The music of the rising Appalachian black metal scene is awesome, & the musicians behind it are extraordinarily thoughtful individuals, so I always jump at the chance to talk to them.
This story features Slaves BC, Ulfrinn, Twilight Fauna, Nechochwen, and Vials of Wrath.
I recommended more artists here:
Read my story at Noisey.
I spent the last day of February in Charleston at the WV Capitol, where despite the governor’s announcement of a resolution, hundreds of teachers showed up to chant, sing, shout & dialogue. Schools in all 55 counties are out again today, as lawmakers debated what to do. Here’s what I saw & heard.
Read the story at Vice.
At Between Coasts I wrote about how a stretch of Roanoke’s Salem Ave went from moshpits to townhouses and back again.
This story features a little more autobiography than most of my writing, as well as skaters from Twin Valleys Roller Derby + derby photos by Stephen Lowery/Kluster Flux + vintage punk pics by Kent Moore Photography.
Read it at Between Coasts.
The 2018 GOP primary for West Virginia’s US Senate seat was turning into another Mitch McConnell/Steve Bannon proxy fight. Then one of the most hated men in West Virginia announced his candidacy.
I think Don Blankenship is using this mostly to grind his ax against MSHA, incumbent US Sen Joe Manchin & the federal government. Even so, he’s injecting a unpredictable element of chaos into what had been a seemingly straight-forward primary.
Read the story at Blue Ridge Outdoors.
I loved writing this story about four awesome people, alumni of both the NRV Roller Girls & Virginia Tech. Stephanie Beeman, Kacey Huntington Cappallo, Tori Elmore & Jen Stern are killing it in their professional lives and on the track as derby skaters.
They inspire me and encapsulate what I love about roller derby.
Read the story at Virginia Tech Magazine.
In 1979, Roanoke was a blue-collar New South city built around the Norfolk & Western railroad. The city core was decaying as businesses and residents moved outward to suburbs and adjacent counties.
Today, the Star City has become what so many cities of its size, geography, and history want to be. It’s burgeoning, chock full of craft beer, and eminently welcoming to outdoorsy Millennials. As small cities struggle to retain young people, Roanoke is attracting them.
How did this happen? And what does downtown’s transformation mean for nearby neighborhoods like historic Gainsboro?
Read the full story at CityLab.
The Daily Yonder is a web publication that is aimed at the 55 million people who live in the rural United States. It’s been published on the web since 2007 by the Center for Rural Strategies, a non-profit media organization based in Whitesburg, Kentucky, and Knoxville, Tennessee.
I started writing for the Yonder in August, with stories that included reactions to white supremacy rallies in small towns and rural areas, as well as a preview and recap of how rural areas played into the 2017 Virginia governor’s race.
Here are some recent stories, all of which have been subsequently re-published at 100 Days in Appalachia:
– How #NoHateInMyHoller became a war cry for Appalachia: An interview with Eastern Kentucky artist Lacy Hale
– Policing white-supremacist rallies: Lessons from small-town America
– “Margins matter”: How rural voters could tip the scales in Virginia’s governors race (spoiler: they didn’t)
– GOP’s rural numbers in Virginia slip only slightly from 2016
Roanoke has successfully reinvented itself from a gritty blue-collar railroad hub into a burgeoning, craft-beer soaked, millennial-friendly outdoor mountain town with a cool, freshly restored downtown.
In doing so it has become a model for small cities in Appalachia and the South looking to transcend outdated community narratives. But Roanoke still faces significant challenges in spreading that new prosperity to neighborhoods that have been hit by generations of segregation, deepening economic inequality, a powerful business class with outsized influence on city politics, & a legacy of disruption via urban renewal.
Roanoke’s challenges are those of many other New South towns that also struggle with historic economic immobility. I wrote for Scalawag about the Star City’s struggles, largely through the past and present of its public schools.
This story should have run in May, but apparently slipped through the cracks. It’s got such great musicians in it — Twilight Fauna, Anna & Elizabeth, Tyler Hughes & Sam Gleaves, Byron Mack, Panopticon and more —
that I posted it on Medium, even if it’s a few months after the fact.
West Virginia’s 3rd congressional district went 73/23 for Trump over Clinton last year, but Democrat Nick Rahall held that seat up through 2014. With the seat open again (Evan Jenkins is running for Senate), I wrote about how Democrats are trying to engage voters and address the real challenges of poverty & economic disruption there (including at least two who are doing so by running for the Republican nomination).
My story for the New Republic looks at several present and past Democrats in the district (including some current Republicans) who are now maneuvering for the open seat. The story focuses largely on Richard Ojeda, a veteran and state senator who supported Trump in 2016 but is building a campaign that combines his brawling anti-establishment style with a generally progressive platform.