Tuesday, March 6, 2018

"Transforming Lives // One Song at a Time"
     FRANKLIN THEATRE, FRANKLIN, TN, FEBRUARY 23, 2018  There's a war going on out there that most people don't even know about. MARY GAUTHIER (pronounced 'go SHAY') knows and she's doing something about it in a huge way. The singer-songwriter has a really tough story about her own life experiences, but she has invested heart and soul in her most recent and most important recording project to date. The evening started with a video which covered some of the project. That video brought the audience smack up against reality for the soldiers and veterans.
    Ms Gauthier rounded up other songwriter friends and some soldiers and veterans, and they are making history with every hour that passes. There is a need--soldiers and veterans are hurting. They hurt every day. They need some way to tell their stories and start the healing process, both emotional and physical. Enter Mary Gauthier, other songwriters, and the most important elements, soldiers, veterans, and their spouses. The group of singers and songwriters began by listening to the stories that soldiers, veterans, and their spouses had to tell. Tears fell. So many tears. Voices choked up. Ideas and songs began to take shape. Everybody shared their input--songwriters, soldiers, wives, husbands...everybody. Telling one's story in song is therapeutic. Lives are beginning to heal. It's working!
     Mary Gauthier's stunning new album is a contradiction in terms, much like war is a contradiction on so many levels. The CD/vinyl title is "Rifles & Rosary Beads," and she says, "We're not writing about soldiers--we're writing with soldiers. These are their words."
     Here are the songs from "Rifles & Rosary Beads":  Soldiering On, Got Your Six, The War After the War, Still on the Ride, Bullet Holes in the Sky, Brothers, Rifles & Rosary Beads, Morphine 1-2, It's Her Love, Iraq, and Stronger Together.
     Many of these and other songs were part of the show at the Franklin Theatre. Two of this writer's favorites are "Mercy Now" and Mary's encore with group participation, "This Land Is Your Land". The event was sold out, there were tears everywhere, and a portion of sales from the album is being donated to SongwritingWith:Soldiers. Grab the album, the T-shirt, and the Mercy necklace with the pendant in the shape of a guitar pick. www.marygauthier.com
     Mary's band at the Franklin Theatre:  Michael Rinne, Josh Britt, Neilson Hubbard, and Danny Mitchel, and according to Mary, "Great guys, great band!" We agree! What a night!
     Thanks, Mary, songwriter friends, soldiers/veterans/spouses, band, video crew, Franklin Theatre, Dan Hays, and so many other people who made this night happen. It was truly special!
     We failed to mention that Mary Gauthier is still on her mission. Wherever there is a soldier, veteran, or a spouse who is in need, Mary is right there by their sides when they need her. That's what friends do.
Making the SW:S project happen
Mary Gauthier putting soldiers' emotions into song
Pictures say so much
Josh Geartz, veteran and mean harmonica player
Mary brought along her harmonica, too
Mary Gauthier signing for a fan




Monday, February 5, 2018


Mom and Dad's AM Radio from Yesteryear set on WSM 650
Barely visible on the bottom left panel is RCA Victor.
      "TURN YOUR RADIO ON" (with apologies to Albert E. Brumley for borrowing his inspiring song, and with further apologies to folks who covered the song through the years, like John Hartford, Ray Stevens, the Statler Brothers, and more.), or maybe "TURN YOUR COMPUTER ON" to catch some great bluegrass  from right out of Bell Buckle, Tennessee.
     You do know where Bell Buckle is, don't you? Does the Webb School ring a bell? Or the Moon Pie Festival? We Southerners know that a Moon Pie is mighty good eatin', especially when paired with a cold Royal Crown Cola ("RC" to us). That's a Southern snack that is sure to please, especially if you can find an RC these days.
     But, we digress...We are here to proclaim the merits of BELL BUCKLE RADIO and VALERIE SMITH, bluegrass artist from right here in Tennessee. Here is how to find Bell Buckle Radio and also Valerie Smith on your computer: http://www.bellbuckleradio.com and www.valeriesmith.net 
Can you spot the Big Horn Sheep we saw in Glacier National Park?
     Valerie has rounded up some great bluegrass DJ's and folks who have their own internet shows and she's got a lineup all day long and all week long that's sure to please. It's 24/7 and hosted on Live365. Just go online and start listening to some of your favorite bluegrass music. We had to turn it off to do this blog, but we're headed back to Bell Buckle Radio soon's we're done here! Check for schedule and time changes periodically. All times shown are Central Time.
     *Valerie Smith "Choice Cuts" Sun-Sat 9:00 AM
     *J.Gregory Heinike and Tori Taff "Bell Buckle Confidential" Tue/Wed 1:00 PM
     *Bill Foster "Foster's Corner" Mon-Sat 7:00 PM
     *Bob Mitchell "Best of Bluegrass" Mon/Thur 9:00 AM and Fri/Sat 3:00 PM
     *Jay Armsworthy "Bluegrass on the Bay" Mon/Wed 3:00 PM
     *Lisa Kay Howard-Hughes "Old Home Place" Tues 6:00 PM and Sat 10:00 AM
     *Cindy Brooks Baucom "Knee-Deep in Bluegrass" Mon and Thurs 5:00 PM
     *Billy Dunbar "Country Unplugged" Thur/Fri/Sat 1:00 PM
     *Jerry Eischer "Old Hippie Bluegrass" Tue/Wed 9:00 AM
     *Michael Johnathon "Woodsongs" Sun/Tue 3:00 PM
     There is good bluegrass going most all the time. You just need to know where to look!

