Thursday, September 20, 2018

September 20, 2018
     THE AMAZING, TALENTED LOUISA BRANSCOMB has scored another hit! You know Louisa from hits like "Steel Rails" (sung by Alison Krauss) and "Dear Sister" (IBMA 2014 Song of the Year, sung by Claire Lynch), and countless more songs.
     In true songwriter spirit, Louisa has come forward to help aspiring songwriters and volunteers from her popular songwriter retreat and festival in Southport, NC, which was devastated by the recent Hurricane Florence.
     Branscomb's non-profit organization, ScreenDoor Songwriter Alliance ( has hosted a songwriter festival and music-in-the-schools programs in Southport. NOTE: ScreenDoor Songwriter Alliance is sponsoring the fund drive--not Louisa personally. Louisa is coordinating the fund drive as its executive director.
     She has opened the donation page on her website ( to collect funds via ScreenDoor Songwriter Alliance for storm victims in the area. We know that musicians are known for stepping up where help is needed. Help is needed!
     According to Louisa, all the collected funds will be given to musicians and/or festival volunteers who submit letters of need and proof of damage or loss.
     It takes a long time for insurance or federal funds to kick in, and often the funds do not cover everything. Because another of Louisa's songwriter locations in Georgia was heavily damaged by a tornado in 2011, she knows how long it can take to rebuild and recover. She thought, ". . . why don't I do something concrete?"
     Here is your chance to 'do something concrete' too, by donating through the PayPal link on her website ( by typing Southport Fund in the optional message box. Donors should include a mailing address to receive a tax-deductible gift receipt. To donate with a personal check, email ( for further instructions to complete the donation. Make out your check to ScreenDoor Songwriter Alliance.
     Consider giving generously through PayPal or by personal check!
     Thanks to Louisa Branscomb, David Morris, contributor to Bluegrass Today, and Bluegrass Today, for bringing this story to our attention.
     Pick away!


Sunday, September 9, 2018

Dulcimers and More
Beckon in the Fall
September 9, 2018
     About this time of year, folks get itchy feet and a stirrin' in their blood! Time to ramble to parts far from home. For Tennesseans, it's often the mountains of East Tennessee and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park...and for good reason! The air is cooler, cleaner, and the wood smoke rises throughout the hills.
     A favorite stop for us is Townsend, TN, along the Lamar Alexander Parkway. We naturally gravitate toward Wood-N-Strings Dulcimer Shop, where Mike and Connie Clemmer sell, play, teach, repair, and just enjoy all things dulcimer. If you've never been, you need to stop by to pick a few real mountain songs and tunes with the locals. From May through September (like right now), there is a pickin' on the Pickin' Porch on the first, third, and fifth Saturday evenings. A quick look at your calendar tells you that time is running out for those pickin's in this season. The shop is located at 7645 East Lamar Alexander Parkway, Townsend, TN 37882. Their phone number is (865) 448-6647. The website is
     Another delightful spot for a comfortable night's lodging is Dock's Motel, just a little way further east on the Parkway and on the same side as Wood-N-Strings. There are good restaurants in the area, and of course there is UT football. Be sure to include a slow trip through Cade's Cove. Bee-keeper Kermit Caughron, from our own family tree, was the last person to live in Cade's Cove. We waited too late to meet him or his wife, for they have both passed on. We wish we had just known earlier. There are some great stories about them on YouTube. These photos will show you some of what is to love about the Smokies in the fall of the year...any year!

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

September 4, 2018  
     COUNTY SALES has returned! Yep! Bluegrass, old-time, and country music fans know about the legendary store along Virginia's Crooked Road in Floyd, VA. Visit the store in person or online at We will hush up now so you can scoot on over to their website, register, and enjoy current and hard-to-find music that we know and love! Order a bunch of things! Stuff you've been looking for but couldn't find. Tell your friends! Thanks to Dylan Locke and his wife Heather for making it happen and even adding more nice features!

