Saturday, March 22, 2014

Little Pickin' Session with Friends
Photo credit: Patrick Cupples  

       We are always looking for a little bluegrass music adventure! On one such adventure, our search took us to Jackson, TN, and then on to Franklin, TN, where we found and reunited with some wonderful friends. In the above photo by Patrick Cupples, you see Kevin Wright at left on guitar, Rick Hargis in the center on banjo, and Ronnie Owen at right on guitar. It took a little work to find former Tennessee Gentleman Rick Hargis, but he popped up in Franklin, TN, where he heads an insurance company. Ronnie Owen (an engineer for a local firm) is also a former Tennessee Gentleman, but we have kept up with him and his friend Kevin Wright (a banker in Jackson) through the years, so they were easier to find. They live in and around the Jackson-Madison County, TN, region.

       These friends and a few others decided to meet on a recent Thursday evening at the Jackson International House of Pancakes (IHOP) for a little reunion and pickin'. They were joined by Kurt Stephenson (a banjo champ at Winfield, KS), Patrick Cupples, Curtis Mann, David Killingsworth, and a few family members, friends, and onlookers such as this writer. It took the group no time at all to fall back into the right key, tempo, and vocal harmonies. It just fell together perfectly, as it often does. Here are a few more photos from the evening of a little pickin' session with friends. It was a barn-burner, and we hope that they will get together again soon!   Pick away!
Ronnie Owen, Kurt Stephenson, Patrick Cupples, Kevin Wright

Ronnie Owen, Kurt Stephenson, Patrick Cupples, Kevin Wright, Rick Hargis

Ronnie Owen, Kurt Stephenson, David Killingsworth

Patrick Cupples, Kevin Wright, Rick Hargis

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Parlor Pickin' at Country Oaks B-n-B Delights Guests!

     At least once a year, we anticipate the announcement of a little event called a Parlor Pickin', which is held at the Country Oaks B-n-B in Mountain View, AR. The Pickin' is by invitation only, and the guests at the inn, plus some folks from town, thoroughly enjoy the friendly atmosphere provided by innkeepers Jerry and Carole Weber. The innkeepers serve up a comfortable atmosphere in the parlor and dining room of the beautifully-appointed Country Oaks Bed and Breakfast Inn in Mountain View. Along with the hospitality, the couple serves up fabulous musicians and special treats of cake and light refreshments during intermission. Oh! It's a splendid occasion enjoyed by everyone!
     The guests assemble, the musicians arrive and begin to tune up their instruments, and soft chatter among old friends takes place prior to the seating of the musicians in front of the fireplace at Country Oaks. It's all just too delightful. We especially enjoyed Parlor Pickin' on March 15, 2014, with the introduction of  the incredible Brad Apple (guitar, mandolin, vocals), Pam Setser (dulcimer, spoons, vocals), and Gary Rounds (guitar and vocals), along with their old friend, Tim Crouch, fiddler extraordinaire! Tim found a free moment to escape from his role as fiddler on the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, TN, to drop by for a couple of hours to play for the audience who had gathered for the annual event. There was even an audience participant named Royce (guitar and vocal), who is a fine singer. Royce moved past 'rank amateur' a long time ago with his version of "That Silver-Haired Daddy of Mine"!
     We will cut to the chase to show you a few photos and to tell you the songs and tunes we heard on this very special Saturday night. Enjoy!

Brad Apple on guitar

Pam Setser on dulcimer accompanied by Gary Rounds

Gary Rounds and his old friend Dusty

Apple, Setser, and Rounds making some fine music

Tim Crouch is tuned up and ready to play

Tim Crouch and Brad Apple

Tim Crouch on mandolin

Gary Rounds breaks up Pam Setser with his quick wit

Tim Crouch and Brad Apple bear down on a tune

Brad Apple entertains the audience and his fellow musician, Pam Setser

Tim Crouch plays a special fiddle tune

Royce sings and plays guitar for an appreciative Pam Setser

Brad Apple, Pam Setser on spoons, and Gary Rounds

 Can you remember the days of this group when it was called AKR (Apple, Kirby, and Rounds)?

