Murder Folk Night
Hosted by Ryan Kamstra


"Old-timey community sing-a-long with a strong sense of foreboding."

Murder Folk Night is a music series in the spirit of an old-timey community sing-song, dedicated to covering the gamut of morbid material both traditional and popular.

All levels of musicianship are encouraged to participate.

EVERYONE contributes to the band – whether singing, blowing the old jug, shaking the bells, clawing the washboard, or loud mumbles "O ya." Some instruments, noise-makers and junk instruments will be on hand but you are welcome to bring your own instruments, crazy sound-makers and your voices!

Your sepulchral host poet/musician Ryan Kamstra will have a number of Murder Folk standards to lead the group in.

What constitutes murder folk? Subject matter typically includes killing your cheating lover, bank robberies, depression-era acts of amoral desperation, disaster capitalism, lewd and unholy courtships, suicide, madness, the dark arts, selling one’s soul to the devil, morbid episodes of unrequited lovesickness, murderific elisabethan broadsides, Victorian gallows ballads, and the ever present counterweight of a dire and vindictive personal deity. Both contemporary music retrofitted as folk music and rare or obvious finds from the past encouraged.

For some examples of material, the Murder Folk Hymnal PDF can be found online HERE.

BRING YOUR OWN MATERIAL if you wish. Because murder folk is a group activity, it is great also to bring either TEN music sheets with simplified chords and/or lyrics to share or something easy to instruct the group with, whether a simple group harmony, a call-and-repeat part, etc. This is not an open mic, and as such, anyone bringing material is asked to lead the group in song, not simply perform.

Murder Folk Hymnal Songs:


