Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Time for "Breakin' Up Winter"

     According to the calendar, winter is less than a month old! Whaaaat? We in the South have experienced ice storms, snow, heavy rain, and frigid temperatures already. We've ordered firewood, we've had damaged trees and limbs that we dragged to the street for pickup by the brush crew, we're freezing around here...and we think it's time to 'break up winter'.  

Jammers beside the Cedar Forest Lodge at Breakin' Up Winter (Mike Albert, top step)
That said, you need to know that BREAKIN' UP WINTER is an actual old-time music festival which is held annually at CEDARS OF LEBANON STATE PARK in Lebanon, TN. The music is seriously old-time and it's played in the old-time way. It is not bluegrass music...there are plenty of bluegrass festivals around. No, this is all old-time all the time. It kicks off on Thursday, March 6, 2014, with an open jam in the big stone Cedar Forest Lodge which was built by the Works Progress Adminstration (WPA). The enormous  fireplace in the lodge is always going, which adds to the atmosphere! The weekend of old-time music ends with Sunday Morning Hymn Singin' on March 9. Learn more about the area in and around the park with a Google of Cedars of Lebanon State Park.

Jammin' at the Ranger's Residence
"Please join us for our 19th festival [March 6-9, 2014]. We have many activities centered around old-time string band music and a wonderful state park in which to stretch out. There are no contests, but you will stay entertained and [continue] playing."

     Cedars of Lebanon State Park is located off I-40 in Middle Tennessee at Exit 238. That exit connects you to US 231. You should go south for six miles in the direction of Murfreesboro, TN. Down the road, you pass the ever-present outdoor flea market. Quickly now! Look left for the gates at the entrance of Cedars of Lebanon State Park. Enter and follow the fiddle signs to the location where you pick up registration materials and begin to have a real old-time music experience.
This way to Breakin' Up Winter
 Food and lodging in the park can be arranged when you contact the NOTSBA website www.nashvilleoldtime.org. Do this early, as caterers (The Mad Platter) and park personnel need to know if you plan to stay in the park (reservations required) and eat your meals there. Other than that, there are fine motels and restaurants near I-40 at Exit 238.

Group Participation with Hazel Dickens (now deceased)

Vendors: John Hatton's CLEFF'D EAR has everything you could possibly want in the way of albums, CDs, sheet music, music books, and more. LO GORDON has a music store in North Carolina, and he brings banjos for sale. MARTIN FISHER has equipment to record your sound on wax cylinders, which is how it was done before the 20th century began.
William See and Josh Smith jammin'

2014 Breakin' Up Winter  Presenters: ALICE GERRARD (2014 Heritage Award winner and whose performing partner was the late HAZEL DICKENS), FRANKLIN GEORGE (West Virginia music historian), ALAN JABBOUR (Former director of the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress), GEORGE GRUHN (Gruhn Guitars, Nashville), JOHN HARROD (Governor's Award in the Arts and Folk Heritage in Kentucky), KEN PERLMAN (Melodic clawhammer banjo pioneer), JOYCE AND JIM CAUTHEN (Members of the Red Mountain White Trash, an Alabama stringband), MARTIN FISHER, JEFF TODD TITON (Professor of ethnomusicology at Brown University, retired), BOB WHITE (Fretted and fretless clawhammer style musician), BILL MANSFIELD (master of the Round Peak Style, influenced by Fred Cockerham and Tommy Jarrell), LISA INGRAM and BETTY WESTMORELAND (Cousins who lead Sunday morning hymn singing: Lisa is a member of the Gallinippers stringband and Betty is a blogger about bluegrass and old-time music), ROBY COGSWELL (Director of Folklife for the Tennessee Arts Commission and well versed in the ways of old-time music).
Roby Cogswell, Director of Folklife, TN Arts Commission

Lee Cagle and friends working on clawhammer style

You will have a country-dog good time at Breakin' Up Winter!
For more information about Breakin' Up Winter: www.nashvilleoldtime.org/BUW

We hope to see YOU there! If you've never been to Breakin' Up Winter, you need to go this year!

Pick away and be sure to make it old-time this time!


Saturday, December 28, 2013

Claire Lynch Scores Big on
Bluegrass Unlimited National Bluegrass Survey
January 2014 Issue

Claire Lynch photo courtesy of Lee Cagle
     The three-time IBMA Female Vocalist of the Year for 2013 is still gathering honors. Our congratulations to CLAIRE LYNCH for moving up the charts with DEAR SISTER, from 18th to the 12th spot in the survey in the January 2014 issue of "Bluegrass Unlimited". The songwriters are LOUISA BRANSCOMB and Claire Lynch. The song is on the DEAR SISTER album, Compass #4610.

