Hindman August 1969
Who am I to argue with Thomas Wolfe? It is all-too-painfully obvious that "You can't go home again." People and places are surely, constantly changing from the very moment we turn away. But there are permanent bonds of common memory and experience which inextricably link some of us together across the boundaries of time and distance. There also exist certain writers, artists and composers whose work helps us recapture the subconscious remnants of the ordinary but precious moments and touchingly hilarious events which forged our unbreakable relationships so long ago. In his latest and first specifically-themed song collection, "Hindman, August 1969," Hillbilly Song-Poet Mark Barker spiritually transports us back to his totally unique yet all-too-universal, small Appalachian "hometown that used-to-be" during it's waning days of relative innocence. In a single, live recording session on a late-summer afternoon nearly four decades hence, Mark casually convened and communed with his diverse band of veteran musicians and perfectly recreated the natural atmospheric charm and energy of the local string bands from his boyhood. With his evocative, lyrical story-songs serving as the straight, strong and true framework, Barker then patiently polished his vocal overdubs as lovingly as a skilled craftsman finishes his own children's heirloom hardwood furniture. If you passed through Hindman, Kentucky with us in those halcyon days or simply wish that you might have, listen closely for the unmistakable sounds and stories of a fleeting, bygone era of undiluted vintage Appalachian Americana which flourished briefly at the confluence of the twin forks of Troublesome Creek. Open your heart, mind and ears to journey with Mark Barker and friends on a nostalgic, rejuvenating visit back to a far simpler time in a far better place. Be prepared in advance to experience a certain twinge of regret when you must return grudgingly to our hectic, convoluted modern times. Doug Jones 16 October, 2008.