Monday, May 6, 2013

Episode 160 (5-6-13): "Piney Mountains," by Bruce Molsky

Click to listen to episode (3:20).


From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio for the week of May 6, 2013.

This week, we feature music about a natural-resource industry that’s been important to Virginia’s economy for hundreds of years, while also being vital to management of the Commonwealth’s water.  Have a listen for about a minute.


You’ve been listening to an excerpt from “Piney Mountains,” by Bruce Molsky on his 2013 CD, “If It Ain’t Here When I Get Back,” from Tree Frog Music.  The song was written by Craig Johnson, a highly-regarded string-band musician who died in North Carolina in 2009.  Focusing on one logger-turned-millworker’s tragic accident in a Galax, Virginia, mill, the song weaves in several aspects of the history of the forest industry in the southeastern states: hard work and rough leisure by loggers, opportunities and risks of working in sawmills and furniture factories, economic ups and downs of resource-based industries, changes to landscapes after land uses change, and a rich heritage of traditional music.  With so much else to say, it’s understandable that the song’s woeful logger didn’t mention that forests play an important role for watersheds, water sources, and aquatic life.  With about 62 percent of Virginia covered by forests as of 2012, piney mountains and other wooded landscapes will continue to influence the Commonwealth’s economy, culture, and water.  Thanks to Bruce Molsky for permission to use this week’s music.

For other water sounds and music, and for more Virginia water information, visit our Web site at, or call us at (540) 231-5463.  From the Virginia Water Resources Research Center in Blacksburg, I’m Alan Raflo, thanking you for listening, and wishing you health, wisdom, and good water.


[All Internet addresses mentioned were functional as of 5/6/13]

Forests made up much of the watershed surrounding a Bedford County, Virginia, reservoir (center of photo) in this April 21, 2011, photo from Peaks of Otter.
Map from “State of the Forest 2012,” Virginia Department of Forestry.

Acknowledgments: “Piney Mountains” and “If It Ain’t Here When I Get Back” are copyright 2013 by Bruce Molsky and Tree Frog Music, used with permission.  More information about Bruce Molsky is available online at, or by mail to Tree Frog Music, P.O. Box 729, Beacon, NY 21508; phone (845) 797-1540.


Information on Craig Johnson was taken from his December 2009 obituary online at; and “Most Done Traveling: A Tribute to Craig Johnson,” by Dave Shombert in the Dec. 2009-Jan. 2010 issue of The Old Time Herald (Durham, N.C.), online at

Information on forests and the forest industry in Virginia was taken from the “Virginia’s Forests,” Virginia Department of Forestry (Va. DOF) Web Site,; from the Va. DOF’s “State of the Forest 2012,” online at (see pp. 11-12 for comments specifically about the impacts of forested lands on watersheds, water quality, and aquatic habitats); from the Virginia Forest Products Association Web site at; and from Jennifer Gagnon, Virginia Forest Landowner Education Program/Virginia Tech College of Natural Resources and Environment.

Information on development of new uses for forest products is available from the Virginia Tech Department of Sustainable Biomaterials, online at


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