Tuesday, October 17, 2017

 
THE YEAR WAS 1967...
 
'IT WAS A VERY GOOD YEAR'  
(with thanks to Francis Albert Sinatra)
 
October 13, 2017 -- Icebreaker -- 50 Years Hence
 
Bluegrass Music Content?  Virtually none, except that in recent years a group of White Station High School Spartans met on campus after school for a little bluegrass music pickin'.
 
     I WISH TO THANK so many people that I don't dare start naming them for fear that I will leave someone out. I'll just jump right in here. The White Station High School class of 1967 listened to Simon & Garfunkel's "Mrs. Robinson" on the radio and in the #1 hit movie of that year, The Graduate. Appropriate title, don't you think?
     So that a number of 1967 graduates can view the photos I took at Novel, the new bookstore where Davis-Kidd and Booksellers of Laurelwood once stood, I have chosen to present the pictures here from the class' icebreaker at that brand-spanking new bookstore. Thanks to class member, John Vergos, for his part in helping to save a bookstore on that corner of Perkins Extended in Memphis, TN. That's it...not a lot of chatter from me. Here we go! Enjoy the little trip and congratulations, Spartans, on your 50th class reunion!
     Before we jump completely in, we wish to remember those 45+ Spartan classmates who have passed away since graduation. Anne Marie Chapman, who passed away in the summer of 2017, was a driving force behind this reunion, and she would be so proud of the way the committee picked up the job and ran with it!
     A favorite teacher and friend who also passed away in the summer of 2017, was Mr. Danny Hollingsworth. The kids loved him and he loved them. Check out the green Spartans bench in front of the gymnasium at 514 South Perkins Road. The class of 1967 purchased the bench in memory of those classmates, Mr. Hollingsworth, principal Rush W. Siler, and other teachers who have passed on.
 
NOTE:  Visit the WSHS67 Facebook page at:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 



Friday, July 21, 2017

MINTON SPARKS &
CAROLINE HERRING
City Winery - Nashville, TN
July 16, 2017
 
       CAROLINE HERRING showed up on stage at the City Winery in Nashville, TN, on a recent Sunday evening, and she completely charmed the roomful of fans and supporters! She even brought some members of her fan club! We were not familiar with her work, but we are now! We bought a couple of her newer CDs, and they haven't left the CD player in the car. We hope to hear more from this talented singer-songwriter who reminds us a little bit of the late Kate Wolf with a tad of Joni Mitchell thrown in for good measure. There's no doubt that Caroline Herring stands on her own, and her story-songs will transport the listener to another place and time. Did you know that twenty years ago, this Atlanta-based artist co-founded the very popular "Thacker Mountain Radio" which comes out of Mississippi Public Broadcasting (MPB)? We are regular listeners at 90.3 FM from Oxford, MS.
Caroline Herring performing at Nashville City Winery
 Here are the songs she sang for the packed house: Wise Woman (went to the mountain and came back a 'wise woman'), Tales of the Islander (about artist Walter Anderson, from Caroline's album "Golden Apples of the Sun"), The Great Unknown (loosely based on Dante's "Inferno"),Meadows of Dan and Black Mountain Lullaby (a medley about Cecil Sharp's song-collecting in Appalachia in the 1920's), Thin Places (mesmerizing places for the Celts of early Scotland that jolt us out of old ways of seeing the world), and Sam's Song ("curled up in your little bed / one little curl upon your head") 
       And did you also know that one of her favorite artists is...here it comes...Minton Sparks?
 
L to R: Caroline Herring and Minton Sparks after
performances at Nashville City Winery
In addition to her appearance with Minton Sparks at City Winery on July 16, 2017, Caroline Herring can also be seen at the following venues:  July 23, 2017 - Hindman Settlement School Appalachian Writers' Workshop, Hindman, KY; and October 27, 2017 - Eddie's Attic in Decatur, GA, for her CD Release Party.
 
       MINTON SPARKS may resemble your kindergarten teacher as she stands before you, simple attire and a lacy handkerchief tucked into her belt, hair up in a loose bun, and comfy low beige heels. Don't let that fool you! This Tennessee storytelling artist with roots from here to Arkansas and beyond has some hard-hitting stories of family life down South that will make  you howl and weep, often in the same moment. She has the art of the spoken word down pat! You know the people in her stories without really knowing them personally: Abusers of women and children, mean drunks, cigarette-puffin' aunts (called Cluck, Cackle and Peck), loose women like Vickie Pickle's mama, gold diggers, women in prison who are hardened by life itself, carnival workers (Wanna go faster on the Tilt-a-Whirl?), a granny who threw undies at Tom Jones at Murphy Center (MTSU in Murfreesboro, TN), hoping to play basketball one day for the legendary Pat Summitt (Which young girl didn't want to play for her?), and even an incident when meeting Minnie Pearl. One of Minton's most touching stories concerns a grandmother's purse, which Minton inherited after the grandmother's funeral. The contents of the purse resembled those of our own dear mother, and maybe yours, except for a very special letter. We shall let Minton tell you about that.
Minton Sparks accompanied by John Jackson at
Nashville City Winery
     We have followed Minton Sparks' career since we first heard her on "A Prairie Home Companion" and thought to ourselves, " Who IS THIS?" I knew 30 years ago that I wanted to hear more stories and to watch her work her magic with a little dancing and great use of her arms and her entire body, all of it accompanied by the very talented John Jackson on guitar, banjo, and an occasional vocal lick. We have been fortunate enough to see Minton at Rowan Oak, the home of author William Faulkner in Oxford, MS, and in Memphis, TN, at the Bartlett Performing Arts & Conference Center, in Nashville, TN, at The Basement and also at City Winery. Oh, and at we saw her at least once at Off Square Books, Oxford, MS. We're loyal fans!
       There are so many stories that we will skip through with a few words to identify the ones we heard on July 16, 2017, at City Winery on Lafayette Street in Nashville: (singing): "If I Needed You, Would You Come to Me", Slick Willie Webb and Muffin Top, Opal Potts' Obituary, Where I'm From, Back Then More Than Now, Her Purse, Strip Mall Carnival, Gold Digger, Tennessee Prison for Women, Fight Club (happened at home and involved harsh discipline with whippin's and a Hot Wheels track), Suburban Snakehandler, and Minnie Pearl in a club having a snifter of sherry.
       Minton Sparks can be seen and heard on July 29, 2017 at Eddie's Attic in Atlanta, GA, with Lonnie Holley; and on August 6, 2017, at Nashville City Winery with singer Marshall Chapman.
 
For more information:
Caroline Herring   www.carolineherring.com
Minton Sparks   www.mintonsparks.com
Caroline and Minton can be seen on YouTube as well
These artists have wonderful CDs and even a DVD or two.


Saturday, June 24, 2017

CLAIRE LYNCH BAND
TOURING SCHEDULE
 Updated October 3, 2017  
 
L to R: Bryan McDowell, Claire Lynch, Mark Schatz, Jarod Walker
 
We've updated the touring schedule with new bookings from Washington and Oregon on the West Coast to the Canadian provinces on the East Coast and even in the middle.  Below are listed upcoming opportunities to see Claire Lynch LIVE! For further information, click on the web link.  We hope to see YOU soon at a show or festival!
 
