Lamkin – A most brutal bloody ballad.

Introduction Fragments of time and history filter down to us in the Child ballads. We get whispers and incomplete stories that make us ponder what ‘really’ lies beneath. This is deeply true in the case of “Lamkin.” Like so many of the ballads collected by Francis James Child, the ‘truth’ … → read more

A Walkin’ Chunk a Mean-Mad: Pretty Boy Floyd & Robin Hood

I love a good man outside the law
 just as much as I hate a bad man inside the law. — Woody Guthrie (1940) Legend On October 22, 1934, Charles Arthur “Pretty Boy” Floyd – a bank robber suspected by the FBI as a gunman in a 1933 Kansas City … → read more

Digging for Clues in the Fatal Flower Garden

“Fatal Flower Garden,” recorded in 1929 by Nelstone’s Hawaiians, is only the second of eighty-four songs on Harry Smith’s epochal Anthology of American Folk Music – a collection justly celebrated in some macabre corners (mine, for instance) for its songs of dark, outré subject matter and tone (e.g., Clarence Ashley’s … → read more

Lord Ronald aka: Lord Randall

I make no claims to having a deep knowledge of folk music, and even less of the much discussed Child ballads. But ever since Ken introduced me to Murder Ballad Monday, I’ve been trying to find just the right song/moment/excuse to write about one of my favorite “folk” musicians, Alasdair … → read more