Magazine article U.S. Catholic

Oh, Willie, Please

Magazine article U.S. Catholic

Oh, Willie, Please

Article excerpt


Vandaveer (Quack Media, 2013)


Don't mess around with guys named Willie. That's the message in these Appalachian death ballads. Over and over in these songs, a young man named Willie kills an innocent young woman, either because she's become inconvenient or, occasionally, because she resists his advances.

Vandaveer is an ad hoc band convened by singer-guitarist Mark Charles Heidinger. And on Oh, Willie, Please... Heidinger sets out to update the murder ballads not by giving them contemporary backing tracks or rewritten lyrics, but by playing them straight, thus demonstrating how timeless and universal the songs really are. Death--from illness, murder, or suicide--haunts the ballads. For instance, on this album's opening track, "Banks of the Ohio," we meet a Willie who offhandedly tells how he "throwed" his lover "in to drown" and "watched her as she floated down."

And that's the way it goes through the rest of the collection. …

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