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

August 8, 2018 
     It's festival time in the South! Y'all know what to do:  Find one, pack the lawn chairs, church-pew fans, water, snacks, and the kids. Gather up Mama-n-'em and head on out for some pickin' and grinnin' at a good ol' bluegrass festival. Here are two great suggestions for festivals in North Mississippi in September and October of 2018. It's guaranteed that you will have a country-dog good time! Maybe even better'n that!
     While you're waiting for those festivals, come on out to the Collierville, TN, Historic Town Square Bluegrass & Old-Time Music Jam every Friday night from about 6:30 on 'til purty late! It's all free and all skill levels are welcome! Come pick with us! We're at the corner of Mulberry, Center, and Main Streets in the heart of downtown Collierville, TN, on the "Best Town Square in America"!
     Another bluegrass festival has emerged. They're sproutin' like weeds around heah! This one is known as the Tippah Lake Bluegrass Festival, located in Ripley, MS. The festival will be held Saturday, September 8, 2018, at 4:00p CT. It's free, but donations are appreciated. You can see local and regional bands. Tippah Lake Bluegrass Festival information is at 662.837.4398. C'mon out, y'all!


Collierville Historic Town Square Pickin' by the Town Clock
Free Jam! All Skills Welcome! Bring Friends! Join Us!
Our friend Orion is a real Ralph Stanley fan! 

Monday, July 23, 2018

JUNE 7, 2018
THERE WAS THIS 70th BIRTHDAY PARTY, SEE...and we knew we wanted to be at the world-famous Station Inn from start to finish. So, we rode on up there, stood in line in the boiling hot sun that was radiating off that little white building, finally got inside the Station Inn, paid, got a complimentary new CD, and settled down at our table with pizza and cold refreshments. What happened for the next three hours or so was nothing if not one of the best events we've ever seen at the Station Inn (and we've seen some dandy concerts over the years).
     Followers of country and bluegrass music need no introduction to the legendary singer-songwriter GAIL DAVIES! She was the first female record producer in country music! Ahem! Let that sink in for a moment. It is no surprise that her energy is still 100% and she still leaves it all out there on the stage! From a musical family in Broken Bow, OK, Gail Davies is not shy...she doesn't hold back! For this special occasion, she brought along a wagonload of her friends to help her celebrate: Suzy Bogguss, Rhonda Vincent, Mandy Barnett, Carolyn Martin, Yoshi, Terri Clark, Ranger Doug Green, Kathy Chiavola, The Whites (Sharon and Cheryl), father and son Pete and Trevor Pendras, and more. Buck White was in the house, and Emmylou Harris, too. Lordy! What a time it was!
     Gail brought along her outstanding band, of course: Billy Contreras (fiddle), Patty Mitchell (mandolin, vocals), Rob Price (bass), Sergio Webb (guitar), Billy Thomas (drums), and Gail's son Chris Scruggs (steel guitar). An upcoming star in the business was Ben Scruggs, Gail's 4-year-old grandson who already knows what to do with the microphone. Ben nailed If You're Ever Gonna Love Me!
     Gail Davies began the night with powerful numbers like It Ain't Me Babe, The Trouble with Love, Your Poison Love, Jagged Edge of a Broken Heart, Blue Heartache, Round-the-Clock Lovin', Bucket to the South, Hometown Gossip, Someone Is Looking for Someone Like You, and the touching Grandma's Song. Mercy! We see now where so many bluegrass bands got their material...they 'borrowed' from Gail Davies. She ended the amazing evening with Does Anybody Know Where Love Comes From.
     From here on, we'll just show pictures, blurry ones and all. You will recognize many of the artists who showed up for the birthday bash.
     Albums: Live and Unplugged at the Station Inn, Beyond the Realm of Words (by brother Ron Davies, and many more!) We highly recommend Gail's "Anthology" or 'best of' CD for your drive along backcountry roads! That one stays in the CD player in the Tahoe!
     Book: The Last of the Outlaws
     Find Gail Davies on Facebook and Amazon

