The Strapping Fieldhands were a Philadelphia based low-fi folk rock multi-instrumental band from the 1990s. They were like a weird pre-Decembrists band with a love of history, mythology and, of course, maps. They had a reputation for putting on a great live show (supposedly they stole the show when they opened for Guided by Voices) despite barely knowing how to play their instruments. Recording was not their strong point so what you often get is very good songs buried under a slushy, distorted mix.
I dug out their extended single "In the Pineys" yesterday for a long car trip. The cover features a nice map showing sightings of the New Jersey Devil. This beast stalks the Pine Barrens region of southern New Jersey (aka "the Pineys" to us urban snobs.) 100 years ago the devil returned after a long hiatus and terrorized the region. There were thousands of sightings within one week in January, 1909. With a quick web search I was able to locate the single's cover map.
The map, credited to Rosemary Ellen Guiley has some nice details, including a drawing of the beast itself and it highlights the many 1909 sightings. It also distorts New Jersey to emphasize the southern half of the state, while squeezing Somerville and New Brunswick far to the north. The Unexplained America page that includes the map has a good history of the legend as does the Devil Hunters page.
Nowadays sightings are few and the New Jersey Devil mainly conjures up images of a remarkably boring hockey team. For a hokey hockey take on the Devil's recent activity see the New Jersey Devils mascot page.
1 year ago