Thursday, December 27, 2018

The Joni Bishop Trifecta
The Sojourners' House Concert  
December 21, 2018
Welcome to the Sojourners' home

       It was a night like no other! We call it The JONI BISHOP Trifecta! You see, there was Joni with her annual house concert visit to the Sojourners' home. It was also the Winter Solstice (the shortest day of the year). Furthermore, there was the most gorgeous full moon awaiting us when we departed that splendid, frosty evening out in the country. Ta-dah! The Joni Bishop Trifecta!
     The night represented probably fifteen such events with RICHARD and MARY SOJOURNER as hosts like no other. They spared no expense with food, libations, decorations, and so many friends that it was hard to count them all. Special thanks go out to the Sojourners for a splendid house concert.
Joni on mountain dulcimer

Richard Sojourner introduces
Joni Bishop on guitar
After Richard welcomed the guests and introduced Joni Bishop, we were set for just the finest evening. If you don't know Joni, you need to. This Nashville singer-songwriter has a million songs (including Delta Blues), she plays anything with a string (drums, too, that have no strings), and she's an artist as well. She makes instruments, strings them, and plays her music on them. She shares stories about dulcimers that she's made, cigar-box banjos that began life as Ford hubcaps, and even instruments she has brought home from a Goodwill Store. Her home-made instruments and other painted objects travel with her and they are for sale! Joni also has a nice selection of CDs that capture the mood of the Christmas season and all other seasons, too.
Joni and her Ford hubcap banjo
Bells on Joni's boot
Jingle My Bells
 These house concerts follow a general pattern: The guests gather, they begin to visit and graze around the bounteous tables, Joni tunes instruments and chats with fans she hasn't seen since last year about this time, Richard steps to the microphone to welcome the guests and introduce Joni Bishop, and we're off! Joni's warm voice and easy manner put everyone in a holiday mood. She talks a little about where she got this song, or what inspired her to write that one, and she takes requests throughout the evening. We all have our favorites. Ours is John McCutcheon's "Christmas in the Trenches," about a special 'silent night' during World War I.
Mom and daughter share a moment
       We are sharing some photos and will tell you what we heard from Joni on the Winter Solstice of 2018:
       Set 1 - Little Drummer Boy; Endless Christmas; We Three Kings (mountain dulcimer); Froggy Went A-Courtin'; God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen/Soul Cake (in counterpoint with guests singing God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen and Joni singing Soul Cake); Amazing Grace; The Road to Bethlehem; Toys; Go Tell It on the Mountain; Some Children See Him; Santa's Workshop; and Wayfarin' Stranger.
       Set 2 - When God Made You; Winter Wonderland; Christmas in the Trenches; Grandma's Garden; Mary, Did You Know; What Child Is This; It's Gonna Be All Right; The First Noel; Stone by Stone (another of our favorites, Joni wrote it for her dad); I'll Fly Away; and Silent Night (guests sang in English and Joni sang in her family's native language, Latvian). 
Additional Information:, Facebook and other social media
Click on each picture to get a better look.

Friday, December 7, 2018

December 1, 2018
     The world keeps turning and the years keep flying by. Maybe you've noticed that. Given that information, we thought we should head out to Mountain View, AR, and the even smaller community of Fifty-Six, AR, in the Ozark Mountains. The day began in dreary, stormy conditions. We waited but hit the soggy trail when the skies began to lift. And lift they did! To a blazing sun and high winds! It's over 200 miles from where we sit, but when Caroling in the Caverns is in the plans, nothing could keep us away.
       The Mountain View Area Chamber of Commerce provides the grandest introduction to the Christmas season. They decorate their town square, provide carolers and dancers for the chilly night at the courthouse, and arrange for the Visitor's Center at Blanchard Springs to provide caroling in the wonderful caverns at Blanchard Springs in tiny Fifty-Six, AR. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, there is caroling each Saturday and Sunday.
Visitor's Center Blanchard Springs, AR