     LEE MICHAEL DEMSEY (Bluegrass Country on WAMU's 105.5 FM and HD Radio 88.5 Channel 2 in the Washington, D.C. area) ranks the Top 15 Bluegrass Albums in "Bluegrass Unlimited". Lee ranks DEAR SISTER at number 7 in the January 2014 issue. The Top 15 albums are based on the overall number of votes received by individual songs from an album.

Nice work, Claire, Louisa, and the entire Claire Lynch Band!

For more information and the touring schedule: http://www.clairelynch.com   

Pick away!

*Note: Go to http://www.valleyarts.org/court-square-theater and scroll down to January 23, 2014, The Claire Lynch Band. There you will find a short promo video with great samples of music from the Claire Lynch Band. It's like a mini-concert right there on your computer!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Memories of the Lucy Opry
May 8, 2010

       Has it really been almost four years since we lost top-quality bluegrass music at the Bartlett Performing Arts & Conference Center? Interest among the locals waned, crowds got smaller and smaller, and finally it was just over. We thought on this Christmas Day 2013, that you might like to see some pictures from that final Lucy Opry show featuring Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out.

Doug Cole guitar: a gift to Russell Moore

Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out

Russell Moore

Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out, Beth Mays, Craig Yarbrough

Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out with Beth Mays, James & Paulette Johnson, Craig Yarbrough, Will Mays, Larry Bomar

Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out, Beth Mays, James & Paulette Johnson, Craig Yarbrough, Will Mays, Larry Bomar

Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out, James & Paulette Johnson, Will Mays, Gary Pierce, Larry Bomar

Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out, James Johnson, Will Mays, Gary Pierce, Beth Mays

Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out, Will Mays Gary Pierce, Beth Mays, Larry Bomar

Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out, Will Mays, Gary Pierce, Beth Mays

Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out, Beth Mays, Linda Pierce, Gary Pierce

Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out, Paulette & James Johnson, Linda Pierce, Gary Pierce, Beth Mays

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Collierville BG-OT Jammers Celebrate the Christmas Season!
Photos at UMC Common Cup Coffee Shop
December 20, 2013

L to R: Gail, Elizabeth, Gerald Goforth, Kacey Cannon, Bobby Williams, Frank McDermott, Arn Vertrea, Jeff Tallant, Peter Smith, and unidentified young guitarist

L to R: Martha Miller, Maggie Cannon, Marilyn Graves

Orion Osborne and Melissa Cannon

Randy Cannon and Coley Graves

L to R: Bruce White, Judy Brown, Larry Cap, Victoria Johnson, Danny Autry, Ms.  Noble, Marshall Brown

Bruce White on upright bass

Bruce White on bass, Larry Cap on flute, Marshall Brown, Judy Brown in foreground

L to R: Maggie Cannon, Melissa Cannon, Zeke Andre, and a host of others

Some jammers and some fans

L to R: unidentified guitarist, Gerald Goforth, Kacey Cannon, Bobby Williams, Randy Cannon, Maggie Cannon, Jerry Wallace behind counter, Frank McDermott, Jeff Tallant, and Peter Smith

Monroe Jones, Sherry Knight, Sam Knight and friends on a 'mission' in the Missions Room

Sam Knight just happy to be pickin'

David and Harvey Hardaway with Sherry Knight and Monroe Jones

Sherry Knight and Monroe Jones

We are on a mission to please our fans

The jam will be closed on December 27. We will be back in action at the regular time (6:30-9:00 pm Central) on January 3, 2014.

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year from the Collierville Bluegrass & Old-Time Music Jam!

Pick away!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Caroling in the Caverns 
Blanchard Springs, AR 
December 14, 2013

     This is the Visitors Center at Blanchard Springs in Northeast Arkansas. On a recent trip to Mountain View, Arkansas, we took in Caroling in the Caverns, which takes place 216 feet below the Visitors Center. It's a must-do at the Christmas season. A brief elevator ride takes a visitor down to an entirely different world, where special lighting among the formations casts a magic spell and wonderful singers complete the magic with Christmas songs and carols. It's fairyland down there! It took a mere 70 million years, give or take a few millennia, to produce such natural beauty. Mother Nature really showed out in Blanchard Caverns.

