Of all the ways to harvest energy from the earth, mountaintop removal coal mining might be the most universally distasteful (well, at least until the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster made offshort drilling the temporary dunce of dirty energy). Earlier this week Dave Matthews, Emmylou Harris and Alison Krauss played a "Music Saves Mountains" benefit show to help fund efforts to end the practice.
Not content with playing just one show, My My Morning Jacket’s Jim James (aka Yim Yames), singer-songwriter Daniel Martin Moore and cellist Ben Sollee are doing an entire nine-date "Appalachian Voices" tour in the Appalachian states. A portion of the proceeds from the tour will go to the organization by the same name, Appalachian Voices which strives to protect this region against the environmental dangers of coal mining and pollution. The three musicians previously worked together on the LP "Dear Companion," a collaboration between Moore and Sollee which James produced.
According to a statement on the Yim Yames website, “The people and the land of Appalachia are too important to us as a nation to be sacrificed for something as short-sighted as Mountaintop Removal (MTR) coal mining. Our cultural stake in the region, from its music to its log cabins, is an indispensable part of our history and identity as Americans. People all over the world know our country music, our dances and our stories and they call them American. They are the fruit of Appalachia.”
Mountaintop removal coal mining blasts off the top of a mountain and dumps the excess into valleys and streams in an attempt to reach the thin seams of coal underneath the mountain. This relatively new technique alters the original contours of the mountain and has a significant, irreversible impact on both the environment and human health. The EPA estimates that 2,200 square miles of the Appalachian forests will be cleared by mountaintop removal mining by 2012. This practice is most commonly seen in the top two coal-producing states in Appalachia: West Virginia and eastern Kentucky.
The tour kicks off on July 22 in Lexington, Kentucky. Preservation Hall Jazz Band will join James, Moore and Sollee at the Music Hall of Williamsburg in Brooklyn on July 30 and at the Newport Folk Festival in Rhode Island July 31 and August 1. Audience members will hopefully witness some sit-ins by James with Moore, Sollee and PHJB. Tickets go on sale Friday, May 21.