WHO: Ex-preacher, songwriter, artist Abe Partridge; City Cast/Houston Chronicle podcast producer Ferrill Gibbs
WHAT: The Alabama Astronaut podcast
WHEN: Sept 7, 2022
WHERE: Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Audible, YouTube, and Alabamaastronaut.com
Acclaimed Alabama songwriter Abe Partridge and podcast producer Ferrill Gibbs release an ambitious new podcast named Alabama Astronaut – the search for undocumented songs of the Appalachians.
Abe’s quest to captured them brought him face-to-face with the deadly practices of an oft-ridiculed subculture amidst a concerning barrage of American crises that seemed to suggest a nation in decline. Even so, as he pursued this music, genuine relationships across cultures began to spark.
Episode “Foreword” begins with a reluctant Abe getting his hands tied by a serpent-handling preacher in Gray, Kentucky. (His hands were literally tied up…the compelling audio was captured on a Sony handheld digital recorder, like so many other unforgettable moments in the series.)
As the preacher dragged Abe across the serpent-handling church, to make an example of the folk artist, Abe could only relent. (Perhaps he’d had it coming, given his own past as a fiery preacher in Middlesboro, Kentucky.) But seven episodes later, in the series finale, it's a sold-out show in Nashville featuring that same wrist-tying, serpent-handling preacher – who's accompanying Abe on banjo.
Alabama Astronaut is a bizarre and wonderful story, with mistrust giving way to genuine friendships across four states: Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, and West Virginia. In the process, Abe captured generations-old songs…music that till this day has never been properly documented. (Perhaps it’s because the songs mention the free-handling of serpents and the drinking of poisonous substances.)
Abe and Ferrill recorded multiple albums in small buildings across the chilly hillsides of Kentucky, then post-produced them in Nashville, Tennessee. This podcast captures all of it.
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