17 May 2021

'The sign-painter's song' from the McKernans

Thanks once again to Joe McKernan (right) and his family in New South Wales, Australia, whose 'browngrass' music has featured several times on the BIB in the past. Joe sends this link to his article 'Ghost signs: must everything fade?', published last week (12 May) on 'Voices', the blog of the Bruderhof religious community.

Over the last twenty-seven years Joe and his family have made thousands of hand-carved signs and refurbished others, and have seen many old signs deteriorate, some to the point of becoming 'ghost signs'. From this experience, Joe's son Donal has written 'The sign-painter's song' on the theme of impermanence, and has recorded it with his wife Cornelia on YouTube. The accompaniment here is on melodeon and fiddle, but a bluegrass treatment would be completely in keeping - no musical genre outdoes bluegrass in singing of people and things that are no longer where or what they used to be. Warmly recommended, especially for bluegrass bands that perform gospel songs.
A 'ghost sign' on an Ohio barn

© Richard Hawkins

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