From: The News & Observer 9-20-98
On the Record
Ways That Are Dark
by: Jack Bernhardt
Ways That Are Dark is the brainchild of Daniel Gore, a
former Chapel Hill resident who makes his home in Spokane, Wash. The album consists of
original songs in bluegrass and old-time styles, conceived and written by Gore based on Horace
Kephart’s classic 1913 book about the southern Appalachians, Our Southern Highlanders.
The songs, like Kephart’s book, present vignettes of Appalachian
culture early in this century. Each one is a story that derives from one of Kephart’s
chapters. Fascinating tales they are of wild boars (The Pig Belial), of moonshiners and
revenuers (The Snakestick Man, The Killing of Hol Rose), of bear hunts and superstitions
(A Dream of Bear), of destruction of the mountains by logging (The March of the Leviathan).
Much of the credit for Ways That Are Dark belongs to engineer and
co-producer Jerry Brown, who guided the project at his Rubber Room studio between gigs with his
own Shady Grove Band. Much of the project was carried on long-distance, with Gore faxing
instructions from Spokane, and Brown masterfully crafting the pieces together into a seamless
musical quilt. Brown coordinated the musicians who contributed to the project, including Jim
Watson, Robbie Link, Tony Williamson, Scott Huffman, Jack Lawrence, Carl Jones, Tim O’Brien,
and Peter Rowan. Gore and his friend Mary Miller also perform.
Following Kephart, Gore has composed the lyrics in the patois of the old
mountain tongue. It’s a testament to the vision of all involved that the technique works,
resulting in an album that sounds as if it could have been produced from field tapes made by
early folk song collector Cecil Sharp. If, that is, taping technology and bluegrass music had
existed in Sharp’s and Kephart’s time.
But poetic license is an insignificant matter in a project this fine,
one that pays tribute to the man whose love for the mountains and its hardy, colorful folk led
to the establishment of the Smoky Mountains National park. Kephart would surely approve.