Madison County Project: Documenting the Sound examines the tradition of unaccompanied ballad singing in Madison County, North Carolina and how both documentary work and the power of family and community have influenced that tradition. The film focuses on John Cohen and Peter Gott’s film and recording work in Madison County in the 1960s as well as the voices of today’s ballad singers such as Sheila Kay Adams, Donna Ray Norton, Denise Norton O’Sullivan, and DeeDee Norton Buckner. The film is a joint project between two graduate students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Part of the project is to create a more transparent form of documentary that invites participation from those featured in the film, advisors, and the general public.
Mine War on Blackberry Creek reports on the long and bitter United Mine Workers of America strike in 1984 against A.T. Massey, America’s fourth largest coal company with corporate ties to apartheid South Africa. While strikebreakers work inside the mines and security men with guard dogs and cameras patrol the compound, miners on the picket lines detail the history of labor struggles in the region and their determination to hold out until victory.
A.T. Massey CEO Don Blankenship, listed on AlterNet in 2006 as one of “the 13 scariest Americans,” addresses capitalism, social Darwinism, and the global economy, while Richard A. Trumka, Secretary-Treasurer and currently running for President of the AFL-CIO, expresses union values.
Mine War on Blackberry Creek is currently being digitally remastered for release in August.
From John Burnett’s piece on NPR:
Dance halls throughout Central Texas have been dying off from decay and disuse. The best way to save them? ‘Dance in them,’ says Patrick Sparks, a structural engineer and president of Texas Dance Hall Preservation Inc.‘My view is that the dance halls are the most Texas thing there is,’ Sparks says. ‘You get a look back at 19th-century Texas and the European immigrants that came and formed such a strong part of our character.’
Here’s a video from Texas Dance Hall Preservation: