Tag Archives: hauntings

272 – Southern Gothic: Ghost Stories and Legends Featuring Steve Gorman of The Black Crowes

To say that the American South has a complex history is an understatement. To us in Wisconsin, it sometimes feels like a different country entirely and 99% of our touring experiences down there have been amazing. There is something to Southern hospitality and friendliness that makes it a pleasure for us to visit.

But the South also has its share of darkness. We live in a racially charged society. It’s not something our band, as three white people from the frozen North, have had to deal with much, but you don’t have to believe in ghosts to know that the specters of slavery and the Civil War hang over the place. And those are the focus of many of the ghost stories of the area. It’s part of the place, but it’s not the be all and end all of it.

The South has its own vibrant and beautiful culture. Part of what makes it great is the blending of all the cultures that has gone on to create art that’s really unique and incredibly popular.

Mike on the left on the bass and Wendy in the back on the violin, playing some Southern Rock in a band called Michael Alexander & Big Whiskey. Photo by John Flores.

Southern Rock for example is one of those artistic gumbos. A mixture of blues, folk, rock ‘n’ roll, and country music, it takes elements of several traditions, black and white, to make amazing music. Even in Wisconsin, when the opening riff to “Sweet Home Alabama” starts, people lose their shit. Women want to dance to it, men want to sing along to it. And one of the most successful Southern Rock bands of all time is The Black Crowes.

Steve Gorman on the far right with his band Trigger Hippy. Photo by Scott Willis.

Steve Gorman was a founding member of that rock ‘n’ roll powerhouse. It’s his drumbeat you first heard on “Hard To Handle”, their original hit (and we covered their version for years.) They sold over thirty million albums in their time but the usual rock n’ roll story of excesses and egos eventually imploded the group. He currently drums with a rock n’ soul band called Trigger Hippy and they are playing in Madison at the High Noon Saloon on November 13th. I interviewed Steve to preview the show (and click on this article if you’d like to read more about the concert) but he also gave me a ghost story, here’s him telling it directly:

Yes, I do have a ghost story. And I say that as a guy who always rolled my eyes at other people’s paranormal experiences and I still do! Despite the fact that I had one.

It wasn’t at a venue or a gig, but a friend’s house in LA. This was in 2003 and our neighbor was having a backyard cookout. I had a toddler and a baby and so did everyone else on the block so we were constantly all hanging in someone’s backyard. And when you live in LA you’re outdoors all year round which is why you wanna go there if you have babies, because it helps. People in Wisconsin can follow that train of thought real easily.

Year-round, your backyard is another room of the house. There’s no mosquitoes, there’s no humidity. It’s pretty great. For awhile anyway.

Everybody’s in the backyard, the grill’s fired up, we’re listening to music, it’s a really nice neighborhood get-together. It’s my buddy Jared’s house and I walked into the kitchen and I was standing at the sink and I realize that there’s a woman standing right next to me. And I hadn’t even noticed her, and I did that thing where I’m went, “Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t see you” because I was crowding her by going to the sink… I think I was washing my hands.

I just looked to my right and I said “Oh, I’m sor…” but there was nobody there. And out of the corner of my eye peripherally I saw an older woman who was wearing a red bandana in her hair. An older lady with a red bandana with a pattern on it. And as I went to say “Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t even notice you/” there was nothing there.

And it really impacted me. I felt something inside like, “Oh what the Hell was that?” Nine times out of ten I would have thought “oh, I’m seeing something” or my brain had a weird synapse misfire. But it really moved me.

And I walked outside and I went over to Jared my friend and I go, “I just had the weirdest thing happen.” And he goes, “What?” I go, “I was just in your kitchen and I swear there was this old woman that was standing next to me, but she just wasn’t there.” And my friend Jared goes, “Did she have a red thing in her hair like a bandana?” And I just stared at him in absolute disbelief. And I said, “Yeah.”

His daughter’s name is Sadie and he said, “Sadie sees that woman all the time.” And that’s a true story and I have goosebumps right now re-telling it. And I know the look on my face must have been great because he was like, “Dude, that’s alright, don’t worry.” And I was like “What the fuck, man?!” I thought I was losing my mind. He’s like, “It’s fine, she’s always in the house and Sadie just sees her.” So, great, me and a three-year old girl are connecting over this.

