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GeorgiaYellowhammers

Drifting Too Far From the Shore

Charles E. Moody was not your average gospel songwriter. He alone wrote both the words and the melody of two of the bedrock classics of country and bluegrass gospel, “Kneel at the Cross” and “Drifting Too Far From the Shore.” To get a handle on this man and the songs he wrote, let’s go back… Read More »

Singing Rails (book) by Wayne Erbsen

Swannanoa Tunnel

Shielded from the rest of the state by towering mountains, residents in western North Carolina longed to connect to the rail system then being rebuilt after its near destruction during the Civil War. The chief obstacle to the construction was massive Old Fort Mountain, just east of Asheville, North Carolina. The engineer chosen for the… Read More »

Pretty Polly

Pretty Polly

Rising to the top of the most well-known murder ballad in bluegrass music is “Pretty Polly.” Based on an actual murder, legends tell that the cruel murder of Pretty Polly was at the hands of a ship’s carpenter by the name of John Billson near Gosport, England. The ballad was first printed in about 1727… Read More »

log-cabin-pioneers

The Ballad of Frankie Silver

Her real name was Frances Steward Silver, but they all called her Frankie. The words chiseled into her tombstone give us a chilling reminder of what this story is about: “Frankie Silver, Only Woman Ever Hanged in Burke County, Morganton, July 2, 1833.” I first heard about this strange chapter of North Carolina folklore from… Read More »

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