Help me find moody mountain music
November 5, 2007 11:00 PM   Subscribe

Looking for moody old-time/Appalachian folk music.

I'm on the hunt for some great old-time/Appalachian folk music, but not just any. Specifically, I'm looking for darker, more atmospheric tracks. Fire and brimstone themes are very welcome. In the vain of latter 16 Horsepower, but more traditional. Maybe something you'd expect to hear if Sergio Leone had made a film in Eastern Kentucky. Specific album and/or song recommendations appreciated.
posted by Roman Graves to Media & Arts (20 answers total) 48 users marked this as a favorite
Not strictly Appalachic -- honestly it's more blues -- but you might check out Kelly Joe Phelps's "Tap The Red Cane Whirlwind."

Kelly morphs easily between Delta and folksy blues styles, thumping a droning baseline one moment, snaking his way through complex modal riffs the next. Often as not he uses his voice as an accompaniment to his guitar rather than the other way ’round — sometimes growling out an alternative baseline or counterpoint between breathy, syncopated lyrics. The work is, I think, an artistic tour de force and stunningly musical, besides.
posted by deCadmus at 11:08 PM on November 5, 2007

Best answer: Stanley Brothers, "The Little Girl and the Dreadful Snake"
Louvin Brothers, "Knoxville Girl"

Both have been recorded by numerous artists.

I think the Stanley Brothers, especially their older stuff, might nail what you're looking for.
posted by Rykey at 11:20 PM on November 5, 2007

...And speaking of the Louvin Brothers, their album Satan Is Real is pretty heavy on the Fire and brimstone.
posted by Rykey at 11:24 PM on November 5, 2007

Best answer: you should definitely check out John Jacob Niles[warning: jjn song plays upon click!]

there are also some recordings from smithsonian folkways that are really dark and beautiful, a favorite of mine: Dark Holler: Old Love Songs and Ballads.

also, june appal recordings, County records, and Yazoo record labels are good places to start, if you're looking for general suggestions too, re: appalachian recordings..
posted by ethel at 11:30 PM on November 5, 2007

You might check out Christian Williams (Gothic Prarie Music). Here are tracks on the Hype Machine.

I don't have my Reeltime Travelers CDs happy, but I do know that there area few of their tracks that are exactly what you want.
posted by barnacles at 11:53 PM on November 5, 2007

"happy"? I'm an idiot. I don't have the CDs handy, so I can't give you track names, but ... etc.
posted by barnacles at 11:54 PM on November 5, 2007

Will Oldham?
posted by valkane at 2:15 AM on November 6, 2007

You might like Jelly Roll Morton's Murder Ballads.
posted by princelyfox at 3:26 AM on November 6, 2007

Have a search through There's definitely some stuff there.
posted by popcassady at 5:11 AM on November 6, 2007, even.
posted by popcassady at 5:12 AM on November 6, 2007

Best answer: Definitely check out the album "Songs from The Mountain: Music Inspired by the Book Cold Mountain" or something like that. I think it's Dirk Powell on it but not totally sure. It's 100% what you are describing and a great great album.
posted by sully75 at 5:22 AM on November 6, 2007 [2 favorites]

I don't know where you can get it, but I'd bet the soundtrack from Matewan would fill the bill.

(and now, I go to put Matewan at the top of my queue)
posted by qldaddy at 5:35 AM on November 6, 2007

Its not old, but the album Time (The Revelator) by Gillian Welch has some really dark tracks (especially the first and last). This is one of my favorite albums of any genre.
posted by zennoshinjou at 6:17 AM on November 6, 2007

Best answer: Roscoe Holcomb - The High Lonesome Sound
Amazon recommends a lot of related albums. This one called High Atmosphere looks promising.

Some of the songs on The Anthology of American Folk Music might fit the bill. Check out "House Carpenter," "Coo Coo Bird," and "East Virginia."

As far as Will Oldham goes, I'd recommend "(I was Drunk at the) Pulpit."
posted by hydrophonic at 7:06 AM on November 6, 2007

Sixteen Horsepower is as fire-and-brimstone-y as "country" music gets.

Possibly as an aside, LOTS of the "murder ballads" that informed many of the old-time songs associated with the "high lonesome" sound can be traced back to Child's Ballads from old England and Scotland.
posted by dontrockwobble at 8:27 AM on November 6, 2007

Ralph Stanley. See, for example, his a capella track on the "O Brother Where Are Thou" soundtrack recording.
posted by exphysicist345 at 11:58 AM on November 6, 2007

Ooh! I know! AJ Roach!
posted by librarina at 8:55 PM on November 6, 2007

Roscoe Holcomb, see also Dock Boggs. Check out the Folkways anthology Mountain Music of Kentucky, and the Yazoo box Kentucky Mountain Music.

All are excellent, and there's a lot more out there.
posted by OmieWise at 7:34 AM on November 7, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks for the great responses. There was a lot of stuff I listened to that didn't fit the specific bill I was looking for, but that I still really enjoyed and will be listening to on a regular basis (the Gillian Welch and Kelly Joe Phelps, to name a couple).
posted by Roman Graves at 7:47 PM on November 8, 2007

Previously, previously
posted by PercussivePaul at 3:02 PM on November 9, 2007

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