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Goldenseal magazine editor to speak Tuesday

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- John Lilly will host a presentation at the Culture Center on Tuesday evening -- West Virginia Country Music and Goldenseal magazine.

Lilly is the third editor in the 39-year history of the state's quarterly cultural and historical magazine.

The program will begin at 6 p.m. in the Archives and History Library at the Culture Center on the Capitol grounds in Charleston. Admission is free and open to the public.

A Power Point presentation about many past articles in Goldenseal will comprise the first half of Tuesday's presentation.

The second half will focus on photographs and music by traditional country music artists whose stories have appeared in the magazine.

Ken Sullivan, Goldenseal editor from 1975 to 1997, once said the publication focuses on the "extraordinary lives of ordinary people."

Free-lance authors write almost all the articles published by Goldenseal, Lilly said. "We encourage people to get our contributor guidelines and learn about what topics we like."

Goldenseal" has published two books:

• The "Goldenseal Book of the West Virginia Mine Wars," edited by Sullivan and published in 1992, is now in its fifth printing.

• "Mountains of Music: West Virginia Traditional Music," edited by Lilly, was published in 1999. This book features 25 stories about 25 country music artists published in Goldenseal.

These stories, Lilly said, "show how people live, with pictures of musicians in their home environments. They feature what their daily lives were like, in addition to their career achievements."

Lilly said musicians featured in his presentation will include:

• Blind Alfred Reed, a blind street singer from Hinton. His song "How Can a Poor Man Stand Such Times and Live?" was featured in a recent Bruce Springsteen album.

• The West Virginia Coon Hunters, a string band from the Bluefield area.

• Roy Harvey, who made more than 200 recordings in the 1920s and 1930s.

• Hank Williams, the legendary country singer found dead from an apparent heart attack in the back seat of his car, when his college student driver stopped at a gas station in Oak Hill. Lilly said Williams, only 29, "had been on his way to a New Year's Eve show at the Municipal Auditorium in Charleston in 1952."

• Buddy Starcher and Sleepy Jeffers, stars of a country music show that aired on local television between 1960 and 1973.

• Doc Williams, a country singer from Wheeling, who recorded songs from the 1930s through the 1980s and was best known throughout the Northeast up to Nova Scotia. "He and his family were almost royalty in the Wheeling area," Lilly said.

• Molly O'Day and Lynn Davis, country singers from Huntington who performed religious music for their last 30 years.

• Joltin' Jim McCoy from Berkeley Springs, who gave Patsy Cline her first chance to sing publicly, on a radio show he hosted in Winchester, Va., when Cline was still a teenager.

• Hazel Dickens, a pioneer in bluegrass music who wrote "West Virginia, My Home."

Lilly, a country musician himself, plans to end the program, about 7:30 p.m., by singing a couple of his own songs.

Created by the West Virginia Department of Commerce in 1975, Goldenseal was transferred to the Department of Culture and History two years later.

Tom Screven was the original editor of Goldenseal when it became the successor to Hearth and Fair, a publication focused on the Mountain State Arts and Crafts Fair, an annual event in Ripley.

"We get a lot of submissions to Goldenseal today," Lilly said. "That is the lifeline of the magazine. Sometimes we can use them. Sometimes we can't. But we appreciate anyone's submissions."

Reach Paul J. Nyden at pjnyden@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5164.


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