Front Porch Blog

Making Music to Save Mountains

Mountain Aid – THIS WEEKEND!!

Kathy MatteaMusic is often moving, but only once in a while does it help stop mountains from moving. That is the hope behind the inaugural Mountain Aid festival, taking place this Friday through Sunday, June 19 – 21, at the Shakori Hills festival grounds just south of Chapel Hill in Chatham County, NC. Mountain Aid is being billed as “a concert to end mountaintop removal and create a clean energy future for North Carolina and beyond.”

Mountain Aid will raise funds for the Pennies of Promise campaign to build a new school for the children of Marsh Fork Elementary. Located in Raleigh County, W. Va., the school sits just 225 feet from a coal loading silo that releases chemical-laden coal dust and 400 yards from a 385-foot tall leaking sludge dam with a nearly 3 billion gallon capacity.

Just last week, a West Virginia court approved the construction of a second coal silo to be built even closer to the school. Independent studies have shown the school to be full of coal dust.

Ben SoleeHeadlining the festival will be Grammy Award-winning country artist Kathy Mattea, whose recent release, COAL, deals specifically with the West Virginia native’s many personal ties to the subject. Raised near Charleston, W. Va., her mining heritage runs throughout both sides of the family: both her parents grew up in coal camps, both her grandfathers were miners, and her mother worked for the local United Mine Workers Association union office. Mattea’s father was saved from the mines by an uncle who paid his way through college.

Other performers include rising cello star Ben Sollee, festival favorites Donna The Buffalo, upbeat reggae-tinged rockers the Sim Redmond Band and more.

Pennies of Promise
When his granddaughter returned home from school sick, Pennies of Promise founder Ed Wiley fought to get the school moved away from the massive neighboring mountain top removal mine despite government inaction. According to West Virginia state officials, construction of a new school is a fiscal impossibility, but that was not going to keep Wiley and scores of concerned citizens from taking it upon themselves to come to the children’s aid.

To kick off the campaign, Wiley presented West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin with $400 in pennies. He then walked more than 300 miles from his home in Rock Creek, W. Va. all the way to Washington, D.C. to continue the fight. Funds generated by Mountain Aid will help the Pennies of Promise campaign move closer to their goal of $8 million to fund the new school and move the children out of harm’s way. For more information on the nonprofit, click to

Mountain Aid is sponsored by the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition (OHVEC), a nonprofit organization formed in 1987 whose mission is to organize and maintain a diverse grassroots organization dedicated to the improvement and preservation of the environment through education, grassroots organizing and coalition building, leadership development and media outreach.

Tickets for Mountain Aid are $30 at the gate. Tent camping passes are $10 and vehicle camping passes are $40. For more information, click to

Story by David Brewer





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