The Ghosts of Johnson City
debut Album "Am I Born To Die?" available 10/20/15
The Ghosts of Johnson City seek to take listeners on a musical journey to some of the darkest hollows of America's greatest historical calamities and personal tragedies, from the battlefields of the Civil War and deepest Kentucky coal mines to the whaling grounds of the North Atlantic. An archival project as much as a musical endeavor, the repertoire consists of seldom-heard traditional songs from a wide variety of historical archives, oral traditions and collective memory.
Based in Maine with musical roots in Appalachia and the Deep South, the group presents simple and soulful versions of old mountain music, Civil War songs, coal-mining melodies, disaster chronicles, haunting murder ballads and tunes of love and loss in times of poverty.
People and communities have always told their stories through songs. Created by lead vocalist and banjo player Amos Libby, the band takes its name from childhood summers spent with Libby's late musician father in Jonesborough and Johnson City, Tennessee. Estranged from his father from an early age, Amos grew up listening to his father play guitar and sing in a trailer by the Nolichucky River, accompanying him to gigs in and around Jonesborough and Johnson City. A gifted but troubled musician, Libby’s father died in 2003 at the age of 49, never having spoken to his son as an adult.
In January 2015, Amos traveled to Tennessee to meet with his father’s adopted daughter, who graciously handed him his father’s guitar — an instrument that he'd played at those gigs so many years ago when Amos was a child. The guitar is an embodiment of days and people that are now gone; memories from a time and place that inspire the music of The Ghosts of Johnson City.
With the upcoming release of the group's debut album "Am I Born to Die?" on October 20th, 2015, The Ghosts of Johnson City aim to tell long-forgotten stories of largely voiceless communities by adhering to tradition in presenting this timeless material to modern audiences across the world.
Banjo, Lead Vocals / Amos Libby
Guitar, Vocals / Douglas Porter
Baritone Ukulele, Vocals / Erik Neilson
Harmonium / Erik Winter