Tuesday, October 4, 2016

     SEPTEMBER 2, 2016 was a big, really big, day for bluegrass and Americana music fans in Tennessee and wherever radio waves can travel. At noon on that date, WMOT FM 89.5, the 100,000-watt station which originates from the campus of Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) in Murfreesboro, TN, changed its format from classical to roots radio. How good is that! Oh yeah, very good! The event was broadcast from the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville, Tennessee. This writer just happened to catch the event which was listed on the WPLN FM 90.3 (public radio in Nashville) daily internet blog.
New Logo for WMOT FM 89.5 Roots Radio in Middle Tennessee
     Suddenly, there were musicians coming 'live at me from my computer--musicians whom I had grown to know and love since discovering bluegrass music in the early 1980s at the Tennessee Gentlemen Bluegrass Shack in Lucy, a suburb of Memphis, Tennessee. There was Randy Kohrs, Mike Bub, Jim Van Cleve, Alison Brown, our longtime friend Richard Bailey, and Tammy Rogers, along with Suzy Bogguss, Will Hoge, and Mike Farris, to drop a few very popular names in Nashville Music.
     Thanks to Dr. Sidney McPhee, President of MTSU, Martin Fisher at the Center for Popular Music at MTSU, Ken Paulson, Keith Bilbrey, Craig Havighurst and Jim Lauderdale of Music City Roots (from The Factory, Franklin, Tennessee), Val Hoeppner, and so many more who are behind the scenes and making the transition work so well. We who love and write about bluegrass, old-time, and traditional music, are more than grateful for the exciting change in radio programming at WMOT FM.89.5. It happened right there on the campus of MTSU, home of my beloved Blue Raiders. We know that there are great things to come from WMOT FM 89.5 Roots Radio!
For more information:
WMOT-FM  http://www.wmot.org  Also on HD Radio
Music City Roots  http://www.musiccityroots.com
Pick away and don't touch that dial! 

Monday, October 3, 2016

JULY 28, 2016
Photos from an earlier concert at Bartlett (TN) Performing Arts and Conference Center
No photos were allowed at the Franklin Theatre
     MAURA O'CONNELL and KARAN CASEY brought the fresh breezes of Ireland to Franklin, TN, and that's not the half of it! They brought along multi-instrumentalists JOHN MOCK and SEAN OG GRAHAM, the latter of whom arrived in Tennessee from Ireland mere hours before he performed with the group at The Franklin Theatre. These artists, separately and together, are nothing short of amazing! We are so glad we went to the concert!

