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Growing Up Queer And Indian In Appalachia, New Comedy Film Set In Beckley, And Visiting A Luthier Shop In Elkins

ambrosia production
Saja Montague
Actors in the film "Ambrosia" review the script before the camera rolls.

This week on Inside Appalachia we’ll visit a luthier’s shop where old instruments get new life, and hear about a new comedy film set in Beckley, West Virginia. We’ll also hear from author Neema Avashia, whose new book is "Another Appalachia: Coming Up Queer And Indian In A Mountain Place."

In This Episode:

Comedy Film Set In Beckley, West Virginia

Mountain Craft Productions Filming At the Ambrosia Inn. Photo by Ben Berry.
Ben Berry
Mountain Craft Productions Filming At the Ambrosia Inn.

The upcoming slapstick comedy “Ambrosia” is set in a quirky bed and breakfast in Beckley, West Virginia. It’s a feature-length movie, but it's not a Hollywood movie; the two directors are from West Virginia, along with nearly the entire cast and crew. The film is set to debut at the Raleigh Playhouse in Beckley this spring. Our Folkways reporter Clara Haizlett spoke with Beckley filmmakers Shane Pierce and Dave Gravely about the movie.

A Guitar Surgeon Gives Old Instruments Their Voices Back

Bob Smakula
Zack Harold/West Virginia Public Broadcasting
Bob Smakula of Elkins, West Virginia has made a career out of fixing old musical instruments so modern musicians can keep playing them.

Bob Smakula of Elkins, West Virginia has made a career out of fixing old musical instruments so modern musicians can keep playing them. He tries to make repairs to fix an instrument’s problems while also staying true to its history.

“I’ve definitely honed my skills to try to be invisible,” he said.

“I don’t want anybody to know I was ever there, except to go ‘Hey, this plays better than they usually do,’ or ‘This sounds better than they usually do.’”

Smakula has been honing his invisibility powers for a long time. Folkways reporter Zack Harold spoke with Smakula about his career for this week’s episode.

Coming Up Queer and Indian In A Mountain Place

Author Neema Avashia grew up in a neighborhood in Kanawha County, West Virginia as the daughter of immigrants. Her new book, "Another Appalachia: Coming Up Queer and Indian in a Mountain Place," is a collection of essays that describe her experience growing up as an Indian American — who also happens to be queer — and an Appalachian. Co-host Mason Adams talked with Avashia about the book and about her experiences.


Our theme music is by Matt Jackfert. Other music this week was provided by Blue Dot Sessions, Jake Schepps, and Dinosaur Burps. Roxy Todd is our producer. Our executive producer is Eric Douglas. Kelley Libby is our editor. Alex Runyon is our associate producer. Our audio mixer is Patrick Stephens. Zander Aloi also helped produce this episode.

You can find us on Twitter @InAppalachia.

Stay Connected
Inside Appalachia Co-Host/Folkways Reporter, mason.j.adams@gmail.com, @MasonAtoms
Former Reporter/Producer for Inside Appalachia, @RoxyMTodd
Alex Runyon is a proud Huntington, West Virginia native. She attended Marshall University and earned degrees in creative writing and literary studies, dabbling in journalism, photography and women’s studies along the way. She worked as a freelance photographer and social media strategist before joining the Inside Appalachia team as Associate Producer. Alex enjoys writing and performing stand up comedy, hiking, screenwriting and playing board games. She lives in Huntington, West Virginia with her cat, Waylon Kittings. Follow her on Twitter @_AlexRunyon.