Jason Sells on his "Reclamation Tour"

Jason Sells (aka Slate Dump) speaks about his Reclamation Tour and greatest hits CD Fables of the Reclamation.

From birth until age 12 I grew up spending a great majority of my time with my super-extended Scots-Irish family “The McQuillens” in Raleigh Holler (outside of Beckley) in Raleigh County, West Virginia.

My cousins and I loved to play on the “slate dumps” -- whether sleigh riding in winter, riding bicycles up over the large humps, playing king of the hill (which was a childhood game long before the cartoon), or just rolling around on them getting dirty, so as to get your ass busted later by the folks for fucking up your good Sunday clothes.

After moving to California at age 12, getting threatened by local gangs, spit on for wearing WVU clothing, and learning that I was an outsider to a faster, uglier culture, I knew I truly missed Southern West Virginia, and when I moved back to East Beckley ‘the poor side of town’ at age 16, most all of the slate dumps had been “reclamated” or “reclaimed by the department of mine lands.”

I was disillusioned.

Then the “preppie kids” in Beckley would spit on me and call me a “grit,” rednecks would call me a “N___ lover” (fill in the blanks). I felt more out of place than when I lived in California with a Southern West Virginia accent among gang territory.

I dabbled in drugs and alcohol to ease the pain of not ever fitting in. I watched a lot of friends die, went through self-defacing phases. Music was my only saving grace.

I have to thank my great-grandfather Hughie McQuillen (who played every stringed instrument known to man), who worked in the mines during the day, and played dives at night to support his eleven children through the depression, for being one of my greatest influences.

Also my grandmother Doris McQuillen-Bennett for playing guitar to me throughout my childhood; I owe my basic chords to her. She also had one hell of a great record collection: Marty Robbins, Bobby Bare, Chuck Berry, and Bill Withers to name a few, and my mom and step-dad introduced me to AC/DC, The Kinks, The Ramones, the Butthole Surfers; everything from John Lee Hooker and Muddy Waters, to what you hear on classic rock radio today.

Since 1989 I’ve collected blues, jazz, and classic country albums. By the time I graduated college I had two rooms full of vinyl, but with no place to spin them, nowhere that anyone would appreciate them, I had to sell them to make ends meet.

Now I’m homeless, can’t afford treatments from my physicians (aka NO insurance) so I’m forced to pull myself up from my bootstraps and RECLAIM MYSELF, hence the tour name.

As for the album title, “Fables of the Reclamation,” my personal belief from my childhood memories is that the ‘un-reclamated slate dumps’ had much more beauty and character than the ‘reclamated slate dumps.’ Nothing grows on the reclamated slate dumps, just unnatural grass that looks like astro-turf.

I miss the slate dumps of Raleigh holler; the slate dumps are gone, but the WWI German tank part factory still stands, oddly enough.

Thanks for letting me share,
~ Jason “the Nephew” Sells

P.S. -- this tour would NOT have happened without the care and kindness of one James Marinelli.

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