“The Butcher Boy” / “The Railroad Boy”

Introduction: “It’s the butcher boy I love so well …” The title of today’s song suggests a narrative consistent with the stereotype of violent misogyny in our genre of choice.  Strictly speaking, this time that could lead to some inaccurate assumptions.  The boy in question is simply the son of … → read more

A Survivor’s Reckoning: The Triplett Tragedy

Triplett Tragedy

Blood on the mountain And the Lord said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother’s keeper? — Genesis 4:9 Truly old Watauga is making for herself a dark and bloody record. — Watauga Democrat, Jan. 6, 1910 On Christmas Day, … → read more

Podcast: Batter Up!
Episode #16-10 | airing 3-09-16


Well it’s that time of year again. With the start of Spring Training, just saying it makes me smile, we are once again assured that Winter is on the run and even better yet our favorite baseball team still has a shot at greatness-the regular season hasn’t started yet. Baseball … → read more

Podcast: In The Fam, pt 2
Episode #15-41 | airing 10-07-15

This week we complete our two part feature focusing on family members who play music together. We’ll hear some Celtic family bands old and new, some classic Bluegrass families and some contemporary organizations. There’s something very special about playing music with family members and we’ll hear some of the very … → read more

Interlude: Ellen Greene

Ellen Greene An “Interlude” post, in our use, is not necessarily a connection between one piece of music and another, but an exploration of artistic work with close thematic engagement with murder ballads. It’s a step outside our “song of the week” or “digital compendium” modes, and a way to … → read more

Conversations with Death – 3 – “No Telephone In Heaven”

Introduction Two years ago this month we lost Doc Watson. This isn’t an homage to Doc.  I mention the anniversary by way of saying that I first heard today’s song from him.  But more to the point, “No Telephone in Heaven” is a perfect vehicle for expressing how we might … → read more

Little Sadie – Old Time, Bluegrass, and Beyond

Clarence "Tom" Ashley - ca. early 1960's

Note: This is Part 3 of a three part series on “Little Sadie” – See also Part 1 and Part 2 Introduction I went out one night for to make a little round I met Little Sadie and I shot her down Went back home, got into bed Forty-four smokeless … → read more

SUTTON, HOLT & COLEMAN: Ready For the Times

          SUTTON, HOLT & COLEMAN Ready For the Times High Windy Audio 1264 www.davidholt.com   Billed as a tribute to the late Doc Watson, this trio does indeed have a cumulative total of several decades of association, both on stage and off, with the North Carolina … → read more

No Mercy at All – “The Cyclone of Rye Cove”

Introduction Nature has no mercy at all. Nature says, “I’m going to snow. If you have on a bikini and no snowshoes, that’s tough. I am going to snow anyway.”    – Maya Angelou, from Conversations with Maya Angelou It’s time to push the boundaries of our definition of ‘murder ballad’ once again. … → read more

“Willie Moore”

Leonard Rutherford (fiddle) and Dick Burnett (banjo) – Theirs is the earliest known recording of “Willie Moore” Introduction One thing I find about murder ballads in my own life is that I often remember the first time and place I hear one, or at least I remember the time I … → read more