A coal miner’s son is exploring the sound of his roots with a new album.
IF YOU’RE A FAN OF OUTLAW COUNTRY WITH HEAVY ROCK INFLUENCES, you’ve probably heard Erik Vincent Huey—the voice of The Surreal McCoys—or even seen him rocking out on stage at one of their shows.
“Cletus McCoy” is branching out, however, bringing his rock dreams into harmony with his Appalachian roots in his debut solo album, Appalachian Gothic.
Huey comes from a long line of West Virginia coal miners, and he explores that connection to the land and industry of the state. In the album’s opening song, “The Appalachian Blues,” Huey sings our lament, “As the last coal train leaves town, I can hear that grievous howlin’ as the ghosts dance in the tunnels to the Appalachian Blues.”
He captures the emotions of an experienced Appalachian—one who has heard and weathered the stigma and stereotypes but has also found himself susceptible to those limitations. While there is pride in the integrity and mettle of the mountains he calls home, Huey knows the stories of the people—his people—have a darker side.
“Gothic” his songs may be, but with them comes an honesty we keep buried down in those mines. Huey presents it to us, as dark as the mines, but with that inevitable pinprick of light growing in the distance, because this coal miner’s son also knows that there’s something about our Appalachian Mountains that keep us going. He closes out his musical tale with a familiar refrain, “Spent my life tunnelin’ out, but no matter how far I roam, these rugged brown hills keep calling me home.”