       This year, the last opportunity to hear the music is Sunday, December 16, 2018. You will need tickets, so if they aren't sold out, grab tickets and head on over for the treat of a lifetime. Enter the visitor's center, show your tickets, pick up a seat cushion (damp in the cave), and wait for the elevator to take you down about 215 feet to the beautifully-lighted caverns below. You sit in the stands on your cushion and gaze at God's handiwork of some 50 million years or so, and await the carolers who have selected wonderful songs of the season. No flash photos, please. We have a cave to preserve here!
View of cavern from the stands
View of cavern, different angle
As you leave the visitor's center, you will need to walk on a shallow pad of water, Lysol(r), and Woolite(r). That recipe cleans off the soles of your shoes in an effort to prevent white-nose syndrome in bats. The
 cave is free of the deadly bat syndrome , and they are trying to keep it clean and the bats healthy. So squish along and head out to the parking lot with your memories, your family and friends.
       When the stands are filled, the carolers enter from behind your seating. This year's carolers are: Pam Setser (dulcimer, guitar, spoons, vocals), Mary Gillihan (comedy, vocals), Robert Gillihan (guitar, mandolin, vocals), Ron Haines (guitar, vocals), Matt Jones (vocals), and Irl Hees (upright bass, vocals). We thank them for their giving spirit as they share their season with us.
2017 Photo of the Carolers
L to R: Irl Hees, Unidentified Photo Bomber, Ron Haines,
Matt Jones, Pam Setser, Mary Gillihan, Robert Gillihan
        This year's set: Hallelujah He Is Born, Joy to the World, Christmas Is a Blessing (Thank You Lord for Christmas Day), Jesus Shall Be His Name (Ron, Pam), Do You Hear What I Hear?, New Kid in Town (Pam), Hark! The Herald Angels Sing, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, Mary Did You Know?, O Holy Night (Matt Jones from somewhere deep in the cavern), I'll Be Home With Bells On, Mr. Grinch (Ron and Pam), Jolly Old St. Nicholas (Mary and Robert), Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree, Deck the Halls, I'll Be Home for Christmas (Pam), Ozark Version of The Twelve Days of Christmas (hilarious!), Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, White Christmas (Pam, Mary), and Silent Night.
View of the river from JoJo's Catfish Wharf
JoJo's Catfish Wharf  Oh my!!
       Sponsors of Caroling in the Caverns are: Mountain View Area Chamber of Commerce, Centennial Bank, JoJo's Catfish Wharf, and Mountain Thyme Mercantile. We thank them for their generous gift of music each year at the holidays.
       We are predictable if anything, so we must hit PJ's Rainbow Café on the town square at least once (or maybe twice!), go to Caroling in the Caverns, drive out to JoJo's for a fine mess of catfish, and finally head on home with a sackload of Christmas memories to last us for another year.
For more information:
Mountain View Area Chamber of Commerce: Phone (Tickets/Info) 870.269.8068
                                                                          Toll Free: 888.679.2859

