It happens towards dusk, but only when the sly is clear and when the birds are quiet.
The babbling of the soft water and as it tumbles over small, red and orange rocks is the only song that’s heard, until…he appears.
He’s a legend in this part of the Appalachia’s, but unlike a mythical creature, he does exist. It’s not how he looks that captivates people. He looks exactly like an old time gold miner. Complete with suspenders with rusted clips that clip to his faded, patched blue jeans. His face is covered from view from the darkness of his hat, and the wild, unkept beard that hangs down to his neck.
You’ll only see him from across the stream as it dances it way down to the valley.
His family is unknown, and his name matches his legend because nobody is quite sure if that’s his real name or not, but If you talk about him to enough people that’s about the only thing that people agree on. It’s said that he walks down from the remote parts of the wilderness when the weather is perfectly calm. He’ll walk to the side of the stream and stare at the water, and then, he begins.
He begins to sing while staring at the water.
His voice is deep, gravely and almost howling with a musical brevity that seems to capture all of the pain that was ever experienced or written about by a Blues singer. It’s like the painful lives of Mississippi Delta share-croppers all have gathered in this man’s soul, and he is the venue for their story.
His voice isn’t something you hear, it’s something you experience.
Anyone who’s encountered him say the same thing. They hear his voice and they can stand at listen as he sings what appears to be his own lyrics as he stares at the stream, and when the song is done, he he’ll stand motionless for a few seconds without acknowledging anyone’s presence (even if they wave to him or call out to him) Billy Joe walks back into the brush and away from sight.
Nobody will see or hear him again until that perfect evening has arrived, and then it’s always someone different who experiences what he does. People have tried to wait for him, but that doesn’t work, and they’ve tried to capture him on video, but everyone who encounters him is so enthralled by the moment they are too distracted by his presence to think of getting a video. There are pictures of him, but because of his hat and beard, nobody has ever gotten a clear picture of him, and before anyone can think of recording him, he disappears.
Most people think of the Appalachians as something to fly over, or just drive through and get out of, but for the ones that get on the trails, and up into the wilderness they understand the beauty of this area, and if the evening is painted with natures delicate hand, and they happen to be near the stream where he is, they’ll get to hear something they’ll never forget.
If you happen to walk along the paths in the Appalachians during the right time, you may encounter him. He's rarely seen and has never been caught on film, but his voice is what lingers in people's minds. You won't know he's there until you hear him sing, and when he does your caught off guard by his deep, soul drenched acapella that before you have time to even think about what you're experiencing he's gone. Billy Joe.