Ghost stories: The Ghosts of Johnson City play Blue in advance of debut album release


Members of the Ghosts of Johnson City, Maine-based folk travelers, venture into the "shadows of rural American traditional music," and no more so than on their upcoming debut album, Am I Born to Die?

A taste of this "darkness" will spill out Friday when the band plays at Blue.

"We'll be sharing tunes sourced from the grinding poverty of the Ozark mountains of the late 1800s, the armed coal miner insurrections of early 20th century West Virginia, the blood-soaked decks of the whaling ships of the North Atlantic and much more," the band announced.

Amos Libby, who plays banjo and handles lead vocals, said the new album, which comes out Oct. 20, features even more esoteric fare.

"I think the most unique and surprising thing about this album is that we have taken a very different direction in exploring American traditional music; that is, we have looked deeply in the darker corners of our history to tell the stories of people and events long forgotten and seldom, if ever, heard in song," Libby wrote to The Phoenix.

Libby is joined by Douglas Porter, guitar, vocals; Erik Neilson, baritone ukulele, vocals; and Erik Winter, harmonium.

Ghosts as a band specializes in "simple and soulful versions of old mountain music, Civil War songs, coal-mining melodies, tunes of love and loss and haunting murder ballads from the American South."

J. Moss, “The Modern Folk Music of America," wrote that “… the music on the new album ‘Am I Born to Die?’ is on the haunting and dark spectrum of folk…each song reinforces the feeling of Appalachian dread. …”

Chris Busby in The Bollard summed up, "The Ghosts of Johnson City, a local supergroup … plays Gothic old-time country. …”

The Ghosts of Johnson City | Friday, Sept. 25, at 6:00pm | Blue, 650A Congress St., Portland |

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