They decided one night to test out his belief in ghosts. One of them took a white sheet to the barn, hid at a corner and put the sheet over his head in the manner of the most approved ghost.
As Urbin sang the saddest climax of the tragic ballad, the youth stepped out of hiding into his view.
Urbin got one glance, sprang up and ran headlong for the house, reaching the outlying cookhouse as the nearest haven of refuge.
There sat Grandma, beside the warm kitchen stove, calmly smoking her clay pipe.
It was a homecoming in many ways. I was back in the Smoky Mountains, where I had found my birth family and discovered why old-time country music had resonated in me so deeply since I first heard it. I was recording the songs that came to me through knowing my grandfather in a place and in a way that made perfect sense to the tradition and the sound. The only thing missing was his physical presence, otherwise I knew he was there in spirit, tapping his knee and singing along.
A few of the 78 RPM records made in Johnson City in 1928 sold well when released by Columbia in early 1929. One record by the duo of Earl Shirkey and Roy Harper, “Steamboat Man” backed with “When the Roses Bloom Again for the Bootlegger,” sold nearly 75,000 copies. Walker decided to return to Johnson City the following October to make additional recordings.
Listen to Buell Kazee play “The Dying Soldier” Oh brother Green, oh come to me, For I am shot and bleeding, Now I must die, no more to see, My wife and my dear children. The southern () has layed me low, On this cold ground to suffer, Stay brother stay and lay me […]
Fiddler Bev Conrad, experimenting with a rattlesnake rattle in her fiddle, removed it the next day to find the rattle dust coated—“a big ball of lint, fuzz, dust, and cobwebs had been gathered up by the sweeping motion of the rattle as it wandered around the inside of the fiddle”.