'You Can't Hurt Anything That Can't Be Repaired'- W.Va. Historian, Musician Jim Costa

Jan 25, 2017

Old time musician Jim Costa gave a performance at the West Virginia Humanities Council Wednesday night. It was part of the West Virginia Folklife Program.


Among his many achievements, Costa was in the film Matewan back in 1987. Over his lifetime he’s collected enough historic instruments, clocks, hatchets and other tools to fill a small museum.

Variations of apple butter churners from Jim’s Collection
Credit Zoe van Buren

26-year-old folklorist Zoe van Buren, from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, spent her summer last year documenting Costa’s legacy.

“And I think that actually, what he’s accomplished is more than what a single museum can do,” said van Buren, a native of New York City.  She  says she’s drawn to learning about the way people used to build buildings, cook food, and play music in years past.

“Tradition is always about the next generation, not just about the last one," she said. "It doesn’t mean just that from the past, it’s the way that we interpret and use the past to guide us into the future.”

One of the things that impressed her the most about Jim Costa was his skill at fixing old things, like clocks and instruments.

“You can’t hurt anything that can’t be repaired," Costa said during Wednesday night's presentation.