Stalactites/Stalagmites and audience being seated for Caroling in the Caverns

     We were issued cushions to sit on in the bleachers down in the caverns. It's rather damp in a cave. Before we headed down to the caverns and the music, we heard the park ranger's speech about white-nose syndrome among bat populations throughout the country. If we had been inside a cave since the year 2000, we needed to decontaminate our shoes. The State of Arkansas is making every effort to keep the syndrome, which is fatal to bats, out of the caverns. So far, so good. The caverns are dark except for the lighting around the formations. Suddenly, there is the music of the season! One is surrounded by incredible beauty, and a group of fine singers and musicians provides the perfect mood for fans who have gathered on the bleachers.

     Carolers dressed in seasonal splendor strolled in from somewhere behind the bleachers and the scene was set. Behind and beside the carolers were the lighted formations. The following musicians entertained us with delightful Christmas music: Robert Gillihan (mandolin, vocals), Mary Gillihan (vocals), Marion Spear (vocals), group leader Pam Setser (guitar, dulcimer, spoons, vocals) Pati Long (vocals), Ron Haynes (guitar, vocals), and Abby Spinks (vocals). Not only was their music wonderful, they also did a masterful job in moving around in darkness and on a damp cavern floor. The singers moved left, then right, then center somewhere under our bleachers delighting us with their music in the acoustically-perfect cavern room.

L to R: Ron Haynes, Pati Long, Pam Setser, Marion Spear, Mary Gillihan, Robert Gillihan, Abby Spinks

     The carolers selected the following songs: Angels We Have Heard on High; Beautiful Star of Bethlehem; Little Drummer Boy; It Came Upon a Midnight Clear; Just an Ordinary Day; Do You Hear What I Hear; O Holy Night; Silent Night; Away in a Manger; Hark! The Herald Angels Sing; Mary, Did You Know; There He Is (solo by Abby Spinks); Joy to the World, God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen; Neighbors (a Charlie Sandage song); 12 Days of Christmas (Ozark style); Let It Snow; Jingle Bells; I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas; Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas; In the Bleak Midwinter; Go Tell It on the Mountain; and Silent Night.

     This writer recommends a weekend in the Ozarks any time you can get away, especially for Caroling in the Caverns. In addition, the Mountain View Area Chamber of Commerce hosts Cupid in the Caverns (Feb. 14-15, 2014) and Celtic in the Caverns (March 15-16, 2014). Shows are generally at 2:30 and 4:30 pm (Central). There are good hotels, motels, and B-and-B's in Mountain View, AR. Splendid restaurants will suit just about every taste.

For more information:
Web: http://www.YourPlaceintheMountains.com
E-mail: mvchamber@mvtel.net
Mountain View Area Chamber of Commerce: Phone (Tickets/Info): 870.269.8068
Toll Free: 888.679.2859

Saturday, November 23, 2013


     Post received from Jubilee Community Arts

"We are mourning the loss of old-time fiddler Charlie Acuff, who passed away today (November 22, 2013) at Asbury Place in Maryville, TN. Charlie came from a Union County (TN) family well known for fiddle music and fiddle making. He learned from his grandfather and began performing publicly in the '30s with his brother Gale, playing regularly on WROL radio in Knoxville, TN.

"Charlie retired from Alcoa Aluminum in 1982 and was able to devote more time to playing and teaching his music. He performed often at the Laurel Theater and was a favorite at the annual Jubilee Festival; he also performed at national festivals such as the Festival of American Fiddle Tunes. In 2005 he received the Tennessee Governor's Heritage award. Charlie's playing will be featured this Sunday evening (November 24, 2013) on our Live at Laurel radio show on WDVX."

Here are two links of interest to Charlie Acuff's many fans.

Knoxville News-Sentinel: web.knoxnews.com/special/songs/acuff.html  Additionally, Clyde Davenport and others are covered in the item called "Songs of Appalachia: Musical Profiles from the Region".

Details of services for Charlie Acuff can be found at the following link:

Pick a tune for Charlie Acuff and the many others who are now in that Angel Band.

The question has naturally arisen: How are Charlie Acuff and Roy Acuff related? They are second cousins, according to Charlie Acuff. Google defines 'second cousin' as 'a child of a first cousin of one's parent'.


Friday, November 15, 2013

Mountain View AR 2013 Fall Bluegrass Festival
at the Ozark Folk Center

Buck White, Pam Setser, Sharon White, Cheryl White, Steve Thomas

Photo courtesy of Vic and Pam Setser

     All right, I confess! I love bluegrass music! And bluegrass gospel inspires me beyond imagination! When bands such as THE WHITES come around, I am going to be there. When Mountain View's own PAM SETSER joins The Whites for "Wayfaring Stranger," you know I am going to be there! Pam Setser performs regularly in and around Mountain View. Be sure to catch her and her friends this holiday season at "Caroling in the Caverns" in Blanchard Springs, AR. You will be delighted with the performers and the beautifully-lighted caverns!