Steve Gorman, Drummer of Trigger Hippy and The Black Crowes

While the South creates amazing music, their unique history makes for some one-of-a-kind hauntings. In this episode, we talk about some famous stories and what makes ghost stories in the American South unique. Here are some of the topics we cover, in addition to hearing Steve Gorman tell his story for himself:

  • Haunted plantations across the South
  • Confederate ghosts in Nashville, Tennessee
  • The curse of The Bell Witch and An American Haunting
  • The pirate Jean Lafitte who haunts New Orleans
  • Why Madison, Wisconsin has its own Confederate ghosts

For this episode, we decided to do a version of the old English folk song, “The Unquiet Grave”. American folk music, particularly in Appalachia and the Ozarks, directly descends from the ballads of the English, Scottish, and Irish who settled The New World. In fact, the accent of Shakespeare’s time sounds somewhat more like an American Southern accent than it sounds like the accent of Ian McKellen or Patrick Stewart (as much as everyone loves those guys!)

“The Unquiet Grave” has been covered by everyone from to Joni Mitchell to Ween and it weaves the tale of a pair of lovers where one died too young. In some versions, it’s a girl who died, in others it’s the boy, but what remains the same is that they lay on their lover’s grave until the ghost appears to them. When the lover left behind begs for a kiss, the ghost warns that even a kiss from their lips would kill them and it’s not worth losing your life over lost love.

How cold doth blow the wind tonight,
I feel some drops of rain.
I never had but one true love
And in greenwood she was slain.
I’ll do as much for my true love
As any young man may.
I’ll sit and mourn all on her grave
For a twelve month and one day.

The twelve-month and one day being up
The dead began to speak.
“Oh, who sits weeping on my grave
And will not let me sleep?”
“‘Tis I, my love, sits on your grave 
And will not let you sleep,
For I crave one kiss of your lily-white lips
And that is all I seek.”

“My lips they are as cold as clay,
My breath smells earthy strong.
If you have one kiss of my lily-white lips,
Your life will not be long.”
“My life be’t long or short sweetheart,
But that is all I crave.
Then I shall be along with you
A-lying in my grave.”

“‘Tis down in yonder garden green,
Love, where we used to walk.
The finest flower that ere was seen
Is withered to a stalk.
The stalk is withered dry, my love,
So will our hearts decay,
So make yourself contented, love,  
Till God calls you away.”

255 – Professor Paranormal: Parapsychology Pedagogy with Loyd Auerbach

With the litany of web sites and television shows on the topics of ghost hunting, psychic mediums, and theories of the unknown, it’s easy to get swept up in what is entertaining, but not necessarily good/correct information. The X-Files may have popularized the expression “The Truth Is Out There,” but how many paranormal investigators make the effort to apply proper research methodology when looking for the truth?

Today’s guest, Loyd Auerbach, has built his career around researching the paranormal in a scientific manner. His impressive combination of academia, open-mindedness, and careful investigation makes him uniquely qualified to responsibly educate us on the topic of Parapsychology.

Loyd was an early guest on See You On The Other Side, back in 2015 when we were still in the double-digit episode numbers. I recommend checking out that episode to dive deeply into his extensive educational background, and hear Mike fanboy out at the opportunity to talk to one of his heroes:

Parapsychology Fact vs Fiction: An Interview with Loyd Auerbach

But this time around, Mike was on vacation, so Allison Jornlin of Milwaukee Ghosts and I had the opportunity to converse with Loyd. The timing was perfect, as both Allison and Loyd will be presenting at Hawaii Paracon in less than two weeks!

Loyd’s interest in the paranormal and psychic abilities dates back to his youth, with ghost stories and television shows peaking his curiosity. Entertainment such sitcoms Topper and Dark Shadows, reading classic Greek Mythology, and monster movies fascinated him, as did the study of science and other “nerdy” activities. His natural inclination was to admire psychic abilities- not fear, chide or ridicule them.

By the age of 13, Loyd was reading works by J.B. Rhine and his colleagues. He formed a parapsychology club in high school (endorsed by Rhine himself!), which opened doors to meeting other luminaries in the field. His early exploration of the topic provided a perfect foundation for continuing studies at JFK University.

