When The Water Goes Down from ETSU Pride Band

The Pride Band of the Bluegrass, Old Time & Country Music Studies program at East Tennessee State University has released a single, When The Water Goes Down. It’s a new song written by program alumni Tim Stafford and Becky Buller, who also participated in the recording.

All students enrolled in the bluegrass program at ETSU must be part of a band, and each semester generally finds several dozens such groups of varying levels of skill and experience. The Pride Band is chosen from among the most accomplished students, usually 4th years, and is coached by program director Dan Boner. It is a great honor to be included, and many former Pride Band members have gone on to careers in bluegrass music.

When The Water Goes Down surrounds a true story of the town of Butler, TN, which was evacuated and moved to higher ground in 1948 when the Tennessee Valley Authority flooded the region to create Watauga Lake. The fictional events in the song tell of a preacher long suspected of killing his wife, but the facts don’t emerge until the lake is drawn down 35 years later to overhaul the dam. Tim and Becky used the fact that these exact repairs were made at Watauga Lake in 1983, giving a ring of reality to their composition.

Boner, who produced the single and sings harmony on the track, recalls how When The Water Goes Down first came to his attention.

“Becky sent me this song about 16 years ago when I was looking for material for a new record, and it captured my attention right away. First, the local history about Watagua Lake and Old Butler is still part of the community narrative. Second, who wouldn’t enjoy a fictional (presumably) murder mystery about a preacher-gone-to-the-dark-side?

The Bluegrass Pride Band and I are so excited to bring this song to life, and to share this with Becky and Tim, who are part of ETSU’s great history.”

Performing on the single are Pride Band members Adam Miller on lead vocal and mandolin, Katelynn Lowe on bass, Jacob Metz on reso-guitar, and Justin Alexander on banjo. They are joined by Tim Stafford on guitar and Becky Buller on fiddle, who also sings a harmony part.

ETSU has created a music video of the recording session at Echo Mountain Recording, housed in a former church building in Asheville, NC. Dan said they chose this site because of their need to space out due to COVID restrictions at the time. It took place on Halloween 2020and was shot and edited by Will & Deni Films.

When The Water Goes Down by the ETSU Pride Band is available now as a single wherever you stream or download music online. Radio programmers can find the track 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.