Maura is from Ennis, County Clare in Ireland. She is a singer and actress who now calls America home. She has declared US citizenship. Welcome, Maura! Her modern interpretations of Irish folk songs have dazzled folks all over the world. Maura began her singing career at home in Ireland and later became the vocalist for the Celtic group called De Dannan. Wishing to experiment with music, she moved to Nashville, Tennessee, and met Bela Fleck, Jerry Douglas, Russ Barenberg, and Edgar Meyer, among others. Talk about starting at the top! Oh my! She made wonderful albums with songs that have become her stand-by tunes: Trouble in the Fields, Summer Fly, Western Highway, Feet of a Dancer, and Blue Train, to name but a few. Maura resides in Nashville with her husband and her son.
     Karan is from Kilmeaden, County Waterford in Ireland. She is a singer, songwriter, pianist, and producer. A former member of the Irish band Solas, Karan began singing in church and at school. Karan has more recently pursued a solo career which has taken her back and forth from Ireland to America. She recently released the album"Two More Hours," in which she wrote all the songs. The album also features Irish singer Mick Flannery, Abigail Washburn, and Aoife O'Donovan. You may recognize Karan Casey and Maura O'Connell (along with Mary Chapin Carpenter, Aoife O'Donovan and others) from the ground-breaking DVD project by Dobro(r) master and producer Jerry Douglas, called "The Trans-Atlantic Sessions". Karan and her husband have two daughters.
     Here are the selections for that magical evening in which Maura and Karan were accompanied by John Mock and Sean Og Graham. We shall add a few notes along where necessary:
Mick McGilligan's Ball (duet, Maura/Karan); The King's Shilling (anti-war song); The Salley Gardens (from the poem by W. B. Yeats); an Irish lullabye which we couldn't begin to spell in Gaelic; Shades of Gloria (by singer-songwriter Gerry O'Beirne, who has performed in Memphis at a house concert); Down the Dusty Way; New Dawn, New Day (Karan); One I Love (a Jean Ritchie song); Summer Fly (a Cheryl Wheeler song); a song in Gaelic to a 16-year-old daughter, to which Karan said she could relate; Trouble in the Fields (written by Nanci Griffith, Maura/Karan duet); John Mock instrumental; A Far Cry (written by Malcolm Holcomb); The Poor Man's House (written by Patty Griffin); Mary (also by Patty Griffin, Mary who was covered in roses, to whom Jesus said "I couldn't stay another day longer"); Home (written by Poet Laureate Paula Meehan); Still Standing (written by Janis Ian); May the Rain Always Fall Soft Upon Your Fields (written by Jonell Mosser, dedicated to Jesse and Mac who were in the audience--the song is a traditional Irish blessing); ENCORE: Leaving Neidin (written by Jimmy McCarthy about a beautiful place known as The Silver Tear, which is between Kerry and Cork in Ireland).
Catch all of these fine artists any time and anywhere you can. To paraphrase Maura O'Connell, "Miss them at your peril!!!"
For more information:
Maura O'Connell   www.mauraoconnell.com
Karan Casey          www.karancasey.com
John Mock             www.johnmock.net
Sean Og Graham   Twitter @ SeanOgGraham
Franklin Theatre    www.franklintheatre.com

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Entertainer of the Year - The Earls of Leicester
Female Vocalist - Becky Buller
Male Vocalist - Danny Paisley
Vocal Group - Flatt Lonesome
Instrumental Group - Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen
Song - "You're the One," Flatt Lonesome
Album - "Runaway Train," Flatt Lonesome
Gospel Recorded Performance - "All Dressed Up," Joe Mullins & Radio Ramblers
Instrumental Recorded Performance - "Fireball," Special Consensus, featuring Rob Ickes, Trey Hensley, and Alison Brown
Emerging Artist - Mountain Faith
Recorded Event - "Longneck Blues," Junior Sisk and Ronnie Bowman
Banjo - Charlie Cushman
Bass - Barry Bales
Dobro(R) - Jerry Douglas
Fiddle - Becky Buller
Guitar - Bryan Sutton
Mandolin - Sierra Hull
Bluegrass Hall of Fame Inductees: Clarence White, The Rounder Founders: Ken Irwin, Marian Leighton Levy, and Bill Nowlin
Distinguished Achievement Award: "Bluegrass Unlimited Magazine," Boston Bluegrass Union, Sirius XM Radio's "Bluegrass Junction," Bill Emerson, and Jim Rooney
Congratulations to one and all!
Pick away!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

9.13.42 - 9.24.16

     Gerald D. "Jerry" Wallace was special--one of the nicest, most helpful gentlemen who walked this Earth. No better barista (coffee server) could be found anywhere! He and his wife, Judy, were loyal volunteers in the Common Cup Coffee Shop at Collierville (TN) United Methodist Church. The bluegrass music community enjoyed his coffee and their company every Friday night all winter long at the weekly indoor bluegrass music jam. Jerry and Judy  enjoyed being a part of the Friday night music scene. We are grateful for their love and assistance. Adjectives about his sterling qualities could flow for days, for he had so many. We shall let his Commercial Appeal obituary fill in the details about this amazing man.