So, what is involved in earning a degree in the field of paranormal/parapsychology? Loyd’s rigorous graduate academic studies included history of parapsychology, laboratory research, field investigation of real-world cases, physics and parapsychology, anthropology and paraspychology, neuropsychology, statistics and more. Clearly, choosing this career requires unabashed devotion to an extensive amount of work.

Years and numerous case studies later, Loyd points the skeptics to research and evidence of psi/psychic abilities. Compelling data/statistics behind the Ganzfeld studies and the Stargate remote viewing program “shows that there’s something really here.” And his own extensive work with psychics/mediums has provided evidence that humans have a tap to an information source that is undeniable. However, he is unabashed in putting “a big question mark” next to cases where the proof is not present.

Loyd recounted one entertaining case, dubbed “The Sexorcist”, in which a house was haunted by the energies of an extremely amorous couple. This brought to light the possibility that a residual type of haunting does NOT require that the origin of the “residue” be deceased… A myth perpetuated by modern ghost entertainment. What would it be like to witness a ghost of someone still living? Apparently, some people have seen apparitions of their own self. Can you say…

My paranormal perspective continues to grow, thanks to guests like Loyd. For those striving to develop their own psychic abilities, he recommends beginning by making sure to write down (or sharing with another) any personal experiences/feelings that you think may be paranormal. The conscious labeling/acceptance that you are experiencing something can help identify patterns in the body/mind which can bring light to when/why these things are happening.

And with his strong dedication to education, Loyd was the perfect person to recommend books for us to read and expand our own knowledge of the paranormal. Here’s a starter list we went through, which very well may be the beginning of a See You On The Other Side Book Club (join our Patreon community here!):

You can also further your own education through online classes available at the Rhine Research Center, many of which are taught Professor Paranormal, Loyd Auerbach himself!

You can find Loyd online:
Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/loyd.auerbach.author/
Twitter at https://twitter.com/profparanormal
Email at [email protected]

For the song this week, we took one of Loyd’s most well known quotes, “Faith is belief without proof. Faith is fine, but don’t call it science.” and put our own spin on it. Here’s Sunspot with “Bull$h!t Detector”.

When there’s smoke ya know there’s gotta be some fire
When you talk you show that you ain’t a liar
Put your money where your mouth is and step up to the plate
Ya gotta back up your story or I’m just gonna cut bait

Faith is nice but proof’s a little better
You’re setting off my bull$h!t detector
If it don’t pass the test for the professor
Then I don’t need you
Unless you’re true

Show me don’t tell me, no pink elephants, don’t tease
If you want me to stay I need some evidence, so please

Faith is nice but proofs a little better
You’re setting off my bullshit detector
If it don’t pass the test for the professor
Then I don’t need you
Unless you’re true
Faith is nice but proof’s a little better
You’re setting off my bull$h!t detector
I need something more than just conjecture
Cuz I don’t need you
Unless you’re true

Happy Birthday Ed Sheeran, Is There A Ghost Voice In “Thinking Out Loud”?

It’s a big week for famous singing ginger, Ed Sheeran. First, “Thinking Out Loud” wins the Grammy for Song of the Year and then it’s his birthday on February 17th. I first heard his music during the end credits of The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug and liked it and I figure if the guy is alright with Peter Jackson, then he’s alright with me.

But the reason that we’re talking about “Thinking Out Loud” today is that people were hearing a “ghost voice” in the track. The moment happens at about 44 seconds into the song.

So, the Internet being the Internet, the rumor quickly went around that the “ghost voice” was actually a spirit who never found love and is sadly singing from the other side.  Or that the studio that the recorded it in was haunted and that it was the spirit who was singing along with Ed in the vocal booth.

This trended on Twitter last year and became a big topic of speculation for his massive teenage fanbase. Kids love ghost stories, cute singers,  and gossiping with their friends about it, so this was kind of a perfect storm.

And of course, when a topic is trending, there’s no reason not to have a little fun with it, here’s a video with over 100,000 hits purporting to analyze the track and find the ghost voice (but it really just contains a jump scare at the end.)

And this weird speech-synthesized video actually explains the whole issue as just an effect of the reverb.