2017-18 
OCTOBER
    6     Chester, NS (Canada)   Chester Playhouse
    7     Rogersville, NB (Canada)   Rogersville Bluegrass Site (CLB)
  10     Pictou, NS (Canada)   deCoste Entertainment Centre
           https://decostecentre.ca/
  11     Mt. Stewart, PEI (Canada)   Trailside Music CafĂ© & Inn
           http://trailside.ca/
  12     Summerside, PEI (Canada)   Harbourfront Jubilee Theatre
  13     St. John, NB (Canada)   Imperial Theatre (CLB)
           http://www.imperialtheatre.nb.ca/
  14     Lunenberg, NS (Canada)  Lunenberg Folk Harbour Fall Concert Series (Tentative)
  15     Riverview, NB (Canada)   Caseley Park (CLB)
  18     Asheville, NC   Isis Restaurant and Music Hall
           http://isisasheville.com/
  19     Hiawassee, GA   Georgia Mountain Fair (CLB)
  20     Huntsville, AL   Tangled String Studios (Tickets on sale later)
  21     Athens, GA   Hendershots Coffee Bar
  22     Decatur, GA   Eddie's Attic
           http://eddiesattic.com/
  26     Saratoga Springs, NY  (Duet with Bryan McDowell)   Caffe Lena
           http://www.caffelena.org/
  27     Rhinebeck, NY   Hudson Valley BGA House Concert (Tickets on sale in mid-September)
          
           NOVEMBER
  3-5    Nauvoo, AL   (Camp McDowell)   Alabama Folk School
           Claire Lynch & Louisa Branscomb Songwriting Course: What a Day for a Daydream
           http://www.alfolkschool.com/
   8      Innisfil, ON (Canada)   Music Up Close House Concert
   9      Toronto, ON (Canada)   Heliconian Hall -- Taivi Alexander Album Release
           http://heliconianclub.org/
  10     Ottawa, ON (Canada)   Private Event
  11     Ottawa, ON (Canada)   All Saints Church
           http://allsaintsottawa.ca/
  12     London, ON (Canada)   The Aeolian Hall
           http://www.aeolianhall.ca/events
  17     Knoxville, TN   The Bijou Theatre
 
 
2018
        JANUARY
11-12  Jamestown, NY (Trio with Mark and Bryan)  Trinity Guitars--Concert & Workshops
           http://www.trinityguitars.com 
12-14  Ithaca, NY (Trio with Mark and Bryan)  Falling Water Music Camp @ La Tourelle
           Web Link Coming Soon
 
          MARCH
 21     Fish Creek, WI   White Gull Inn
          http://www.whitegullinn.com
 24     Baraboo, WI   Al. Ringling Theatre
          http://www.alringling.com
 29     Savannah, GA   Ships of the Sea Museum

 

 
   

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

UPDATE:
NO TIME FLATT
PACKS OLD COUNTRY STORE,  
HITS BLUEGRASS TRAIL  
June 13, 2017
     NO TIME FLATT is here to let you know they're all set and  ready to play! They have their music and their energetic sound like they want it, and they are getting good responses wherever they play. Founded in 2015, No Time Flatt plays some old standards, some new songs, and some unique styling of songs from other genres. Meet No Time Flatt right here!
       Patrick Cupples (bass, vocals) is from Dyersburg, TN. His musical influences came from family and also classic country, blues, and the big band sound. Through it all, he says that he owes much to the founding fathers of bluegrass music. Patrick is a rhythm guitarist and also a sound engineer for 'live and studio work.
       Kevin Wright (guitar, vocals) lives in Humboldt, TN. He has won guitar competitions, and he spent 12 years with Stone County Connection, which also won several local and regional bluegrass music contests. His influences began with singing church hymns as a child. Kevin's bluegrass influences are Flatt & Scruggs, Tony Rice, Doyle Lawson, J.D. Crowe, Keith Whitley, and others from across the music spectrum.
       Becky Weaver (fiddle, vocals) was raised in Hornsby, TN, and now lives in Montezuma, TN. She began to get serious about the fiddle when she was about ten years old and received classical training. Her banjo-picking father encouraged her in the traditional sound of bluegrass and country music. Her influences are Alison Krauss, Stuart Duncan, and Kenny Baker. While Becky played with local bands across Southwest Tennessee, she began playing with some dear friends who eventually became known as No Time Flatt.
       Steve Moore (banjo, guitar, vocals) grew up in Medina, TN, and he now lives in Jackson, TN. His banjo is hot! His vocals are strong, whether they be lead, baritone, or tenor. Steve took a real interest in bluegrass in his early teens, starting with guitar and moving on to banjo. Traveling throughout the United States with his work, he was able to draw musical influences from all parts of the country.
       Kevin Keen (mandolin) is a native of West Tennessee. He now lives in Corinth, MS. His musical influences, as with so many bluegrass and country music players, began in church, at square dances, and by listening to the Grand Ole Opry. Kevin also began his playing with guitar, gradually moving to the mandolin. His experiences playing all over the Deep South at churches, festivals, and contests, have only enriched his playing and his love for bluegrass music.
     !SOME FLATT BIG NEWS!
       There's a CD Release Party on Tuesday, June 13, 2017. The party is at Brooks Shaw & Son's OLD COUNTRY STORE, 56 Casey Jones Lane, Jackson, TN 38305. It's a 'live concert and dinner buffet from 7:00-9:00 PM CDT. The $13 buffet includes meal, drink, tax, and tip. The new CDs called "No Time Flatt" will be available. You're all invited!
 
