Concert Review: Murder Ballad Ball at Crosstown Station

There are several versions of the story of Pretty Polly. However, most will agree that the shallow grave that was to be her final resting place wasn’t deep enough to keep her spirit subdued.

Her essence — and that of other assorted thieves, lovers and gunslingers — was channeled Friday night at Crosstown Station for Stay Down Pretty Polly: the Murder Ballad Ball, a six-plus hour event featuring some of KC’s finest Americana acts.

I arrived just in time to catch a bespectacled Cody Wyoming, swathed in fake fog, reading an excerpt from an 1895 issue of the St. Louis Globe-Democrat. He told the story of Stagger Lee, a man who killed another over a Stetson hat. C.W.’s version of the song (the tale has also been covered musically by Sam the Sham, the Grateful Dead, the Clash and others) had a lot of “motherfucker”s in it, a la Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds.

The language was appropriate, though. Considering his story has been a subject of over 200 different recordings, Lee Shelton was obviously a badass motherfucker.

Categories: Music