Halloween has definitely become a highly-commercialized holiday in most of the United States. Displays of lights and spooky characters grace most neighborhoods, and cards, party supplies, and orange-and-black yummies are in prominent places at most grocery stores.
But where are the bluegrass Halloween songs? Radio hosts looking for scary-themed numbers for their shows this month don’t have too many choices.
Well here comes the Bluegrass Pride Band at the ETSU Bluegrass, Old Time, and Country Music Studies program with a new one to help fill the void.
Sam Jocelyn’s Ghost was written by a student in the program, Holly McIntyre, about a popular legend in her home town of Wilmington, NC. The story goes that when Sam Jocelyn died in 1810, his body was recovered from the river where he had fallen in, and given a proper burial. But before long, Sam appears to his best friend, Alex Hosler, and complains that he had been buried alive!
So Alex digs up the body, and finds the coffin sides covered with blood, and Sam’s fingers rubbed raw and bleeding. Ooooohhh….
We spoke with Holly earlier today, and she said that this was the first song she had ever written, responding to a dare by her vocal coach, Dan Boner. She decided to give it a try, and was inspired by this story that she had read in a book when she was a girl, called Coastal Christmas. The song was written just before Holly decided to take a break from school for health reasons, but they welcomed her back in to record the vocal track this summer.
“When I wrote it about a year ago, I decided to take a break from school. It was clear we couldn’t have it finished in time for Halloween. So we decided to wait until this year when we could release it on Friday, October the 13th.
I work as a bartender now in Wilmington, and cut the vocal track at ETSU just before Galax. I packed up and headed back to Johnson City after work, drove all through the night, and then recorded the track with no sleep!”
Here’s an audio sample. She did pretty well with no sleep.
The Bluegrass Pride Band includes Jacob Wright on banjo, Matt Etling on bass, Anysley Porchak on fiddle, Aaron Foster on guitar, and Colin Ray on mandolin.
Here’s a live video of Holly and the Pride Band performing the song at last month’s World Of Bluegrass in Raleigh.
McIntyre says she is hoping to get back to school soon, and is planning to write a Christmas song this year as well. When your first songwriting effort results in a single release, why not?