       !REPORT FROM THE OLD COUNTRY STORE!
 

      NO TIME FLATT was expecting maybe 50 to 75 people to attend the CD release party!  What they got was at least two and a half times that number! There were over 200 people in the dining room to hear the band. Local friends, family, former teachers and classmates, and folks who had been following the band from the very beginning--all were there to wish the band well with their first CD.
 
      We will tell you the songs we heard on that wonderful night: Suzanne, Bluebonnet Lane, Before the Cold Wind Blows, Roundup, This Heart of Mine, Look Down That Lonesome Road, I Believe, Fox on the Run, Say Won't You Be Mine, Dim Lights Thick Smoke, Cheyenne/The Old Home Place/Cheyenne (unique arrangement by No Time Flatt), Ten Plagues, Cherokee Shuffle, Lonely Moon, Dollarhide, Dixieland Delight, Bach's Violin Partita No.3 in E major, first movement (Becky on fiddle), Handsome Molly, Carolina in the Pines, Keen Mountain Prison, Wayfaring Stranger, and Long Gone.
 
      Here are Patrick Cupples' thoughts about the evening: 
     "THANK YOU FLATTHEADS! We were so humbled and blown away by everyone's support of our debut CD project by coming out to the CD release party last night at Casey Jones Village/The Old Country Store in Jackson, TN. We can't even begin to thank everyone enough for their support of our music and our band. You were a great, energetic & fun crowd and we hope that we can continue to entertain you for many more years. There are so many people to thank who contributed to last night's success. Thanks to Clark Shaw and his very supportive staff at The Old Country Store, Mark & Sharrye Holder for the sound engineering, Betty Westmoreland for her tireless support of bluegrass music, our Corinth Pickers on the Square 'support group', our families for enduring the countless hours it takes to be part-time musicians, and our fans, the FLATTHEADS! Y'all are the greatest and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts! We will see you all again soon!"
    
       And one more very important thing! Did you know that fans of No Time Flatt are referred to as...wait for it...FLATTHEADS?
For more information:
Website: No Time Flatt  www.notimeflatt.com or Facebook: www.facebook.com/notimeflatt
Contact: Kevin Wright  notimeflatt@yahoo.com or 731.616.1208
      


Tuesday, June 6, 2017

 
RAINY DAY...WONDERFUL EVENING!  
NASHVILLE CITY WINERY
JUNE 4, 2017
 
It was a rainy day, but oh, the evening! Some weeks ago, we noticed that there would be something coming up at the City Winery on Lafayette Street, right in the heart of Downtown Nashville, Tennessee. We called a friend, navigated the online ticket process (very easy, just give them your name when you arrive), and headed for Music City USA.
     The City Winery is in a divine old plumbing equipment warehouse. It's been completely renovated and spruced up to entice people from all over to eat wonderful food (and "Blue Suede Cake" for dessert) and try a vast number of wines from literally everywhere.
"Blue Suede Cake" and coffee
City Winery
 
