Erik Reece is the author of five books of nonfiction, including Lost Mountain and Utopia Drive, and is the founder of Kentucky Writers and Artists for Reforestation. He teaches writing at the University of Kentucky.
An essay from the Place Issue
At almost sixty miles in length, the Chattooga is one of the longest and last free-flowing rivers in the eastern United States, and mile for mile, it covers a steeper vertical drop than the Colorado River. Yet growing up in nearby Walhalla, South Carolina, Mark admitted he barely knew it was here. Few did until the film version of Deliverance landed in 1972 like a psychic explosion within the collective consciousness of this country.
A Freakwater song works something like this. Irwin starts singing over a bass and guitar. Bean comes in after a few bars, accompanied by violin or pedal steel. They trade lines back and forth, then converge into stacked harmonies in which Irwin’s low earthy timbre finds a counterpoint in Bean’s airy alto. It’s those two perfectly paired voices that keep you from drowning in what the songs are actually about.