     The Mountain View Bluegrass Association puts on a festival at the Ozark Folk Center in Mountain View, AR, in the fall and spring of each year. For three days, November 7-9, 2013, the Association threw a big bluegrass party for 1,000+ ardent fans, and the fans got their money's worth.
     Starting the night of gospel music were the HARTLEY FAMILY, LONESOME RIDGE, and CODY SHULER & PINE MOUNTAIN RAILROAD. Pine Mountain Railroad performed Over in the Gloryland, Gonna Be Movin', Let's Meet by the River, among others, and they closed with I Bowed on My Knees and Cried Holy. Their instrumental and vocal work were impeccable!

     While this writer had not seen or spoken with The Whites for much too long, she can tell you that 30 years vanished like they were yesterday. BUCK WHITE is legendary in bluegrass and Texas swing music! He ate up the mandolin and tickled the ivories to a fare-thee-well! His harmony with daughters SHARON WHITE, and CHERYL WHITE brought tears! It was splendid! An extra treat was the introduction of local favorite PAM SETSER. Pam said what a treat it was to get to sing and spend time with her friends The Whites. The joy continued with the introduction of the legendary fiddler, STEVE THOMAS. It was a genuine pleasure for everybody in the auditorium.

     The Whites' program consisted of the following gospel songs: There's a Higher Power, The Baptism of Jesse Taylor, I Just Steal Away and Pray, Buck's Run (of course), Dust on the Bible, In the Cross, Follow the Leader, Down Home Waltz (Steve Thomas' instrumental), I've Got a Mansion Just Over the Hilltop, Wayfaring Stranger (great version with Pam Setser), Livin' in the Name of Love, I'm Doin' It by the Book (Buck on piano), It Ain't What You Know But It's Who You Know, Golden Slippers, Keep on the Sunny Side, and they closed their portion of the program with Swing Down Chariot.

     Friday evening brought new and exciting bands for some traditional bluegrass music. VOLUME FIVE is rather new to this writer, but they are one fine band! Headed by Iuka, Mississippi's own  GLEN HARRELL on fiddle and vocals, the band is solid traditional with a twist! Harrell is aided by his terrific band mates, PATTON WAGES (banjo and vocals), CHRIS WILLIAMSON (bass and vocals), HARRY CLARK (mandolin and vocals), and JEFF PARTIN (Dobro[r] and vocals). Look them up online and they will play for you right then and there! Volume Five performed Like a Stone; Sweetheart of Mine; The Lamb, the Lion, and the King; Until I Found the Lord; The Gospel According to Luke (powerful song); King of California; See the Big Man Cry (a Charlie Louvin song); The Thorn Tree Shade; The Rich Man's Daughter; Hickory Holler's Tramp; and a barn-burning version of My Walking Shoes Don't Fit Me Anymore. 

     CODY SHULER & PINE MOUNTAIN RAILROAD have been around for quite a while now, and they've got it down! They're solid with their tight vocals and instrument work. CODY SHULER (mandolin and vocals) is supported ably by BILL McBEE (bass and vocals), MATT FLAKE (fiddle and vocals), and JERRY COLE (guitar and vocals). The guest banjo player for the weekend in Mountain View was world-class artist, TERRY BAUCOM! Solid? Ah, you bet! The band's more traditional bluegrass tunes were When Snow Falls on the Bluegrass; Is This the Part Where You Tell Me Goodbye; Knee-Deep in Bluegrass (Baucom instrumental); Thank God for the Red, White and Blue (tribute to veterans); I Cried Holy to the Lamb; I Don't Worry About You Anymore; Rank Strangers; Cry from the Cross; and their very popular song, Beyond the Rain.

