Shuck and Jive

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Prevent Mountain Top Removal in Tennessee (and Enjoy Good Tunes While Doing It!)

Thanks to the Johnson City Press for publicizing the concert we are hosting on Saturday at 7 p.m. Dana and Susan also will be featured on "Studio One" on 89.5 WETS Saturday at from 1 to 2 pm.

Check out some of their songs on their website.

And join us this Saturday night at your mountain-loving, tree-hugging church in the woods!

Here is the article:

ELIZABETHTON — There are few better pairings than a singer/ songwriter and a good cause. It appears Dana and Susan Robinson have found one.

The accomplished neofolk duo from Marshall, N.C., will be performing Saturday night at the First Presbyterian Church, 119 West F St., at a benefit for LEAF to raise awareness about mountaintop removal mining. Showtime is 7 and the suggested donation is $10.

LEAF is the Lindquist Environmental Appalachian Fellowship, a Christian fellowship of Tennesseans who feel their faith leads them to take action to protect the environment.

Coal advocates say MTR is the best, cheapest way to get coal, and that the affected land is reclaimed in positive ways as wilderness or developed for business or community purposes.

But many, including LEAF members, disagree — among them the Southern Environmental Law Center, which released its annual list of the top 10 places in the South that face immediate, potentially irreversible damage in 2011. Mountaintop removal in the Cumberland Plateau above Knoxville is on the list.

While MTR is common in West Virginia and Kentucky, it has seen limited use in Tennessee, and a battle is ongoing on legislation to limit it in our state. Until then, mining continues, including in the Sundquist Wildlife Refuge, and more MRT permit requests are pending.

Dana Robinson, who calls himself “a reluctant activist,” said he was aware of MTR, “but I’ve always been uncomfortable standing on a soap box, so to speak. But I have a lot of songwriter friends in Virginia, West Virginia and Kentucky who’ve been a part of these kinds of benefits, and when the folks in Elizabethton contacted me about doing this concert, I said yes immediately.

“Then I said, ‘I ought to learn more about this,’ so over the last three months I’ve just been studying, and it’s appalling. People need to learn about this stuff.”

Robinson said he and Susan, his wife, have even written a song about the cause.

“These mining projects and coal mining companies operate kind of invisibly, in remote parts of Appalachia, far removed from mainstream awareness,” he said. “They don’t have to be noisy and make their case to go about their business. It’s up to the people like us to get people united and make a noise. Because a large majority of people don’t support mountaintop removal.”

A little background on the Robinsons: Dana was raised in California to the music of the 1960s and ’70s, then settled in New England and drew from the folk singers of that region. Since moving in 1990 to the Asheville area, he’s immersed himself in oldtime and traditional music.

When he and Susan joined together about 10 years ago, “It magnified everything,” he said. “The music possiblities went crazy. Instead of just me doing a performance, we can swap instruments and do harmonies, and it becomes much more spontaneous, too. It gives so much more to the audiences.”

They play guitar, fiddle, banjo and mandolin, incorporating Appalachian, Celtic, folk and even English influences. Dana calls them both “songwriters and traditionalists.”

They’ll also perform Saturday at 1 p.m. on WETS-FM’s “Studio One” live radio show.

For more information, visit   or www.  , or find the artists on Facebook as Dana and Susan Robinson.


  1. There IS mountaintop removal going on here in Tennessee, I live next to it on the borders of Campbell & Claiborne Counties as well as Bell Conty, KY & Claiborne County, TN. Your so right, they hide very good. You can see in my pictures (FB ) some of it.

  2. Thank you Vickie. Thank you for taking pics and posting them and for commenting!!

  3. If you are still around, could you post that link again? The link you posted is broken.