Reverb? I doubt it. Sounds just like he was putting a little extra inflection in his voice with the word, “heart”. I can’t even hear a harmony background vocal in there on the verse. But when you tell people there’s a ghost voice in there and you can only hear it with headphones they start to convince themselves that it’s in there, especially if they listen to that section repeatedly.

I’ve been in the recording studio and have had that same effect. You’re listening closely to something over and over again and you start to hear phantom sounds. An echo or a weird note can show up that’s not really there when you listen to something repeatedly in a short stretch. Your mind starts playing tricks on you, that’s why it’s always recommended to leave for a little while and studio guys have special tricks to “keep their ears fresh“.

Ed, you’re a Grammy winner now, so you can finally afford that comb you always wanted!

The first studio engineer that Sunspot (Wendy and my band, we write a new song for each podcast episode) worked with was named Ted Weigel and we recorded in his Madison, Wisconsin recording studio that’s now long gone and replaced by the Brink Lounge. We would often start recording sessions in the evening and since we were paying the day-rate and didn’t have a lot of money, we’d record for long spells into the next morning.

Ted would always say “my ears are fried” when needing to close a marathon recording session. We’d always laugh to ourselves about that statement. We were still energetic teenagers and didn’t understand yet how your attention and hearing and senses would just get worn out, like a muscle after a hard workout.

I think the only way to hear the ghost voice in this track is to listen to it over and over and convince yourself that it’s there. So to anyone that can still hear the creepy background voice on the word “heart”, I’d say what Ted used to say in the studio so long ago, “take a break, man. Your ears are fried!”

57 – Dark Side of Paradise: Haunted Hawaii

So, making the rest of us completely jealous, my sister Allison from Milwaukee Ghosts got to go to Hawaii this summer to visit some family and bask in the perfect weather. But we sent her on a mission, that if she got to go to paradise, then we were going to get some ghost stories and a podcast out of her. And we didn’t even have to threaten her, she did her duty and visited some of Haunted Hawaii’s most interesting sites.

The first story she gets is from our family member, Laling, who gave us a haunted tale about the Pauahi Tower. She herself had a strange experience one night there hearing children playing outside their door late at night. And when she went out to see, there was no one there! Later, her experience was validated by someone that knew the  history of the tower, knowing that it was a playground before the tower was built.

Pauahi Tower
Listen for the children playing…

Then she goes on the Mysteries of Hawai’i ghost tour with Lopaka Kapanui (a tour that she loved so much that she went back on a private tour with him a couple days later, so it comes highly recommended and we’ll probably have to have him on the show sometime because he sounds like a fascinating guy.) We get Lopaka himself to tell a story about fishermen that caught a mysterious naked woman who might have been a legendary Hawaiian lizard goddess.

One of the stops was the Iolani Palace, which is the only place in the United States that was ever an official royal residence.

Iolani Palace
Ain’t no way the Professor could have ever made something like this!

While the building itself was magnificent, what intrigued Allison most was a well that was said to have been the residence of a calling spirit.

well of the calling spirit
If you hear a female voice and see a hot naked woman by this well, DO NOT FOLLOW HER, trust us on this one.

Well, that takes us back to our episode about the Smiley Face drownings in La Crosse, Wisconsin and our interview with the makers of the Hidden Truth film, who had researched native calling spirits of the water that according to legend, used to lead young men to their deaths. Of course, this reminded Allison of an episode of Kolchak: The Night Stalker as well, that dealt with the Hindu demon, Rakshasa, which in the episode disguised itself as a person’s friend to lead him to his doom. Also, if you haven’t checked out Kolchak, it’s a delicious bit of 70s television horror-comedy that is still worth your time after forty years!

Later they went to a cave of a shark spirit with Lopaka, and Allison had her first visual unexplained experience. He sang to the spirit of the cave and he said it told him they had five minutes to spend there.

The cave
You want in? You better sing…

When she saw a flash across the cave, she herself didn’t believe it until Lopaka mentioned to her that he saw it too, so the trip was extra magical for Allison because unlike some of the people we interview on this program, we don’t regularly see ghosts, spirits, or unexplained things, so anytime we can chalk up something to the unknown, that makes it extra fun.