     NOTHIN' FANCY is a bluegrass band that defies description! While their name may imply that they're nothin' fancy, in fact, they are mighty fine! They drew the audience in and didn't turn 'loose! Nothin' Fancy is based in Virginia, and their sound just oozes with influence from Charlie Waller and the Country Gentlemen as well as the Seldom Scene. Leader MIKE ANDES (mandolin and vocals) and his very capable musical friends MITCHELL DAVIS (banjo), JUSTIN TOMLIN (guitar and vocals), CHRIS SEXTON (fiddle), and TONY SHORTER (bass and vocals), are one of the most entertaining bands we have seen in quite a while. To educate yourself, just check out Nothin' Fancy online and read their bio information. You will be astounded! Mike Andes readily admits that he appears to be maybe a hippy escapee from The Farm at Summertown, Tennessee. His long hair and folksy ways are quickly forgotten when he plays and sings. This guy knows his stuff! Then, there's Chris Sexton, whose fiddle reverts to classical violin at a moment's notice. What an entertainer he is! Mitchell, Justin, and Tony all do their special parts in making Nothin' Fancy an exciting band. What about their selection of songs? There's Down by the Waterfall, Thanks a Lot, Take this Hammer, I Remember the Touch of Your Hand (powerful), Fly with the Angels, Mama Done Stepped on the Scales Again, Little Wooden Crosses, Someday We'll Meet Again, A Good Woman's Love, Darby's Castle, Wait a Minute, Two Little Boys, Sea of Heartbreak, Darkness and Dirt, Back on My Mind Again, Orange Blossom Special, and Walk Through this World with Me. 

     THE REDHEAD EXPRESS (four red-headed girls) and their counterparts THE WALKER BOYS (three brothers of the red-headed girls) were delightful and so talented. From Alaska, they were influenced by the band Cherryholmes and they are surely headed for real success! They lack for nothing in vocal and instrumental work! They've got it!

     We regret to say that JUNIOR SISK AND RAMBLERS CHOICE had to perform without this writer. We don't move as fast as we once did, so we beat the crowd of over a thousand out of the auditorium, most of whom clambered for the shuttle buses (knocking people aside in the process) to take them down the steepest of hills to the parking lot. A wonderful bus driver took us right to the car and we made it safely back to our delightful Pinewood Cabins. Thanks, Mr. Bus Driver!

    A couple of things stuck in this writer's mind, and both are fixable: Firstly, the Ozark Folk Center does not recycle plastic or cans. There were mountains of plastic bottles and cans for three straight nights and plenty of trash cans for those items, but the bottles and cans were likely carted off to a landfill somewhere. That's a shame! Secondly, members of a band walked onto the stage carrying a sign while another band was performing. That's distracting and quite inappropriate! It happened in 2012, and it happened again this year. When a band is performing, that is their moment! Other bands should respect that notion, and most do a fine job with it.     

     Gripe session is over...we thought you might enjoy some photos from our weekend in Mountain View, AR. If you haven't been, you need to go soon!

     Special thanks to REDMOND KEISLER and his crew for some very fine sound work during the entire weekend! They know their bluegrass and what it should sound like!

Jimmy Driftwood Barn - Folk Hall of Fame Mountain View AR

Fall of the Year at Pinewood Cabins Mountain View AR

Impromptu Pickin' at Stone Co. Courthouse Mountain View AR

Veterans Wall at Stone County Court House Mountain View AR

Sharon, a fan, Cheryl, and Buck White at Ozark Folk Center

Favorite View from JoJo's Catfish House Mountain View AR

Pick away!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

It's Bluegrass Music
Whether It's in a Palace or in a Hole in the Ground

       Yes indeedy! sometimes the stars line up just right and there's a big bunch of bluegrass music all coming at you at once. Such a week was this!

       Thanks to Stephanie White of the Memphis Public Library; Dr. Jack Cooper of the University of Memphis; Jim Oliver, bluegrass music fan; and John Gay, fine bluegrass singer and mandolin player, for this one!

       The Pink Palace (Memphis home of Clarence Saunders, the late founder of the Piggly Wiggly grocery stores) recently hosted a bluegrass event! Remarkable, you say? For sure! The event involved excerpts from the movie "High Lonesome" followed by a performance by the Memphis bluegrass band, Cypress Creek. Professor Jack Cooper of the University of Memphis narrated the event. Cypress Creek performers talked about the songs in their selection, and we surely hope that there are many more similar events to come.

       That Hole in the Ground? It's Cumberland Caverns at McMinnville, in southern Middle Tennessee near Nashville. For several years, the concept of Bluegrass Underground (literally!) has gained wider and wider (or deeper and deeper) recognition. Bluegrass music stars whos names you would easily recognize have performed there in the perfect acoustic setting. There's even a crystal chandelier in the cave!

       Thanks to Bob Cherry of Cybergrass and Ken Irwin of Rounder Records for some great information and links to YouTube videos about Bluegrass Underground. As with other YouTube subjects, there are many related videos listed to the side of your screen for your listening and viewing enjoyment. Thanks, Bob and Ken! See links below.

