Monday, February 5, 2018


Mom and Dad's AM Radio from Yesteryear set on WSM 650
Barely visible on the bottom left panel is RCA Victor.
The little light that lights the dial still works!
      "TURN YOUR RADIO ON" (with apologies to Albert E. Brumley for borrowing his inspiring song, and with further apologies to folks who covered the song through the years, like John Hartford, Ray Stevens, the Statler Brothers, and more.), or maybe "TURN YOUR COMPUTER ON" to catch some great bluegrass  from right out of Bell Buckle, Tennessee.
     You do know where Bell Buckle is, don't you? Does the Webb School ring a bell? Or the Moon Pie Festival? We Southerners know that a Moon Pie is mighty good eatin', especially when paired with a cold Royal Crown Cola ("RC" to us). That's a Southern snack that is sure to please, especially if you can find an RC these days.
     But, we digress...We are here to proclaim the merits of BELL BUCKLE RADIO and VALERIE SMITH, bluegrass artist from right here in Tennessee. Here is how to find Bell Buckle Radio and also Valerie Smith on your computer: and 
Can you spot the Big Horn Sheep we saw in Glacier National Park?
     Valerie has rounded up some great bluegrass DJ's and folks who have their own internet shows and she's got a lineup all day long and all week long that's sure to please. It's 24/7 and hosted on Live365. Just go online and start listening to some of your favorite bluegrass music. We had to turn it off to do this blog, but we're headed back to Bell Buckle Radio soon's we're done here! Check for schedule and time changes periodically. All times shown are Central Time.
     *Valerie Smith "Choice Cuts" Sun-Sat 9:00 AM
     *J.Gregory Heinike and Tori Taff "Bell Buckle Confidential" Tue/Wed 1:00 PM
     *Bill Foster "Foster's Corner" Mon-Sat 7:00 PM
     *Bob Mitchell "Best of Bluegrass" Mon/Thur 9:00 AM and Fri/Sat 3:00 PM
     *Jay Armsworthy "Bluegrass on the Bay" Mon/Wed 3:00 PM
     *Lisa Kay Howard-Hughes "Old Home Place" Tues 6:00 PM and Sat 10:00 AM
     *Cindy Brooks Baucom "Knee-Deep in Bluegrass" Mon and Thurs 5:00 PM
     *Billy Dunbar "Country Unplugged" Thur/Fri/Sat 1:00 PM
     *Jerry Eischer "Old Hippie Bluegrass" Tue/Wed 9:00 AM
     *Michael Johnathon "Woodsongs" Sun/Tue 3:00 PM
     There is good bluegrass going most all the time. You just need to know where to look!

Friday, February 2, 2018

January 22, 2018
Marquee at The Collins Theatre announcing the Guest Band
     AMONG BLUEGRASS MUSIC FANS, the name 'CEDAR HILL' is really all you need to say. Immediately, one knows to expect a world of experience and top-quality music from the steady hand of mandolinist/vocalist FRANK RAY, who has been at this game for a mere 50 years or so, and his very capable band mates! Our friendship with this fine musician and gentleman goes back at least 30 years. We are always glad to see the band's name listed on festival and flyer schedules. Despite the contentious national political climate of the moment, there is Cedar Hill from Missouri to calm things down and provide good ol' bluegrass music that actually sounds like good ol' bluegrass music. Missouri has produced top bluegrass and folk music artists throughout the years.
Frank Ray
Pete Brown, Patti LaFleur, Frank Ray, Dan Stokely, Jim Bunch
      Frank Ray has gathered some wonderful musicians who have been with him for quite a while. That says a lot right there. JIM BUNCH provides banjo and vocals Jim has been with the band for several years,. DAN STOKELY has been with Cedar Hill about two and a half years. Dan provides guitar and vocal work. PATTI LaFLEUR adds the all-important bass work and vocals. She has been with the band for quite a while. PETE BROWN is the fiddle player with that special expertise that brings smiles wherever he goes. Each member of the band is a joy to watch, and together they provide total entertainment for bluegrass fans throughout the South, the Midwest, Canada, the UK, Ireland, and wherever they go.
Frank Ray, Dan Stokely, Jim Bunch
Pete Brown, Patti LaFleur, Frank Ray
     Here are the selections from Cedar Hill:  SET 1: Katy Hill (a toe-tapper for sure!), Heartaches and Teardrops, Pearl, I Got a Thing about Doors, Hobo's Wings, I Beg to You, Clinch Mountain Backstep (Jim on banjo), 'Til the End of the World Rolls 'Round (Pete on fiddle), You Won't Be Satisfied That Way (a Bill Monroe tune),  and Dusty Miller.
SET 2: Broke Heart for Real, Cool Wind, Peter You're the Man, Echo Mountain (Welsh legend, or maybe true, as Gelert the brave dog is buried in a cemetery in Wales), For Me It's Hello, Me and My Fiddle (Pete on 8-string fiddle), Strings and Things (Dedicated to the memory of Wooten Brothers Roger and Bobby, of Center Ridge, AR. What a fine festival Mr. Roy Wooten and his children had for many years!), Mary O'Grady (name merely came from a phone book in Ontario, Canada), White House Blues (a Bill Monroe tune), Sally Goodin, and The Prison Song.
     Special thanks to Frank Ray and Cedar Hill for playing Echo Mountain for this writer, who sheds tears even as she thinks about the song.
     Cedar Hill came to us via BLUEGRASS MONDAY (4th Monday each month) courtesy of the Collins Theatre (120 W. Emerson), KASU 91.9 FM on the campus of Arkansas State University in Jonesboro, AR, several local business sponsors, and host/DJ MARTY SCARBROUGH. Learn more at or by contacting Marty Scarbrough ( Catch a concert soon and be sure to check out the pre-concert Bluegrass Monday buffet at Terry's CafĂ©, 201 S. Pruett, just down the street from the theatre. It's mighty fine!
For more information:
Cedar Hill and several selections on YouTube
2/26  Donna Ulisse & the Poor Mountain Boys
3/26  Breaking Grass
4/23  The Po' Ramblin' Boys
5/21  The Trinity River Band
6/25  TBA
7/23  The Kody Norris Show
8/27  The Baker Family
9/24  TBA
10/22  The Tennessee Mafia Jug Band
11/26  High Fidelity
No December show due to Christmas holidays