Friday, February 2, 2018

January 22, 2018
Marquee at The Collins Theatre announcing the Guest Band
     AMONG BLUEGRASS MUSIC FANS, the name 'CEDAR HILL' is really all you need to say. Immediately, one knows to expect a world of experience and top-quality music from the steady hand of mandolinist/vocalist FRANK RAY, who has been at this game for a mere 50 years or so, and his very capable band mates! Our friendship with this fine musician and gentleman goes back at least 30 years. We are always glad to see the band's name listed on festival and flyer schedules. Despite the contentious national political climate of the moment, there is Cedar Hill from Missouri to calm things down and provide good ol' bluegrass music that actually sounds like good ol' bluegrass music. Missouri has produced top bluegrass and folk music artists throughout the years.
Frank Ray
Pete Brown, Patti LaFleur, Frank Ray, Dan Stokely, Jim Bunch
      Frank Ray has gathered some wonderful musicians who have been with him for quite a while. That says a lot right there. JIM BUNCH provides banjo and vocals Jim has been with the band for several years,. DAN STOKELY has been with Cedar Hill about two and a half years. Dan provides guitar and vocal work. PATTI LaFLEUR adds the all-important bass work and vocals. She has been with the band for quite a while. PETE BROWN is the fiddle player with that special expertise that brings smiles wherever he goes. Each member of the band is a joy to watch, and together they provide total entertainment for bluegrass fans throughout the South, the Midwest, Canada, the UK, Ireland, and wherever they go.
Frank Ray, Dan Stokely, Jim Bunch
Pete Brown, Patti LaFleur, Frank Ray
     Here are the selections from Cedar Hill:  SET 1: Katy Hill (a toe-tapper for sure!), Heartaches and Teardrops, Pearl, I Got a Thing about Doors, Hobo's Wings, I Beg to You, Clinch Mountain Backstep (Jim on banjo), 'Til the End of the World Rolls 'Round (Pete on fiddle), You Won't Be Satisfied That Way (a Bill Monroe tune),  and Dusty Miller.
SET 2: Broke Heart for Real, Cool Wind, Peter You're the Man, Echo Mountain (Welsh legend, or maybe true, as Gelert the brave dog is buried in a cemetery in Wales), For Me It's Hello, Me and My Fiddle (Pete on 8-string fiddle), Strings and Things (Dedicated to the memory of Wooten Brothers Roger and Bobby, of Center Ridge, AR. What a fine festival Mr. Roy Wooten and his children had for many years!), Mary O'Grady (name merely came from a phone book in Ontario, Canada), White House Blues (a Bill Monroe tune), Sally Goodin, and The Prison Song.
     Special thanks to Frank Ray and Cedar Hill for playing Echo Mountain for this writer, who sheds tears even as she thinks about the song.
     Cedar Hill came to us via BLUEGRASS MONDAY (4th Monday each month) courtesy of the Collins Theatre (120 W. Emerson), KASU 91.9 FM on the campus of Arkansas State University in Jonesboro, AR, several local business sponsors, and host/DJ MARTY SCARBROUGH. Learn more at www.kasu.org or by contacting Marty Scarbrough (mscarbro@astate.edu). Catch a concert soon and be sure to check out the pre-concert Bluegrass Monday buffet at Terry's CafĂ©, 201 S. Pruett, just down the street from the theatre. It's mighty fine!
For more information:
Cedar Hill  www.cedarhillbluegrass.com and several selections on YouTube
2/26  Donna Ulisse & the Poor Mountain Boys
3/26  Breaking Grass
4/23  The Po' Ramblin' Boys
5/21  The Trinity River Band
6/25  TBA
7/23  The Kody Norris Show
8/27  The Baker Family
9/24  TBA
10/22  The Tennessee Mafia Jug Band
11/26  High Fidelity
No December show due to Christmas holidays