 The warehouse look is gone. There are bars, a lounge, a big room, and all kinds of nooks and crannies in which people can gather to hear topnotch entertainers from Nashville and just about anywhere else you can think of. It's really a lovely venue with valet parking, if you prefer.
Gretchen Peters at City Winery
     On this particular Sunday evening, we came to see and hear singer-songwriter Gretchen Peters, whom we had never seen before. Renowned storyteller Minton Sparks introduced Gretchen to us there in the lounge. My word! Can this lady deliver a song about the realities of life? Oh, yeah, she can! She is a seasoned professional with a serious knack for nailing songs onto your soul. Her guitar work is perfect accompaniment to what she sings about. She has a rich music background and a bunch of fine recordings. We regret it took us this long to finally hear Gretchen. It won't be the last time. We've already spotted the fact that she'll be back soon...and bringin' more notables with her.  
Gretchen Peters at City Winery
    Gretchen Peters' program for the evening: Hello Cruel World, The Matador, Blackbirds (on a 'newish' album), Five Minutes (and oh, what can happen in that length of time), and she closed her portion of the show with Idlewild. Putting ideas and lyrics to music is such an art, a real skill. Gretchen Peters hits hard and tells it like it is. We're instant fans of her and her masterful work! There are YouTube videos and CDs for your listening pleasure.
 
     Minton Sparks came onto the stage accompanied by her long-time friend and very talented guitarist, John Jackson. John Jackson has a deep musical background and has worked with some of the very best names you would recognize. Poet, novelist, essayist and producer of CDs and DVDs, Minton wore what Mama might have called her 'Sunday dress' and low beige heels. On her arm was the well-known purse. Her ardent fans know the importance of the purse in Minton Sparks' show. We would dearly love to define what it is that Minton Sparks does, exactly, but she tells wonderful stories about life in the South, about Southern women, about church-goin' folks who are often nicer at church than they are at home, about a strip mall carnival, and just a simple question, 'Where you from?' Southerners know how to handle that one. She tosses in some University of Tennessee basketball and the late legendary Pat Summitt (tall, leggy country girls all wanted to play for Pat), along with the one about three aunts all hunched over down at the barn there at home. They're smokin' cigarettes and talkin' bad about other people. Can't you just see 'em?
Minton Sparks and John Jackson
at City Winery
 