Pick away!

*Bluegrass Underground Episodes Begin Airing on PBS This Week

*Bluegrass Underground on NBC News Nightly News with Kevin Tibbles from Cumberland Caverns in McMinnville, TN


Monday, October 7, 2013


Danny Gotham, Maura O'Connell, and Don Johnson at BPACC in Bartlett, TN

Maura O'Connell is still weaving her magic and singing for the fans wherever she goes. She warmly invites an audience to come with her as she reflects on her youth in Ireland and now as a US citizen. This renowned singer from Ennis, County Clare, recently stopped at Bartlett Performing Arts & Conference Center (BPACC) to cast her spell upon the locals, who fell right in with the plan and even sang along at Maura's invitation.

A real artist at what she does, Maura has a legacy of singing first with her family, later with a group of well-known Celts called De Dannan, and more recently as a soloist with a supporting cast of real heavyweights in music such as Jerry Douglas, Bela Fleck, Sam Bush, Edgar Meyer, and Russ Barenberg. On this particular night, Maura was accompanied by guitarist Danny Gotham, and Don Johnson, who worked vocal harmony and bass for the evening. 

Jumping right into the program, Maura began her first set with Paul Brady's "To Be the One," followed by "Spinning Wheel" and "A Far Cry," from her Walls & Windows album. The audience did a little group participation in learning the name Declan O'Rourke, as we had to repeat it several times. O'Rourke's "No Place to Hide" was next, followed by "Blue Train" and "Summer Fly" by the popular singer-songwriter, Cheryl Wheeler. Did I mention that she rocks and sways and dances and even renders a sort of curtsey on occasion? Yes, she does all of that and it all works!

"Love You in the Middle" is the perfect expression for a loving relationship, whether it be with another adult or with your child or children. Maura explained that one might love somebody at the beginning and even at the end; the tougher place might be 'in the middle'. Jenny Ornstein at Vanderbilt University Children's Hospital introduced Maura to that song, and she does a fine job with it.

Part of the magic I mentioned earlier is Maura's rendition of  fellow Irish singer-songwriter Gerry O'Beirne's song, "The Isle of Malachy," which Maura recorded with legendary Dobro(r) player, Jerry Douglas. The first set concluded with "A Poor Man's House" and "Trip Around the Sun".

Returning to the stage after a break, Maura continued a cappella with her captivating and mysterious song "Hay Una Mujer Deseparacida," by the late Laura Nyro, who wrote many songs recognizable by a generation 'of a certain age' (mine). Social consciousness songs make serious statements, and "Hay Una Mujer Deseparacida" dealt with the unpleasant facts of women who have gone missing in Central and South America. Joan Armatrading's "The Weakness in Me" and "I Know My Love," by Mary Black, were delivered with the same deep, throaty passion for which Maura is known.

Maura also performed John Gorka's pool room number, "Blue Chalk," William Butler Yeats' poem "Down by the Salley Gardens," Michael Russell's "The Shades of Gloria," Mary Chapin Carpenter's "It Don't Bring You," and a very current topic in "Trouble in the Fields," Nanci Griffith's song about making it through the tough times. Declan O'Rourke's beautiful "Galileo" was given special treatment, and Maura concluded her performance with Nashville songwriter, Jonell Mosser's "Blessing". Want to hear her sing it again? Here she is at the Station Inn in Nashville, TN, as recorded on YouTube:

You don't want to miss Maura's appearances wherever they may be! Watch her website for more information: www.mauraoconnell.com

Support 'live music of every genre!

Pick away!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Claire Lynch Band Comes to Town

NEWSFLASH! Claire Lynch is the New 2013 
IBMA Female Vocalist of the Year!

When the CLAIRE LYNCH BAND comes to town, it's a very special event! Following a recent extended tour of Europe CLAIRE LYNCH and her bandmates headed for BELLEVUE BAPTIST CHURCH in Memphis, TN, on Sunday, September 15, 2013. Claire has known Bellevue's pastor, STEVE GAINES and his family since the early days of the FRONT PORCH STRING BAND back in Hazel Green, AL.

CLAIRE LYNCH is well-known for her clear-as-a-bell vocals and her strong songwriting expertise. A consistent International Bluegrass Music Association nominee and winner twice (Whoops! Make that three times!) of the Female Vocalist of the Year award, this artist met the challenge of playing an all-gospel show for some folks who may not have known much about bluegrass music before the show. Claire broke them in with her ad-libs and light-hearted banter, along with a fitting selection of gospel and crowd favorite numbers. We think that the large, enthusiastic crowd at the Sunday evening service really enjoyed the Claire Lynch Band!