     "Gerald D. Wallace, Sr. 'Jerry' died peacefully Saturday evening, September 24, 2016, in the loving presence of his family. Born to Ray and Mary Mildred Wallace (deceased) on September 13, 1942 in Kalamazoo, Michigan, Jerry lived with his family in several states including western Kentucky, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Tennessee. Jerry graduated from Central High School in Nashville, TN, and attended Peabody College and the University of Tennessee. After honorable service in the Air Force, he began a long and rewarding career with Aeroquip Corporation, a division of Eaton Corporation, winning many accolades and awards for his expertise in sales and hydraulics. Jerry loved music and sang in the church choir, played the violin and the Sousaphone. He loved to golf and to fly--he earned the ratings of private instrument, multi-engine, and commercial licenses. Active in his community post retirement in 2000, he taught ESL for the literacy council, volunteered for his church and was active in his Masonic Lodge #152 and served as W.M. in 2006-2007, the Scottish Rite, and the Al Chymia Shrine.

     "Jerry is survived by his wife of 54 years, Judith Henson Wallace, 'Judy,' and their three children: G. David Wallace (Amy) of Thompson's Station, TN; Dr. Jeff Wallace (Jeanette) of Memphis; and Michelle Shannon (Bill) of The Woodlands, TX. He loved and adored children, especially his five grandchildren: Ryan and Nathan Wallace, Grace and Noah Shannon, and Molly Wallace.

    "Memorials may be made to the Agape Class Mission projects at Collierville United Methodist Church, 454 W. Poplar Ave., Collierville, TN 38017 or The Autism Resources of the Midsouth, ARMS, P.O. Box 341041, Memphis, TN 38184."

     Collierville Funeral Home had charge of the service on Wednesday, September 28, 2016. It is located at 534 West Poplar Ave.

     Two of Jerry's favorite songs welcomed us into visitation in the sanctuary of the Collierville United Methodist Church: "Faded Love" and "Peace in the Valley".

     Farewell, dear Jerry! We shall meet again just beyond the sunset.

Friday, July 15, 2016

JULY 15, 2016
The Honey Dewdrops - Laura Wortman and Kagey Parrish
Collierville TN Historic Town Square Bluegrass &
Old-Time Music Jam - Summer, 2009
     THE HONEY DEWDROPS came by the Collierville (TN) Historic Town Square Bluegrass & Old-Time Music Jam just a few short years ago. We were thrilled! Has it really been seven years since they were passing through and heading to Midtown Memphis to play at Otherlands Coffee Bar? The photo we took said 2009, so yep, it has been seven years! My! How time does fly!
     This lovely, talented couple, Laura Wortman and Kagey Parrish, has traveled many a mile since their last visit, and we were thrilled to learn that Music City Roots ('live from The Factory in Franklin, TN) has advanced to live-streaming and that The Honey Dewdrops were going to appear right here on my computer on the night of July 13, 2016. Oh! The miracles of modern technology!
     Originally from Virginia, the husband-wife team of Wortman and Parrish now call Baltimore, Maryland their home. Their style is simple; their message right out of the pages of American history. Their voices are as close as one is to two. Their vocal harmony is sublime, and their work on guitar, banjo, and harmonica is subtle and near-perfect.
     Honey Dewdrops is the perfect name for this delightful couple: Their music is as sweet as honey, and the entire experience is as fresh as the morning dew on my grandmother's red roses.
     The host for Music City Roots on July 13 was Mike Bub, another real favorite of this writer's. Mike is the "bass player's bass player" and he works at a feverish pace with the band 18 South and with Rob Ickes and Trey Hensley. Mike, Rob, and Trey laid down some serious music when they closed out the show that recent Wednesday evening
     When Mike Bub introduced The Honey Dewdrops, I was instantly taken back to memories of their stunning harmonies and simple tunes about everyday things that are familiar to each of us.
     Laura and Kagey chose these five songs to sing on their portion of the show: Lowlands, Loneliest Songs, One Kind Word, Horses, and Same Old. The reader can hear 'Same Old' by visiting The Honey Dewdrops website. You may also order the three most current CDs at the website.
     The Honey Dewdrops are at the Ozark Folk Center in Mountain View, AR, as of this writing, and we only wish we were there to soak up the entire feel of that Mountain View "thing". There's no way to really explain The Honey Dewdrops or Mountain View, AR. You just have to be there to experience it for yourself. Be sure to catch Laura and Kagey the next time they come around. Check their performance schedule (cooler climes in the next couple of months...smart!), order some CDs, and take a pleasant trip back in time with The Honey Dewdrops! It will lift your soul in these troubled times!
For more information:
Music City Roots: www.musiccityroots.com
Pick away!

