Podcast: A Tribute to Ralph Stanley
Episode #16-09 | airing 3-02-16

Ralph Stanley Retires

Update: Sadly, Ralph Stanley passed away on June 23 2016 at age 89. I believe it’s important to give tribute while the subject is still with us. Ralph Stanley turned 89 on February 25th and although he’s lost a step or two he’s still performing selected dates with his band … → read more

Podcast: Send the Band Home early
Episode #15-37 | airing 9-09-15

Sheila Kay Adams

The purity of the unaccompanied human voice is one of the most beautiful sounds. Songs sung without accompaniment or a capella have a long history in folk music. You don’t need an instrument to make beautiful music whether you’re working on the farm, marching to battle or just passing time … → read more

GARY B REID: The Music of the Stanley Brothers

          Gary B. Reid The Music of the Stanley Brothers University of Illinois Press 978-0-252-08033-3 www.press.uillinois.edu   From the Blue Sky Boys and Monroe Brothers down through the Everlys, brother duets have created some of country music’s most thrilling work. Take southwestern Virginia’s Stanley Brothers. Years … → read more

Conversations with Death – 1 – “Oh, Death”

Introduction We here at Murder Ballad Monday would love every week to bring you a fully researched ‘deep dive’ into a particular ballad, but time doesn’t always allow for that, given that we don’t make a penny from this work.  Honestly, I think we’re better for it.   Keeping it … → read more

WINDY HILL: Let’s Go To The Fair

          WINDY HILL Let’s Go To The Fair Windy Hill http://windyhillbluegrass.com   I saw this Northern, California-based bluegrass band at last year’s well-attended Susanville Bluegrass Festival. From the first few notes it was apparent, from both the fine picking and high and lonesome singing, that all … → read more

Ralph Stanley Announces Retirement

Ralph Stanley Retires

Bluegrass singer and banjo player Ralph Stanley has announced that he plans to retire in December of 2014. Now age 86, “Dr. Ralph Stanley” has had a storied career with tremendous achievements, including inventing his own banjo playing style, winning three Grammys, and being inducted into the Grand Ole Opry. … → read more

“On a Hill Lone and Gray”: Jesus and the murder ballad, pt. 1

Golgotha Jesus and the Murder Ballad This week we’re going to take a small detour from the traditional murder ballad. Shaleane’s post on Nick Cave’s “The Mercy Seat” prompted me to consider just how frequently and in what guises Jesus figures appear in these songs.  Themes of guilt, atonement, and salvation … → read more

God Make You Safe and Free

Romeo and Juliet – Sir Frank Dicksee, 1884 Note: This is Part 3 of a three part series.  See also Part 1 and Part 2. Introduction What is it about this week’s song, “Matty Groves”, that attracts us so?  (If you’re not familiar with the ballad, check out the introductory post … → read more