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Self-Recording Appalachian Themes and Coal Mine Dreams
GENRE: Ghost Town Folk
HOMETOWN: San Francisco, CA & Chapel Hill, NC
ARTISTIC APPROACH: Crafting authentic folk from faded memories
Goodnight, Texas is an actual town that marks the halfway point between the two founders of the band with the same name, Avi Vinocur and Patrick Dyer Wolf. Wolf lives in Chapel Hill and Vinocur is a resident of San Francisco. Despite playing together for several years, the two have maintained their bicoastal lifestyles, a move that Vinocur says has forced them to “use [their] time wisely,” as they recorded their first LP A Long Life of Living in his San Francisco apartment. According to Vinocur, self-recording saved the group time and money, as they found they “worked better laying down tracks” on their own.
The first single off the album, “Jessie Got Trapped in a Coal Mine” is about a young man meeting his death in a coal mine before he could marry his fiancé. The darkness of the song is a reflection of what Vinocur has been drawn to recently.
“I’ve been really attracted to dark, heavy music with no electric [guitars] for the last year or so. I finally figured it out.”
With roots in Maryland and Northwest Virginia, Vinocur was drawn to the storytelling themes lying in Americana music. “Coal mining was an incredibly dangerous but important industry in America as a developing country. This is a story that might have been handed down from that time,” he says. The darkness finds life in other songs by the band, including the seemingly sweet-sounding “I’m Going to Work on Maggie’s Farm Forever.”
If that sounds familiar, it’s because it’s an alternate ending to the Bob Dylan classic. Vinocur imagined what would have happened if the farm worker had never left Maggie’s farm, but instead “did not stop working and just gave up hope.” He explains that songs of hopefulness are actually heavy issues to write about. “Revolutions don’t always win, you know. Sometimes they get squashed.”
photo by David Bornfriend