"Her Purse"
     Minton opened with "Gold Digger," and you have already figured out that it's about a conniving woman. She followed with our personal favorite, "Her Purse". When Grandmother died, Minton got her purse. The contents were almost exactly the items that were in our own mama's purse. Almost. Our mom let us go through the purse during church to keep us quiet. Remember that? Minton's grandmother's purse had in it a little box of Chicklets, an open pack of Lifesavers, a comb, half a stick of gum, keys to the shed, little red plastic change purse that you squeeze to open and get the coins out and put in the collection plate, and the big secret that no one but Grandmother ever knew about: a secret love letter from a farmhand written long ago. There were powerful feelings in that love letter. Minton got an unexpected view into the soul of her newly-departed grandmother. We got the feeling that she was kinda sorry she found that letter.
     Minton took us to a scene at the Tennessee State Prison for Women where women are summoned by their numbers, not their names. State custody was rough on the little kids who had to play outside the prison on a seesaw or a swing. Her thoughts took her to the soulful "His Eye Is on the Sparrow" as she left us there deep in thought. John Jackson's artful accompaniment fits every Minton story perfectly.
     "Cluck, Cackle, and Peck" is about those three aunts sneaking cigarettes down at the barn at the home place. Minton moved around the stage like an old hen clucking, cackling, and pecking the ground. The women gathered down by the barn didn't spare anybody they knew: this one's big as a house, that one has dyed her hair and who does she think she's foolin', and that other one's husband is running around on her and she has no idea. Can't you just hear them?
     "Fight Club" is tough to hear. All in the name of religion and walking the straight and narrow, some women and their children received harsh punishment at home behind closed doors. It was 'corporal punishment and Bible verses,' and the treatment was known as 'spiritually justified ass-whippin's'. We have learned of late that this kind of thing went on in the homes of some of our own friends. It changes who they are.
     Moving right along, Minton Sparks has many more incredible stories about the lives of the very Southerners who are all around you right now. Not all are dark. How many are true? Well, we couldn't say. She dubbed the Mary Kay lady as the "Shepherdess of Skin Care" whose husband got mad when she would come home late. Minton even ran into Minnie Pearl (AKA Sarah Cannon) in a bar once upon a time and was dumb-struck by seeing the Grand Ole Opry legend. Minton told how it seems that we begin to tell these Opry stars (or any stars) some of the most intimate details of our lives, perhaps just to keep the conversation going. Why do we do that? "Vickie Pickle's Mama" at the local swimming pool is hilarious.  "Fill 'er up?" (gas station attendant) and "The Lunch Lady" are two favorites that we hope to hear again soon."The Carnival" story involves the handsome, flirty ticket taker (tan arms and a tattoo that said 'Mother'), and it reminds all of us women of Fair Park and the Tilt-a-Whirl or the Himalaya ride. "Wanna go faster?" Minton Sparks can jerk us right back into the 1950's and '60's and make us feel exactly what we felt back then. How does she do that? She's the best at what she does, and John Jackson ties it all together with his magical guitar and even a banjo or a resonator guitar now and again.
     Catch each of these fine performers again soon. You'll be glad you did! Thanks again to each artist for what they do!
Minton Sparks and John Jackson at City Winery
heading off the stage to meet-n-greet
 
For more information, touring schedules, and where to find their merch:
Nashville City Winery  www.citywinery.com  844.263.9050
Gretchen Peters  www.gretchenpeters.com
Minton Sparks  www.mintonsparks.com
John Jackson  Google this East Nashville treasure and read for yourself.
 
 
 
 


Saturday, May 27, 2017

 
May 27, 2017
 
SATURDAY SPECIAL
FROM THE
BLUEGRASS SHACK

Tennessee Gentlemen Bluegrass Shack
Lucy, Tennessee
       PRO FOOTBALL SEASON 2017 is still a way off yet, but TERRY BAUCOM & THE DUKES OF DRIVE have definitely scored a big TD!
 
       The NFL Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, has selected its inductees for the 2017 celebration on August 6, 2017. Inductees are: Morten Andersen, Terrell Davis, Kenny Easley, Jerry Jones, Jason Taylor, LaDainian Tomlinson, and Kurt Warner.
       The kicker (pun intended!) is that for the first time ever, a renowned bluegrass music band has been selected to entertain at the ceremony. Yes! You read that right! This is one ceremony that we hope is televised, especially the part where Terry Baucom and the Dukes of Drive will be performing.
       Members of the Dukes of Drive are: Terry Baucom (Monroe, NC, banjo and vocals), Joey Lemons (King, NC, mandolin and vocals), Will Jones (Cana, VA, guitar and vocals), and Joe Hanabach (Pfafftown, NC, bass).
       Be sure to check out the Dukes' new album Fourth and Goal.
 
For more information:
Terry Baucom and The Dukes of Drive on Bluegrass Today, Facebook, and YouTube
Terry Baucom  www.terrybaucom.com
Pro Football Hall of Fame 2017 Class at www.sbnation.com
 
Correction and apology:  The mandolin player's name is JOEY Lemons. The above information has been corrected.