Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Donna Ulisse & The Poor Mountain Boys
Collins Theatre in Paragould, AR
February 24, 2014
L to R: Jon Martin, Greg Davis, Bill Baldock, Donna Ulisse, Tony King, Rick Stanley
     Donna Ulisse & The Poor Mountain Boys  have been to Paragould, AR, and are now headed back down the road to somewhere else! However, while they were in Paragould, they stopped by Terry's Cafe for a fine meal before their show. Then, they went on up the street to the Collins Theatre to delight fans from all around Northeast Arkansas, Southeast Missouri, and at least one person from Deep West Tennessee. It was Bluegrass Monday hosted by KASU Program Director Marty Scarbrough, and what a Monday it was! 'Delight' doesn't even begin to cover it!
     Donna Ulisse & The Poor Mountain Boys dazzled the audience with their tight vocals, superb instrumental work, and the most delightful stories one could imagine! We need to tell you who these folks are before we get too far along: Singer-songwriter Donna Ulisse heads up the band, sings a powerful song, and plays guitar. She has also assigned names to her band members.
     We shall start with Donna's husband, Rick Stanley, a cousin to that other Stanley named Ralph. We didn't catch Rick's nickname, except that Donna referred to him as 'my sweetheart; and 'my honey'. So, it's Rick "Honey" Stanley who sings harmony and plays guitar.
     Greg "Papaw" Davis is a dear friend to this writer, who has known him since he was a young'un. He sings harmony and wears out a classy-looking banjo. Greg and I realized it had just been too long since we visited ages ago at the Tennessee Gentlemen Bluegrass Shack, so we shared a few moments before the band packed up and left town.
     "Cool Jon" Martin has such a fine touch on the mandolin! He anchors that group of bluegrass musicians just fine with his laid-back and cool demeanor.
     "Mild Bill" Baldock says that he's not exactly "Wild Bill", so "Mild" is more appropriate for this awesome bass player. He sings and keeps the band solidly on the beat.
     Last, but certainly not least, is Tony "Sweet T" (or is it "Sweet Tea"?) King. The man is one seriously fine guitar player. He loved the sweet tea over at Terry's Cafe, too! His licks on the guitar would send everybody home to practice a lot harder.
     Donna Ulisse & The Poor Mountain Boys are some of the finest musicians and singers to be found  anywhere. Separately and collectively, they put out bluegrass music the way it is supposed to sound. The tempo is there, the drive is there, the wonderful story-songs are there, and the band is definitely going places! Donna's voice is amazing! She's been at this singing thing since she was three years old. Her phrasing, her rich and mellow sound, and her range are just meant for bluegrass! We haven't even touched on her songwriting expertise. Whether alone or with other well-known songwriters, Donna comes up with some powerful songs. Her  stories tell about life in the hills of Virginia. She can take the listener right back up there to that little mountain cabin with no back yard and a long downhill front yard.
     The latest CD from Donna Ulisse is "Showin' My Roots", a phrase which women everywhere will understand in another context. Here on the CD, she is explaining through her songs about her beginning and where she is at present. She is an admirer of Loretta Lynn, Tammy Wynette, Dolly Parton, and so many other women who blazed the trail for those who would follow. You will want to hear this band again and again!

Pick away!

For more information:  www.donnaulisse.com  https://twitter.com/DonnaUlisse
and www.facebook.com/donna.ulisse.singer.songwriter

Coming up in 2014 at Bluegrass Mondays at the Collins Theatre in Paragould, AR: Mar. 24 The Bankesters, Apr. 28 Jim Hurst, May 12 Feller & Hill and the Bluegrass Buckaroos, June 23 Arkansas Youth in Bluegrass: Clark Family Trio and Clancey Ferguson and the Ragtags, July 28 The Gold Heart Sisters, Aug. 25 The Harper Family, Sept. 22 Nothin' Fancy, Oct. 27 Apple-Setser (formerly Kirby)-Rounds with special guests Tim Crouch, Tommy Burroughs, and Irl Hees, Nov. 24 The Rigneys ~ No December show due to Christmas holidays.  Information: www.kasu.org
Marquee at the Collins Theatre in Paragould, AR

Sunday, February 16, 2014

NYT Article: "Tony Rice, Guitar Hero"

TR Fans! You won't want to miss "Tony Rice, Guitar Hero," the recent article by Sandra Beasley in the New York Times. I suggest that you go there now and immerse yourself in the life and legend of Tony Rice. See photos and click on music. Then go and practice for a looooooooong time!


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Thursday, February 6, 2014

High Fidelity takes 2014 Band Competition 

     The Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music of America (SPBGMA, headed up by Chuck Stearman of Kirksville, MO) has an annual convention/festival during the first weekend of February at the Nashville (TN) Sheraton Hotel near Nashville International Airport. It's a weekend of intense band competition, intense jammin' everywhere you look, and just a great time for everybody! John Lawless, bluegrass writer-reporter reports the following information sent to us by John Gay:

     "During this past weekend's SPBGMA convention in Nashville, High Fidelity was named the winner of their annual International Band Championship.

     "The band consists of Corrina Rose Logston on fiddle, Jeremy Stephens on guitar, Kurt Stephenson on banjo, Vickie Vaughn on bass, and Daniel Amick on mandolin. Corrina, Jeremy, and Kurt handle the vocals. Logston says that the win validated a pledge they all made, giving it a special meaning for them. [She said] 'I cried like a baby. There were so many good bands in that contest. It was a very emotional experience for me, especially because we had committed to doing all traditional bluegrass. As far as I understand, we were the only group to do that. It means so much that we were able to represent traditional bluegrass and receive this level of recognition. Because to me, it isn't just a win for us--it says, This music is still meaningful. It will always hold the utmost meaning to me.'

     "The complete list of winners follows:

1. High Fidelity
2. Bud's Collective
3. Blue Mafia
4. Jeff Scroggins & Colorado
5. Catahoula Drive
6. A Deeper Shade of Blue
7. Highway 60
8. Flat Rock Road
9. Tennessee Tradition
10. Adam McPeake & Mountain Thunder

Congratulations all!"

Special thanks to John Gay, John Lawless, the members of High Fidelity, and all the other great bands in the Top 10!

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