Murder, they wrote: Killers and mayhem are the ballads of this ball

An ages-old tale of violence and mayhem inspired the idea that would flourish into the inaugural (and now annual) Murder Ballad Ball: a Rev. Gary Davis recording of “She Wouldn’t Say Quit,” which includes a seduction and an attempted-drowning and a beating or two.

Kristopher Bruders was listening to that dark-but-whimsical song when a light went on.

“I knew how much my friends were into old music and murder ballads and thought it would be really fun to get together in a show and play those tunes,” he said. “So I talked to Dutch (Humphrey).”

Bruders is a singer and songwriter in the old-time/Delta blues band Cadillac Flambe, Humphrey a songwriter and the lead singer in the hard-rock band Cherokee Rock Rifle. Humphrey booked shows at Crosstown Station, which is where he and Bruders held “Stay Down Pretty Polly: The Murder Ballad Ball” in December 2009.

“We knew Crosstown was perfect for it because of all the theatrics we could play with,” Bruders said. “The first one was amazing. We built a 15-by-25-foot replica of the actual barn from ‘Murder in the Red Barn,’ a classic murder ballad, and we added some extras. Right away, we knew there was something about this show that was unique. Bands were encouraged to write their own songs, which many of them did.”

The lineup at the first Murder Ballad Ball included Cadillac Flambe, the Penny Sheets (Humphrey’s band), American Catastrophe and the Rural Grit All-Stars.

On Friday night, those bands and others will assemble at the Riot Room for the third annual Murder Ballad Ball. The event was moved because Crosstown Station closed Oct. 1. The scene will be different but the atmosphere won’t. The lineup will be stocked with bands performing traditional murder ballads and some of their original songs.

“We’ll be doing Lee Hazlewood’s ‘Summer Wine,’ ” said Patrick Deveny of the Silver Maggies. “Though not a murder ballad, it sets a stage of seduction, betrayal, theft and desire between a cowboy and a temptress/seductress.”

And it transitions nicely into two original songs, Deveny said, one of his and one by Terrence Moore, a member of American Catastrophe who joined the Maggies as a guest for a couple of numbers at last year’s ball, and something clicked.

“That was the first time Terrence played with us,” Deveny said. “Now he’s a full-time member of the band.

Deveny will perform “It All Went South,” a song with “a spaghetti Western feel that is the story of a man who ‘pays any price to break that woman’s spell,’ that price being murder. He’ll also sing “My Pale Horse,” one he co-wrote with Jonathan Knecht, the Maggies’ drummer. It’s a tale of a “cowboy killer in hell collecting souls for the devil and contemplating his fate. We’ll precede that with two choruses of Daniel Johnston’s ‘It’s Spooky.’

“In one of Terrence’s songs, the lady does the killing. Amy Farrand (also of American Catastrophe) sings on that one. It’s very powerful: murder as liberation from oppression.”

Also this weekend Holiday benefit:

Quixotic Fusion is inviting the public into its studio for the Snow Globes Concert, a holiday music show that will benefit Spofford Home, a refuge for children who have suffered abuse or need attention for psychological issues. The Snow Globes are Rick Willoughby, Barclay Martin and Lindsey Jones. The Quixotic studio is at 2820 Cherry. Show times are 6 and 8 p.m. Admission is $10 per show. You can get the VIP treatment for $25, which includes admission to both shows and to a reception after each plus a copy of the band’s CD, “Can You Hear the Singing?” Tickets are available at the studio or by calling 913-406-7070.

Another holiday benefit:

The Rumblejetts headline a Toys for Tots benefit Saturday night at the RecordBar, 1020 Westport Road. Show time is 8 p.m. Admission to the 18-and-older show is $5 or the donation of a new toy.

CD-release party:

Victor Penny (Jeff Freling and Erin McGrane) will deliver a live version of their new recording, “Antique Pop,” which will officially be released Friday night at the R Bar, 1617 Genessee St. in the West Bottoms. They’ve also enlisted a great opening band: the Latenight Callers. Show time is 9 p.m. Admission to the 21-and-older show is $7.

Another CD-release party

: Micah Herman, leader of the jazz/funk troupe Pope of Dope, has recorded an album he is calling “The Ship: Vol. 1.” Here’s how he describes it: It’s Herman in a mix of “duo and trio settings performing a mix of original and popular music, as well as some jazz standards.” He has scheduled a CD-release party Sunday night at the RecordBar, 1020 Westport Road. Show time is 8 p.m. Admission is $7. It’s an 18-and-older show.

Acoustic reverie:

Friday is a tough night for local music devotees. In addition to the Murder Ballad Ball and the Victor Penny/Latenight Callers show, there’s a stellar lineup at Czar, 1531 Grand: John McKenna; Sara Swenson, Oriole Post and Three Dollar Band. Show time is 7 p.m. Admission is $7.

Jungle land:

Mike Dillon isn’t done imposing his genius on his former hometown. A week after he rejoined the Malachy Papers for a show at the Brick, he returns, this time as part of Mike Dillon’s Go-Go Jungle. Show time is 10 p.m. Saturday at the Brick, 1727 McGee.