Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Franklin to Nashville to Oxford to Collierville
Long Round Trip
       The long round trip began in Franklin, TN, with a grand benefit show at the historic Franklin Theatre for "Seeds for the Garden - A Benefit for the Carter Hill Garden Park". This is the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Franklin in the Civil War, also called the "five bloodiest hours of Tennessee history". Seven thousand Confederate soldiers out of 20,000 paid the ultimate price. The Union lost 2,000 men. Just prior to the incredible show, there was dinner with my friends Gloria and Marvin at Puckett's in Franklin. Bloggers must eat sometime!
          The show kicked off with the ensemble consisting of John Cowan, Alison Brown, Garry West, Claire Lynch, Bryan McDowell, Mark Schatz, Jarrod Walker, the group Wisewater (Kate Lee, Jimmy Shirey, Forrest O'Connor), and other first-quality musicians. The tune was a lively rendition of "The Girl I Left Behind Me".
          Following the opening song, the show moved smoothly and rapidly, with each artist doing
          a song. We will try to give you an idea here of how it went:
          First Set
          Claire Lynch Band: Kennesaw Line
          Wisewater: Soldier's Joy
          John Cowan: My Father's Gun
          Alison Brown Band: Medley of Stephen Foster Songs - Oh Susannah, My Old Kentucky 
             Home, and Angelina Baker
          Claire Lynch Band: Dear Sister, IBMA's 2014 "Song of the Year"
          Alison Brown Band: Tune with Civil War photo video onscreen
          Wisewater: Civil War Tune about a mother and her newborn baby
          Claire Lynch Band: Missionary Ridge
          Alison Brown Band with John Cowan and Claire Lynch: American Trilogy - Dixie,
             Battle Hymn of the Republic, and All My Trials Lord
          Ensemble: The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down (powerful!)
          Second Set (Music other than bluegrass)
          Alison Brown Band: Under the 5-Wire
          Wisewater: Call It a Night
          Claire Lynch Band: Snow Day and I'll Be All Right Tomorrow
          Alison Brown, Mark Schatz, fiddler: Shake and Howdy
          Wisewater: Coming Home
          John Cowan: Miss the Mississippi and You (popularized 1937 by Jimmie Rodgers)
          Alison Brown Band: The Wonderful Sea Voyage of Holy St. Brendan (voyage made
             1,500 years ago by Irish monk called Brendan; photo video of travels in rough seas)
          Children Hannah and Brendan: Described by Alison Brown as their 'road managers,'
             danced to Are You from Dixie?
          Claire Lynch Band with Alison Brown and John Cowan: From Lynch's
             "Moonlighter" album: Thibodeaux
          John Cowan with the ensemble: Callin' Baton Rouge (really fine!)
          Our next two stops were in Nashville, TN, at Parnassus Books on Saturday, November 15, 2014, about a mile from this writer's home place in Nashville, and on to Oxford, MS, at Off Square Books on Monday, November 17, where Southern author Rick Bragg regaled his loyal fans with stories about his experience in preparing his latest book, Jerry Lee Lewis: His Own Story. The book is available at bookstores everywhere and the usual online outlets. Bragg himself is entertaining enough, because he has traveled many of the same trails as has Jerry Lee Lewis. One story that Rick shared was about interviewing Lewis in his Nesbit, MS, home. Rick was greeted by a pack of dogs, then by a pack of Chihuahuas. (pause for you to visualize that scene) One Chihuahua, named Topaz, Jr., bit Rick Bragg! The author knew that this wasn't your average interview. He observed bullet holes in the walls and in the chifferobe in "the Killer's" bedroom. The .357 magnum was under Jerry Lee's pillow. Bragg interviewed Jerry Lee while the singer was in bed and in rather poor health. Bragg mentioned to the Parnassus audience that Jerry Lee was in pajama bottoms with little pianos in the design. Rick Bragg would have you to know that "Jerry Lee Lewis ain't like normal people." Jerry Lee Lewis would have you to know that "other people just wish they coulda done what I done!"
          You will have to read Jerry Lee Lewis: His Own Story to fill in the missing pieces of "the Killer's" life and troubled times, and there are a lot of missing pieces. The reading/signing at Off Square Books in Oxford, MS, went much the same way as it did at Parnassus in Nashville: Rick Bragg read a couple of short passages from the book, took questions and comments from audience members, and then signed books for a long time at each location. He stood for pictures and listened to others' stories about encounters with Jerry Lee Lewis. Despite his admission that he is not a patient man, Bragg showed mountains of patience for everyone who wanted a book signed or a photo.
          We shall close by saying that our beautiful town of Collierville, TN, with Parade Magazine's 2014 Best Main Street in America, will have to go some distance yet to compete with events at the Franklin Theatre, Parnassus Books and Off Square Books. It was a thrilling three days!
For more information:
Next read/sign event for Rick Bragg: December 6, 2014, at Booksellers at Laurelwood, Memphis, TN
Parnassus Books www.parnassusbooks.net
Square Books and Off Square Books www.squarebooks.com/square-books
Rick Bragg speaking to fans at Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN, Nov. 15, 2014

