Archive for the ‘Appalachia’ Category

Country Church

Tuesday, April 8th, 2008

Dyllis Baptist Church, Roane County, TN (cross posted at Hillbilly Savants)

Free Popcorn

Thursday, April 3rd, 2008

Famed Cocke County, TN moonshiner Marvin “Popcorn” Sutton has cut a deal with authorities:

Sutton, a Cocke County resident infamous across the country for both his skills and his arrest record as a moonshiner, agreed Thursday to a plea deal in Greeneville’s District Court.

Sutton entered guilty pleas to one count of possession of a firearm by a felon, and to one count of knowingly distilling spirits. The first charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The second carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Also as part of his plea agreement, Sutton agreed to allow his moonshining photos and videos to be used to “deter others” from committing crimes as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods.

Sentencing for Sutton will take place on August 4. He’ll remain free on bond until that date.

I find it hard to understand why authorities are wasting their time on this.

Cross posted at Tennesseefree and Hillbilly Savants

Podcast Appalachia: “The Scots-Irish”

Thursday, April 3rd, 2008

The latest episode of Podcast Appalachia is now available! In this episode, I look at the Scots-Irish and their contributions to Appalachia and America. Are you or any of your relatives from the Appalachian region? Then you are probably of Scots-Irish descent. You can listen to this episode here or view a transcript here.

Cheap Plug

Wednesday, March 26th, 2008

I created two videos utilizing some of the photos I’ve taken over the years. They advertise my podcast (have YOU listened yet?), but might be worth watching on their own merits.

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Ban Mountaintop Removal

Wednesday, March 26th, 2008

It may surprise some of you, but I fully support this effort:

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Raymond Finney, R-Maryville, and Rep. Mike McDonald, D-Portland, would prohibit mountaintop removal coal mining, is scheduled for a hearing Wednesday in the Senate Environment and Conservation Committee.

A vote on the bill has been delayed for another week, notes Michael Silence. I hope it passes. Mountaintop removal, or strip mining as it’s sometimes called, is devastating. It ruins the environment without providing much in the way of economic development. Anyone who doubts this should visit Eastern Kentucky.

Podcast Appalachia: “Daniel Boone”

Monday, March 24th, 2008

The latest episode of Podcast Appalachia is available for download! In this episode I provide a biography of frontiersman Daniel Boone, an early explorer of Appalachia and one of the most famous people in American history. You can find Podcast Appalachia on iTunes, or you can listen to this episode directly here. A transcript is also available here.

Rainy Smoky Mountains

Wednesday, March 19th, 2008

US 441 in the Smokies

Cross posted at Hillbilly Savants

Podcast Appalachia: “Early Appalachian Settlers and Explorers”

Tuesday, March 18th, 2008

The second episode of Podcast Appalachia is now available. In this episode, I discuss the first explorers and settlers to enter the Appalachian region. You can listen here or view a transcript here. You can also find it on iTunes.

He’d Buy a Hundred Pounds of Yeast and Some Copper Line…

Saturday, March 15th, 2008

Legendary mountain moonshiner Marvin “Popcorn” Sutton has been arrested:

ATF Agent Gregory E. Moore wrote in a federal complaint unsealed Friday that an undercover agent has in less than two months bought from Sutton some 300 gallons of the untaxed liquor and was poised to buy another 500 gallons in a single transaction. Authorities instead opted to raid Sutton’s three properties, including a barn and an old school bus he allegedly used to store his ’shine, Moore wrote.

In those Thursday raids, authorities seized more than 850 gallons of moonshine and three stills with capacities of 1,000 gallons each. They also discovered “hundreds of gallons” of mash and other moonshine-making ingredients, according to a release by U.S. Attorney Russ Dedrick.

If court records and Internet accounts are correct, Sutton is an old-school moonshine man willing to do just about anything to outsmart the revenuers and protect his meal ticket. He has a list of prior convictions, including one for assaulting someone with a gun with the intent to kill, and a nasty reputation. The ATF alleged in the complaint that he went armed during his transactions with the undercover agent.

Although Sutton’s reputation as a moonshiner was well-known, he hasn’t racked up charges for making the booze since the 1970s. That changed when a still exploded at his home on Upper Road last April.

“Several local fire departments responded,” Moore wrote. “The fire was extinguished and (Sutton) was interviewed. During the interview, Sutton admitted his knowledge of the presence of approximately 650 gallons of untaxed alcohol, commonly referred to as moonshine, and further admitted to knowingly and willingly manufacturing the moonshine with the operable moonshine still that was on his property.”

Why is the ATF wasting time harassing this harmless old man?* So he makes moonshine. Why should anyone care? It’s in his blood. It’s what he does. His daddy and granddaddy probably did also. And his ancestors for centuries before, all the way back to Scotland. It was a way of life for Appalachian folks for many years. Heck, I’m sure some of my ancestors did it. The government isn’t prosecuting him because they care about safety, but because he isn’t paying taxes on it.

Moonshining a dangerous, unsavory work–but no one is forced to do it. Moonshine is fading away now, with the liberalization of liquor laws and such. Sutton is part of a dying breed. The government wants to bury his ilk for good. I say leave him be.

*No, I don’t doubt that he could be dangerous, but only to those who threaten his way of life. Leave him alone and I suspect he’ll leave you alone.

Cross posted at Tennesseefree

That Old Time Religion

Thursday, March 13th, 2008

Cherokee, NC