Bluegrass Celebrity Ghost Stories

Phil Leadbetter and Steve GulleyWe’ve all heard tales of boredom on the road, and the clever and often ingenious ways that touring musicians find to occupy their down time. Experienced road warriors know that if you don’t find something fun or productive to do with bus and motel time, trips seem even longer, and that some musicians will fall prey to self-destructive habits to dull the monotony.

Here’s a case study of one way to beat the boredom…

Celebrated res0-guitarist Phil Leadbetter has been recognized as an experienced bluegrass picker of many years, but is also known to be an inveterate practical jokester. If your number is in his contact list, a phone prank could happen at any time, and if your sense of humor is lacking, Phil might be a hard guy to be around.

Working now with Dale Ann Bradley, Leadbetter is reunited with his old buddy, Steve Gulley, who also shares his delight in high jinks and silliness. Recently the band was performing in Canada, and they decided to work the ghost story angle. Phil said it all began in the bed and breakfast where they were staying on Price Edward Island.

“I heard a lady there talking about the history of the building, and another woman said, ‘I bet this place has ghosts.’ So, the idea came.

We went outside about sundown near the gardens, and aimed our headlights toward the woods. I borrowed a sheet, and immediately realized that I couldn’t see through the fabric. I tried to walk a straight line, but it was hard being in a garden.

We made 2-3 little quick videos. In one of them I walked straight into a tree. We recorded all of these on an iPad, and started showing them to guests and the hotel, and they loved them.”


Everyone had a good laugh, including the promoter for the show, who Phil says ended up with the last laugh.

“The next morning, we left for the airport in Charlottetown to head home. As we entered the airport, we whizz by the parking sign at about 6:00 a.m., and me and Steve both look at each other to say, ‘did you see that???????’

It was the promoter. He had come to the airport entrance, and stood there wearing a sheet pretending to be a ghost as we entered the airport. I’m not sure how long he had been there, but can’t imagine what the other cars must have thought that passed him!”

Don’t kid a kidder… isn’t that what they say?

Phil shared one last comment about their ghostly endeavor.

“Oh yes….when I hit the tree, it about knocked me out. Of all things….I hit the ONLY tree in that area.

No idea how I did that. I still try to blame this on my past chemo.”

It bears mentioning that Phil just passed the one year anniversary of the start of his successful stem cell treatment, which so far shows to have enabled a complete remission of the cancer he had fought against the previous year and a half.

Maybe laughter is the best medicine after all.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.