Bill Lynch, Mason Adams, Kelley Libby, Zander Aloi, Liz Pahl Published

The Healing Power Of Old-Time Music And A History Of Meth, Inside Appalachia

A variety of instruments are seen hung on the wall. Instruments, such as a mandolin, guitar, fiddle, etc. Underneath the images are black and white photographs.
Pictures of musician family members and collected stringed instruments adorn the living room wall in the Burhans’ home.
Liz Pahl/West Virginia Public Broadcasting

This week, old-time music jams aren’t just fun, they’re good for your mental health.

Also, the opioid epidemic has changed how we talk about addiction in Appalachia. But it’s not America’s only drug crisis.

And, every year, hundreds of people parachute off the 876-foot-tall New River Gorge Bridge for Bridge Day, but not just anyone can do it. 

You’ll hear these stories and more this week, Inside Appalachia.

In This Episode:

Mental Health And Old-Time Music Jams

Six people sit in a circle together in a room in a home. They each have a different instrument. In the center of the circle is a dog resting.
(Left to right) Hilarie Burhans (banjo), Mark Burhans (fiddle), Mark “Pokey” Hellenberg (mandolin banjo), Steve Owens (banjo), Julie Elman (bass) and Caitlin Kraus (guitar) are playing old-time music on a Monday night at the Burhans home in Athens, Ohio. Hilarie is a sought after claw hammer banjo instructor, and she and Mark also own and operate a local Mediterranean restaurant in Athens named Salaam.

Photo Credit: Liz Pahl/West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Human beings have used music to do everything from soothe children to sleep or to fire up crowds during football games, but there are other benefits, too.

Folkways Reporter Liz Pahl explored them during an old-time jam session in Athens, Ohio. 

The Other Drug Epidemic

A woman is seen smiling for the camera. She has long dark hair and stands outside on a sunny day. Behind her are green trees and bushes.
Olivia Weeks hosts Home Cooked, a podcast that looks at the continuing crisis of methamphetamines.

Courtesy Photo

When we talk about addiction, a lot of us think about opioids. But there’s another drug still circulating in communities — methamphetamine, or meth. 

The powerful stimulant could be manufactured in people’s homes, but after the US cracked down on the sale of meth making ingredients, the ways people make meth evolved. That history is the topic of a new podcast, called Home Cooked, produced by the Daily Yonder.

Mason Adams spoke with the show’s host and producer, Olivia Weeks. 

No Son Of Mine 

West Virginia author Jonathan Corcoran stands in a New York park.
West Virginia native Jonathan Corcoran’s memoir No Son Of Mine is about coming out and coming to grips with loss.

Photo Credit: Sam Klugman

West Virginia writer Jonathan Corcoran hid his sexuality growing up, but then in college, his mother discovered he was gay. She disowned him and then died during the pandemic before they could reconcile. 

Corcoran, now a university professor in New York, wrote a book exploring grief and his relationship with his mother.

Producer Bill Lynch spoke with the author.

Breaking Down Base Jumping At Bridge Day

The famous arched bridge across the New River Gorge is contrasted against a bright blue sky with a few fluffy white clouds.
The New River Gorge Bridge.

Photo Credit: E-WV

It’s a few months off, but thrill seekers are already planning for Bridge Day at the New River Gorge in Fayetteville, West Virginia. 

High school students Dylan Neil and Nella Fox of the Fayette Institute of Technology got curious about how to become a Bridge Day BASE Jumper and talked with BASE Jumper Marcus Ellison. 


Our theme music is by Matt Jackfert. Other music this week was provided by Jeff Ellis, Noam Pikelny, Joe Dobbs and the 1937 Flood, Sierra Ferrell and John Blissard.

Bill Lynch is our producer. Zander Aloi is our associate producer. Our executive producer is Eric Douglas. Kelley Libby is our editor. Our audio mixer is Patrick Stephens. We had help this week from folkways editor Mallory Noe-Payne.

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You can find us on Instagram, Threads and Twitter @InAppalachia. Or here on Facebook.

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Inside Appalachia is a production of West Virginia Public Broadcasting.