Monday, July 11, 2016

 St. Andrew's Episcopal Church
July 10, 2016
The County Line Jam is a long-standing pleasant old-time music jam perfectly suited for a Sunday afternoon. Located at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, just off the Collierville, TN, Historic Town Square, the jam was begun by dulcimer player/instructor Lee Cagle. Lee and several of her musical friends gather on the second Sunday of each month from 2-4 PM Central. Visitors are invited to play or just listen and chat with the performers.
L to R: Karl Gray, Marshall Brown, Judy Brown,
Danny Autry, Hilary Scheel, Lee Cagle
On July 10, this writer dropped in and saw old friends like Karl Gray, Donna Gray, Valerie Gray, Yolanda Harper, Marshall Brown, Judy Brown, Danny Autry, Hilary Scheel, and Lee herself. Lee's son Nat J. Cagle dropped by before the session was over. My! How that child has grown!
L to R: Karl Gray, Donna Gray,
Yolanda Harper, Valerie Gray,
Marshall Brown
Nat J. Cagle
Hilary Scheel and Lee Cagle
On this particular Sunday afternoon, we were treated to several old-time tunes played on guitar, mandolin, autoharp, fiddle, and dulcimer. It's all-acoustic, meaning no amplifiers or microphones. Here are some of those tunes:  Poor Boys Delight, Long Black Train, What'll I Do with the Baby-o, Farther Along, Whiskey 'fore Breakfast, Soldier's Joy, Rosin the Beau (Bow?), There Is a Time, Georgiana Moon, Little Birdie, Bile Dem Cabbage Down, and Old Joe Clark. Some of the tunes originated in Scotland, Ireland, and in other sectors of the British Isles and Western Europe. The tunes have been passed down through generations, and folks who were new to America brought those tunes and many others with them when they came to this new land.
Lee Cagle
Karl Gray at right
We are thankful to Lee Cagle and the County Line players for helping to keep the old songs alive. Lee encourages other musicians to join the all-acoustic jam. Fans like this writer enjoy watching and listening to the tunes and hearing stories about those ancient melodies.
Contact Lee Cagle for instruction, McSpadden Dulcimers, CDs, and information about The Memphis Dulcimer Gathering, Inc.
For more information:
Pick away!


