"We don't blindly follow tradition, but we uphold the best as a cornerstone for surviving and thriving together as a troubled but powerful people in this state and region," said Carrie.
"Our hope is to really infuse people with a sense of passion and a renewed commitment -- all these songs are meant to do that -- so that we're drawing on our state and region, our mountain legacy, to find ways we can shape a world we can live in today."
An excerpt from the "Love Note to Our Listeners" that prefaces both CDs is perhaps as good a mission statement as you'll find for this couple who for decades have performed songs and recorded oral histories and tales of all manner and variety:
"Coal miners have been the canaries of the American work force. We honor people who organize across lines of race, class, gender, sexual orientation and language to gain justice and dignity for us all. We sing to survive and to help connect the dots of our fragmented history. And we've not forgotten the country duets and love songs which bring a deep, settled peace to our souls."
The Hammons family is well represented on the CDs, from "The Sly Old Crow" to Maggie Hammons Parker's version of "Bob Porter," about being cursed by the animal you killed for meat.
"Their forbears brought these songs across the ocean on leaky, creaky ships," said Carrie. "They made it to the Allegheny Mountains, where they kept singing and protected them. The Hammons kids and grandkids were not picking up these songs. That's why we work in the schools to try and re-seed them to keep them in the world, to see what wisdom and strength we can gain from the power of these songs."
Michael Kline describes the CDs as "a commemoration of our 20 years of singing together from this pretty interesting array of resources."
The Klines are also folklorists of long standing and much accomplishment though their company Talking Across the Lines: Worldwide Conversations. While in Charleston, they will also offer a 4 p.m. Friday workshop on field recording, oral history and feature production, sponsored by Roots Town Radio and held at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation. (Admission is $5, or pay $20 for the workshop, concert and a 6:30 p.m. meal of lentil soup, bread, salad and dessert.)
The couple recently won the Emerging Crisis Award by the Oral History Association to record an oral history of the effects of the gas-drilling boom in West Virginia. "We've recorded interviews with people looking particularly at fracking and seeing some consequences of that extractive industry that were not coming down through the local and national news," said Michael.
"We're not investigative reporters, we're just people who relish listening to other people talk and give them encouragement to tell their own stories in their own ways."
Reach Douglas Imbrogno at doug...@cnpapers.com or 304-348-3017.