Sunday, June 7, 2009


For those of you who don't know her, this is Sheila Kay Adams (click on the photo) at the Kidder Cole Festival when it opened at the Highlands Library. Sheila told a story about a relative who started receiving radio broadcasts through his dental fillings. Sheila's family didn't have electricity then, so they would gather around a table and her uncle would prop his mouth open with a salt cellar and the family would listen to music. One of their favorite programs was the broadcasts of Dr. John R. Brinkley from XERA, Del Rio, Texas and he came in loud and clear. They would all swing and sway to the Carter Family doing "Keep on the Sunny Side." In time, this night-time practice began to wear on the uncle .... well, I won't tell you the ending of the story. Sheila Kay also sung "The Brown Girl,"an 18th century ballad which I hadn't heard since Hedy West sang it the 60's. I alway loved the part where "the high Lord" cut the Brown Girl's head off and "kicked it against the wall." Of course, the high lord, who was grieving for his wife's death (she had been stabbed by the Brown Girl), immediately committed suicide. This was a bloody tale, and I loved it.


  1. So many of 'them old love songs' end badly for all concerned -- a fatal twist in the Scots-Irish psyche?

  2. It is probably what Horace Kephart once called a "natural propensity for violence." I guess we all still prefer songs that end on a scaffold to a little cottage among the roses.