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Jan Bell

Member sinceJuly 10, 2012
LocationBrooklyn, NYC
MembersBand leader of The Maybelles
InfluencesLoretta Lynn, Hazel and Alice, Pete Seeger
Artist Biography:
'Dream of the Miner's Child' the new album from Jan Bell has many special guests including Alice Gerrard, Jolie Holland, and Samantha Parton (The Be Good Tanyas).

There are songs by emerging and established American and British songwriters; a couple of traditional folk songs; and a number of Jan Bell's own.

Music as a way of telling stories and bringing people together made a life long impact on Bell during the year long miners strike of 1984. Bell's Grandad went down the mine as a boy, and had worked there forty five years at the time of the strike. There are songs about him and village life on the album.

Special guests also include: Melissa Carper (co-founder of The Maybelles) and her Austin,Texas band The Carper Family. Rima Fand (Luminescent Orchestrii), Will Scott, Truckstop Honeymoon, Casey Neil, and members of The Maybelles past and present.

As a fan of Loretta Lynn, Bell was led to the songs of Jean Ritchie who in turn led her to stories about 'Coal Mining Diva' Aunt Molly Jackson, (who Bell wrote a song about using words from a letter sent to Sing Out! folk magazine).

Bell is drawn to songs by folks from Kentucky, since they often hit home and echo the life of a Yorkshire family as well. During the making of the album, Bell learned that the coal seam that is mined in Wales and Yorkshire, goes beneath The Atlantic and resurfaces in the Appalachian region.
Many songs traveled with immigrant miners, such as the title track which started life in South Wales in 1907.

'Following an accident where over 100 miner's perished "Don't Go Down in the Mines, Dad" was penned by Welshmen Robert Donnelly and Will Geddes. It was "recomposed" by the blind Alabama Evangelist Rev. Andrew Jenkins, in 1925. Later that year Vernon Dalhart recorded it as 'Dream of the Miner's Child'. Its since been covered by Ralph Stanley, and Doc Watson among others. You can find out more about the history of this song in Archie Green's landmark dissertation Only a Miner.' (source: Wayne Erbson, Rural Roots of Bluegrass)

Following such mining disasters many Welsh miner's - including Bell's Grandfather went across the Pennine Mountains to South Yorkshire. The word was that the Fitzwilliam family there, owned and operated the safest pits in the country. Songs from the 'Land of Poet's and Singers' as Wales is known, were now venturing across the Atlantic as well.

'Maybe growing up in Yorkshire is what sets Jan Bell apart from the run of local lady folkies. Or maybe its the slide guitars, harmonicas, mandolins and banjos. Dark, old timey spareness......Gorgeous ' - Chuck Eddy as Senior Editor, VILLAGE VOICE.

More by Jan Bell:

A Stor Mo Chroi
Aunt Molly Jackson
Between the Wars
Carried by the Wind
Dirty Old Town
Elsecar Grace
Yorkshire water

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