MATT WINGATE is a wonderful singer and an amazing guitarist and mandolin player. Originally from Alabama, Matt provides smooth vocal harmony and lightning-fast acoustic instrument work. He is also a winner of several awards for his guitar work...like top honors at MerleFest a few years back!

BRYAN McDOWELL, like Matt and Claire is steeped in acoustic bluegrass music. He hails from North Carolina, so the music is in his DNA. Winning three top prizes (all in the same day) at Walnut Valley in Winfield, Kansas, means that he knows his way around the fiddle, the mandolin, and the guitar. As with Matt, he provides smoothly-blended harmony to the band's vocal arrangements.

MARK SCHATZ is one more bass player! Oh my! Is he ever! Very accomplished and widely respected throughout the bluegrass genre, Mark can also tear up an old-time banjo with his clawhammer style of pickin'. Then there's his buck-dancing in those black-and-white wingtip dancin' shoes! Did we mention that Claire Lynch can hold her own in the buck-dancing department? Claire and Mark can cut a rug with some amazing steps that are crowd pleasers! Mark's wonderful vocal harmony work adds a richness to the band's vocal sound.

Here is exactly how the Claire Lynch Band charmed and amazed the Bellevue congregation: Lead Me On, Roll Away the Stone, He Leadeth Me, Paul and Peter Walked, Face to Face, Judas Is My Name, Old Rugged Cross, Katy Hill, Mando/Dance, I Believe in Forever, Children of Abraham, White Train, Birdland (featuring twin mandolins), Your Presence Is My Favorite Gift, I Saw the Light, Hills of Alabam', and their very special version of Wabash Cannonball.

Claire said she wondered if Wabash Cannonball is a gospel tune...she thought about that for a second or two...then she went on to add that "It's gospel to bluegrassers!" She's right about that!

Catch this fine band wherever you can. You will be amazed and delighted with their unique brand of bluegrass music. Check their busy schedule, grab up some of the wonderful CDs by each artist and by the band as a group. It just doesn't get any better than the Claire Lynch Band!

For more information about the Claire Lynch Band:  http://www.clairelynch.com

Pick away!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Who Will Watch the Baileys' Homeplace?
  Nothing much can trigger my memory faster than thoughts of family and home. I mean, it all comes flying back in there in just a second! Today, while e-mailing with a cousin about things that trigger thoughts of family and home, I was transported right back there to childhood. While my grandparents have been gone since the mid-1950's, the memories are very fresh and very precious. I invite you to read my list of random thoughts and then create your own list.
Here is the house and here are some precious memories (how they linger!) of times gone by. It's tough to create such a list of memories without thinking of Laurie Lewis' beautiful song, "Who Will Watch the Homeplace" (Kate Long/Feeny Feemster Music, BMI). Sometimes I can listen to the song all the way through and sometimes it's just too much.
  • Grandmother walking up the front hall to open the door to greet us
  • The door itself, handmade by Granddaddy (I want that door!)
  • The smell of the house--only one other house ever smelled that good (the home of a classmate)
  • Grandmother letting me brush her hair or powder her face (neither of which needed improvement)
  • Early version of a TV (one particular old Ford driving by the house could send the picture into all kinds of lines and static until the car went on down the road)
  • The Bailey rose garden (on the tour for locals on their Sunday afternoon drives)
  • The mud room (Granddaddy had his instructions as to where to go first when coming inside)
  • The heavily-laden dining table with Grandmother's biscuits and home-made pear preserves (with pear slices the size of a biscuit half)
  • The wood-burning stove in the kitchen prior to the electric model
  • The planks from Granddaddy's lumber mill laid end-to-end all the way out back to his garden
  • The noon whistle at Granddaddy's lumber mill that sent everyone home to "dinner" in the middle of the day (the mill whistle could be heard all over town)
  •  The chicken coop and chickens out back ( I still collect blown-glass settin' eggs just to remember)
  •  The small kitchen table covered with a white table cloth after Sunday dinner (great for lifting and peeking in to see what quick snack awaits)
  • The front sidewalk where I learned to skate (skates that clipped onto the sides of my street shoes, requiring my skate key, which I still have)
  • My little flower pot that I made from mud at my grandparents' house (Granddaddy didn't recognize it as a flower pot and broke it up; Grandmother fussed at him)
  • The "little brown building" out back prior to indoor plumbing
  • Running out the front door to the sidewalk near the street to watch the trains go by downtown
  • Some great wicker rockers with their comfortable rocking noises, that I haven't seen anywhere else
  • The corn crib, smoke house, and one-car garage all in one structure (In my grandfather's shed, there were hundreds of tools. . . .)
  • The smell of fresh-cut lumber at the W. H. Bailey Lumber Company (at the edge of my yard, a recently installed telephone pole with creosote in it comes close to that same smell on a hot summer day)
  • On a day when the lumber mill was quiet, Granddaddy would turn on the big shuttle that transported giant logs to the giant saw (which was not running) and let me ride back and forth a few times
The family that resides now in the Bailey homeplace is taking very good care of the house and the grounds around it. They have been so gracious to invite my cousin and me in for a look around. That was a special visit!