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Paragould, AR, November 26, 2018
The marquee at the Collins Theatre
Host Marty Scarbrough intro's High Fidelity
The crowd came early! Lots of fans filled the legendary Collins Theatre to see HIGH FIDELITY at KASU 91.9 FM's "Bluegrass Monday". The band has taken on popularity like nothing you ever saw. This fine band reaches 'way on back to what serious bluegrass music fans love . . . that is bluegrass pure and simple. It's not dolled up, or stretched in other directions. It's recognizable and right on the money! High Fidelity has signed with Rebel Records and produced a couple of great CDs. Their newest is Hills and Home, and "Bluegrass Unlimited," "Bluegrass Today," and other rating/reviewing locations give Hills and Home some very high marks. The band takes its cues from the 1950's and '60's, so purists will be sure to be pleased. They captured the 2014 SPBGMA (Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music of America) International Band Competition after putting together a practice backstage a few minutes before they appeared. That tells the listener how really good High Fidelity really is. The band provides a good mix of great old bluegrass and bluegrass gospel tunes from 'way back when. Their show is top quality all the way!
     KURT STEPHENSON plays banjo and sings in the band. He is a 2010 winner of the coveted top banjo prize out in Winfield, KS. This graduate of Arkansas State University calls West Tennessee home. You may remember his appearances with the band Stone County Connection. Kurt's wife ANDREA STEPHENSON appeared on guitar several time in support of the band when Jeremy Stephens played twin banjos with Kurt. Andrea is a fine musician.
     JEREMY STEPHENS plays guitar and banjo and also sings in the band. A man with rich experience in bluegrass music, Jeremy performed for several years with the Chuck Wagon Gang; he's even appeared on Ray Stevens' Nashville show and performed with Jesse McReynolds and Kody Norris. We can tell that he's excited to play bluegrass . . . he jumps and dances around and seems to really enjoy what he does.
     CORRINA ROSE LOGSTON plays fiddle and sings in High Fidelity. Her strong voice and personality reaches out all over the room. She knows her way around the music we love, as she has performed with Jesse McReynolds and the Virginia Boys, David Peterson and 1946, and Chris Henry and the Hardcore Grass. She is also a songwriter and has produced two solo CD projects. Corrina is Jeremy Stephens' wife, so this is a kind of two-family band.
     VICKIE VAUGHN plays upright bass and sings in the band. While she stands behind the band, she takes the backseat to nobody! Her bright smile, powerful voice, and solid bass work lend that extra something to the group. Her very own band is the Vickie Vaughn Band, and you can see them at the Collins Theatre on August 26, 2019. Vickie performs backup vocals for Patty Loveless and is a former member of the Valerie Smith Band.
     Here are the selections the band performed for their concert:
     Set 1  Another Day, My Saviour's Train, Weep and Cry, Soppin' the (Red-Eye) Gravy, I've Changed My Mind, Ain't Gonna Work Tomorrow, I'm Happy to Know, The Darkest Hour Is Just Before Dawn, Gotta Get You Near Me Blues, Follow the Leader (twin banjos), I Know You're Married but I Love You Still, I Would Not Be Denied, Kneel at the Cross, and The Cry from the Cross
     Set 2  The Hills and Home, The Leaf of Love, Grey Eagle (Corrina), He's Passing This Way, I See a Bright Light Shining (Kurt), My Empty Arms (twin banjos), Remington Ride (Kurt won Winfield with that one!), After the Sunrise (1940, The Chuck Wagon Gang), Christmas Time's A-Comin', Sunny Side of the Mountain (Vickie), My Mother's White Rose (from Charlie Monroe), Foggy Mountain Top (Corrina), Will the Circle Be Unbroken (original version), Feuding (not Dueling) Banjos (original version by Don Reno), and the encore was Ain't Got Time. Dandy show from High Fidelity!
For more information:

Corrina, Vickie, Jeremy, Kurt
Corrina Rose Logston
Jeremy, Kurt, Feudin' Banjos

Vickie Vaughn
Jeremy Stephens

 Kurt Stephenson
Andrea Stephenson

Friends: Banjo Player Mike McKnight
Sons Michael and Jackson
Mike's Dad, Sims McKnight
Andrea, Corrina, Vickie, Jeremy, Kurt
Next Bluegrass Monday at the Collins Theatre, 120 W. Emerson, in Paragould, AR, is January 28, 2019, with MONROE CROSSING, Minnesota Music Hall of Fame band. NOTE: The band will soon be taking a break from their rigorous schedule, so don't miss the January show!
Be sure to eat dinner at TERRY'S CAFE, 201 S. Pruett in Paragould, on Bluegrass Monday nights. They open at 4:30p with a delicious catfish buffet for the bluegrass fans! It's a short walk from Terry's Café to the Collins Theatre.
KASU 91.9 FM is located on the campus of Arkansas State University, Jonesboro. Listen at 91.9 FM or online at The station provides fine programming with DJ Marty Scarbrough and others. Catch Sunday programs which are filled with bluegrass, gospel, and other great music.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Olive Branch, MS, Workshop
November 3, 2018
Jim Hurst workshop
Olive Branch, TN
Jim Hurst at the Quonset
Collierville, TN
GUITARISTS, and even aspiring ones, are presented here with scales and scale patterns for daily use to improve your skills. Jim Hurst, one of the best guitarists around, recently gave a lovely performance followed by a hands-on and useful workshop at the home of Len and Susan Lawhon. During the workshop Jim demonstrated, repeated the demonstrations, and provided players with a worksheet that explains his techniques for keeping the mind and fingers in shape. See the worksheet below. Click on the photo to enlarge.
     Jim's material presented here comes from and the area called 'Scales' at that website.
     We thank the Lawhons and Jim Hurst for the performance and the workshop on a beautiful fall afternoon out in the country.
     Now, get on those scales and scale patterns to become a better player. There's always room for improvement.
     For more information: and
     Pick away!

