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INTERVIEW: WV-based Americana singer-songwriter Charles Wesley Godwin

Hi Charles, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

I’m all good, man. I’ve just been writing, booking and trying to keep my eyes above the debt from this album.

Can you talk to us more about your song “Coal Country”?

Some folks might listen to the song and think “What is Blair Mountain?” It’s the site of a battle fought by union coal miners in 1921 against the federal government and the coal companies. Tensions had been rising for years over the terrible working conditions and the “scrip” aka tokens, in that, miners had been receiving their wages. Sid Hatfield made his stand for the miners in the Matewan Massacre and was later gunned down for it on the courthouse steps. Afterwards, the miners organized and took up arms to defend their rights, meeting the federales in battle on Blair Mountain.

Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?

My father was a coal miner and I am proud of him for that. I wanted to let it be known to the world that just like almost anything, there was good and there was bad that came from the coal industry in our state. Of course I wanted to make it a pretty song too.

Any plans to release a video for the track?

If I can, I will. I’ve already got a pretty cool idea for the video if the opportunity ever arises.

The single comes off your new album Seneca – what’s the story behind the title?

My family comes from a place called Seneca Rocks, WV. Generations of my family have lived there along side Seneca Creek. In my mind, that title just means home to me. It was only fitting that my solo debut should be called, Seneca.

How was the recording and writing process?

I think all of the songs on this album were written over the course of two year period, from June 2016 – March 2018. I think I definitely grew as a songwriter over the course of creating this album, and since it’s been done, I’ve written some of my best work. The recording of this album was such an enjoyable experience. It took the better part of a year to finish because of my touring schedule and the need to keep funds flowing in order to finance the album. Working with Al Torrence and the rest of the guys was a ton of fun. It honestly didn’t feel like work.

What role does the Appalachian Hills play in your music?

My home gives me my culture and my culture shapes my perspective. So, West Virginia has everything to do with my music. It’s shaped who I am, and existing amongst my people gives me the songs. I just have to pay attention and let them come to me.

What aspect of your life did you get to explore on this record?

I think that I got to explore my entire life experience up to now on, Seneca. This is all the love, sorrow, empathy, and joy of my first twenty-six years in the form of eleven songs. I’ll never make one quite like this again and I’m very satisfied with how it turned out.

Any plans to hit the road?

I’m always on the road, almost to a fault. I wear myself down so much that I can hardly be productive by the time November rolls around each year. I hope that Seneca helps me continue to stay after it out there in a greater capacity.

What else is happening next in Charles Wesley Godwin’s world?

My plan is to tell everyone that I possibly can that this album exists, let them know where I’m playing, and then go play my ass off for them. I’m going to keep hitting the rivers when I’m on the road, fishing with my fly rod. I’m going to keep on practicing my bow. I’m going to keep on a gardenin’. Also, I’m going to run my second marathon this fall with my wife and my dad (maybe my brother too. I’m calling you out, Jonny. Let’s do it.)

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About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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