Saturday, July 7, 2018

JULY 6, 2018
L to R: Kalia Yeagle, host Mike Albert, Helena Hunt,
hostess Lisa Albert, Kris Truelsen, Karl Zerfas
     WE WERE THRILLED TO LEARN that a relatively new old-time music group was passing through West Tennessee, and that friends Mike and Lisa Albert were going to host a house concert for them. On this hot, sultry and typical summer day in the Memphis area, we did a little GPS work, and after a few missteps, we found our way to the music. Mike and Lisa had prepared their home with lots of chairs, delicious food, and beverages. The band was somewhere there tuning up for the concert. Waverly, the beautiful and friendly family dog, did his part with tail-wagging and friendly visits with the audience.
     At the appointed hour, three young, talented East Tennesseans (actually, one was from Alaska, not a bad place to be at this time of year) stood before us with fiddle, guitar, banjo, and upright bass poised and ready. From the first note of the first song, we knew these folks had honed their craft and knew their chops. BILL AND THE BELLES delighted the sold-out crowd for the next two hours (with an intermission for snacks, chatting and CD sales) with music that took many of us 'way on back to the beginning of old-time, bluegrass and country music. Living in and around Johnson City, TN, and having been exposed to the old-time and bluegrass music program at East Tennessee State University (ETSU), Bill and the Belles have been immersed in the "'way back when" music of the turn of the 20th Century and up to the '30s and '40s. Bill and the Belles are honoring what has become known as the Knoxville Sessions from 1929. They do it right! Let's hear it for traditional!
Kalia, Karl, Kris, Helena
Kalia, Karl, Helena
    Traditional music lives today! A former host at Mississippi Public Broadcasting (MPB) with a regular Saturday night folk and bluegrass show called "Grassroots," Mike Morgan, always had a segment of his show called a "scratchy-disc" set. He would play the music from the old recording machines with their knocks, pings, hisses and scratches. People loved it, with all its imperfections created in making the recordings. Currently, Martin Fisher, of the Center for Popular Music at Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU), in Murfreesboro, brings his old-time equipment and wax cylinders to Breakin' Up Winter, an annual old-time music feast at Cedars of Lebanon State Park, Lebanon, TN, about 30 miles east of Nashville. Breakin' Up Winter is always the first full weekend of March.(Info at Fisher records current old-time bands and artists who hope to keep the sound like it was 100 years ago or more, with its knocks, pings, hisses, and scratches. He later sends the bands a CD of their scratchy-disc recording. Radio was in its infancy back then, and people were fascinated by hearing what could come out of a piece of furniture sitting there in their living rooms. It was clearly another day and time...Sigh!
     We need to introduce Bill and the Belles and tell you what we heard at their concert. The band is Kalia Yeagle (fiddle and vocals), Kris Truelsen (guitar and vocals), Helena Hunt (banjos and vocals), and Karl Zerfas (upright bass). They have CDs, YouTube, Facebook, and the Web at Their newest CD on Jalopy Records (gotta love that!) is due out in August of 2018.
     Our moms and dads, and even our grandparents would remember some of these delightful (some melancholy) tunes: Work Don't Bother Me, Old Lonesome Blues, Carolina Sunshine Girl, Oh Johnny, Put Me in Your Pocket (from WWI), The Preacher and the Bear, Three-in-one Two Step (fiddle tune), Tired of Me, Finger-Pointin' Mama Don't Ya Point That Thing at Me, Get Up and Give It One More Try, Never Get Along with You, Tuck Away My Lonesome Blues (a yodel tune), Don't Let Your Deal Go Down, Ain't Gonna Rain No Mo', Hum Your Troubles Away, The Old Smoky Mountains, Hell Amongst the Yearlings, When You Wore a Tulip (and I Wore a Big Red Rose), When Wedding Bells Chime, Good Gal I'll Be OK, I Told Them All about You, I Once Loved a Sailor (Airship), The Man Who Comes Around, Blue So Blue, Where the Shy Little Violets Grow, Salty Dog Blues/Easy Rider, Back to My Childhood Days, Paddy on the Turnpike, Pal of Mine, and the encore was...High-falutin' Newton from Idaho.
     Bill and the Belles are delightful and very entertaining. We hope to see them again very soon. Check them out on YouTube and Facebook. Visit their website  Pick up that new CD on Jalopy Records as soon as it comes out.
     A very special thanks to Mike and Lisa Albert (and Waverly) for hosting the concert! It was an amazing evening!
Pick away!

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

June 4, 2011
Steering clear of the chance to talk too much, we will jump right into the photos of a fantastic day at Estill Springs, Tennessee. It was just seven years ago this past Monday. These folks were cornhole before cornhole was cool! Some may ask, "Where's the bluegrass music content?" We're ready for you: Pat Flynn! If you were into New Grass Revival, you'll recognize Pat Flynn!
Enjoy this ride down Memory Lane!