Tag Archives: country music comedians

Scarecrow: The Music and Murder of Stringbean Akeman

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Wake up, wake up little Betty

What makes you sleep so sound

When the highway robbers are a-comin’

They’ll tear your playhouse down

The little cabin in Ridgetop, Tennessee hadn’t held a soul in over twenty years. The crime scene chalk and blood were wiped away and the cabin shuttered for some time.

The man renting the place went to light a fire in the large fireplace. Small bits of paper escaped from its mouth, softly falling from the brick façade like volcanic ash in the still cabin air. It was money. Tens of thousands of dollars floating in worthless portions, gathered gently on the cabin floor.

Stringbean’s fortune.

 

How Sweet It Is

David “Stringbean” Akeman fashioned his first banjo from a shoebox and a piece of thread. He was born in 1916 in Annville, Kentucky. They were so poor his mother would give him rocks to throw at birds, and, if his arm was good, they’d have boiled fowl for supper. When he was 12, he traded two bantam chickens for his first real banjo.

He would make his name – and his fortune – playing novelty songs in the tradition of the banjo-playing comedians of the Grand Ole Opry.

But String could pick.

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