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Guest Artist Sierra Hull
Germantown Performing Arts Center
January 13, 2018
L to R: Maggie O'Connor, Mark O'Connor, Jeff Saunders, Sierra Hull
Forrest O'Connor, Ethan Jodziewicz,, Joe Smart, Kate O'Connor
     BLUEGRASS, FOLK, and AMERICANA MUSIC fans will strike out in just about any weather conditions to see and hear their heroes. Such was the case with us as we inched our way on ice to and from Germantown Performing Arts Center (GPAC) in Germantown, TN. Snow and ice, along with bitter cold winds, had struck West Tennessee, but we would not be denied. Here were some of the very best in the business, and we risked life and limb to be there.
Sierra Hull and Ethan Jodziewicz
     SIERRA HULL was the first to appear on this cold evening. The Byrdstown, TN, native served as the warm-up band, but she is no warm-up artist. The diminutive mandolin player stands tall among other mandolin artists. Bass player ETHAN JODZIEWICZ, who accompanied Sierra, is every bit as amazing. The two artists provided a seamless set and kept the audience spellbound. We can only take a stab at song titles, because the selections either were not introduced or we could not understand the titles. Apologies to the artists and to you the reader as we stumble through the list of songs: North Country, I'll Always Be Waiting for You, Down on Your Luck, Don't Give a F***, Human Heart, O Patrick Won't You Be My Savior, Let It Go, and Donegal (Great Big Sea?) We look forward to hearing Sierra and Ethan again soon. They are amazing young artists!
     MARK O'CONNOR (fiddle, guitar, mandolin, bass, vocals) heads the O'Connor Band. He is a seasoned professional with 40 years out on the road with his fiddle. His band mates are family, with the exception of JEFF SAUNDERS (bass and banjo) and JOE SMART (guitar). MAGGIE O'CONNOR (fiddle and vocals) is classically trained in violin (fiddle to us) and she is Mark's wife. FORREST O'CONNOR (mandolin, guitar, vocals) is Mark's son. Forrest is married to KATE LEE (now Kate O'Connor, fiddle and vocals). Forrest and Kate were the duo known as WISEWATER, an Americana band we heard at the Franklin (TN) Theatre a few years back. Mark O'Connor and The O'Connor Band are polished, fast and fine.
     The set for the evening was as follows: It's in My Blood, Muleskinner Blues, Jerusalem Ridge, Restless, Coming Home (a chart-buster on their Grammy-winning Best Bluegrass Album), Blacktop Boy, Macedonia (twin mandolins with Mark and Forrest O'Connor), Old Black Creek, You Haven't Said You Love Me in a While, Ruby Are You Mad at Your Man, Little Maggie, What Have I Been Saying, Those Memories, Johnny B. Goode (bluegrass-style), and a smokin' encore with the entire band plus Sierra Hull and Ethan Jodziewicz.
L to R: Maggie O'Connor, Mark O'Connor, Jeff Saunders, Sierra Hull,
Forrest O'Connor, Ethan Jodziewicz, Joe Smart, Kate O'Connor
We heartily recommend all the artists from the evening of wonderful, fast-paced music.
For more information:  Google the artists to learn more about their music and their touring schedules.