Wednesday, March 21, 2018

"Bluegrass Monday" at Collins Theatre
Paragould, AR
February 26, 2018 
Collins Theatre, Home of Bluegrass Monday, Paragould, AR
     There we were, noses pressed against the window pane, patiently waiting for one of our favorite bluegrass bands to appear. Had it really been that long? What? Couple of years? Four years, actually, almost to the day! But the Collins Theatre schedule for 2018 was released, and there they were! DONNA ULISSE AND THE POOR MOUNTAIN BOYS were returning for a show. We marked our calendars! KASU 91.9 FM DJ Marty Scarbrough, who hosts the fourth Monday events called "Bluegrass Monday," knows how to pick 'em!
Host/DJ Marty Scarbrough introduces
Donna Ulisse and the Poor Mountain
L to R: Mason Nolen, Harry Clark (at rear)
Greg Davis, Donna Ulisse, Rick Stanley
     A lot of really good things have happened for Donna and the Poor Mountain Boys. Donna Ulisse is the current "Songwriter of the Year" for the Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music of America (SPBGMA). She took the same honor in 2016 for the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA). She writes for herself and the band. She writes for other headliners like Del McCoury, Claire Lynch, Doyle Lawson, Larry Stephenson, Volume Five, and many more.
     Things began to take off into the stratosphere in the early 1990's, when Donna released a country album on Atlantic Records. Edging toward bluegrass music all the while, she was making an impression on bluegrass fans. By 2007, she recorded her first bluegrass album. It's nine albums and many miles later, and there's no stopping this songwriter and her amazing band. Her current album, "Breakin' Easy" is a favorite of music writers and critics, who call the CD one of the best of 2017. "Breakin' Easy" is on the charts, in Bluegrass Today, and on SiriusXM's "Bluegrass Junction."
Donna Ulisse
Rick Stanley
You've met Donna on her vocals and guitar work. Here are the other very important folks who make up the Poor Mountain Boys: Rick Stanley, Donna's husband and leader of the band, on guitar and vocals--yes, he's a cousin to the legendary Ralph and Carter Stanley; Greg "Papaw" Davis, banjo and vocals; Mason "Smiley" Nolen, mandolin and vocals; and sitting in doing terrific bass work was Searcy, Arkansas' own Harry Clark.
Donna and Rick
Harry Clark (at rear) and Greg Davis
      A show doesn't drive itself. Donna Ulisse and the Poor Mountain Boys know how to move a show along. There's a little talk, a little connecting to the next song or a favorite artist from a while back, and spot-on bluegrass vocals and
instrumentation. These are seasoned veterans that I would recommend to anyone who loves the real deal. They're the real deal and we love 'em!
Greg Davis
Mason Nolen
      Here's what we heard on that magical night with Donna Ulisse and the Poor Mountain Boys:
Set 1
Ain't That a Pity, I'm Gonna Shine; I've Got That Back Home Feeling Again; Send Me the Pillow That You Dream On; Don't It Sound Like We Were Made for Each Other; John Hardy (by Papaw Davis); Fist City (honoring her legendary friend, Loretta Lynn); You Don't Have to Walk That Far No More; Black Snake (moonshine, slidin' down the mountainside); Down the Road (by "Smiley" Nolen); Whispering Pines (a Johnny Horton tune); and How Mountain Girls Can Love. Set 2 One-Way Rider; Me and Loretta ("Loretta lit a fire in me!"; (My Music Is) Showin' My Roots; I'm a Little Past Lonely; It Coulda Been the Mandolin; Hard-Cry Moon; Just Because (Rick); Where My Mind Can Find Some Rest; Diggy Liggy Li/Diggy Liggy Lo (a Doug Kershaw song); Here Comes My Baby Back Again (tribute to the late Dottie West, who won a Grammy for the song in 1965); Somehow Tonight (Mason); I'm Not Afraid to Say My Heart Belongs to Jesus; We Got This Love Thing Figured Out; and the encore was Whatever Winter Brings. Solid show by some of the best that bluegrass music has to offer!
L to R: Mason Nolen, Harry Clark (at rear), Greg Davis, Donna Ulisse, Rick Stanley
Donna Ulisse or Facebook @Donna.Ulisse.singer.songwriter
Order Donna's new CD, "Breakin' Easy."
For more information or booking:
Kathy Anderson  / 615.397.9840
The 2018-2019 Tour
Mar. 24, 2018  Campbell Co. Courthouse, Rustburg, VA
Mar. 25, 2018  American Legion Post 238, Hughesville, MD
Apr. 6, 2018    Pennyroyal Opera House, Fairview, OH
May 12, 2018  Doyle Lawson Bluegrass Festival, Denton, NC
May 19, 2018  The Strand Theater, Lewisburg, WV
Feb. 9, 2019  Everett's Barn, Suwanee, GA
Mar. 2, 2019  Luckett's Bluegrass Series, Leesburg, VA
Mar. 21, 2019  42nd Annual Sertoma Youth Bluegrass Festival, Brooksville, FL
Mar. 29, 2019  Southern Ohio Indoor Music Festival, Wilmington, OH
More to come in 2019 
Terry's CafĂ©, 201 S. Pruett, Paragould, serves a delicious catfish buffet starting at 4:30 PM CT on Bluegrass Monday nights!  


