Mountain Home Music: A Night of Gory Ballads and Haint Tells Set for Halloween Night in BR

Published Tuesday, October 27, 2015 at 11:22 am
Sheila and Bobby

Sheila Kay Adams and Bobby McMillon

On Halloween Night, be prepared to have a chill sent through your backbone as two of our nation’s best-known ballad singers and storytellers weave a frightful path through the dark and scary world of Appalachia myth and legend. Featuring life-long friends Robert Lynn “Bobby” McMillon and Sheila Kay Adams, this Joe Shannon’s Mountain Home Music concert marks the first time they have ever shared a Halloween show. This special spooky concert will be presented in the “stone tomb” – better known as the Blowing Rock School Auditorium – at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 31.

McMillon, a North Carolina Folk Heritage Award recipient, was heir to numerous strands of Appalachian culture. From his father’s family in Cocke County, Tennessee, he learned Primitive Baptist hymns and traditional stories and ballads. From his mother’s people in Yancy and Mitchell Counties, North Carolina, he heard “booger tales, haint tales,” and legends about the murder of a relative named Charlie Silver. In Caldwell County, he went to school with relatives of Tom Dula, learned their family stories, and heard ballads, gospel songs, and Carter family recordings.

Adams shares stories and passes on the rich musical heritage of her ancestors from the small mountain community of Sodom Laurel, in Madison County, North Carolina. She learned to sing from her great-aunt Dellie Chandler Norton and other notable singers in the community such as, Dillard Chandler and the Wallin Family (including NEA National Heritage Fellow Doug Wallin). She was named a NEA National Heritage Fellow in 2013 and this summer she was the recipient of the North Carolina Folk Heritage Award. A banjo player, storyteller, and seventh generation ballad singer, Adams is also an author of several books and recordings.

Adams and McMillon have both been presented the North Carolina Folklore Society’s Brown Hudson Award for the Preservation of NC Folklore and the Bascom Lamar Lunsford Award for the Preservation of Traditional Music. They both have also represented North Carolina at the Smithsonian Folk Life Festival, held on the National Mall in Washington DC.

The Director of JSMHM, Rodney Sutton, “I am lucky enough to count Sheila and Bobby as good friends for over 40 years and we at JSMHM are honored to present them to our audience in Blowing Rock.” Sutton stated – “I asked Sheila and Bobby to relate how Halloween was celebrated hear in the mountains when they were growing up. They both mentioned something about chainsaws, but it was only dealing with cutting trees, not people!”

Adams said, “Believe it or not, folks over home in Sodom didn’t have much to do with Halloween… But, the schools always had a Halloween ‘Festival’ where everyone dressed up and it was a big to-do… The teachers dressed up, kids and all. Also, there was always a ‘haunted house’ in one of the schoolrooms. The biggest thing I recall from Halloween is that some of the bigger boys would get out and cut trees down across the road! That made for some pretty interesting conversation on November 1st.”

McMillion’s response was similar, “When I was growing up, Halloween in the mountains was celebrated much as it had been for generations.  By that time the practice of going trick or treating was common but it was also a time when people for the most part shunned being out more than possible because young people would provide the “trick” of cutting down trees across the roads at precarious places and also shooting fireworks any where they wanted.  Safety precautions were not in mind.”

When asked what makes a good scary story, McMillon said – “Haint and booger tales were told like most other tales in a way that made them sound very real. They were often about adventures that actually had happened to someone the teller knew or it had happened to themselves, usually with the reveal being based in reality. The older tales were told in a matter of fact way that made them seem credulous to the listener. They oft-times confirmed the listeners belief or disbelief in the supernatural.” Adams added, “A good scary tale, for me, are the ones that were told as being ‘true.’ And there were plenty of those that we’ll be sharing in Blowing Rock this Saturday night!”

“I’m really looking forward to being back in Blowing Rock for this Halloween night of gory ballads and booger tales” said Adams. “I always enjoyed my time with Joe Shannon and all the nice folks who turn out for these concerts and performances. What great, attentive audiences! Thanks, to everyone at JSMHM, for making certain Joe’s dream will continue on for years to come!”, she concluded.

This concert is supported by the following private sponsors: T. C. Farthing Family, Dr. E. Frank and Tara Hancock, Lynn Hubbard, Merida H. Steele – In Honor of John H. Steele, and The Estate of Joe Shannon. The United Way Sponsorship is Courtesy of Jack & Karen James.

Business sponsors included Appalachian Brian Estates, Boone TDA, The Dulcimer Shop, Mast General Store, Mountain Times Publishing, and WETS-89.5FM. Joe Shannon’s Mountain Home Music is also proud to be included as a site on the Blue Ridge Music Trails of North Carolina( 

Tickets cost $18 in advance and $20 at the door. Student tickets are $10. Children 12 and younger are admitted free. Advance tickets may be purchased online at Tickets may also be purchased at the Mast General Store (Boone and Valle Crucis), Fred’s Mercantile on Beech Mountain, Stick Boy Bread Company(345 Hardin St, Boone), and Pandora’s Mailbox and the Dulcimer Shop, both in the Martin House on Main Street in downtown Blowing Rock.

The Blowing Rock School Auditorium is located at 130 Sunset Drive, Blowing Rock, NC. Directions and more info can be found at the JSMHM website –




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