Discover old-time dance tunes, parlor music, and early radio music — with a lot of toe tapping, sing-alongs and audience participation. Appalachian musicians Hobo Bill & Kristin tell the real story behind each song — in the flavor of the times.
Bill and Kristin Morris have performed together for more than twenty years, singing songs and telling stories of steam railroading and Appalachian traditions. A lifelong performer, Bill is recognized throughout the South and Midwest as a professional musician storyteller. He plays harmonica, lead guitar, banjo, and sings lead and harmony vocals.
Kristin sings lead and harmony vocals, plays rhythm guitar and various percussion instruments, such as spoons and washboard, and writes lyrics. A professional editor, storyteller, and educator, she holds Masters degrees in Writing and in Education Technology. Currently, she teaches Spanish and Mythology at Lincoln High School in rural North Carolina.
Bill Morris was raised by his grandmother in Western North Carolina, on land originally granted to the family in the 1780s for service in the Revolutionary War. As a child, he was surrounded by musical treasures and storytellers on all sides.
Bill's grandfather and fellow storyteller, John Morris, was infamous for playing fiddle while dancing on two wooden legs; he had lost his legs while performing with a Wild West Show in Kansas in 1911. Lewis Boyd, Bill's uncle and another family showman, played everything — fiddle, mandolin, guitar, banjo, and harmonica — and performed with a Medicine Show in the 1920s. Mamie Yates Boyd, Bill's maternal grandmother, cultivated an abiding love for the "old" music and passed it on to him. "There is a story behind every song," Mama Boyd would say.
In addition to storytelling and singing, Bill plays guitar, banjo, mandolin, and harmonica. He's performed professionally since 1943 when, at the age of three, his mother and Aunt Helen routinely took him to the old Eckerd's drug store in Asheville, NC. A gathering place for soldiers and sailors during World War II, this was his first performance venue, where he dressed in military garb and sang songs like "Madie Groves," "Barbara Allen," and "It's A Bloody War" for nickels and dimes.
Kristin Morris, known as “Mizmo” to her students, started writing songs around age six – not long after beginning piano lessons. On special evenings, Mother and sisters gathered around the player piano and sang words off the yellowing paper rolls as Daddy pumped the foot bellows. “I guess you could say I cut my musical teeth on parlor songs and ragtime from the early 1900s.”
Kristin studied Journalism in college in Austin, Texas during the time Austin City Limits got its start, learning to love the sweet harmonies of progressive country artists like Michael Martin Murphy, Pure Prairie League, Jesse Colin Young and “Willie and Waylon and the boys.” Spending six years in New Orleans as a freelance writer for newspapers such as the Times-Picayune, had her listening to zydeco and Lil’ Queenie, the Neville Brothers and Doctor John. This raw infusion brings a blues awareness to her vocals and improvisational voicing to songs such as “Hushabye” and “L&N.”
From New Orleans, she moved to Appalachia to write a novel and got caught up in life there. “Making homespun music – like what I did with a guitar – was just everyday life for people from the mountains. Meeting Bill was like finally coming home. I couldn’t learn his old-time tunes fast enough.” The duo began performing in 1994 at the Asheville Folk Heritage and Dance Festival, then Charlotte’s Festival in the Park; Central Piedmont Community College; the N.C. Center for Advancement of Teaching; RailDays Festival for the N.C. Transportation Museum; the Mountain Gateway Museum in Old Fort, N.C., and storytelling festivals at Horn of the West in Boone and in Spruce Pine, N.C.
Thank you for your interest. We look forward to hearing from you soon.
Phone (828) 330-4785
Hours of Operation On Call Monday - Sunday: 8:00am - 5:00pm After-Hours Shows: 5:00pm - 12:00am