Bob, Ty Cobb, and the Macabre

Music  |  Features

A few months ago I spent some time with guitar slinger and ace songwriter Dave Perkins, who is currently writing a book about Gothic Country, that strange and macabre mixture of Old Testament fire and brimstone, bad whiskey, loose women, and the intersection of backwoods theology and murder ballads. It's a potent and disturbing musical brew that has fueled everyone from Flannery O'Connor's Hazel Motes to The Louvin Brothers to Johnny Cash to Nick Cave to 16 Horsepower. And since then I've been burrowing in to this moving and disturbing genre. I'd love to know if anyone else is a fan.

The musical touchstones are as old as the traditional Appalachian ballads of Dock Boggs and Charlie Poole, but some of the more contemporary practitioners are The Handsome Family, 16 Horsepower, Johnny Dowd, Those Poor Bastards, Woven Hand, Slim Cessna's Auto Club, Jay Munly, The Builders and The Butchers, Jim White, and The Blackeyed Susans. Anybody else follow these folks?