Arts & Culture

Square dancing, once a pillar of small-town life, is making a comeback in West Virginia. A statewide project is trying to help communities preserve and promote this part of their cultural heritage.

Marlinton, W.Va., is one of the towns taking up the cause. Its square dances can gather a crowd, but residents still worry about attracting the attention of the next generation.

If you go to a square dance in Marlinton, there are some rules to follow. First of all, leave your stereotypes at the door, says Becky Hill, who works on The Mountain Dance Trail initiative.

poet Crystal Good
Courtesy Photo

West Virginia, its culture and people are in a state of superposition, says writer poet and Kanawha Valley native Crystal Good.

Charged by her Affrilachian poet peers to combine her thoughts and observations of West Virginia with principles of Quantum Physics, Good delivered a lecture at a TedxTalks event in Lewisburg in July. 

State Civil War era newspapers going digital

Aug 20, 2013

Several hundred issues of state newspapers from the Civil War era are going to be digitized.

Several hundred issues of newspapers from Wheeling, Morgantown, Charleston and other state towns are being digitized.

Dave Mistich / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Photographs depicting life in West Virginia and other parts of Appalachia have long been the subject of controversy. One documentary photographer with roots in the state’s southern coal fields is seeking to change that through his work but also has motives far more personal.

“The pictures have this visual context of Appalachia, or at least the mountains. Even if you don’t even know what Appalachia is, you can see this rural, country, mountain way of life,” said documentary photographer Roger May as he spoke about his project Testify.

Andy Pickens

Eight years ago three friends at Shepherd University started a band. The Demon Beat’s popularity grew from the restaurants and pubs around Shepherdstown to audiences across the state and region. The band just made a run around the state before taking a hiatus.

“Personally whenever I hear terms like ‘this is a garage rock band’ or ‘a back to basics raw sound’, those are just really tired phrases when you hear people talk about that,” said Morgantown musician and close friend of the band, Billy Matheny.

“When you listen to The Demon Beat and when you see them live, in both cases, I think it’s everything a rock experience should be. It is raw and it is immediate. More than anything, it’s fun to listen to. That’s kind of everything you want out of that experience,” he added.

Suzanne Higgins

Between the 1880’s and 1920’s there was an intersection of two historical phenomena in Appalachia. The railroads opened the region for the large scale extraction of coal and Jews from Eastern Europe came to the United States seeking opportunity.

In her book “Coalfield Jews: An Appalachian History,” Deborah Weiner writes “…their story is treated here as Jewish History and as Appalachian history, in equal measure.  The linkages that emerge between these two seemingly unrelated fields help to illuminate both.”

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