An offering to the spirit of the cave
An offering left by previous visitors to the spirit of the cave

Plus, her husband’s camera ran out of battery way too fast in the cave and wouldn’t work. It’s often rumored that spirits might not be powerful enough to make us feel or see them,  but they might be able to affect energy levels like battery power or electronics. Allison tells of a story where her projector wouldn’t work earlier this year for no discernible reason (and I can attest to that because I set the projector up the night before) at a haunted American Legion Hall where they moved some servicemen’s pictures to make room for a projection screen. It never had happened to her before that (but it happened to me in Merrill, Wisconsin with my video camera a few years ago) so she hadn’t believed other people’s stories about mysteriously draining batteries, but now she does.

Of course, Allison visited some places where they filmed LOST and Jurassic Park, but she was more interested in the monuments to the dead that they saw throughout the island.  Piles of black and white stones are littered all over the place and it’s in remembrance of passed-on relatives and friends.

Black and white monuments
Which one is for Jacob and which one is for the smoke monster?

The one that garnered the most of her attention was a memorial to a 17 year old that had passed away and seeing all the memorabilia laid out at the site to remember him. She hadn’t seen anything like that before and found it unique and touching. But the most interesting thing was the dog who was completely silent and still sitting and watching over the memorial. Allison said that she didn’t even notice him for several minutes as she was studying the monument. She said that he was the guardian of the place. Maybe not quite paranormal, but still pretty cool.

The Guardian
Look at the upper right of the picture and you can see him watching over…

And speaking of dogs, Hawaii has it’s own bipedal canine, just like we talked with Linda Godfrey about in our American Monsters episode. Allison and Scott went on a “Orbs of Oahu Ghost Tour” and while if you know me, you know I think that “orb pictures” are just tricks of the light and not spiritual, she said they had a good time on the tour and learned some scary stories of a Hawaiian Dogman. There are modern reports of people seeing a dog eating roadkill at the side of the road and they think it’s a normal pooch, until it stands on its hind legs! The legend is that it is Kaupe, an ancient cannibal whose spirit is cursed to roam the island of Oahu and has the body of a man with the head of a dog and sharp claws.

The last place that Allison visited was the USS Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor, a solemn place where there are still scores of bodies of sailors still under the water in the wreck.

Flag over the USS Arizona
The American flag over the USS Arizona Pearl Harbor Attack Memorial

Allison and her husband, Scott talk about their impressions of the site while they visit and they talk about the drops of oil from the wreck that still bubble up to the surface of the water.

Oil from the USS Arizone
Do you see a face in here?

That’s Allison and Scott’s picture above, but a few years back someone took a picture of the oil there that they said formed a face.

Now, is that just Pareidolia (the human tendency to see faces in patterns, like clouds, walls, stones, etc…)? Or something more, we’re not sure. But it does remind me of a New Twilight Zone episode called “Something In The Walls” that was my first introduction to the phenomena, and it scared the crap out of me when I was a kid!

Have any stories of Haunted Hawaii? We’d love to hear them, post in the comments below if you have your own tale of the supernatural from paradise.

The song this week is related to the calling spirits that Allison talks about. There’s always someone who you never want to hear from because you know it will only lead to disaster.

Listen to “The Call” by Sunspot.

Bloodshot eyes and nicotine fingers,
Where you been, the silence lingers,
the same old song from the same old singer,
and the tune is getting old.

I think we’ve been down this rabbit hole before
This ain’t the first time I’ve been lied to since I walked in the door .

When you hear the call,
your gut drops like an anchor
Against the wall
you’ve got your answer.
But this time I think I could be alright,
And you know just how this story goes.
The siren leads you by the nose,
and you’ll be bleeding on the floor by the end of the night.

Broken nails and broken words,
Damaged pride and damaged goods,
you can’t believe the things you’ve heard,
this fixer-upper is a money pit.

I think we’ve been down this rabbit hole before
This ain’t the first time I’ve been lied to since I walked in the door .

When you hear the call,
your gut drops like an anchor
Against the wall
you know your answer.
But this time I think I could be alright,
And you know just how this story goes.
The siren leads you by the nose,
and you’ll be bleeding on the floor by the end of the night.