Get started on your list. . . .

Pick away!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

George Banjos in "Banjo Newsletter" Review

       What a treat to read about TOM GEORGE and his George Banjos in the August 2013 issue of "Banjo Newsletter" (Vol XL, No. 10). His friends in West Tennessee have known about Tom and his lovely wife, CAROL, for quite a long time. They are favorites around the Memphis Area! Tom is an active participant in the regular Friday night Collierville, TN, Historic Town Square Bluegrass & Old-Time Music Jam when he is not building a banjo.
       The most recent issue of the popular newsletter contained a delightful article written by Dave Cannon. Dave visited the George's antebellum home in Somerville, TN, in order to prepare his article. 
       Tom's new apprentice who joined him in 2007 is another well-known local musician, CHRISTIAN STANFIELD. It is important for younger luthiers like Christian to learn from seasoned veterans. Christian has experience in bluegrass and old-time string band music, and he's added the building process to his skills. 
       Tom George has been about this banjo-building business since the 1960's, when he began  disassembling and reassembling banjos to see how they work. He got around to building his first banjo in 1970.
       Cannon's article displayed photos of Tom George, Christian Stanfield, and several George banjos: a plexiglass, a six-string, the Flour banjo and the Princess banjo. Tom and Christian produce an average of about one banjo per month, and they can build a banjo to suit the customer's particular needs.
       Cedars of Lebanon State Park in Lebanon, TN, is the home of the old-time string band music festival known as "BREAKIN' UP WINTER," which is held annually on the first weekend of March. It was there that Dave Cannon spotted pictures of the plexiglass banjo, and he was fascinated. He was smitten with the look, feel, and sound of the George banjo.
       You may wish to find out more about "Banjo Newsletter," George Banjos, and about "Breakin' Up Winter". See the following links for information.

"Banjo Newsletter": www.banjonews.com
George Banjos:  www.georgebanjos.com
Breakin' Up Winter:  www.nashvilleoldtime.org/BUW

Pick away!
Betty Westmoreland

Monday, August 5, 2013

Bluegrass & Old-Time Music
in Collierville, TN

Pickin' at the Gazebo 8 2 2013
Pickin' by the monument 8 2 2013
Pickin' at the Gazebo 8 2 2013
Almost dark-still pickin' 8 2 2013
       No matter where you are in the towns and counties around Collierville and Shelby County, TN, you're never too far from some great free entertainment!
       The Collierville Historic Town Square Bluegrass & Old-Time Music Jam is a regular Friday night event that kicks off around 6:30-ish PM. Pickers and fans gather at the square from mid-April to mid-October for some great fair-weather jammin' for all skill levels.
#1 Fan: Missy the Bernese Mountain Dog
       From mid-October to mid-April, we are so blessed to be able to go indoors to the Collierville United Methodist Church at 454 W. Poplar (east of Walmart). Join us anytime! No matter where we are, you're welcome to pick or just grin and pat your hands! We're all-acoustic! No amplifiers, please!
County Line Old-Time Jam 8 4 2013
Pickin' at the Gazebo 8 2 2013
       The County Line Old-Time Jam meets on the first Sunday of each month from 2:00 to 4:00 PM at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, 106 Walnut Street, just off the Square and behind Hewlett & Dunn. All skill levels are welcome to attend. Even if you don't play an instrument, you're welcome to come and enjoy the music. The jam is all-acoustic and the no-amplifier policy is strictly enforced. 
       The County Line Old-Time Jam will not meet during the Labor Day weekend. The next County Line jam is scheduled for October 6, 2013.
County Line Old-Time Jam 8 4 2013
County Line Jam 8 4 2013