Various Artists

Dark as a Dungeon: Songs of the Mines

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What makes this sampler of various Rebel Records artists work is its theme, as bluegrass performers the Seldom Scene, Blue Highway, the Country Gentlemen, and others present a set of Southern mining songs from Rebel’s huge back catalog. Certainly one of the most dangerous and emotionally harrowing jobs ever imagined, mining makes sheer life and death a daily issue, and a body of songs that is part folk, part blues, part country, part spiritual, and part political has formed around it. Call it American realism with a social agenda. Mining songs, like train songs, remind us that life is a daily and perilous journey, and that between here and there anything at all can happen. They remind us that life is dearly lived.

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