From Madison County Arts Center:
Madison County Arts Center
Joe Penland April 5, 2014
Old-time ballad singer and storyteller, Joe Penland, invites folks to “come sit a spell” as he regales listeners with songs and stories of the Appalachian Mountains. This year’s show – titled “More Pretty Girls Than One: Victims And Villains” – centers around old love songs and murder ballads often named after their beautiful and sometimes tragic heroines. Pretty Saro, Pretty Polly, and Molly O, The Lily Of The West are a few of the age old songs carried in the hearts of Penland’s Scotch-Irish relatives as they crossed the oceans a few hundred years ago to find a better life in the New World. Penland will also share songs original to North Carolina that have been heard around the world such as Naomi Wise, Poor Ellen Smith and The Ballad Of Frankie Silver. Indifferent to their place of origin, each ballad tells a powerful story of lust, love and blood.
You will also hear about his hometown (“a mile long, a street wide and hell deep”), a place where groceries, laundry, milk and liquor are delivered to your doorstep, and where men with names like Chick, Preach, Fats, Slowly and Speedy run successful businesses along the main street.
Penland will perform in concert at 7:00 P.M. on Saturday, April 5, 2014 at the Madison County Arts Center, 90 S. Main Street, in Marshall. Tickets are $15.
Penland’s running commentary of life in a small town has made him one of the South’s most loved storytellers and songwriters. “Joe Penland’s stories will make you thirsty for more local history,” remarked Laura Boosinger, executive director of The Madison County Arts Council. “Walking four miles while pregnant to sing for an Englishman conjures enough images to last the whole evening… and then there’s the one about the rooster riding the chicken coop down the French Broad!”
Born and raised in the Western North Carolina Mountains, Penland learned the “Love Songs” at the knees of the masters deep in the Sodom Laurel Valleys. He sat with the renown Lee and Berzille Wallin and their sons Doug and Jack, Berzille’s sister Dellie Norton and Lee’s brother Cas. From them, Joe learned the songs, stories and life lessons in the last days of the oral tradition.
Penland’s award-winning Appalachian ballad singing and story telling have made him a favorite at festivals and folk venues on both sides of the Atlantic. In 2005 Penland won the prestigious Bascom Lamar Lunsford Award, named for his cousin and the founder of the longest continually running folk festival in America.