Tuesday, June 28, 2016

JUNE 27, 2016
     DR. RALPH STANLEY HAD IT, Coach Pat Summitt had it, and Coach Buddy Ryan had it! They all left us in the last 10 days. It's been quite a week for all of us in several genres. Smiles and tears everywhere! Dr. Ralph had it in bluegrass music as a member of the first generation, Pat Summitt had it in women's basketball, and Buddy Ryan surely had it in professional football. Each in his or her own way has taught us about high fidelity...top quality, the best, the tone that others strive  to achieve. *Note: Click on each photo to get a closer look!
Marquee of the Collins Theatre Welcomes High Fidelity
Now comes a band with the actual name HIGH FIDELITY. Imagine that! After performing for a short two years, this band, loaded with passion for traditional bluegrass music that takes the listener back to the 1950's and '60's, has put together an incredible sound and stage presence that many bands don't reach before 10 years or longer, if ever! This is no 'regional band' right here! The first thing the band did after getting together was to win the 2014 International Band Championship at the 40th Annual Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music of America (SPBGMA) in Nashville, TN. That's huge! High Fidelity's appearance at KASU FM 91.9's Bluegrass Monday at the Collins Theatre in Paragould, AR, merely whetted our appetite to hear more. Thanks to KASU, their sponsors, and the Collins Theatre for having High Fidelity to perform. Special thanks to Marty Scarbrough for his MC work at all the Bluegrass Monday (4th Monday) events!
Kurt Stephenson has a big hug for Mom during intermission
      KURT STEPHENSON is from Dyersburg, TN, and he has been working at this banjo thing for most of his young life. He hit the top in the banjo world in 2010 by winning the National Banjo Championship in Winfield, KS. Kurt is a graduate of Arkansas State University and is a radiation therapist. Fans will remember his fine work in the band Stone County Connection. Kurt also sings harmony vocals in this band. That smile on Kurt's face lights up a room...and a theatre!
     JEREMY STEPHENS comes into the band with at least 20 years' experience on guitar, old-time banjo, and lead vocals. His band credentials include the highly successful gospel group known as The Chuck Wagon Gang. His dead-pan expression and infectious ways are really appealing.
L to R: Corrina Rose Logston, Vickie Vaughn,
Jeremy Stephens, Kurt Stephenson
CORRINA ROSE LOGSTON is the fine fiddle players in High Fidelity. Her vocals are solid and spot-on! Her expressions, priceless! Her credits include outstanding groups such as Jesse McReynolds and the Virginia Boys, David Peterson and 1946, and Chris Henry and the Hardcore Grass. She is such fun to watch.
     VICKIE VAUGHN stands behind the band with her upright bass, but man, does she let her presence be known! Besides wearing out the bass, Vickie has a voice that will compete with most any female bluegrass singer who is working today. She sings lead in her own bluegrass band and she has worked with country star Patty Loveless and bluegrass vocalist Valerie Smith.
L to R: Andrea Stephenson, Corrina Rose Logston,
Vickie Vaughn, Jeremy Stephens,
Kurt Stephenson
L to R: Andrea Stephenson, Corrina Rose Logston,
Vickie Vaughn, Jeremy Stephens,
Kurt Stephenson
     High Fidelity's outstanding program is as follows, and we apologize for not catching some of the song titles.
     Set One: Another Day, It's Your Turn to Weep and Cry, I Ain't Got Time, Lost and I'll Never Find the Way (Kurt, from Stanley Bros.), Lost Indian (Corrina), Kneel at the Cross, That Glory Train, The Darkest Hour Is Just Before Dawn, Bully of the Town (Kurt), My Empty Arms (with Andrea Stephenson on guitar, from Jim & Jesse), I Know You're Married But I Love You Still (from Reno & Smiley), Unwanted Love (from Pearl Bailey), The Cry from the Cross. 
     Set Two: Big Mon, Walking with You in My Dreams, Oh Mother Sweet Mother, I'm Happy to Know That You're Happy That Way (from the McCormick Brothers [William, Haskell, and Gerald] of Westmoreland, TN), Mountain Church, The Sunny Side of the Mountain (Vickie, from Jimmy Martin), Blame Game (Kurt, from Ralph Stanley), As Long as I Live (Corrina, from the Bailes Bros.), Feudin' Banjos (Kurt and Jeremy on banjos, the original version by Arthur Smith and Don Reno), Nobody's Love Is Like Mine (Stanley Bros.), Using My Bible for a Roadmap (from Don Reno), Lord Lead Me On (from The Chuck Wagon Gang), You Never Mentioned Him to Me, Sinner Read the Bible (from the Stewart Family of Blytheville, AR, radio fame), She Left Me Standing on the Mountain (from Jim & Jesse), Encore #1: Charlotte Breakdown (Kurt), and Encore #2: Love Please Come Home (all band members)
     As you can tell, the old saying "Everything old is new again" surely applies to High Fidelity. The entire band is focused on remembering where bluegrass originated, and they aim to keep it rolling right along. The enthusiastic, responsive audience was definitely into the instrumentation and vocals of this fine band.                                  
L to R: Corrina Rose Logston, Vickie Vaughn, Jeremy Stephens, Kurt Stephenson
     The High Fidelity performance will be repeated on Sunday, July 3, on radio at KASU-FM 91.9 and the Internet at www.kasu.org. The show is Down Home Harmonies, with Marty Scarbrough doing the MC work. The program begins at noon, and the featured band will begin at about 12:30 PM CDT. Tune in for High Fidelity this Sunday!
For more information:
KASU-FM 91.9   www.kasu.org or e-mail Marty Scarbrough at mscarbro@astate.edu
High Fidelity is on Facebook and at www.corrinacorrina.com
The Vickie Vaughn Band   www.vickievaughnband.com