Cryptid glass art, Appalachian zines and a racial overhaul of climbing routes

In the last episode of Inside the Appalachianswe will hear stories of creators from across the Appalachians and how they treat their lives through their art, including songwriting, photography and self-published fanzines. We’ll chat with a climber who challenged the climbing community to rename racist and sexist routes, and won. Also in this episode, West Virginia singer and songwriter John R. Miller updates us on his new album.

In this episode:

Cryptid glass art

Blenko Glass is based in Milton, West Virginia. At the start of the pandemic, the company was hit hard and had to lay off almost all of its employees. But thanks to a federal loan and smart marketing, they’ve rehired almost everyone and had one of their most profitable years in decades.

Blenko’s return involved a collaboration with a graphic designer based in Morgantown. Caitlin Tan, spoke to reporter Molly Born, who wrote an article for the Washington Post titled “How a mythical backcountry monster saved a struggling West Virginia glass company.”

New River Gorge guide renames routes

In October 2020, we spoke with climbers in West Virginia who adopted racist, sexist, and other offensive road names in the New River Gorge. DJ Grant is a black climber who helped start the effort to change the offensive names that have been found in the gorges. The routes – and the pioneer mountaineers who created them – are recorded in a two-volume guide called “New River Rock,” which contains approximately 3,000 climbing routes in the gorges and surrounding areas. Last year, Grant and others asked the Alliance of New River Climbers to change some of these route names to get rid of racist and offensive language. A new edition of the book was released in July. Inside the Appalachians reporter Zack Harold spoke to Grant at the latest.

Brian Blauser / Mountain Scene


John R. Miller gained national attention with the release of his album “Depreciated”.

John R. Miller

Singer and songwriter John R. Miller grew up on West Virginia’s Eastern Panhandle, in a small town called Hedgesville. He is fairly well known throughout the state and has performed on the West Virginia Public Broadcasting mountain stage several times. Now he has a new album called “Depreciated”.

This is his third album and it has gained international attention. He was featured in SPIN magazine and on official Spotify playlists like “Emerging America” and “Folk Fee”. He moved to Nashville to pursue his career, and it was during this transition period that he wrote most of the songs for “Depreciated”. But the Mountain State is never far from his mind. Miller spoke with Inside the Appalachians co-host Caitlin Tan on songs from her new album. They started with the song “Shenandoah Shakedown” – which takes place in the Shenandoah Valley where he grew up.

Three women unite to form Asheville Band

Asheville, North Carolina is known for its vibrant music scene. It’s a destination for touring musicians, but it’s also home to a thriving local scene, rooted in record stores, small venues and house shows. The Smoky Mountain Sirens were formed by three women who had performed in several Asheville bands, and as Matt Peiken of Blue Ridge Mountain Radio reports, they decided to try something new.

North Carolina Author Annette Saunooke Clapsaddle

Annette Saunooke Clapsaddle is a member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee in North Carolina. At the end of 2020, she published her first novel, “Even As We Breathe”. It’s kind of a mystery, set in an upscale hill station, and like the big books always do, calls us to think seriously about the world around us. NPR’s Neda Ulaby visited the author near the reserve where she grew up.

Appalachian Zines

johnson city zine festival

After spending time in Florida, Suzie Kelly moved to Johnson City and started the Johnson City Zine Fest.

After spending time in Florida, Suzie Kelly moved to Johnson City and started the Johnson City Zine Fest.

A zine, in essence, is a self-published magazine. A zine can be big and shiny, but it is much more likely to be produced by an individual person, often handwritten and done on a copier, with the paper folded and stapled. Artist and designer Suzie Kelly made zines for more than half of his life. She eventually moved to Florida where she went to a few zine festivals and got on fire again. When she moved to Johnson City several years ago, she asked, “Why not have a zine festival here too? “

Mason Adams spoke with Kelly at her home in Johnson City to talk about how she got into zines and what they mean to the people who read and create them.

Our musical theme is by Matt Jackfert. Other music this week has been provided by John R. Miller, the Smoky Mountain Sirens, Wes Swing and Dinosaur Burps.

Roxy todd is our producer. Our executive producer is Andrea Billups. Kelley libby is our editor. Our audio mixer is Patrick Stephens. Zander Aloi and Eric Douglas also helped produce this episode. You can find us on Twitter @InAppalachia. You can also email us at [email protected]

Virginia F. Goins