8: One team, one goal (w/ Twin Valleys Roller Derby)

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The NRV reunion pack, about the take the track during Virginia All-Stars versus the World. Photo by Mason Adams.

This episode is all about roller derby in Appalachia, through the lens of Twin Valleys Roller Derby in Roanoke. We visited their home finale double-header, with Twin Valleys Roller Derby versus Rail City Rollers and then Virginia All-Stars versus the World. Interviews with team skaters Black Bolt, Tar Hellion, Wedneslay Addams & Speed Junkie. We also talk to Arrak-kiss of Houston Roller Derby, Bettie Lockdown of the Ann Arbor Derby Dimes, and Slingin Gritz of  Carolina Wreckingballs Mens Roller Derby—all past NRV Rollergirls. Plus, Mason spiels about his own past as a derby ref.

Make sure to check out Twin Valleys Roller Derby on Facebook and Twitter.

In the episode, Mason mentions a story about change on Salem Avenue in Roanoke that touches on punk and roller derby. Check that story out at Between Coasts. And if you’re into that, make sure to go back and check out our interview with Deanna Marcin in episode 4, which gets way into Roanoke’s LGBTQ history and the former Backstreet Cafe.

Music this episode was provided by Twilight Fauna, Poe Mack, and Stations.

7: Mountain healthcare, from VW Beetle to Drone Delivery (w/ Teresa Gardner Tyson of SWVA’s Health Wagon)

On this episode, we interview Teresa Tyson Gardner of the Health Wagon, a free clinic serving a vulnerable population in Southwest Virginia’s coal counties.

Teresa talks about the past, present, and future of the Health Wagon, the challenges to addressing healthcare in the mountains—but also how that need drives innovation and creative approaches. 

Also, Mason talk about why a Roanoke city school superintendent gave copies of JD Vance’s “Hillbilly Elegy” to all of her principals ahead of the 2017-2018 school year.

Stories referenced on the podcast:
Poverty, justice, and education in Roanoke, Virginia,” from Scalawag Magazine.

In Appalachia, shifting political winds have forced Republican lawmakers to expand Medicaid. Could this be the start of a trend?” from Belt Magazine.

Find us on BlueRidgeFreeState.com or @RidgeFree on Facebook and Twitter.

5: Under Construction—Trauma, Urban Renewal, & 25 Years of Activism in Roanoke (w/ Brenda Hale)

On this episode, host Mason Adams interviews Brenda Hale, president of the Roanoke Branch NAACP. Topics include childhood trauma, urban renewal, politics, activism, the Confederate invasion of the 2015 Roanoke Christmas parade, and much more. Music by Poe Mack and Twilight Fauna. Find us at BlueRidgeFreeState.com or on social media @RidgeFree.

4: MDC—Marcin Dishes Candidly (w/ Deanna Marcin)

On this episode of Blue Ridge Free State, we talk about punk and LBGT history in Roanoke, Virginia, and how those two came together at the Backstreet Cafe.

We interview Deanna Marcin about the recent controversy of MDC’s show, how it was cancelled, and how it was rescheduled. She also talks about her journey as a transsexual woman, how she landed in Roanoke, how she came to work at the Backstreet Cafe, the atmosphere there in the years that followed a fatal shooting rampage, how she started booking punk and metal, and what’s happened since then.

Mason sets the stage by dropping some history about the Backstreet and Roanoke’s LGBT community. We also take a quick look at recent polling in Tennessee’s US Senate race and Georgia’s gubernatorial race.

Mason has written a couple of stories about the Backstreet Cafe and its shift to begin booking punk music. The first of these was in 2015 for the Washington Post. The idea came from attending a Good Cat Bad Cat show at Backstreet Cafe; that’s when he met Marcin and started to think about all that had changed since the shooting, 15 years before. Two years later, after the bar fired Marcin and changed its name, he wrote another story for Vice’s Munchies.

For more about LGBTQ+ history in southwestern Virginia, check out the Southwest Virginia LGBTQ+ History Project. It’s got oral histories, info on walking tours, essays, and a lot more. We’re hoping to feature the project on a future episode at some point.

For more on the polls on the U.S. Senate race in Tennessee and the gubernatorial race in Georgia, check out this post on Sabato’s Crystal Ball.

Find us @RidgeFree on Facebook & Twitter, or at BlueRidgeFreeState.com.

3: Can Democrats win in a post-Trump Appalachia? (w/ Kyle Kondik)

Blue Ridge Free State is a podcast about politics, culture, history and life in Appalachia.

Connect with the podcast at Twitter or at Facebook.

I’m your host, Mason Adams. I’ve covered communities in Appalachia since 2001. You can follow me on Twitter at @MasonAtoms.

On this episode, we talk with elections analyst Kyle Kondik, managing editor of Sabato’s Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia Center for Politics, about a variety of House, Senate, and gubernatorial races in the Appalachian region. We consider how opposition parties have fared in midterms since the 1990s, with a focus on Appalachia.

We also hear an excerpt with Mason and Madelyn Beck of Harvest Public Media from Us & Them, a West Virginia Public Broadcasting podcast about political and cultural divisions in America.

And Mason talks up top a little bit about last week’s flooding around his home in Floyd County, Virginia.

Blue Ridge Free State Episode 2: Mountain State Melee (w/ Jake Zuckerman)

Blue Ridge Free State is a podcast about politics, culture, history and life in Appalachia.

Connect with the podcast at Twitter or at Facebook.

I’m your host, Mason Adams. I’ve covered communities in Appalachia since 2001. You can follow me on Twitter at @MasonAtoms.

On this episode, we talk about Donald Trump’s recent swing through Appalachia for Republican candidates for US Senate, and why he’s trying to make it all about himself. We also interview Jake Zuckerman, politics reporter for the Charleston Gazette-Mail about the West Virginia teacher’s strike, Gov. Jim Justice’s recent PEIA presser, the Manchin/Morrisey race for US Senate, the Miller/Ojeda race in southern West Virginia, and how healthcare is playing as an issue.

Blue Ridge Free State Episode 1: Our Nerds in Washington

Blue Ridge Free State is a podcast about politics, culture, history and life in Appalachia.

Connect with the podcast at Twitter or at Facebook.

I’m your host, Mason Adams. I’ve covered communities in Appalachia since 2001. I’ve created or contributed to zines, newspapers, magazines, websites and radio, and now I’ve launched Blue Ridge Free State to amplify and inform my work. You can follow me on Twitter at @MasonAtoms.

In our first episode, we talk about why Donald Trump is campaigning in West Virginia. We also interview Amy Friedenberger, politics reporter for the Roanoke Times, about the 2018 midterm races in Appalachian Virginia.

Check out the episode here: 

In the episode, we talk about Donald Trump’s visit to Charleston, West Virginia, to stump for US Senate candidate Patrick Morrisey against incumbent US Sen. Joe Manchin. I mention writing about the race for the New Republic. You can find that story here.

I also interviewed Amy Friedenberger, politics reporter for the Roanoke Times. You can follow Amy on Twitter.

This episode features the music of Stations (Roanoke), Poe Mack (Roanoke) and, briefly, the Gordon Solie Motherfuckers (Cleveland).