One of our favorite bumper stickers for a long time said “Keep Austin Weird”. Austin is a lot like our current city of Madison (except a WHOLE lot bigger and warmer) with the capitol and state’s flagship university keeping things interesting. They’ve also got a lot of hippies, just like us. We’ve been going to perform in Austin at least once a year since 2002 and it’s one of our favorite cities (in fact, we were just there in March!)
So, when we heard about Strange Town, a cool Austin-based ghost hunting show with two musicians as the main investigators, well, hot damn, we knew we had to have them on the show. Mark Morrow and Billy Driver are the two paranormal investigators who form the core of Strange Town.
First meeting while crewing a TV production in Austin, Mark and Billy found their conversation turning towards ghosts and supernatural phenomena. With both of them having a penchant for the paranormal as well as skills in media production, it was only natural that the next step would be to get together their own ghost-hunting show based around haunted sites that they knew about in Texas.
So far, they’ve completed two seasons of the show (and even more impressively, as a two-man investigation and production operation!), and it’s shown on Austin’s PBS Station , KLRU-TV (as well as online, where you can watch ALL the episodes right here). But they’ve also been featured on Destination America’s Ghost Brothers earlier this year as special guest investigators at the site of a famous hotel.
A lot of the fun of listening to this podcast is to hear to the Spirit Box EVPs (Electronic Voice Phenomena) that Mark and Billy get while they are doing the investigations. They shared some of their best evidence with us for this episode.
If you don’t know what a Spirit Box is, it’s an electronic device that quickly scans through radio frequencies randomly and the hope is that the spirits in the room can use the energy of the radio frequencies to speak through the white noise. Mark and Billy certainly got some excellent EVPs from their investigations and one of the best was at the Magnolia Hotel in Seguin, Texas.
Seguin, Texas is about 50 miles south of Austin near New Braunfels. The Magnolia Hotel was originally built by Texas Rangers in 1840 (we’re not quite sure if Chuck Norris was part of the original team.) Its most famous story is about a pharmacist that was staying there in 1874 by the name of William Faust.
Faust became infatuated with his wife’s sister and decided that the only way he could have her was by murdering his wife. She was staying with some friends in New Braunfels when Faust snuck into their home and took an axe to a figure on the floor of a bedroom that he thought his wife was staying in, but it wasn’t her. It was Emma, the daughter of his wife’s friend. Faust was able to get a couple whacks at his wife before he ran, blinding her (and she never would testify against him, saying that she never actually saw who attacked her), but the suspicion eventually led to him and he was executed for the little girl’s murder.
Mark and Billy got some awesome EVPs at the Magnolia and it sure does sound like they talked to Emma, who’s watching over the room that her murderer escaped to after killing her brutally, if accidentally.
Strange Town is DIY-ghost hunting with awesome production values but not the sensationalism of most cable ghost shows. It’s so authentic you can feel the Texas heat as well as enjoy the enthusiasm of this supernatural duo.
And if you want to check out some music, Billy plays with the excellent Gooding, a great rock band we’ve seen several times when they’ve toured through Madison in the past (which is a really fun coincidence!) And speaking of music, this week’s Sunspot track is inspired by our conversation and the saga of poor Emma, the girl whose murdered spirit still haunts the Magnolia Hotel.