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Collierville, TN
                                                     November 1, 2018
     THE QUONSET IN COLLIERVILLE, just off the Historic Town Square on South Main Street, once the home of the manufacture of the child's rocking horse called The Wonder Horse, has had a complete makeover and is now a lovely hall for meetings, receptions, and even musical groups.
     On November 1, 2018, the Quonset hosted violinist-vocalist Alice Hasen and her band with Carlos Gonzalez (guitar) and Walt Busby (bass and vocals). We look forward to seeing and hearing them again soon.
     The trio's set was as follows:  Wonderful Fall, Queen, Spider J, Brendan's Jam, Memphis Sand, and an amazing solo fiddle version of Amazing Grace. Alice fiddled the hairs right off that bow!
     Jim Hurst followed Alice and her band. He is known all over the world as a guitarist-singer-songwriter who defies description. He sits in the rare air of the best guitarists one can find anywhere. Hurst has played in bands that you well know, and with artists like Trisha Yearwood, Missy Raines, and Claire Lynch. He even heads up the JHT (Jim Hurst Trio), and their work is also tops! There's Jim and then there's most everybody else. What he does on guitar astounds his audiences. It is hard to imagine, but there is one other world-class guitarist who stumps him: Jerry Reed! Jerry had his goofy songs, but when it came to guitar work, he was one among many. Jim Hurst confessed recently that he still hasn't figured out some of Jerry Reed's finger work on guitar. We have noticed that Jim's vocals and the tuning on his Gallagher Guitar and perfectly in sync. The result is a comfortable, warm and mellow, very listenable sound. Jim's not at all 'preachy,' but he gives his Lord the credit for what he has accomplished in this life.
     Jim Hurst's program for the evening was as follows:  You're the Reason Why, I Picked the Wildwood Flower, Cold Hard Business, Through the Country, Vaya Con Dios, The Preacher and the Bear, Deep River Blues, Underneath That Golden Moon (using what Jim calls The Carter Scratch; his mother wrote it in 1963 and collected a whopping $44.50 from BMI), This Waltz Is for You (by the JHT; from Mom to Jim and then from Jim to Mom), Swamp Reed, Papa's Knee, Wheel Hoss, Not the Man I Was, You Got a Lock on Me, and Same Old Moon.
      Find Jim Hurst on Facebook or at his website: E-mail  He has selections that you can download for free. He has CDs, too.
     Watch for Jim in "Bluegrass and Beyond" in Nashville, TN, on November 10, 2018, at 12:30p CT at the Country Music Hall of Fame.
     We appreciate Len and Susan Lawhon for arranging the activities for Alice Hasen and Jim Hurst at the Quonset. Furthermore, Len snagged Jim for a fine two-day workshop in Olive Branch, MS. Jim worked with a small group on guitar technique and also on vocal harmony. Thanks, Len, Susan, Jim,  Alice, and each attendee for your hard work! Special thanks for including this writer in the weekend's activities!
NOVEMBER 2-3, 2018  


Friday, November 2, 2018

Memphis, TN
November 1, 2018 
Updated March 14, 2019 (pi day...3.14)
THE AMAZING PROJECT has been in the planning for several years. A courtyard in a space that had been dubbed a sort of wasteland or even "the prison yard," was taken over, with approval by the Shelby County Schools and White Station High School, by a team of foresighted graduates, designers, artists, and builders, to invest big bucks to beautify the space and make it useful to the school and the community. Done! These photos will show what coming together and working together can accomplish! Hats off and a big round of applause to all who were involved in this amazing effort which ended with the ribbon-cutting on a chilly, misty November 1, 2018. There are at least two more phases yet to come, which involve upgrades and a STEM program for the school. The courtyard is appropriately dedicated to the long-time principal, Rush W. Siler, and to the long-time baseball coach and teacher, George Holt. Look closely at the pictures and see if you can find someone who looks remarkably like Mr. Siler! Hint: Pictures 3, 5, and 8.
Here are some photos from the ribbon-cutting ceremony. ONWARD SPARTANS!