List of Dark Country & Roots Artists for Halloween

rodentia-gothic-dark-roots-musicOne of the great things about roots music is its Gothic legacy of cautionary tales, ghost stories, murder ballads, messages to the infirmed, and other such methods of macabre that allow country and roots artists to paint in dark colors when they so choose. This makes roots music one of the best realms to draw from when putting together your Halloween playlist. Here is a list of some of the artists who dabble in the dark side of country and roots.

Lincoln Durham

The things that hide under beds, in closets, and eerily disappear when you shine a light their direction are what conspire and collaborate to create the inspiration for Lincoln Durham and his dark tales of murder and inner mayhem, belted out with a voice that can meld like a shape shifter and carries behind it the soul of 1000 black men. A conjugation of deep blues, Gothic country, and dark folk, Durham fits nowhere and everywhere in the music world all at the same time. Halloween is tailor made for Lincoln Durham’s music, and so is his recently-released album Exodus of the Deemed Unrighteous.

Unknown Hinson

You can’t get more Halloween and country than the “Kang” of Country & Western Troubadours that happens to also be a 300-year-old vampire.  Unknown Hinson has what you need to keep your country-themed Halloween soundtrack rolling by blending a classic country sound with his creepy, blood-thirsty pursuits of “womerns” that always seems to take the darkest of turns. After saying in 2012 he was done for good, the man who also is the voice of the character Early Cuyler from Cartoon Network’s Squdbillies announced he was back from the dead, and will be touring regularly. Unknown’s alter ego Stuart Daniel Baker also happens to be one hell of a guitar player.

The Bloody Jug Band

When you have The Bloody Jug Band to listen to, you can celebrate Halloween all year. Similar to Unknown Hinson mentioned above, they make their dark music doubly entertaining by instilling humor into it. But The Bloody Jug Band is no bit. Their debut album Coffin Up Blood was a nominee for Saving Country Music’s 2012 Album of the Year from the creativity and innovation they display though music that is dark and funny, but also shows how roots music can evolve while still paying respect and residing within its heritage.

Lonesome Wyatt & The Holy Spooks

There’s nothing better for Halloween than a good ghost story, and Lonesome Wyatt & The Holy Spooks have a whole catalog of them, including the freshly-exhumed album released just for this season called Halloween Is Here, complete with ghost stories and songs molded in the classic Halloween album style. Parental guidance would be strongly suggested, but some of Lonesome Wyatt’s songs and stories even work well for kids. And for all your year-round gloomy needs, look no further than Lonesome Wyatt’s other Gothic country concept, Those Poor Bastards.

Rachel Brooke

Like a foreboding raven who sits high on her perch and caws out her cautionary tales of murder, deceit, and a world gone mad, Rachel Brooke’s music is dark as it is wise. From ghost stories to murder ballads, Rachel has Halloween covered, with numerous songs from her catalog ripe for the witching hour. Another spooky project worth dropping in your trick or treat bag is the collaborative effort with the aforementioned Lonesome Wyatt called A Bitter Harvest.

The Slow Poisoner

Halloween was made for The Slow Poisoner, and The Slow Poisoner was made for Halloween. As equally creepy as he is creative, this comic book writer and illustrator haunts the San Francisco public schools as a substitute teacher by day, and  puts on one of the most entertaining live one man shows you can see by night, complete with big creepy cue cards and other live props while he peddles his Egyptian oils and other wares through his dark music.

Sons of Perdition

From the disturbed imagination of Zebulon Whatley comes one of the core bands of the modern Gothic country era. Similar to Lonesome Wyatt and the Those Poor Bastards (who’ve been known to collaborate with the Sons of Perdition in the past) Zebulon draws heavily on religious dogma mixed with a dark perspective for inspiration. The Sons of Perdition’s ghastly hymns are enough to keep the ghosts haunting you all night, and released a new album Trinity last year.

The Goddamn Gallows

If you like your roots music dark, it doesn’t get any darker than The Goddamn Gallows. With their old soul tales from a scarier time, The Gallows are like a freak medicine show set to music, or a haunted carnie ride rattling off its tracks and plunging you into a deep, dark place where only the most unsettled of thoughts go. Complete with pounding drums and a washboard player that breathes fire, these guys are like the soothsayers of the Apocalypse.

Other Dark Roots Bands Ripe for Halloween:

  • Heathen Apostles
  • Pine Box Boys
  • The Haunted Windchines
  • Those Poor Bastards
  • Slim Cessna’s Auto Club
  • Jay Munly
  • Ray Wylie Hubbard
  • Johnny Cash
  • Nick Cave
  • Slackeye Slim
  • Viva Le Vox
  • Black Jake & The Carnies
  • The Perreze Farm
  • The Slaughter Daughters
  • Lindi Ortega
  • Tom Waits
  • Jayke Orvis & The Broken Band
  • Th’ Legendary Shack Shakers
  • Larry & His Flask
  • Shakey Graves
  • .357 String Band
  • Joe Buck Yourself
  • O’ Death
  • The Dinosaur Truckers
  • Creech Holler
  • Reverend Glasseye
  • The Devil Makes Three
  • Dad Horse Experience
  • Joel Kaiser & The Devil’s Own
  • Strawfoot
  • Jesse Dayton
  • Walter Sickert and the Army of Broken Toys
  • Pinebox Serenade
  • Nekromantix
  • Ghoultown
  • Filthy Still
  • Serial Killer

**NOTE: The image from the very top is from a now out-of-print dark roots compilation called Rodentia.