Mountain style bluegrass has always featured songs about running moonshine through the hills, and digging under them in the mines. In some parts of the Appalachian, Smokies, and Ozark ranges, mining and running whiskey might look like the only work that was available, especially a couple generations back.
The Whiskey Or The Coal, a second single from Big Country Bluegrass’ Mountains, Mamas and Memories album on Rebel Records, tells a story of that very dilemma facing a mountain man examining his prospects. Lead singer, Eddie Gill, gives an extra lonesome treatment to this song from Kentucky songwriter Greg Preece, who grew up in a coal mining family himself.
Mandolinist and bandleader, Tommy Sells, says that this one was a natural for the band.
“We liked the song from the first time we heard it, and Teresa’s arrangement of the catchy chorus sold the song to the rest of the band. She sings the high baritone part while John (Treadway) sings the tenor, and Eddie (Gill) the lead.”
Big Country Bluegrass has a long history playing bluegrass in southwestern Virginia. Tommy and Teresa Sells started the band back in 1987, and they have toured all over the US bringing their brand of traditional mountain music to festivals and shows. Many band members have come and gone over the past 32 years, and they have a very strong group right now with Eddie and Teresa on guitars, Tommy on mandolin, John Treadway on banjo, Tim Laughlin on fiddle, and Tony King on bass.