"Bear," the Parnassus Books official dog, Nov. 15, 2014

Betty with Rick Bragg at Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN, Nov. 15, 2014

Rick Bragg at Off Square Books, Oxford, MS, Nov. 17, 2014

Rick Bragg at Off Square Books, Oxford, MS, Nov. 17, 2014

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Rest in Peace
Loyce Crain Williams
September 7, 1938 - November 4, 2014
The Memphis area bluegrass music community is sad to learn of the passing of our friend Loyce Crain Williams (known to us as Loyce Smith). Loyce was a tireless worker for the Lucy Opry and bluegrass music in this region. She was the smiling lady at the ticket table at BPACC when there were Lucy Opry events held there. She was also dedicated to the Humane Society and its Spay/Neuter program.
She is survived by her two daughters, seven grandchildren, and 14 great-grandchildren. A talented pianist, Loyce enjoyed playing for her church.
Funeral services are / were Saturday, November 8, 2014, at 1:00 PM, at Memphis Funeral Home and Memorial Gardens at 3700 N. Germantown Road. In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to your local animal shelter. Online condolences may be made to www.memphisfuneralhome.net.
May Loyce rest in peace and may her family be comforted by their faith and their love for her and for each other.
Pick a tune in memory of Loyce!
Betty Westmoreland
Co-Founder, Collierville Historic Town Square Bluegrass & Old-Time Music Jam

Saturday, November 1, 2014

October 27, 2014
Apple, Kirby & Rounds with Friends
Tim Crouch, Tommy Burroughs, Irl Hees, and Kenny Loggains
The Collins Theatre ~ Paragould, AR
L to R: Tim Crouch, Brad Apple, Irl Hees, Pam Setser, Gary Rounds, Tommy Burroughs
and behind Gary is Kenny Loggains

