters got back to the station, there would be hotdogs and drinks for them,” said Marion County Sheriff Jimmy Riffle, who worked for Yann for over 20 years. “If you’d gone in there more than once or twice. He would remember your order. Customers would just come in, sit down and we knew what they wanted.”
These stories remind us how the things that we’re passionate about can touch others, build community and create memories that outlast individual lives.
Writers, Playwrights And Filmmakers Who Confront The Complexities Of Appalachian Life
The story of Appalachia can’t be summarized in one book, one article or one movie. Our region goes beyond just ill-considered stereotypes.
This week on Inside Appalachia, we’ll learn about people who are digging beneath the surface, telling authentic stories about life in Appalachia. From a woman who’s helping write a new TV show about the opioid crisis, to a community theater company in Harlan County, Kentucky that produced a play called “Shift Change.” It confronts racism, and neighbors who stand on opposite sides of politics. In this episode we’ll hear from writers, playwrights, filmmakers and storytellers who confront the complexities of life here in Appalachia. They share why we should be proud of these complexities, and be willing to learn something new about Appalachia — even those of us who live here.
Forest Farming, Falcons And Frozen Fungus Ice Cream — Inside Appalachia
The natural world can be a source of food and medicine along with a place to escape and unwind. There are people who know plants like they’re old friends, complete with stories and histories. These experts can also help guide us to recognize how plants can even help us in times of need.
This week, we're listening back to an encore edition of Inside Appalachia about getting outside to embrace our wild side, to shed stress and to heal. We'll hear stories about tapping into the natural world. From a recipe that uses chanterelle mushrooms to make ice cream, to the sport of falconry (the oldest form of hunting), to a new initiative that teaches people how to raise native plants, like ginseng, cohosh and wild ramps on their own forested land as a source of income and as a way to preserve the forests.
Wildflowers, Turkey Calls and Cuckoo Clocks — And More Inside Appalachia
In the latest episode of Inside Appalachia, we’ll meet a man who makes wooden turkey calls. However, these aren’t ordinary turkey calls — they’re hand-crafted and feature intricate paintings.
“Truthfully, I never called myself an artist, ever,” said Brian Aliff. But now, through a twist of fate, his turkey calls have become collectors’ items.
Also on this week’s show, if you’ve spent any time floating on rivers, have you ever come across someone using a handmade wooden paddle? Some paddlers, like Christine Vogler, swear by them.
“For some reason it feels like you're more part of the water,” said Vogler. “Working with the water moving with it. It… feels more spiritual somehow.”
We’ll also travel to some of the most beautiful spots in Appalachia to find wildflowers — Dolly Sods and the Canaan Valley of West Virginia. But are these places becoming too popular?
We’ll hear those stories and more in this week’s episode of Inside Appalachia.
Hip-Hop, Herbalism And Cryptid Glass Art In Appalachia
When people talk about Appalachian music, banjos and fiddles are often the first things to come to mind. But what about hip-hop? Hip-hop lives all over, including in small towns and hollers across Appalachia. In this episode of Inside Appalachia, we’ll meet hip hop artists in southwest Virginia. Folks like Geonoah Davis, aka geonovah, who discovered rapping by way of poetry. “I always wanted to sing, but I was also a really shy kid,” David said. “Then poetry became an outlet for me to get my feelings out.”
And we’ll hear why herbal remedies are experiencing a renaissance. But those remedies have been a tradition in Appalachia for centuries. “Appalachia used to be the pharmacy of the United States,” said Crystal Wilson, who grows herbs on her farm in East Tennessee. “That’s always been part of who we are here. We just forgot it.”
We’ll also learn how Blenko Glass, a historic West Virginia artisan business, based in Milton, West Virginia, managed to stay open during the pandemic by retooling a mythical monster into art.
Those stories and more in this week’s episode.
This podcast makes me homesick for a place I’ve only ever visited. I’ve driven thru Kentucky. Vacationed in Cookeville, TN. Camped in West Virginia. I’ve always been fascinated by the people and history. I’m going to listen to this one again and again.
My Home; My Heart
Growing up in West Virginia, I took my home for granted. I couldn’t wait to move away— and I did as soon as I could. Fate and circumstance brought me back to my mountain mama, and since, I’ve loved, lived, and thrived in the heart of Appalachia. I’m warmed by the stories Inside Appalachia shares. Always wild, always wonderful, and always free— thanks Inside Appalachia for sharing a piece of my heart with the world.
Good info well delivered
This is a terrific addition to my pretty full podcast diet. Good variety of stories. Well done. Oh, and I love the intro music and the host’a voice!