The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #164518   Message #3937620
Posted By: Joe Offer
16-Jul-18 - 12:33 AM
Thread Name: Lyr ADD: Redneck War (Short & Shortridge)
Subject: RE: Lyr ADD: Redneck War (Short & Shortridge)
Notes from the CD Booklet, Page 43-45, Music of Coal: Mining songs from the Appalachian Coalfields, ©Lonesome Records & Publishing.

In a photograph an unusual yard ornament rests in front of the William Blizzard home near Winfield, West Virginia. It is a relic from the largest organized armed uprising in American labor history, a war fought at Blair Mountain in Logan County, West Virginia. This “One Pounder” canon on wheels was one of the many weapons used against some 10,000 miners at the 1921 Battle of Blair Mountain. The “One Pounder” serves as a symbol of the years of brutality and exploitation that forced miners like Blizzard to pick up their rifles and march against the coal company’s militia. They did battle against a smaller but better armed force of hired guns, deputies, and state police attempting to keep union organizing out of southern West Virginia. Airplanes hired by coal operators dropped bombs on the miners’ positions, and after 10 days of pitched battle the U.S. Army intervened, forcing the miners to retreat and ending the battle. A death count for either side was never established.

The coal operators’ subsequent legal assault and the prosecution of the miners dwindled the role of the UMWA in West Virginia and some miners, including Blizzard, were tried for treason. The miners’ cause seemed doomed until years later when the Roosevelt administration introduced legislation assuring more rights for the American labor force. These Blair Mountain miners considered themselves patriotic; many were World War I veterans who held tight to the American dream. They fought for what they believed was right, and though they lost the battle, their willingness to fight for their ideals eventually changed America for the better.

Ron Short is a composer, musician and songwriter born in Dickenson County, Virginia, where the culture of music and story is strong. His ancestors were German immigrants —Church of the Brethren, known as “Dunkards”—and Scots-Irish Presbyterians who became Baptist. His great-grandfather, John Calvin Swindall, was a founder of the Old Regular Baptist Church, and their ancient style of “lined-out” singing is one of the first sounds that Ron can remember.

As well as embracing the music of his cultural heritage, Short has whole-heartedly embraced and collaborated in the music of other cultures, most notably; African -American jazz of New Orleans, Puerto Rican “Cumbia” and “Bamba”, the “Rancheras” of “Tejano Conjunto” music from the Southwest and the “Indian” flute songs and religious chants of the Pueblo Zuni. He writes and plays all styles of music including rock, blues and country.

Short’s writing partner on this piece is Sandy Shortridge, one of four daughters from a coal mining family in Buchanan County, Virginia. She has been a singer for over thirty years and performs many of her own songs.