       It is always a treat to attend Bluegrass Monday (4th Monday) at the beautiful Collins Theatre in Paragould, AR. The event is sponsored by KASU-FM 91.9 on the campus of Arkansas State University in Jonesboro, along with other local sponsors. KASU Program Director Marty Scarbrough serves as Master of Ceremonies for the outstanding bluegrass music events, and the house is usually packed full of enthusiastic fans.
          Local and regional favorites, Apple, Setser, and Rounds recently gathered some special friends to join them for a rare and outstanding performance at Bluegrass Monday on October 27, 2014. Brad Apple headed the project of gathering the band members and their friends. Brad is an Arkansas native who handles mandolin, guitar and bass with ease. He is a third-generation musician who began performing at an early age, and he has appeared on WoodSongs Old Time Radio Hour in addition to many performances in Arkansas and Memphis, TN. He is also a recording engineer with his own studio and with Raney Recording Studio in Drasco, AR.
          Pam Setser is another Arkansas native who started performing when she was quite young with her family's band, the Simmons Family Band. Pam served as lead female singer of "The Country Music Story" stage show in Hot Springs, AR. She was second runner-up in the national finals of the Wrangler Country Showdown talent competition. In addition to her performances with Apple, Setser, and Rounds, Pam performs with the Leatherwoods at the Ozark Folk Center in Mountain View, AR. Pam's credentials also include Louisiana Hayride on radio, and television shows such as You Can Be A Star, Nashville Now, Hee Haw, and the Tonight Show.
          Arkansas native Gary Rounds is known for his incredibly smooth and soulful vocal styling. Gary has performed on the syndicated radio program "At Home in the Country". With at least one CD to his credit, Gary Rounds' vocal and guitar styles range from folk to bluegrass to pop hits. He can sing songs the way they were meant to be sung. His voice sends chills down the spines of his many fans.
          Guest performer Tim Crouch from Strawberry, AR, brought his amazing fiddle style to the stage at Bluegrass Monday. The five-time winner of the Arkansas state fiddle championship has also won the national fiddle championship twice! The list of artists on whose recordings he has appeared reads like a Who's Who in country and bluegrass music: Vince Gill, George Jones, Bill Monroe, Glen Campbell, Dailey and Vincent, Chet Atkins, Jerry Reed, Charlie Daniels, Dierks Bentley and the Oak Ridge Boys. Tim also serves as the staff fiddler for the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, TN. Perhaps you have seen Tim Crouch on Late Night with David Letterman, Hee Haw, Austin City Limits, and Conan O'Brien.
         Tommy Burroughs is another talented guest whom Brad Apple brought along. Tommy is from Memphis, TN, and his bluegrass roots go deep. He is the son of one of the original Tennessee Gentlemen, guitarist/vocalist Willie Burroughs. Tommy is extremely proficient on mandolin, guitar, and fiddle. Restless Heart and Martina McBride have recorded some of Tommy's songs. He is a seven-time winner of the Premier String Player award presented by the Memphis chapter of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS).
          Irl Hees is the bassist of all bass players. The Missouri native has performed with Rhonda Vincent & the Rage, the Lonesome River Band, and Cedar Hill. Irl currently appears with the amazing comedy bluegrass group known as The Cleverlys. Hard-driving slap bass has fans running to YouTube to hear "Darcy Farrow," "Amazing Grace," or "Working on a Building" like they've never heard those songs before. Irl Hees will knock your socks off!
          Kenny Loggains resides in Arkansas, and he is the supreme guest percussionist, because he doesn't dominate the subtle nuances of bluegrass music. He often performs with Bucksnort Hill from Bono, AR.
          Here is the music chosen by these talented artists for Bluegrass Monday -- SET ONE: Dear Old Pal, Ozark Hills, Julianne, Wheel Hoss, Green Light on the Southern, Across the Great Divide, Uncle Pen, Darcy Farrow, Old Dangerfield, Tennessee Waltz, Black Mountain Rag (with local clogger Alex Prince), I'd Rather Died Young Than Live Without You (Magnolia Wind), Gone at Last. SET TWO: Sally Goodin, Eight More Miles to Louisville, Walkaway Joe, On and On, Milk Cow Blues, Fire on the Mountain, I Know Love Is All I Need, Crooked Ridge, Rose in a Spanish Garden (Last Letter Home), Sweet Georgia Brown, More Pretty Girls Than One, Midnight Moonlight, From a Distance, Take a Load Off Fanny/Annie (The Weight), Mandolin Fiesta, Amazing Grace, Orange Blossom Special, and two encores: Sweet Dreams and Lady Be Good.
Thanks to Marty Scarbrough and KASU-FM for the biographical information on the artists.
For additional information:
KASU-FM 91.9 with Marty Scarbrough in Jonesboro, AR, replayed the Apple, Kirby, and Rounds with Friends show from the Collins Theatre on radio Sunday, November 2, 2014, at 12:30 PM CST. (www.kasu.org) Catch any of the Bluegrass Monday shows on radio or online on the Sunday following a performance!
The Collins Theatre: 120 West Emerson St., Paragould, AR
Terry's CafĂ©: 201 South Pruett, Paragould, AR. Delicious Catfish Buffet served on "Bluegrass  Mondays" -- Opens 4:30 PM and serves 'til close at 6:45 PM
Bluegrass Monday on Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/BluegrassMonday
Pick away!