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Guest Artist Sierra Hull
Germantown Performing Arts Center
January 13, 2018
L to R: Maggie O'Connor, Mark O'Connor, Jeff Saunders, Sierra Hull
Forrest O'Connor, Ethan Jodziewicz,, Joe Smart, Kate O'Connor
     BLUEGRASS, FOLK, and AMERICANA MUSIC fans will strike out in just about any weather conditions to see and hear their heroes. Such was the case with us as we inched our way on ice to and from Germantown Performing Arts Center (GPAC) in Germantown, TN. Snow and ice, along with bitter cold winds, had struck West Tennessee, but we would not be denied. Here were some of the very best in the business, and we risked life and limb to be there.
Sierra Hull and Ethan Jodziewicz
     SIERRA HULL was the first to appear on this cold evening. The Byrdstown, TN, native served as the warm-up band, but she is no warm-up artist. The diminutive mandolin player stands tall among other mandolin artists. Bass player ETHAN JODZIEWICZ, who accompanied Sierra, is every bit as amazing. The two artists provided a seamless set and kept the audience spellbound. We can only take a stab at song titles, because the selections either were not introduced or we could not understand the titles. Apologies to the artists and to you the reader as we stumble through the list of songs: North Country, I'll Always Be Waiting for You, Down on Your Luck, Don't Give a F***, Human Heart, O Patrick Won't You Be My Savior, Let It Go, and Donegal (Great Big Sea?) We look forward to hearing Sierra and Ethan again soon. They are amazing young artists!
     MARK O'CONNOR (fiddle, guitar, mandolin, bass, vocals) heads the O'Connor Band. He is a seasoned professional with 40 years out on the road with his fiddle. His band mates are family, with the exception of JEFF SAUNDERS (bass and banjo) and JOE SMART (guitar). MAGGIE O'CONNOR (fiddle and vocals) is classically trained in violin (fiddle to us) and she is Mark's wife. FORREST O'CONNOR (mandolin, guitar, vocals) is Mark's son. Forrest is married to KATE LEE (now Kate O'Connor, fiddle and vocals). Forrest and Kate were the duo known as WISEWATER, an Americana band we heard at the Franklin (TN) Theatre a few years back. Mark O'Connor and The O'Connor Band are polished, fast and fine.
     The set for the evening was as follows: It's in My Blood, Muleskinner Blues, Jerusalem Ridge, Restless, Coming Home (a chart-buster on their Grammy-winning Best Bluegrass Album), Blacktop Boy, Macedonia (twin mandolins with Mark and Forrest O'Connor), Old Black Creek, You Haven't Said You Love Me in a While, Ruby Are You Mad at Your Man, Little Maggie, What Have I Been Saying, Those Memories, Johnny B. Goode (bluegrass-style), and a smokin' encore with the entire band plus Sierra Hull and Ethan Jodziewicz.
L to R: Maggie O'Connor, Mark O'Connor, Jeff Saunders, Sierra Hull,
Forrest O'Connor, Ethan Jodziewicz, Joe Smart, Kate O'Connor
We heartily recommend all the artists from the evening of wonderful, fast-paced music.
For more information: www.oconnorband.com  Google the artists to learn more about their music and their touring schedules. 


Wednesday, January 31, 2018

December 29, 2017
Jerry Douglas and his Dobro(r) at City Winery Nashville
     WE HAD NOT SEEN Jerry Douglas in many a year. Obviously, it had been much too long. We surely had not seen the Jerry Douglas Band...ever. All of the musicians who performed with Jerry Douglas are beyond belief! Just incredible! 
Christian Sedelmyer and Jerry Douglas
Doug Belote at rear
Daniel Kimbro and Mike Seal
     JERRY DOUGLAS AND THE JERRY DOUGLAS BAND filled the stage to the brim with fabulous musicians and beautiful instruments. Jerry has launched far beyond his days as the top Dobro(r) player in the bluegrass world. Give a listen to "The Transatlantic Sessions" sometime to see what we mean. The band's music has Celtic and bluegrass roots, and there are influences from blues, reggae, jazz, and Eastern European music. From where we sat that evening, it appeared that Jerry was having more fun than anybody else on the stage. He moved all over the place and grinned and picked with each and every member of his band. He has grabbed up some of the finest in their field from everywhere: CHRISTIAN SEDELMYER (fiddle), MIKE SEAL (guitar), DANIEL KIMBRO (bass), VANCE THOMPSON (trumpet), JAMEL MITCHELL (saxophone, graduate of Memphis Overton High School for the Performing Arts, son of James Mitchell of the Memphis Horns, and nephew of the great Willie Mitchell--Jamel has his credentials in order!), and  DOUG BELOTE (drums).
Jerry Douglas and Daniel Kimbro
Vance Thompson and Jamel Mitchell
Christian Sedelmyer at far right
Here are the selections from that special evening: Unfolding (Edgar Meyer tune); Baby's Leavin' on the 2:19; What If (Grammy-nominated album); Gone to Fortingall; Hey Joe (Billy Roberts tune covered by Jimi Hendrix); The Remarks You Make; Battle Stick; Something You've Got, Baby; Cavebop (inspired by Jerry's dream about Charlie Parker and Fred Flintstone); We Hide and Seek (or Come and Go, Jerry added); The Last Wild Moor; Freemantle (collaboration between Jerry Douglas and Bela Fleck); Who's Your Uncle; and the Encore was Sir Allie B (Allie Bain).
     The Jerry Douglas Band completed the night of music from here on Earth and perhaps even other planets! Catch all these artists whenever you can!
Christian Sedelmyer, Vance Thompson and Jamel Mitchell behind Christian
Jerry Douglas (center), Doug Belote (rear) and Daniel Kimbro (right)
For more information:
Just Google Jerry Douglas and the Jerry Douglas Band, then Google each artist individually.
City Winery Nashville  www.citywinery.com/nashville  609 Lafayette St. 37203 - 615.324.1010