  1. The 1913 Massacre, Woody Guthrie, p1
  2. The Ballad of Cat Ballou, Nat King Cole, p2
  3. Ballad of Hollis Brown, Bob Dylan, p3
  4. Banks of the Ohio, Traditional, p5
  5. Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down), Nancy Sinatra, p5
  6. Barbara Allen, Traditional, p6
  7. Be My Baby, Phil Spector, Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich, p7
  8. Billie Jean, Michael Jackson, p8
  9. Blackwaterside, Traditional, p9
  10. Bohemian Rhapsody, Queen, p10
  11. Boll Weevil Blues, Woody Guthrie (et al), p11
  12. Boom Boom (Out Go the Lights), Little Walter, p13
  13. Branded Man, Merle Haggard, p13
  14. Brother Can You Spare a Dime, E.Y. “Yip” Harburg and Jay Gorney, p14
  15. Bye Bye Blackbird, Ray Henderson and Mort Dixon, p14
  16. Caleb Meyer, Gillian Welch, p15
  17. The Cat Came Back, Traditional, p16
  18. The Cobbler, Traditional, p17
  19. Cold Hard Facts of Life, Porter Wagoner, p18
  20. Country Death Song, Violent Femmes, p19
  21. Coward of the County, Kenny Rogers, p20
  22. The Crusher, The Cramps, p21
  23. Dead Men Don’t Rape, 7 Year Bitch, p22
  24. Delia’s Gone Karl Silbersdorf and Dick Toops, p22
  25. Fairytale of New York, Pogues, p23
  26. Family Reserve, Lyle Lovett, p24
  27. Fancy, Reba McEntire, p25
  28. Fist City, Loretta Lynn, p27
  29. Flowers in the Dell, Fred Eaglesmith, p28
  30. Folsom Prison Blues, Johnny Cash, p29
  31. Frankie and Johnny, Traditional, p29
  32. Ghost Riders in the Sky, Traditional, p31
  33. Glendale Train, New Riders of the Purple Sage, p31
  34. Gloomy Sunday, Billie Holiday, p32
  35. Go Down Moses, Paul Robeson, p33
  36. The Hangman, Traditional, p34
  37. Hell’s a Place, One Hundred Dollars, p35
  38. Hellhounds on my Trail, Robert Johnson, p36
  39. Henry Lee, Traditional, as sung by Nick Cave and PJ Harvey, p36
  40. Highway Patrolman Bruce Springsteen, p37
  41. Highway to Hell, AC/DC, p38
  42. The Highwayman, Alfred Noyes, p39
  43. Hold My Hand, Sweet Jesus, Traditional, p41
  44. Hoochie Coochie, Man Muddy Waters, p42
  45. Hurricane, Bob Dylan, p43
  46. Hurt, Trent Reznor, p45
  47. I Die, Magnetic Fields, p46
  48. I Don’t Like Mondays, The Boomtown Rats, p46
  49. I Fought the Law (and the law won), Bobby Fuller Four, p48
  50. I Love My Love, Helen Adam, p49
  51. I Put a Spell On You, Screaming Jay Hawkins, p51
  52. I Shot the Sheriff, Bob Marley, p51
  53. Innocent When You Dream, Tom Waits, p53
  54. Israelites Desmond Dekker.54 It Was a Good Day, Ice Cube, p54
  55. It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels, Kitty Wells, p55
  56. Jailhouse Rock, Elvis Presley , p56
  57. Joan of Arc, Leonard Cohen, p57
  58. Joe Hill Alfred Hayes and Earl Robinson, p58
  59. John Henry, Traditional (Odetta et al.), p58
  60. John Wayne Gacy Jr., Sufjan Stevens, p59
  61. Just a Gigolo, Irving Ceasar, p60
  62. Justice in Ontario, Steve Earle, p60
  63. Killing Me Softly, Aretha Franklin, p61
  64. The Killing Moon, Echo and The Bunnymen, p62
  65. The Knoxville Girl, Traditional, p63
  66. Laurie (Strange Things Happen), Dickey Lee, p64
  67. The Letter, Macy Gray, p65
  68. (The Man Who Shot) Liberty Valance, Burt Bacharach and Hal David, p66
  69. The Lily of the West, Traditional, p67
  70. Little Glass of Wine, The Stanley Brothers, p67
  71. Little Sadie, Traditional, p68
  72. The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll, Bob Dylan, p69
  73. Long Black Veil, Danny Dill and Marijohn Wilkin, p70
  74. Lord Randal, Traditional, p71
  75. Louis Collins Mississippi, John Hurt, p72
  76. Love Hurts, Boudleaux Bryant, p72
  77. Mack the Knife, Bertolt Brecht, Kurt Weill and Marc Blitzstein, p73
  78. Mama Tried, Merle Haggard, p74
  79. The Man Who Couldn’t Cry, Louden Wainwright III, p75
  80. Massacre of the Black Donnellys, Stompin’ Tom Connors, p76
  81. Mother Pearl, Nellie Mckay, p78
  82. Mother Rage, Kathy Fire, p78
  83. No Children, The Mountain Goats, p79
  84. Nobody Knows You, Jimmy Cox, p80
  85. Not Another Other Woman, Carolyn Mark, p80
  86. Ode To Billie Joe, Bobbie Gentry, p81
  87. On the Moon, Ryan Kamstra, p82
  88. Pancho and Lefty, Townes Van Zandt, p83
  89. People Who Died, Jim Carroll Band, p83
  90. Please Daddy, Don’t Get Drunk This Christmas, John Denver, p85
  91. Pirate Jenny, Bertolt Brecht, Kurt Weill and Marc Blitzstein, p85
  92. Le Poinçoinneur des Lilas, Serge Gainsbourg, p86
  93. Poor Little, Omie Wise , p88
  94. Pretty Polly, Traditional, p89
  95. Prism, Gail Garnett, p90
  96. Psycho Killer, Talking Heads, p91
  97. Quand Vous Mourrez de Nos Amours Gilles Vigneault, p92
  98. Rain and Snow, Traditional, p93
  99. Remix to Ignition, R. Kelly, p93
  100. Ring of Fire, Johnny Cash, June Carter and Merle Kilgore, p95
  101. Sally Free and Easy, Cyril Tawney, p95
  102. Second-Hand Rose, Grant Clarke and James F. Hanley, p96
  103. Seven Gypsies, Traditional, p97
  104. Seven Spanish Angels, Willie Nelson, p98
  105. Sooner or Later God’ll Cut You Down (Run On), Traditional, p99
  106. Stairway to Heaven, Led Zeppelin, p100
  107. Stand By Me, Ben E. King, p101
  108. Storms, Fleetwood Mac, p102
  109. Story of Isaac, Leonard Cohen , p103
  110. Strange Fruit, Billie Holiday, p104
  111. Sundown, Gordon Lightfoot, p104
  112. To Love is to Bury, Cowboy Junkies, p105
  113. Tom Ames Prayer, Steve Earle, p106
  114. Tom Dooley, The Kingston Trio, p107
  115. The Wagoner’s Lad, Traditional, p108
  116. Waltzing Matilda, Eric Bogle, p109
  117. Where Evil Grows, The Poppy Family, p111
  118. World Turned Upside Down (Diggers), Leon Rosselson, p112
  119. You Picked a Fine Time to Leave Me, Lucille Hal Bynum and Roger Bowling, p113