Flatland Murder Ballads and High Plains Hymns








On July 15, 2015, Charlie Stout drove into the desert west of Lubbock, Texas with a battery powered 8-track recorder, a suitcase full of microphones and cables, and a 6-string Martin cutaway orchestra model guitar named "Elle." He recorded seventeen songs in an abandoned ghost town church and chose eight of them to be mixed and mastered. The record would be called "Dust & Wind: Flatland Murder Ballads and High Plains Hymns."



Since 2005, songwriter and photographer Charlie Stout has been documenting American life along the expanse of U.S. Highway 60 from the eastern terminus in Virginia Beach, Virginia to the western edge of Arizona where the highway merges with Interstate 10. (In parts of California, the desert encroaches upon remains of decommissioned stretches of this road, which once proudly served as the first transcontinental highway in America.)

Situated along U.S. Highway 60 is the unincorporated community of Taiban, New Mexico, where famed outlaw Billy The Kid was captured by Sheriff Pat Garrett.  The First Presbyterian Church, built on a budget of $250 in the year 1908, stands to this day as a beacon of hope (albeit vacant) in a land of desert hardship and abandonment.

Click here to learn more about the ghost town of Taiban, New Mexico


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 Photo by Landan Luna

Photo by Landan Luna

"I had plans to go into the studio and make a full-blown record. I had complete arrangements, players lined up from all over the country, a producer, an engineer, and a shortlist from seventy songs that I'd recorded acoustic demos of to choose from. The only thing I lacked was the money: I was twenty or thirty some thousand dollars short of realizing a dream." -CS


The First Presbyterian Church of Taiban, New Mexico was built in 1908 on a budget $250. This landmark place of worship has weathered over a century of desert punishment: constant heat, bitter cold, relentless wind, violent thunderstorms, and unspeakable cruelty at the hands of vandals who've claimed her windows and doors and highway travelers who regularly leave messages of blessing and blasphemy on her walls.