Ruston Kelly Retreats to Carter Family Home, Emerges With Stark ‘Weeping Willow’

Ruston Kelly puts an atmospheric, modern spin on one of the most mournful ballads of the last century with his just-released version of the Carter Family’s “Bury Me Under the Weeping Willow.” Shortening the title to “Weeping Willow,” Kelly’s rendition of the historic tune replaces the classic mountain-bred instrumentation and three-part harmony of the 1927 original with a more dirge-like pace, adding steel guitar, spare yet dramatic drum beats, and synthesized effects to the singer’s aching vocal performance.

“Bury Me Under the Weeping Willow” was the first of four tracks recorded by the Carter Family on August 1st, 1927, for the Victor Talking Machine company (soon to become the RCA-Victor record label), led by pioneering producer, talent scout, and businessman Ralph S. Peer. Beginning with a session featuring Ernest V. “Pop” Stoneman on July 25th, the two-week-long “Bristol Sessions” in downtown Bristol, Tennessee, have since come to be regarded as the “Big Bang of Country Music,” with the Carter Family and Jimmie Rodgers emerging as the true superstars among the 19 acts who recorded during that time period. Kelly recorded his version of the song on a stormy night while staying at the Carters’ ancestral home in Virginia.

Ruston Kelly puts an atmospheric, modern spin on one of the most mournful ballads of the last century with his just-released version of the Carter Family’s “Bury Me Under the Weeping Willow.” Shortening the title to “Weeping Willow,” Kelly’s rendition of the historic tune replaces the classic mountain-bred instrumentation and three-part harmony of the 1927 original with a more dirge-like pace, adding steel guitar, spare yet dramatic drum beats, and synthesized effects to the singer’s aching vocal performance.

“Bury Me Under the Weeping Willow” was the first of four tracks recorded by the Carter Family on August 1st, 1927, for the Victor Talking Machine company (soon to become the RCA-Victor record label), led by pioneering producer, talent scout, and businessman Ralph S. Peer. Beginning with a session featuring Ernest V. “Pop” Stoneman on July 25th, the two-week-long “Bristol Sessions” in downtown Bristol, Tennessee, have since come to be regarded as the “Big Bang of Country Music,” with the Carter Family and Jimmie Rodgers emerging as the true superstars among the 19 acts who recorded during that time period. Kelly recorded his version of the song on a stormy night while staying at the Carters’ ancestral home in Virginia.

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Jesse Atwell