Friday, February 28, 2014

CLT folk vet protesting with rookie Iditarod runner

Internationally known Charlotte-based singer-songwriting folk veteran Si Kahn is currently in Alaska cheering on musher Monica Zappa, who is competing in her first Iditarod - the annual, long distance sled dog race from Anchorage to Nome. Zappa, 30, - a Wisconsin native whose parents were mushers - has teamed with Kahn's Musicians United to Protect Bristol Bay to raise awareness about the controversial proposed Pebble Mine project in the Southwest part of the state.

To mark Zappa's send-off Musicians United released a video for Kahn's song "Mushing for Bristol Bay" earlier this week (watch it above). He headlined a send-off concert in Alaska for Zappa's team Wednesday. The track is sung by Molly Ledford of SC's kid-friendly Lunch Money. She was also the voice of the `90s/early `00s Columbia dream-pop outfit Verna Cannon. 

An activist and organizer who worked with unions and communities throughout his parallel non-music career, Kahn has devoted much of his time to rallying musicians like the late Pete Seeger around the Bristol Bay cause. He released an album devoted to the project last summer. On it - as he did with his most famous track "Aragon Mill" - he makes protest music without being preachy. He instead focuses on the humanity and the stories of the people these issues directly effect. 

With North Carolina recently seeing the environmental impact of industry here at home - like the folks near Danville, VA who can't drink their water - I'd think we could relate with the argument that the proposed mineral exploration in Southwest Alaska could devastate the environment there. The bay is reportedly home to 46 percent of the world's sockeye salmon and "one of the world's last pristine estuaries." Sure a mine would bring tax revenue and jobs, but the concern is the plan to impound water, waste rock, and mine tailings behind earthen dams at the mine site. And if the water's ruined, the fishing industry will plummet there.

These issues are pretty new to me, but from what I've read about coal ash in NC and what I've learned about mountaintop removal mining in my home state of WV through a research paper my husband is doing, these concerns are founded (apparently my county is cancer central thanks to waste left behind by these mines). 

But I digress. You can learn more about Kahn's project and Zappa's rookie run here