Sunday, January 28, 2018

MARCH 6, 2018  
Scroll down a few spaces in the Talkin' Bluegrass Music blog (https://talkinbluegrassmusic.blogspot.com) to see the band's schedule! Visit www.clairelynch.com to learn more about The Claire Lynch Band.
L to R: Bryan McDowell, Claire Lynch, Mark Schatz, Jarod Walker
City Winery Nashville - Jan. 31, 2017

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Olive Branch, MS   December 20, 2017
Richard and Mary's home in Olive Branch, MS
      IT TAKES MORE than a broken leg to stop JONI BISHOP! The talented Nashville, TN, artist and musician is automatically scheduled to play an annual invitation-only  Christmas house concert in Olive Branch, MS. So, several weeks before the appointed time, Joni is on a ladder at home cleaning out gutters. She falls, breaks her leg, goes into surgery, goes into rehab/physical therapy, and with the help of the host of the event, she makes it on time to the concert. That Joni is a trouper! Friends RICHARD and MARY, who host the event, figured that if Joni were feeling better and the doctor cleared her, Richard would drive to Nashville, load up Joni and her wheelchair, and bring her to Olive Branch. Following the concert, Richard took Joni and her wheelchair back to Nashville. Done! That's what friends are for!
Poinsettia and this way to the music
Joni chats with a fan
     The 75 or more guests were more than delighted to see and hear Joni again. It would not have been the same without her. Richard and Mary are splendid hosts who fill their home with decorations, food and beverages, and lots of carefully-placed chairs for the guests. Richard picked out a spot for a slightly-elevated stage for Joni, and after lots of visiting and chatter in the room, Joni is wheeled into place on the stage, seated in a chair, and she places the afore-mentioned leg on a beautiful red pillow. Let the games begin! Did we mention that there are red and green lights blinking and moving on the drapes, the ceiling and walls, and everywhere else? It's the spirit of the season!
Joni plays her cigar box banjo
Mom and child who is lighted up
     Joni Bishop doesn't just play and sing. She writes songs and gives everything a unique arrangement. She also paints,and makes instruments out of cigar boxes and anything else she can find and turn into something to make music. She displays samples of her work, along with several CDs that she has for sale.
     On this particular night, here are the songs that Joni played for the guests:  Little Drummer Boy, Endless Christmas (original), God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen / Soul Cake (a counterpoint arrangement), Go Tell It on the Mountain, What Child Is This / Mary Did You Know, Toys (original), Somebody's Tallkin' 'Bout Jesus (cigar box instrument), Road to Bethlehem, Good King Wenceslas, Walkin' in a Winter Wonderland, and Twelve Days of Christmas (with cue cards held up by young Parker and his friend). Pause for a brief intermission to enjoy food and spirits and chat some more.
Parker and his friend enjoying the music
Cue card girl--We needed her
Following the intermission, Joni resumed with Stone by Stone, Mary Had a Baby, Because of Christmas Day (drums found at the Goodwill Store), Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree, We Three Kings, I Saw Three Ships, Christmas in the Trenches (John McCutcheon cover), It's Gonna Be All Right, I'll Fly Away, Silent Night (sung in Latvian [family originated in Latvia] and also in English), and Joy to the World (with audience participation). Oh! It's just the grandest time ever!
     Special thanks to Joni Bishop, Richard and Mary, and everyone else who pitches in annually to make the concert great!
Joni performing on her guitar


For more information:
Joni Bishop www.jonibishop.com Facebook and other social media
Albums we love: One Wondrous Star, Threads, and Steal Away Home