Sunday, March 18, 2018

February 24, 2018
     THE MANDOLIN WAS KING (OR QUEEN) for one monster weekend of demonstrating, teaching, a little lecturing, and practicing! All sorts of people showed up at Collierville VFW Post 5066 with all kinds of mandolins.
     The skilled artisans who pitched in to instruct were as follows:  DAVID PIERCE (organizer of the event), from the bands Tennessee Gentlemen, 2 Mule Plow, Tennessee Boltsmokers, and Tennessee Ripple; JAMES KEE, from the bands Hamilton County Ramblers and the Kati Penn Band; HARRY CLARK, from the bands Volume Five and the Jenni Lynn Band; and ANDY RATLIFF, from the creative Memphis duo of Eric Lewis and Andy Ratliff.
     We want to share some photos with you from that very special day!
     Look for more workshops soon! We want everyone to know their instruments better so that they can really enjoy playing bluegrass and old-time music!
     Special thanks to all participants who attended the workshop! Extra special thanks to the instructors who gave their time to help folks learn more about their mandolins.
L to R: David Pierce, James Kee, Harry Clark, Andy Ratliff
Posey Hedges
Harry Clark and Andy Ratliff
David Pierce and James Kee
Instructors' Jam at the end of the workshop
David Pierce, Andy Ratliff, James Kee, Harry Clark
David Pierce
Andy Ratliff
James Kee
Harry Clark
Instructors' Jam L to R: David Pierce, guitar; Andy Ratliff, old-time banjo;
James Kee, mandolin; Harry Clark, mandolin
David Pierce and Andy Ratliff
James Kee and Harry Clark

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

"Transforming Lives // One Song at a Time"
     FRANKLIN THEATRE, FRANKLIN, TN, FEBRUARY 23, 2018  There's a war going on out there that most people don't even know about. MARY GAUTHIER (pronounced 'go SHAY') knows and she's doing something about it in a huge way. The singer-songwriter has a really tough story about her own life experiences, but she has invested heart and soul in her most recent and most important recording project to date. The evening started with a video which covered some of the project. That video brought the audience smack up against reality for the soldiers and veterans.
    Ms Gauthier rounded up other songwriter friends and some soldiers and veterans, and they are making history with every hour that passes. There is a need--soldiers and veterans are hurting. They hurt every day. They need some way to tell their stories and start the healing process, both emotional and physical. Enter Mary Gauthier, other songwriters, and the most important elements, soldiers, veterans, and their spouses. The group of singers and songwriters began by listening to the stories that soldiers, veterans, and their spouses had to tell. Tears fell. So many tears. Voices choked up. Ideas and songs began to take shape. Everybody shared their input--songwriters, soldiers, wives, husbands...everybody. Telling one's story in song is therapeutic. Lives are beginning to heal. It's working!
     Mary Gauthier's stunning new album is a contradiction in terms, much like war is a contradiction on so many levels. The CD/vinyl title is "Rifles & Rosary Beads," and she says, "We're not writing about soldiers--we're writing with soldiers. These are their words."
     Here are the songs from "Rifles & Rosary Beads":  Soldiering On, Got Your Six, The War After the War, Still on the Ride, Bullet Holes in the Sky, Brothers, Rifles & Rosary Beads, Morphine 1-2, It's Her Love, Iraq, and Stronger Together.
     Many of these and other songs were part of the show at the Franklin Theatre. Two of this writer's favorites are "Mercy Now" and Mary's encore with group participation, "This Land Is Your Land". The event was sold out, there were tears everywhere, and a portion of sales from the album is being donated to SongwritingWith:Soldiers. Grab the album, the T-shirt, and the Mercy necklace with the pendant in the shape of a guitar pick.
     Mary's band at the Franklin Theatre:  Michael Rinne, Josh Britt, Neilson Hubbard, and Danny Mitchel, and according to Mary, "Great guys, great band!" We agree! What a night!
     Thanks, Mary, songwriter friends, soldiers/veterans/spouses, band, video crew, Franklin Theatre, Dan Hays, and so many other people who made this night happen. It was truly special!
     We failed to mention that Mary Gauthier is still on her mission. Wherever there is a soldier, veteran, or a spouse who is in need, Mary is right there by their sides when they need her. That's what friends do.
Making the SW:S project happen
Mary Gauthier putting soldiers' emotions into song
Pictures say so much
Josh Geartz, veteran and mean harmonica player
Mary brought along her harmonica, too
Mary Gauthier signing for a fan