Various artists

The Appalachians

A companion to PBS’s three-hour series on the Appalachians, this album is a primer of the traditional folk music that put the “American” in Americana. From the moonshiner’s anthem, “Boozefighters,” performed by Gandydancer, to some Carter Family standards and a contribution from the late June Carter Cash, this anthology explores all varieties of American drama: God (“Amazing Grace”), love (“Wildwood Flower”) and murder (“Banks of the Ohio”), not to mention slavery (“We’re Stole and Sold From Africa”) and politics (“How Can a Poor Man Stand Such Times And Live”). Although it’s hard to pick a single high point, the juxtaposition of Jeff Black’s traditional version of “Dark as a Dungeon” with Jean Ritchie’s haunting, a cappella rendition of “West Virginia Mine Disaster” can’t be beat.