Four years ago, alt-country legends Freakwater crossed streams with postpunk pomo-folk group the Mekons and gave rise to a hybrid beast: the Freakons, a project that’s brought out some of the best in both bands at its rare live performances. Now the group is back, and with a particular purpose. Concurrently with these two sold-out shows, the Freakons are recording an album of traditional songs about an industry that links the English Midlands, the Welsh valleys, and the “dark and bloody ground” of Appalachia: coal mining. Haunting tunes in that vein came from both sides of the pond, and the Freakons take them on in the high-lonesome, rabble-rousing tradition of late West Virginian labor singer Hazel Dickens. Proceeds from the album, when it’s finished, will benefit Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, a grassroots organization that promotes voting rights and opposes mountaintop-­removal mining.   v

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