Alex Caton | Never Take a Daisy Down the Mine

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United States - Virginia

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Folk: Appalachian Folk World: Western European Moods: Type: Lyrical
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Never Take a Daisy Down the Mine

by Alex Caton

Intimate harmonies, compelling lyrics, driving fiddle and a unique Traditional Southern American take on coal mining material from across the pond.
Genre: Folk: Appalachian Folk
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Collier Lass
3:36 $0.99
2. Close the Coal House Door, Lad
4:01 $0.99
3. Coal Mine Blues
1:45 $0.99
4. Never Take a Daisy Down the Mine
4:22 $0.99
5. Saving Granddad
4:57 $0.99
6. Explosion in the Fairmount Mines
3:22 $0.99
7. Minnie Pit Disaster
3:13 $0.99
8. Working Man
3:02 $0.99
9. The Diglake Disaster At Audley
5:36 $0.99
10. Coal Not Dole
3:42 $0.99
11. The Colliers
2:43 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
“English-born but US resident since the age of twelve, singer and banjo player Caton traces her family history through coal mining songs, tunes and poems from Staffordshire to Virginia. Terrific old-time singing and playing and often genuinely moving.”
fRoots Magazine, March 2016

“Lovely project exploring local fiddler & banjoist Alex Caton’s family roots in the mines of England.” Pete Marshall, Sunset Road’s Best Folk Albums of 2015

"Really enjoyed listening to these mining songs and poems. The members of our Coal Mining Heritage Association also reacted very positively after listening to the CD at our monthly meeting. When I worked for the National Coal Board, I would never have taken a flower underground with me! This CD conveys the many dangers of underground coal mining, and the experience of being trapped underground.” Gavin Faulkner

Never Take a Daisy Down the Mine is the most meaningful music project I have ever worked on as it combines my love of Appalachian and Irish music, my Anthropology background and my interest in my personal family history. The project started five years ago after a visit to England and a family group tour down the mine at The Apedale Heritage Centre in North Staffordshire, England. This happened to be the very mine my great grandfather worked in many years ago. After that visit, my interest in our family history and coal mining in general grew and before I knew it I was collecting songs and poems (found by my father, my uncle Graham and my auntie Valerie) about mining from Staffordshire and beyond.

It took five years of sifting through material to eventually become a CD length project. Some poems I put to melodies that I created, some songs I covered as written and some we kept as spoken verse. I also found a couple fiddle tunes about mining that I added into the mix. Within these past five years I also traveled back to England to visit family, take another tour down the mine, visit memorials dedicated to incidents and explosions that I was singing about and to also record my uncle reading some poetry that will be featured in this new album. I also spent a great deal of time reading about the history of coal mining in Staffordshire, as well as in the Appalachians, watching documentaries and generally immersing myself in the context of the songs I was working on. It's been quite a journey.

I am now very excited to share the final project with others. My uncle Graham has been instrumental in all of this. He has donated his time, his expertise and his numerous talents. The title track, Never Take A Daisy Down the Mine, was written by Graham. He also read another of his own poems, Saving Granddad and donated it to this album. Graham and I both agree that it's important to write about and understand the history of coal mining and how largely it impacted life in the midlands. I hope more than anything that these songs and poems express the immense pride in the work, the comradeship, the dangers and hardships experienced daily, and that it will also commemorate all those who were lost to explosions, fires, floods and wall collapses.

I've also learned a great deal about the different musical and literary traditions and cultures in England compared to say other coal rich areas such as southeastern Appalachia and how I wanted to fit this project in those traditions. In England, brass bands formed the central music tradition surrounding the mines, workers and unions. There was also a large poetry tradition and very often poems were written to raise funds for family members of miners who were injured or killed (we included one such poem in this collection). In comparison, in the southern US, ballads and stringband music traditions abound. These traditions span the centuries but more recently songstresses like Hazel Dickens exemplified the power of mountain singing and the plight of coal miners and working men and women everywhere. This high lonesome sound combined with the haunting banjo and fiddle melodies in my mind make an ideal vehicle for expressing working life. I knew I wanted to take these poems and songs from England and play them within the framework of Appalachian music.



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