      The entertainers dazzled their audience in their first set with the following songs and tunes:  Salt Creek, Steel Rails, Green Light on the Southern, Souvenirs, Old Dangerfield, Sweet Dreams, Have You Seen My Wife Mr. Jones, Bonnie Lass, More Pretty Girls Than One, Southern Accent, Back Up and Push, I Know Love Is All I Need, Walkaway Joe, and Pancho and Lefty.
     Following the break for refreshments and the sale of some albums, the second set ripped off with Uncle Pen and went from there with the following songs: Georgia, When You Say Nothing At All, Beulah Land, Orange Blossom Special, Keep the Lamp On Sadie, How's the World Treating You, I'm Goin' Over Yonder, Old Ebenezer Scrooge, Help Me Make It Through the Night, These Days, That Silver-Haired Daddy of Mine, Milk Cow Blues, Shadow, Gone at Last, Carolyn at the Broken Wheel Inn, Ashokan Farewell, Seeds My Daddy Sowed, Crooked Ridge, and I Hope My Pony Knows the Way Back Home.
     If you're fortunate, you may catch these folks singing at the square in Mountain View, a little coffee shop in Hardy, AR, at Blanchard Caverns, at a local community college, or even at the Grand Ole Opry! Each musician has a CD project or two, but you have to dig around to find them. 
     Thanks to the Webers for their hospitality, the musicians for their splendid music, and the four-legged critters named Dusty, Tinker, Roscoe, and gorgeous Pearl, the cat who reigns over everything!

Yes, I'm Pearl, and I DO reign over everything!
                                                                     Pick away!

Monday, March 10, 2014

MARCH 6-9, 2014

     Breakin' Up Winter is a wonderful old-time string band music gathering in the hills of Middle Tennessee. Cedars of Lebanon State Park near Lebanon, TN, is the site of the annual event which is held during the first full weekend of March. The entire event is hosted by the Nashville Old-Time String Band Association (NOTSBA).
     Special guest lecturers and demonstration experts this year were as follows: Alice Gerrard, Franklin George, Alan Jabbour, George Gruhn, John Harrod, Ken Perlman, Jeff Todd Titon, Bill Mansfield, Joyce and Jim Cauthen, Martin Fisher, Bob White, Roby Cogswell, Lo Gordon, and Rick Fretter. Lisa Ingram and Betty Westmoreland held the Sunday morning hymn singing by the fireplace in Cedar Forest Lodge. 
     The name 'Breakin' Up Winter,' is derived from the old-time music song called 'Breakin' Up Christmas,' and it was 'way past time to break up winter this season. The weather was perfect for the weekend of pickin', jammin', and swapping old favorite tunes. There were great jams in the cabins all around Cedar Forest!
     Folks who attended the festival went to workshops by the pro's, they jammed indoors and out with old and new friends, and they had just a country-dog good time!
     Enjoy the photos and make a promise to yourself to visit Breakin' Up Winter 20 (the locals just call it BUW) next year. Thanks to the generosity of Todd Wright, of the Nashville Old-Time String Band Association, there will be a next year! It was tough sledding there for a while, but the festival will continue into the future! Thank you, Todd!
     Read more about the old-time string band event known as Breakin' Up Winter at
     Read more about this little 900-acre gem of a state park by googling Cedars of Lebanon State Park, Lebanon, TN. It's fascinating to see what the park has to offer! The park is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Entering Cedars of Lebanon State Park from US 231 just south of Lebanon, TN

Follow the fiddle signs to find the music

The grand old Cedar Forest Lodge built by the WPA (1925-1949)

Folk legend Alice Gerrard speaking to the attentive crowd

Alice Gerrard receiving the NOTSBA Heritage Award

These gents know their way around a banjo: Randal Morton (Memphis, TN), George Gruhn (Gruhn Guitars, Nashville), Christian Stanfield (Memphis, TN)
Clarke Buehling (AR--The Skirt Lifters), Ken Berner (AL), and Richard "Squirrel" McLain (Murfreesboro, TN-The Glade City Rounders) in an impromptu jam at Breakin' Up Winter

Couple of banjo whiz kids: Randal Morton and Buddy Ingram, Chief Ranger at Cedars of Lebanon State Park

Fiddle Workshop with Kay Justice, Alice Gerrard, and Gail Gillespie

These jammers called to mind the NPR program 'Thistle & Shamrock'
Lo Gordon's display of open-back banjos in Cedar Forest Lodge

Martin Fisher preparing the Edison-type wax cylinder recording device for his next customers

Martin Fisher and a duo recording the way it was done around the turn of the 20th century

Musicians creating their own wax-cylinder recording which Martin Fisher converts to mp3 for each customer

Equipment for a recording session on wax cylinders during late-19th and early-20th century--Old time players seeking authenticity prefer that scratchy old-time sound

To record your wax cylinder sound, contact Martin Fisher, Curator of Recorded Media Collections at the Center for Popular Music at MTSU in Murfreesboro, TN

      I hope you enjoyed your brief trip through Breakin' Up Winter! Join us next year on the first full weekend in March!
     Visit Cedars of Lebanon State Park any time of the year! It's a delightful experience for families who wish to swim, hike, ride horses, and explore the great outdoors. Find Chief Ranger Buddy Ingram and let him tell you about his discovery of an entirely unknown species of little frogs which he discovered  living in the cedar glade there in the state park. Amazing stuff!

     Pick away!