Missy Armstrong is NOT going down to the river

For their latest single, Melton & Miller Music has called upon the underutilized talents of bluegrass songstress Missy Armstrong. In it, she tells the story of a woman who spurns the advances of the allegorical brute who ended the lives of so many unsuspecting ladies in mountain ballads of yore.

Ain’t Going Down To The River is about a woman who has learned the lessons conveyed in previous songs like Knoxville Girl, Pretty Polly, and the like, which of course, is the reason why those songs existed in the first place – to warn young women of unscrupulous men with evil intentions.

And Missy delivers it with the same confident air she used in a similar song, Juliet, recorded with Detour and written by Jeff Rose that covered the same theme. But this one, from Beth Husband and Milan Miller confronts the ne’er do well with the inescapable logic that when those other girls go down to the river with him, “they don’t come back no more.”

Armstrong tells us that she loved this song right away, remembering that her first reaction to those maiden murder ballads was dumbstruck shock.

“Detour was the first band I ever played in, and I didn’t grow up around bluegrass music. I’ll never forget the first time I heard one of those songs at a festival. I thought, ‘what in the world is going on?'”

Her new label has nothing but high praise for Missy’s singing, starting with Buddy Melton of Balsam Range fame.

“Every once in a great while a voice comes along that touches your very soul. The first time I heard Missy sing was one of those moments for me. When I finally got to meet her, I quickly learned that in addition to having a great voice, she is one of the most down to earth and genuine people on the planet. I can’t wait for the world to hear Ain’t Going Down to the River and the other songs that we have recorded with her.”

A sentiment quickly seconded by songwriter, Milan Miller.

“Aside from being my favorite female singer in the genre, Missy has the rare ability of delivering a lyric with such honesty and emotion that the characters and images come to life. As a songwriter, there is no greater thrill than having someone with that gift singing songs that I have written.”

For this first single with Melton & Miller, Missy is accompanied by Terry Baucom on banjo, Aubrey Haynie on fiddle, Seth Taylor on mandolin, Buddy Melton on bass, and Milan Miller on guitar. As you might expect with this lineup, it’s a crackerjack of a bluegrass number.

Missy says she entered into this partnership with Buddy and Milan without any contract or paperwork, or even having heard the songs they had in mind. But trusting them both as artists and friends, she was swayed by their easygoing attitude and no pressure vibe.

“When I first agreed to talk to them about it, I hadn’t even heard the songs. Milan said he had a few saved back that he thought I would sound good on.

We have two more songs we are working on, and I love them all. At this point we’re not sure if there will be an album, or just these three singles. Buddy is really busy, and I’m not looking for something that will take me away from home. It’s pretty relaxed, and that’s what I think is making it so much fun. There’s no big agenda, and no pressure. 

We’ll see how it’s accepted before sinking more money and effort into a full project.”

Ain’t Going Down To The River is available now wherever you stream or download music, and to radio programmers at AirPlay Direct.

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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.