The Night is Drawing Nigh: Selections from the Berea Appalachian Sound Archives (forthcoming) is a collection of field recordings from the Berea College Appalachian Sound Archives, Kentucky.

In 2006, I was among the initial recipients of the Berea College Appalachian Sound Archives Fellowship. While working there, I was immersed in recordings from across the archives, from ballads to lined out hymns, radio broadcasts to instrumental music. I was especially interested in the inbetween moments of field recordings: moments where those recorded revealed parts of the personalities through their banter, shyness, embarrassment, or laughter. The results of this listening can be heard in my first album released on Atavistic Records, American Winter (2007).

Since then, I have continued to return to the Berea Archives, and have worked with local archivists, historians, and community members to create two additional albums (Silent City, 2009; Rawhead & Bloodybones, 2015) and two sound installations (It Rained in Berea, 2006; The Subtle Land, 2008).

The Night is Drawing Nigh reflects over a decade of my listening to the Berea Archives. The recordings chosen are ones that I was drawn to, felt a deep emotional response to them while listening, and I couldn’t forget or let go of. Often the performances are not technically perfect, which does not bother me. Instead, they show an intimacy and humanity that is often missing from commercial recordings. When I listen to these recordings, I am taken to the place and time where they were made, and I begin to feel like I am immersed in a novel or a film, transported through close listening.

01. Lexie Baker and J.P. Fraley – “Brought My Friend In” [2:41]
02. Ralph Maynard – Interview at Maggard Mines [0:52]
03. Hiram Stamper – “Young Edward” [1:46]
04. Elizabeth and Arminda Stacy – “Trusting in You Lord” [0:47]
05. Prichard Quartet – “He Is Knocking” [2:28]
06. Frankie Duff – “Down by the Riverside” [1:55]
07. Jackie Helton and Family – Banjo Tunings and “Darling Corey” [1:59]
08. Walter McNew – “Girl I Left Behind Me” [3:38]
09. The Dewey Williams Family – “Jesus is Willing” [1:41]
10. David Hill – “One Day While I Was Praying” (or, “Battlefield”) [3:26] 

11. Travis and Nova Baker – “If I Should Be Living When Jesus Comes” (or, “Shake Hands With Mother Again”) [3:51]
12. I.D. Stamper – “Little Pink” [1:49]
13. Elizabeth and Arminda Stacy – “O Where Was I When the Lord Found Me” [0:57]
14. Hiram Stamper – “Roll On, John” [1:28]
15. Paul Sullivan – Big Ben Tobacco Commercial [1:27]
16. Helton Family – “I Know it was the Blood” [1:21]
17. Addie Graham and Opsa Guthrie – “White Pilgrim” [1:58]
18. Unknown Interview at Maggard Mines – “People Who Own the Coal Get a Royalty” [0:43]
19. Howard Chalmer, Hurley Smith, et al. – “Tarry With Me O My Savior” [6:50]
20. Teenage Gospelettes, from the Sinclair Gospel Serenade, WRVK – “Holy Be” [2:51]
21. Buell Kazee – Banjo Tunings and “Poor Boy” [3:55]

Collections used: Barbara Kunkle (1,17); Bruce Greene (3, 8, 14, 16); John Miles (5); William Tallmadge (4, 6, 9, 10, 13, 19); Loyal Jones (21).

Special thanks to Harry Rice and John Bondurant at the Berea College Appalachian Sound Archives; the collectors of the recordings; and most importantly, to the performers and their families.

A note from the Berea College Sound Archives: A good faith effort has been made to contact and seek permissions from those claiming rights to these performances and photographs. We are particularly interested in making contact with family members and discovering more about these performers when possible. Family photographs of performers are also particularly welcome. If you are a relative of the performers you may contact us at: