Saturday, December 19, 2009

Bluegrass Legend Curly Seckler to Celebrate Two Milestones

Bluegrass music legend Curly Seckler has two reasons to celebrate coming up. A special Christmas finds Seckler celebrating his own 90th birthday. Then, as we enter 2010, seckler will celebrate his 75th year as a professional musician. Seckler began his career in music in 1935, performing with his brothers in a band called the Yodeling Rangers, on WSTP radio in Salisbury, NC. In 1939 he hit the big time, when Charlie Monroe recruited him to sing harmony in his new group after the breakup of the Monroe Brothers. Curly worked several stints with Charlie Monroe early in his career. He also teamed with various other bluegrass pioneers, including Jim and Jesse McReynolds, Mac Wiseman, The Sauceman Brothers, and The Stanley Brothers.

On December 25, 2009 bluegrass legend Curly Seckler will celebrate his 90th birthday! Curly was born in 1919 in China Grove, North Carolina. He began his musical career on WSTP radio in Salisbury, NC in 1935, in a family band called the Yodeling Rangers. He performed in pioneering bluegrass bands with Charlie Monroe, Dan Bailey, Mac Wiseman, The Stanley Brothers, Jim & Jesse McReynolds, and The Sauceman Brothers, but is best known for his dozen years as a member of Lester Flatt & Earl Scruggs' Foggy Mountain Boys. During his tenure with them, he played mandolin and sang tenor on well over 100 of their greatest recordings. After Flatt and Scruggs parted ways, Curly joined Lester Flatt's Nashville Grass. Following Flatt's death in 1979, Curly took over leadership of the group for another fifteen years, headlining at bluegrass festivals across the country.
In 1994, at age 74, Curly disbanded the Nashville Grass and ceased full-time touring. However he continued to write songs, to record, and to perform at selected events. In 2004 he was inducted into the IBMA (International Bluegrass Music Association) Hall of Fame. Rather than resting on his laurels, Seckler was inspired by that honor to embark upon a career resurgence of sorts. At age 84 he made a series of new recordings and began performing again at bluegrass festivals, concert halls, and on radio and television. His recent performances have included MerleFest, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival, IBMA's Fan Fest and Awards Show, the River of Music Party in Owensboro, KY, Song of the Mountains TV show, UNC-TV's North Carolina People show, and Ernest Tubb Records' Midnite Jamboree over WSM radio.

In 2010, Curly Seckler will mark his 75th anniversary as a professional musician, a milestone accomplished by very few. In 1949 Curly joined Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs’ Foggy Mountain Boys, as tenor singer and mandolin player. Except for a couple of brief absences, he remained with Flatt & Scruggs until 1962. During that time he recorded well over 100 songs with them, including many of their best known and most popular hits (“Roll in My Sweet Baby’s Arms,” “Salty Dog Blues,” “I’ll Go Stepping Too,” “Dim Lights, Thick Smoke,” etc.). Several of Curly’s original songs were recorded by Flatt & Scruggs, including “No Mother Or Dad” and “That Old Book of Mine.”

The Lester Flatt/Curly Seckler duets from the 1950s are still considered to be among the best bluegrass performances ever. In addition, Curly’s rock-solid “chop” rhythm on mandolin was the foundation of the Foggy Mountain Boys’ instrumental sound during his tenure. Millions of fans are now able to experience the magic of this great band through the DVDs of classic Flatt & Scruggs TV shows which are being released by Shanachie Records in conjunction with the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Plans are underway for a series of events to commemorate Seckler's long and illustrious career.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

From the Nation's Station to Herzog Studios

They are honoring a famous recording studio where Lester and Earl recorded:

Herzog was Cincinnati’s first commercial recording studio. Powers thinks its ultimate significance for the local music scene is “it turned Cincinnati into a recording town instead of a radio town.”

Groundbreaking tunes in Country, Bluegrass and R&B were cut at Herzog — songs that would become templates for their genres. Just to list a few of the seminal sessions:

Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs recorded “Foggy Mountain Breakdown,” one of the most recognizable Bluegrass tunes, in December 1949. • The Delmore Brothers cut “Freight Train Boogie,” bringing the boogie woogie Blues sound to the hillbilly market in what some call the first Rockabilly song.

• “The Honeydripper,” a song cited by musicologists as laying the foundation for R&B, was recorded in 1945 by Bullmoose Jackson.

• Other artists who recorded at the studio include Homer and Jethro, Rosemary Clooney, Patti Page, Judy Perkins, Grandpa Jones, Red Foley and Moon Mulligan.

The Herzog story — its rise and fall — can’t be told without telling the WLW Country & Western story. By the late ’30s the “nation’s station” was booming out a signal of 500,000 watts, but owner Powel Crosley was under government pressure to justify why he deserved that much wattage.

“His argument was, ‘We are in the center of the population area of the country and there are so many rural areas that don’t have radio service. We are providing that for them,’ ” says Mike Martini of Media Heritage Inc. “Crosley realized he needed to beef up his rural programming to justify that argument.”

WLW began to hire the finest Country & Western singers and musicians in the land. At one point it produced two weekly barn-dance shows, Midwestern Hayride and Boone County Jamboree. One of the great session bands in Country music history, the Pleasant Valley Boys, moved here from Nashville in 1948, lured by the offer to be the house band for the TV version of Midwestern Hayride.

In 1945, WLW engineer E.T. “Bucky” Herzog started a little side project, opening a recording studio just around the corner from the station, which back then was at Ninth and Elm. He realized the cream of the Country music crop was coming through WLW every week to perform and thought maybe they’d want to record.

It was the same thinking that sparked Syd Nathan to found King Records in 1943. But Nathan wouldn’t have a recording studio at his Evanston complex until 1947, so he sent many artists down to Race Street and Bucky Herzog.

Hank Williams came here in 1948 specifically to record with the renowned Pleasant Valley Boys. He’d worked with them previously when they were in Nashville, producing a couple minor hits. He was still looking for the big breakthrough.

They cut three songs in a session booked for three hours. When Williams found he had extra time, he said he wanted to record “Lovesick Blues,” which he’d been performing in concert and on radio shows. His manager, Fred Rose, hated the song. When he learned Williams wanted to cut it, he fumed out of the studio saying, “You got 30 minutes left in the session. Don’t go over the time.”

One take was enough. In Williams’ yearning, pleading voice, it became a signature song.

Released in spring of 1949, “Lovesick Blues” was No. 1 for 16 weeks, earning Williams a performance at the Grand Ole Opry in June that received an unprecedented six encores. The song became the quintessential ballad of lost love, covered by dozens of singers across all genres, ranging from Little Richard and Arlo Guthrie to Linda Ronstadt and LeAnn Rhimes.

Williams would return to Herzog to recapture the magic with the Pleasant Valley Boys in August 1949, recording four more songs.

Meanwhile, Herzog continued to crank out recordings. Record labels like Columbia, RCA and Mercury would send their artists to town. Along with King — which was becoming the country’s most successful independent label — Cincinnati indeed had become Music City.


Herzog outlasted Hank ... barely


By the early ’50s, Herzog’s glory days were ending (although King’s were just beginning with its incredible R&B lineup). Studios had opened in Nashville and the emerging Country stars didn’t need to travel to record. And Nathan had built his own studio.

Most significantly, WLW began firing its live musicians, many heading to Nashville, removing the talent pool that fueled Herzog. Crosley sold his station to Avco in 1953, and the new owners started making cuts (in what seems to be a familiar story in corporate broadcasting).

“They looked at other DJs in town spinning discs and making all that money,” Martini says. “Here WLW was with this huge staff of something like 100 musicians. I’m sure they said, ‘Why are we spending all this money when one guy can spin discs?’ ”

Bucky Herzog sold the studio, and the new owner moved it to Mount Adams, mainly doing commercial production. It was gone by 1955.

Yet the studio survived Hank Williams, who would die at age 29 on New Year’s Day 1953, officially of heart failure, likely brought on by alcohol abuse and injections of vitamin and morphine shots. He passed away in the back seat of his chauffeured Cadillac on his way to a concert in Canton.





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The Hank Williams Sessions at the E.T. Herzog Recording Company
Dec. 22, 1948
“Lost on the River”
“There’ll Be No Teardrops Tonight”
“I Heard My Mother Praying for Me”
“Lovesick Blues”

Aug. 30, 1949
“I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry”
“I Just Don’t Like This Kind of Livin’ ”
“A House Without Love”
“My Bucket’s Got a Whole in It”


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The historical marker recognizing Herzog’s studio and Hank Williams’ sessions will be unveiled at 1 p.m. Sunday in front of 811 Race St., Downtown. A reception will follow in the former studio space on the second floor. The 13th annual Cincinnati Entertainment Awards start at 7 p.m. Sunday at the Madison Theater, Covington.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Flatt and Scruggs Memorabilia Collection to be at White’s Mountain Chimney Corner Celebration October 31, 2009!

I will be displaying my Flatt and Scruggs memorabilia collection, probably the largest one in existence on October 31st. Here is a link to the location:

LINK

Monday, October 19, 2009

Presentation to Jim Shumate - First fiddler with Flatt and Scruggs




Several years ago I got to introduce Jim Shumate at a festival in Raleigh NC. I had framed a collage of the photos from Flatt and Scruggs first songbook which featured Jim as the fiddle player. He was deeply moved and was very appreciative. Jim is a great person and still can wear a fiddle out and entertain a crowd with his playing and singing!

Framed photo I did for Earl Scruggs


This is a framed collage I did and presented to Earl at the Country Music Hall of Fame. It is a very large picture.

It shows all the groups Earl ever played with. The one square without a photo was for the Carolina Wildcats but no photos of Earl with that group have surfaced.

He really liked it and said he was going to hang it in his home. It was great getting to meet him and Louise.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Hylo Brown Bluegrass Festival is this Saturday in Mechanicsburg


The annual Hylo Brown Bluegrass Festival is slated for Saturday, Sept. 19 at Goshen Memorial Park in Mechanicsburg, PA.

Honoring the legacy of Frank "Hylo" Brown and his impact on the bluegrass music industry, the event will showcase bands from several states including Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky and West Virginia.

Brown earned his nickname because of a wide vocal range that became his trademark. Born in 1922 in River, Ky., Brown started performing in radio in Ashland, Ky., when he was just 17. After moving with his family to Springfield, Ohio, in 1949, Brown began an association with country singer Bradley Kincaid, which included working at Kincaid's radio station and playing in his band. Brown's songwriting credits include "Lost to a Stranger" (Capitol Records), his signature song that made it to the pop radio charts in 1954, and "Grand Ole Opry," which Jimmy Martin made a hit.

Brown went to work as a featured artist for Flatt & Scruggs in 1958, later forming a second band called The Timberliners. With Brown as front man, the band included Red Rector, Jim Smoak, Clarence "Tater" Tate and Joe Phillips. The band toured extensively throughout the South.

After the advent of video and television syndication, The Timberliners disbanded and Brown re-joined Flatt & Scruggs' Foggy Mountain Boys. He signed with Starday in 1971 and performed as a solo artist through the 1970s, continuing to record. He retired to Mechanicsburg and died Jan. 17, 2003.

Brown will be honored posthumously with a Distinguished Achievement Award from the International Bluegrass Music Association during a special awards luncheon on Oct. 1. It will be held at the Renaissance Hotel in Nashville, Tenn. during the IBMA Business Conference. Others to receive awards include Pati Crooker, Jody Rainwater, Dick Spottswood and Joe Wilson.

Brown's accomplishments and legacy are survived through his family and the annual festival in Mechanicsburg.

Featured at this year's festival is the only surviving member of the original Timberliners: Jim Smoak. Smoak will appear for the first time at the festival, along with his band, the Louisiana Honeydrippers. The evening lineup will include Mike Daniels, who was the last banjo player to tour with Brown. As a friend and colleague, Daniels actively promotes the music and legacy of Brown. Also featured at the festival are bluegrass legend Vince Combs with his band, Shadetree Bluegrass, as well as teenage bluegrass sensation McCoy Grass.

"We're really excited about this year's lineup, especially since we are able to have some of those who shared in Hylo Brown's career," said Matthew Smith, festival manager. "We work hard all year long to see that this event will be successful."

Smith explained that booking these individuals for the festival had to occur over nine months ago to ensure that they would be available.

"Also, we have the support of Brown's family, so we want to make sure that the day properly honors his legacy," added Smith.

On display throughout the day will be Hylo Brown memorabilia, including his performance suit, guitar, original albums and awards. Brown's recordings will be available for purchase, as well as recordings of the bands throughout the day.

The event will include food and retail vendors throughout the day, allowing an opportunity for lunch, gifts or a snack. Those attending are invited to bring a lawn chair or blanket to fully enjoy the surroundings of the park's natural amphitheater. Disabled parking and restroom facilities are available at the event. Although the event is free to the public, donations are requested to offset the expense of the bands' fees.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Banjo legend, Earl Scruggs, makes stop in Oklahoma City for opening of the American Banjo Museum

Bricktown Thursday became known for more than a hot spot for clubs and hip restaurants as Banjo legend Earl Scruggs led a who’s-who of musicians in celebrating the opening of the American Banjo Museum. The $5 million, 21,000-square-foot museum completes the attraction’s move from Guthrie where it was started by Midwest City attorney Brady Hunt and Indiana industrialist Jack Canine.

Buddy Wachter, a renowned four-string banjo player, noted that for years the history of banjos was stored away in collectors’ closets, leaving the art form hidden from later generations.

"Now we’ve got this place, which is filled already — and we’ve got far more than you can see, just like the Smithsonian, which has far more than you can see,” Wachter said.

The museum showcases more than 300 instruments, the largest collection on public display in the world. Examples include replicas of primitive banjos developed by African slaves in the Old South, Minstrel Age instruments from 19th century, post WWII instruments used in bluegrass, folk and world music, and museum’s core collection of ornately decorated banjos made in America during the Jazz Age of the 1920’s and 30s.

Once the ribbon was cut by Canine, whose own banjo collection started the museum and whose donations made the new museum possible, visitors made their way inside where they saw a display of the sort of slave shack where banjo music got its start. Other displays included a recreation of a vintage Shakey’s Pizza, which celebrated banjo performances and ragtime music.

"When you hear a banjo, you can’t help but smile,” said Johnny Baier, American Banjo Museum executive director. "Museum guests will be transported to a whole new world of sound and history as they walk through the doors of the magnificently renovated Bricktown warehouse. The banjo truly is America’s instrument.”

The dedication ceremonies had just ended when a full tour bus pulled up to the curb with travelers set to dine at the adjoining Abuelo’s Mexican Restaurant. Jim Cowan, director of the Bricktown Association, was happy to inform the tour guide the museum was open and ready for his passengers to add an unscheduled visit.

"With additions like the American Banjo Museum and the recent opening of the Academy of Contemporary Music, we’re showing that Bricktown is about more than just restaurants and nightclubs,” Cowan said. "I believe even more is possible, and I’d like to see us add even more attractions like the Toy and Action Figure Museum (which is currently in Pauls Valley).

Lt. Gov. Jari Askins agreed the museum is a great addition to Bricktown.

"The music and instruments on display at the American Banjo Museum are unique treasures, and Oklahoma is honored to add a collection of this caliber to our state,” Askins said. "Fans of all music will be drawn to the museum. It is a major win for Bricktown and Oklahoma.”

Friday, September 4, 2009

Earl Scruggs Interview Audio

Here is a ten minute interview with Earl Scruggs on how he got started playing and his musical history!
Link

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Jody Rainwater to be awarded Distinguished Achievement Award @ IBMA


Jody Rainwater will be awarded a certificate for "Special Achievement" at this year's afternoon awards program in Nashville, Tennessee.

Jody is best known for his years spent with Lester Flatt & Earl Scruggs & The Foggy Mountain Boys. A lot has been made of the, so called, first Bluegrass band comprised of, Bill Monroe, Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs, Chubby Wise and Cedric Rainwater, but it is my firm belief that Jody Rainwater, during his years with Flatt & Scruggs, created and defined the true art of Bluegrass Bass playing. Just listen to those old Flatt & Scruggs records and you'll hear Jody smoothly moving between 2-4 time and 4-4 time in the same song, either to accentuate a vocal or a special instrumental break. Yes, Jody Rainwater truly is a living legend in Bluegrass and will be long remembered for his humor and creative Bass playing.

Join me in congratulating Jody Rainwater in this wonderful recognition by the trade organization of our music, the IBMA.

Friday, August 21, 2009

2009 International Bluegrass Music Award Nominees Announced

The 20th International Bluegrass Music Awards will be handed out in Nashville on the 1st of October. The nomination list this year is dominated by former sidemen-turned-bandleaders.
The Dan Tyminski Band, nominated for 9 International Bluegrass Music Awards, including "Entertainer of the Year."
Dan Tyminski is best known for singing and playing the guitar with Alison Krauss and Union Station. But when Alison opted to tour with singer Robert Plant and leave the bluegrass boys at home this year, the longtime sideman decided to put together his own band and went into the studio and recorded Wheels.

Smart move on his part, as the CD earned Dan and his band nine IBMA nominations including Entertainer, Instrumental Group, Male Vocalist and Album of the Year.


But Dan isn't the only one to score big with a side project.

Steve Martin could take home 6 trophies when the 2009 International Bluegrass Music Awards are handed out on 1 October.Academy Award and Grammy winning actor, author, comedian and banjo player Steve Martin received six nominations for his first ever CD made up of solely banjo music.

The title track to The Crow earned Steve and his sidemen (including banjo legend Earl Scruggs!) nominations for Instrumental Recorded Performance and Recorded Event of the Year. That last award goes to a project that isn't your ordinary album and Steve's CD -- produced by Nitty Gritty Dirt Band founder John McCuen and including appearances by world famous banjo players including Earl Scruggs, Tony Trischka, and Bela Fleck -- is just that!

The other nominees are Rob Ickes and Andy Leftwich for Angeline the Baker, Michael Cleveland and Flamekeepers Jerusalem Ridge, Struttin' to Ferrum by the Lonesome River Band, and Don't Tread on Me by Kristin Scott Benson.


If you're only familiar with Steve Martin from his movies, you may not know that he has been playing the banjo for many years. He learned to play as a teenager, but put put it aside while concentrating on his comedy, acting and writing careers.

Steve Martin's return to bluegrass didn't surprise fellow nominee (and banjo player) Eric Gibson of The Gibson Brothers. "You see artists all the time that have played bluegrass when they were young, and then go off and play other kinds of music," Gibson said. "They always come back to it. Once you start liking bluegrass and playing bluegrass I think it gets hold of you and it never lets go."

Friday, August 14, 2009

Earl Scruggs proves he still loves picking and grinning at Meijer Gardens



In the beginning of bluegrass was Earl Scruggs.



And bluegrass godfather Bill Monroe said, approximately, "Let there be banjo music in the band." And Scruggs' unusual three-finger style helped catapult Monroe's sound to a previously unknown level of acceptance.

And Monroe said it was good.

4 OUT OF 4 STARS
Earl Scruggs

Highlight No. 1: Excellent ensemble work on "John Hardy was a Desperate Little Man," from Earl Scruggs' authoritative banjo intro to virtuoso solos all around, especially flying-fingers acoustic guitar riffs by Jack White.

Highlight No. 2: Watching Scruggs the master when he wasn't in the spotlight, laying down creative and tasteful embellishments with the maturity of a legend as others took turns on the high-stepping "Doing My Time."

Time on stage: 1 hour, 20 minutes for Scruggs; 1 hour, 6 minutes for opening act Greensky Bluegrass

It still is good. Though Grammy-winning Scruggs has been plagued by back, hip and heart problems and is a little less able than he once was to play like a flame-thrower, two things were abundantly clear during Thursday night's Summer Concert Series in Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park's amphitheater:

• The Country Music Hall of Famer has hot licks left in his 85-year-old rolling and hammering-on fingers.

• And he still gets a young-at-heart kick out of picking and grinning.

The event, favored by blue skies and balmy temperatures, was part concert, part tribute and part love-in. Scruggs and cohorts provided the concert. An audience of more than 1,200 supplied the tribute and love.

The crowd was well broken in by a strong, 1-hour, 6-minute opening set from the talented, up-and-coming five-piece Greensky Bluegrass, of Kalamazoo. This is a big-name in the making, with a tight sound and intriguing lyrics. And check out impressive dobro player Anders Beck.

When Scruggs kicked into "Salty Dog Blues," the audience jumped to its feet for a welcoming ovation. There followed a 20-song master's class in bluegrass virtuosity from perennial dobro player of the year Rob Ickes, Grand Ole Opry fiddler Hoot Hester and acoustic guitarist-vocalist Jack White, with rock-steady support from Nashville drummer John Gardner and Scruggs' sons, bassist-vocalist Gary and acoustic-electric guitarist and vocalist Randy.

A gentleman in appearance (black suit, tie, dress shoes), Earl Scruggs also proved a gentleman collaborator. He relished the other players' times in the spotlight, masterfully adding plucked beats here, chattering rhythms there, subtle accents in some places, bold insertions in others, always appropriate to his companions' work.

From a Doc Watson hit, "Streamlined Cannonball," to Bob Dylan's "You Ain't Goin' Nowhere," to the poignant "In the Pines" -- "where the sun never shines and you shiver when the wind blows" -- to the honky-tonk "Dim Lights, Thick Smoke and Loud, Loud Music," the entourage played with the assurance of veterans, the crispness of accomplished musicians and the camaraderie of respected friends.

Scruggs took up an acoustic guitar and displayed artful fingering in breaks on the Carter Family's "You Are My Flower" and an old gospel tune, "Bound in Jail."

The audience was primed to sing along after Scruggs' banjo broke into his "The Ballad of Jed Clampett" from the 1960s TV show "The Beverly Hillbillies." From there, it was a short hop into his signature "Foggy Mountain Breakdown," which ended in its patented banjo tag and to a deafening standing ovation.

The company responded with a six-minute encore jam on the rapid-fire "Lonesome Reuben," highlighted by rock-tinged bursts from Randy Scruggs' electric guitar and a full-metal-jacket firestorm from Ickes' dobro. And while they were busy pickin', some 1,200 cheering concertgoers couldn't stop grinnin'.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Banjo player Earl Scruggs comes to Meijer Gardens in Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS -- Ask any good banjo picker in the world to tell you who inspired them to pick up the instrument. Chances are the answer will be Earl Scruggs.

Considered a pioneer in the history of bluegrass music, Scruggs' contribution to the evolution and popularity of the five-string banjo cannot be overstated.

IF YOU GO Earl Scruggs with Family & Friends

When: 6:30 p.m. Thursday; gates open at 5:30
Where: Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, 1000 East Beltline Ave. NE
Opening act: Greensky Bluegrass
Tickets: $40 ($38 for Gardens members) at the box office, Star Tickets outlets, (800) 585-3737, startickets.com

However, Scruggs -- who turned 85 this year -- is perhaps best known outside bluegrass circles for his Grammy-winning instrumental "Foggy Mountain Breakdown," which he first recorded with longtime musical partner, guitarist and singer Lester Flatt. The fast and rhythmically complex number was featured prominently in the 1967 hit movie "Bonnie and Clyde."

Flatt and Scruggs also are responsible for bringing bluegrass music into the mainstream with their 1962 hit song "The Ballad of Jed Clampett," the theme song for the highly successful TV show "The Beverly Hillbillies." The two musicians also made several appearances on the show, acting as family friends of the Clampetts and solidifying the duo's popularity worldwide.

When Scruggs performs Thursday at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park as part of its summer concert series, the banjo prodigy will be joined by his sons Randy and Gary, who have played with their father since he and Flatt parted ways in 1969.

Scruggs, who was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 50th annual Grammy Awards in 2008 and a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, said he still loves to perform and plays 12-15 shows a year.

"I enjoy playing," he said. "You don't quit doing something you love."

Gary Scruggs, who also manages his father, said the show ""incorporates sort of a little musical history tour. It goes back to some early Flatt and Scruggs songs and includes Earl Scruggs Revue songs that we recorded back in the '70s. (We) also include more recent material."

Throughout his career, Earl Scruggs has distinguished himself from traditional bluegrass artists, not only with his innovative banjo style, but also with the music he has chosen to record. For example, he and Flatt undoubtedly created an uproar among bluegrass purists when they covered several Bob Dylan songs, including "Like a Rolling Stone" and "Rainy Day Women #12 and #35."

However, he still maintains the same attitude when it comes to picking songs.

"We go by a good song, it doesn't matter who has written it," he said.

Over the years, Scruggs has performed and recorded with such diverse artists as Dylan, the Byrds, Joan Baez, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Elton John, Melissa Etheridge and Sting.

"I enjoy working with other people," he said.

Born and raised in North Carolina, Scruggs says he caught the bug to play as a small child.

"We had banjo and guitar both in our home," said Scruggs, who taught himself to play. "I was playing, just switching around on banjo and guitar, but banjo was my first love."

By the time he was in his teens, Scruggs was playing at local dances and, while he didn't invent it, he revolutionized what is known as the three-finger picking technique on banjo, utilizing the thumb, forefinger and middle finger of the picking hand.

By his early 20s, Scruggs had landed a gig with the Father of Bluegrass Bill Monroe, as a member of Monroe's band the Blue Grass Boys. It was there that his syncopated banjo picking style, which incorporated blues and jazz phrasing, first gained notoriety.

"I was doing it before I ever met Bill Monroe," Scruggs said. "I call it hillbilly -- it's just old country music that I did over in North Carolina."

Gary said it's more than that.

"I'll jump in and brag a little bit on my father," he said. "What he did was develop new banjo rolls and patterns that enabled him to play a song (in a way) that would bring out the melody lines stronger than what was being heard by earlier three-finger pickers.

"His technique was a Rolls Royce compared to a T-model, if you want to make a car analogy from the difference that he brought to what was being played previously."

Monday, August 3, 2009

Photos of Earl at Rockygrass!

Here are a couple of photos of Earl at the recent rockygrass festival:


Historical museum opens in uptown Martinsville - Jim Eanes Exhibit

Two archivists opened the Martinsville Henry County Historical Museum in uptown Martinsville on Friday.


The museum has hundreds of artifacts on display, including historical images of important business, political, sports and entertainment people. There also are images of historical business and public buildings; memorabilia from businesses, industries, household life, entertainment and military service.

In addition, there are nearly 20 models of trade and war ships from several countries made by the late Durwood “Bo” Hanel, who was commissioner of revenue in Martinsville who had a hobby shop.

“I think it’s great. I love history,” said Shirley Lawson Foster of Figsboro as she toured the museum, at 41 E. Church St. She said it’s important to preserve the past to better understand the present and future.

“It’s spectacular," said Ruth Gravely of Collinsville. She especially enjoyed seeing a photograph of a train wreck in Koehler in 1946, which happened when she was a teenager.

The proprietors and archivists of the museum, in a 9,000-square-foot, two-story leased building, are Carl deHart, Martinsville archivist and a retired reference librarian, and Desmond Kendrick, the archivist for Henry County, DeHart said.

“We’re hoping a lot of people will be able to see evidence of our past lives and the way we lived and worked,” deHart said. Also, he said he and Kendrick hope to provide historical education for young people.

They both displayed a bit of their historical knowledge as they showed few of the items on display.

Kendrick said there were tobacco farmers, plug tobacco manufacturers and country store owners among his relatives, and he tried to reflect their lifestyles, livelihoods and business ventures in the museum collections. There are photos of some of them and their businesses, such as Peyton Gravely, 1790-1864, co-founder of Gravely Tobacco Co. in Leatherwood.

Since tobacco was historically such a vital part of this region’s economy, there is a model of a barn for curing tobacco; photos of various tobacco warehouses in the area; “premiums” from tobacco companies that Kendrick received when he was growing up, such as cigarette cases and cigarette lighters; photos of tobacco industrialist R.J. Reynolds, first cousin of Kendrick’s paternal great-grandfather; and a tobacco pipe made from tobacco leaf.

Photos show Charles Ward Holt, founder of Holt Department Store, in the early 1900s; William Letcher Pannill, founder of Pannill Knitting Co., in 1925; and several businesses dating from the 1800s.

Advertisements include 1930s ads for Palmolive, Chesterfield and Bon Ami. One photo shows Martinsville twins Dorothy and Grace Alexander, who deHart said were photogenic and athletic and were selected in the 1940s to do a nationwide advertising campaign for Chesterfield cigarettes.

“They were treated like queens,” he said.

Among the other artifacts overlapping business, politics, public service and human interest are a photo of Thomas Bahnson Stanley Sr., 1890-1970, who grew up near Horsepasture. He was the governor of Virginia from 1954-58 and also served in the state House of Delegates and the House of Representatives. He started Stanley Furniture Co. in 1922 and married Anne Pocahontas Bassett, whose father, J.D. Bassett, was one of the six founders of Bassett Furniture Co. in 1902. The gloves and purse Anne Stanley wore at her husband’s inauguration as governor are on display.

There is a display on Dr. Drewry Mason, a prominent medical doctor in Ridgeway who served on the school board and for whom Drewry Mason High School (now an elementary school) was named. Personal family items, such as photos and Dr. Mason’s medical bag and stethoscope, are included.

A photo also shows Sally Katherine Cook Booker 1857-1944, was the first woman from Henry County to serve in the Virginia legislature (at age 69) and the third woman in Virginia to do so. She served two one-year terms.

Among the military memorabilia there is a photo of an unsung hero of World War II with local roots. Maj. Gen. Edwin Martin, 1894-1945, who grew up in Martinsville and was a military aide to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt,. After FDR was briefed on the Germans’ attempts to develop an atomic bomb, he instructed Martin to do something right away. Martin instigated the Manhattan Project, which developed the U.S. atomic bomb at a cost of $2 billion, deHart said.

Other military memorabilia include awards and medals, a replica of a Civil War pistol, a World War I soldier’s hat and leg coverings and a World War II military recruitment poster.

As for the more ordinary daily lives of people, there are children’s toys; AM-only radios; old-timey projectors, fans, typewriters, telephones; a Victrola wind-up record player; bygone vehicles; and various household medicines and lotions.

Entertainment displays include sheet music of popular singers, such as Frank Sinatra, and a display on well known local musician Jim Eanes, a guitarist who was most known as a vocalist who played with Ralph Stanley. Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs and Bill Monroe.

The museum has a local sports hall of fame of sorts, too, including a few locals who went on to prominence in the big leagues, as well as some well-known local teams. One photo shows Randy Hundley, from Bassett, jumping off the ground as he protests an umpire’s call in a pennant game between his team, the Chicago Cubs, and the New York Mets. J.C. Martin, a Drewry Mason High School graduate, played for the Mets in that game.

Another photo is of Henry Emmett Manush, who managed the Martinsville Athletics farm team and went on to play for major league clubs. He had a lifetime batting average of .330 with 2,524 hits, and is in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Admission to the museum is free. It is open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, and by appointment. Donations will be accepted.

DeHart said that at present the museum is an a nonprofit, unfunded museum, which plans to apply for 501-3-C tax exempt status, and if that is approved, seek grants.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Gadget of the week: Gibson Earl Scruggs banjo from Land of the Lost


Introducing the Gibson Earls Scruggs banjo as played by Will Ferrell’s eccentric palaeontologist Dr. Rick Marshall in new comedy Land of the Lost, out at UK cinemas from tomorrow.
And if you fancy strumming along on a banjo, the Gibson Earl Scruggs is a fantastic place to start. This five-string one is modelled on the personal Granada model played by bluegrass banjo legend Earl Scruggs and as such features nickel-plated hardware to look like the worn gold-plated hardware on Earl’s. Introduced into the Gibson family back in 1984, the triple-bound instrument (white/ black/ white) is made of figured maple, finished with hand-applied lacquer and boasts a gorgeous hearts and flowers pattern.

It’s not cheap at $3,999, but delivers on every level; and will even come in handy in spooky giant bug-infested caves in fantastical lands. Or so we’ve heard.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

House Resolution Introduced Honoring Lester Flatt


I received an email from a friend that a resolution has been introduced into the US House of Representatives> Here is what I received:

U.S. Rep. Lincoln Davis, has introduced a resolution honoring Lester Flatt. The number is H.Res.583 and can looked up on www.thomas.gov We have 11 cosponsors. We represent 24 counties in middle and east Tennessee, including White County and Sparta, Tennessee. Congressman Davis (as am I) is big bluegrass fan and wanted to recognize his life and contributions in this 30th year since his passing. I borrowed some from your site www.flatt-and-scruggs.com in drafting the resolution, and wanted to inform you of this.

Here is the contents of the resolution:


111th CONGRESS

1st Session

H. RES. 583
Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that Lester Flatt has made an invaluable contribution to American art as both a songwriter and a performer, leaving an indelible legacy in bluegrass music.


IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

June 25, 2009
Mr. DAVIS of Tennessee (for himself, Mr. DELAHUNT, Mr. SHULER, Mr. CHILDERS, Mr. COOPER, Mr. MOORE of Kansas, Mr. COBLE, Mr. TANNER, Mr. NEAL of Massachusetts, Mr. DUNCAN, and Mr. MCGOVERN) submitted the following resolution; which was referred to the Committee on Education and Labor


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


RESOLUTION
Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that Lester Flatt has made an invaluable contribution to American art as both a songwriter and a performer, leaving an indelible legacy in bluegrass music.

Whereas Lester Flatt was born on June 19, 1914, in the region of Sparta, Tennessee;

Whereas Lester Flatt began playing guitar and singing in local churches at a young age;

Whereas Lester Flatt got his first break playing with Charlie Monroe and the Kentucky Pardners in North Carolina in the early 1940s;

Whereas in 1945, Lester Flatt was invited by Bill Monroe to play rhythm guitar and sing with Monroe's band on the Grand Ole Opry;

Whereas Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs, Chubby Wise, Howard Watts, and Bill Monroe are widely credited with the creation of bluegrass music through their band, Bill Monroe and the Bluegrass Boys;

Whereas Lester Flatt later joined with Earl Scruggs to create the band Flatt and Scruggs and the Foggy Mountain Boys, which remains one of the most influential bands in bluegrass music;

Whereas in 1969, Lester Flatt parted with Scruggs to form the band Nashville Grass, with whom he performed until shortly before his death on May 11, 1979;

Whereas in 1991, Lester Flatt, along with Bill Monroe and Earl Scruggs, became an inaugural member of the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame; and

Whereas Lester Flatt is widely regarded as one of the greatest bluegrass musicians and singers of all time, writing dozens of songs that are considered bluegrass classics: Now, therefore, be it


Resolved, That it is the sense of the House of Representatives that Lester Flatt has made an invaluable contribution to American art as both a songwriter and a performer, leaving an indelible legacy in bluegrass music.
An honor long overdue!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Martha White Theme Song

Here is the Martha White Theme Song that the group always played on their shows:

Link

Friday, June 19, 2009

Lester Flatt - b.June 19, 1914 d. May 11, 1979 - A Bluegrass Pioneer


Lester Flatt—one of the reasons bluegrass music is successful today There are few guitarist/lead singers who are better known in bluegrass music than Lester Raymond Flatt—probably none. His long career with Earl Scruggs and earlier with Bill Monroe made him a legend. And his strong rhythm guitar playing helped make bluegrass music the identifiable entity that it is.
Lester Flatt was born near Sparta, Tennessee, June 19, 1914. He was one of nine children. Young Lester was taught by his father to play the drop-thumb frailing banjo but could never master it so he quit to divert his energies elsewhere. By age seven, he was playing guitar and singing in the church choir. He became well-known near his home for his singing at schools and church programs before he was ten. Later in life, when asked about his musical style, he said that the music he played was simply the same type of music that his family had taught him. As a member of the Blue Grass Quartet, singing Monroe’s gospel tunes was just an extension of what he’d been doing all along. As a teenager, Lester left to work as a rayon weaver at the Sparta Silk Mill, Sparta, North Carolina. In 1934, Lester and wife Gladys bought a home in Sparta for $350 down and $5 per month payments. When the mill shut down that fall, the Flatts moved to McMinnville, Tennessee. Before the year was out, however, they were both employed in Johnson City by a silk mill there. The next year found them with the mill in the different location near Roanoke, Virginia. The Flatts did a little local entertaining together as a duo, and there in Roanoke, Lester joined Charlie Scott’s Harmonizers, playing on WDBJ. Flatt’s bout with rheumatoid arthritis forced him to quit the mill and to pursue music on a more regular basis. Lester and Gladys Flatt moved to Burlington, North Carolina, in the fall of 1940, where Gladys worked for the huge Burlington Industries, and Lester joined veteran entertainer Clyde Moody on WBBB where he sang tenor to Moody and played mandolin with Moody’s band. Also, it was during this period when Flatt worked at the mill that he worked with Jim Hall and the Crazy Mountaineers. In 1943, Flatt played with Charlie Monroe’s Kentucky Pardners in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Flatt played mandolin with this band only because Charlie played the guitar; he wasn’t accomplished on the mandolin but got a pay raise from Charlie to do it. He had to sing tenor to Charlie (just like Charlie’s brother, Bill, had done in the Monroe Brothers duets). Even though Flatt’s voice was capable of this type of work, he didn’t like it, and upon leaving Charlie Monroe he vowed never to do it again. There at WSJS (Winston-Salem) they were recorded on a thirty-minute 16-inch disc—a transcription (this was before tape recording). The master disc was then duplicated and shipped to other radio stations allowing the artist to appear at two or more places at once. They played on the Noon-Day Jamboree which was broadcast over seven radio stations and brought tremendous appearance demand. This led to Charlie’s purchase of a huge tent which could seat 2,000 people. They would fill it twice almost every night. The band had seven people plus a tent crew. Although he usually played mandolin with the band, it was here that most of Flatt’s guitar playing became refined. As did Clyde Moody, Cleo Davis, Charlie Monroe and occasionally Zeke Morris, Flatt adopted that style which included a thumb pick and a steel pick on the index finger. Flatt played guitar bass runs and melodies with his thumbpick on the low strings while brushing the high strings with his first finger to add rhythm. After quitting the Kentucky Pardners, Bill Monroe offered Flatt a job as rhythm guitarist and lead singer with the Blue Grass Boys, which he accepted. Stringbean met him at the bus station in Nashville and ushered him around until performance time. They all played on the Opry that night with no rehearsal. This was March 1945 according to some sources. Flatt’s voice fit well with the Blue Grass Boys and Monroe, quick to recognize good talent in his band, began listing Flatt’s name on the labels. Out of the next nineteen singles which featured vocals, only three did not feature Flatt singing lead.
At Christmas of 1945, Earl Scruggs joined the Blue Grass Boys. According to Jake Lambert’s biography on Lester Flatt, “With the addition of Scruggs, Monroe’s band became one of the hottest groups working the Opry. Bill purchased a stretched automobile and they were on the road almost seven days a week. When they finished a Friday night show they would head for Nashville and the Opry. Most of the time they would leave as soon as the Opry was over and travel the rest of the night to do a Sunday matinee—maybe four hundred miles away. Flatt said that there were many times Gladys would bring his clothes to the Opry and he would never go home. For both Lester and Earl, the road seemed to be endless. The personnel of the Blue Grass Boys in 1946 and ‘47 were Monroe, Flatt, Scruggs, Chubby Wise and Howard Watts. This band would go down in bluegrass history as being probably the best ever assembled.”
Lance LeRoy, bluegrass enthusiast, band manager and well-respected Lester Flatt biographer, gave his opinion of bluegrass at its best, “Looking back on it all, I think it would require someone with extreme tunnel vision to dispute the viewpoint that bluegrass music was first introduced to the world there around Christmas of 1945 when Earl first appeared on the Grand Ole Opry with Bill and the Blue Grass Boys. I don’t buy this ‘bluegrass as we know it today’ cop-out. I regard it as being the first time bluegrass music was introduced to the world...PERIOD! It took Earl’s three-finger roll on the five-string banjo to supply the music’s single most distinguishing characteristic. The four other parts were already here; he added the fifth one that is absolutely essential if you are going to have bluegrass music. The sound of the banjo played with a three-finger roll has always symbolized ‘bluegrass’ to both fans and the general public as well. I doubt that any other of the instruments even come close.
“Now I’m certainly not suggesting that Earl created bluegrass music,” continued LeRoy, “but then again neither did any other one individual. Bill Monroe was the band leader and, as a Grand Ole Opry member, provided the forum. Whether through fate, blind luck or whatever, he assembled what I think is the first and the best group ever to play bluegrass. Nobody has been able to improve on it since. For all this, he richly deserves to be called the ‘Father of Bluegrass Music’. It’s one of those honorary titles that befits the role he played in that band. Bill Monroe has been symbolic of bluegrass music throughout the world for a long, long time. In reality, though, bluegrass had a number of fathers.”
They worked hard and made good money. The road was difficult and Earl was concerned about his mother back home. “I was fully determined to get out of music,” said Scruggs. “My cup was ‘runneth over’ with the aggravations of road life. I was going home. I think the reason Lester put off leaving was because he didn’t think I’d leave. When I left, that’s when he gave his notice.”
Earl quit the Blue Grass Boys in early 1948, followed within two weeks by Lester and Cedric. “When I got home, Lester called and said, ‘I don’t think we’d be happy going back into the mills. Let’s think about it.’ He said we could stay close around home if I wanted, so I could look after my mother.” Lester invested $3300 of his life savings into a car and a sound system and they were on their way.
Scruggs recalled, “We went to Danville, Virginia. Lester, Cedric Rainwater and myself. Jim Eanes was there. There were just the four of us and we were only there two or three weeks. We called Jim Shumate, wanting a fiddle player; he wanted us to come to Hickory (North Carolina) to work on a radio station there. He was working in a furniture store in Hickory and didn’t want to leave. We were there just a matter of weeks.” (Eanes didn’t make the trip.)
“Mac Wiseman called, wanting a job, and we told him we weren’t doing anything. He said he wasn’t, either, ‘Just sitting in the Shenandoah Valley, going crazy,’ he said. He came to Hickory to work with us and told us about WCYB. We contacted the radio station and moved to Bristol within a few days. That’s where we started making a living.” They got there “about the last of April, the first of May 1948.” Also there were the Stanley Brothers and Curley King with his band. It was here they were billed as Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs, and the Foggy Mountain Boys.
Lance LeRoy elaborated on the next stage of bluegrass music: the era of Flatt and Scruggs and the Foggy Mountain Boys, “In their twenty-one years together, Flatt and Scruggs had more impact on the music, in my opinion, than anything that’s gone on before or since.” LeRoy, who knew Lester Flatt as well as anyone, continued to describe the situation, “They went their separate ways in early spring of 1948, neither one apparently with any immediate plan to continue playing music professionally.”
Some of the songs Flatt wrote through the years were “My Cabin in Caroline,” “Come Back Darling,” “I’ll Never Shed Another Tear,” “Down the Road,” “Head Over Heels in Love with You,” “Why Did You Wander,” “We’ll Meet Again, Sweetheart,” “I’m Gonna Sleep with One Eye Open,” “Bouquet in Heaven,” “God Loves His Children, “Get in Line, Brother,” “I’m Going to Make Heaven My Home,” “I’m Working on a Road to Gloryland,” “Be Ready for Tomorrow May Never Come,” “Little Girl [of Mine] in Tennessee,” “Don’t Get Above Your Raisin’,” “Cabin on the Hill” and “The Old Home Town.” He co-wrote “No Mother or Dad” with Curly Seckler.
The remainder of the history of Flatt and Scruggs and the Foggy Mountain Boys is discussed in the Earl Scruggs portion of this chapter. Lester and Earl split in 1969. Earl joined his sons in the Earl Scruggs Revue while Lester formed the Lester Flatt and the Nashville Grass with Lance LeRoy as manager.
LeRoy spoke of how the departure of Earl Scruggs as Flatt’s partner presented Flatt with a serious dilemma: whether to continue in music or not. “But without Earl and his ‘security blanket’ at that crucial point and without the strength of Earl, who was such an enormous presence, I honestly believe that Flatt would have retired with a gold watch from the (textile) mill in Covington, Virginia, where he had worked, or the one in Sparta, Tennessee, where he had worked at one time, too.” LeRoy explained that Lester cared little about the business end of the band—even in personnel problems with his band members. He left those problems to Earl and Louise Scruggs (manager), and later to LeRoy when LeRoy became Flatt’s manager. Without Earl and Louise’s business sense, Flatt probably would not have ventured into a band of his own. But Flatt could rely on LeRoy to handle those things in 1969. “I’ve always felt that Earl’s role in the total picture of Flatt and Scruggs’ career was underplayed and certainly Louise never got more than a fraction of the credit she should have,” told LeRoy. “She handled their business just exactly the way it should have been done for more than fifteen years.”
Now in Flatt’s Nashville Grass were Flatt (guitar), Roland White (mandolin), Vic Jordan (banjo, he left Bill Monroe’s band to join the Grass), Paul Warren (fiddle), Josh Graves (Dobro®) and Jake Tullock (bass).
By 1972, the banjo player for Flatt’s Nashville Grass was Haskell McCormick. Josh Graves quit the Nashville Grass and joined the Earl Scruggs Revue for a couple of years. Marty Stuart joined Flatt’s band as guitarist Labor Day weekend. He was twelve. He moved in with Flatt’s family, toured, and continued his schooling by correspondence.
In a 1980 interview, Marty Stuart described his time with Lester and Gladys and the band. “As I look back on it today, I realize that I have been one of the most richly blessed people in the world, being able to get my start with such a past master as Lester Flatt. I mean, going over the whole realm of music from every respect, to me, Lester Flatt was the greatest. He started me out in a very dignified way and there is no way that I could have ever repaid him... When I go on stage to do my show, I’ll always go back to how Lester would have done it. He was always point ‘A’ in my life and when I think I have got above that, I’ll always go back to Flatt. Just like going back to your alma mater.”
In 1979, while Lester Flatt was recovering from a visit to the hospital, Flatt asked Curly Seckler to take over the band while he recuperated. LeRoy recalled that “Lester’s whole manner changed a lot in those last couple of years and by then he’d totally lost interest in what the band sounded like and so forth, and it showed. But his mind and his perception never wavered. I talked with him in his hospital room on the Sunday before he died, the following Friday, about a contracted festival appearance that was a month away. A big tear rolled down his cheek and he turned his head away quickly and said in a barely audible whisper, ‘I don’t think I’ll ever play another one.’ After all the years and all the good times, that was awfully hard on me emotionally, and it shocked me into finally realizing that this is it.”
Earl visited Flatt in the hospital before he died. That meant a lot to Lester. LeRoy described Earl’s visit, “Earl gave Lester his flowers while he was living. Any fellow Flatt and Scruggs fan will know immediately what I have reference to.” In the instance Earl visited Lester when he could barely talk above a whisper, Earl stayed with him for more than an hour. When LeRoy tells of the visit to all who ask, he considers it “One of my most memorable moments throughout it all.” Earl described the visit to Lester’s bedside, “I went to see Lester—I don’t know how many days it was before he passed away, but he was really in bad shape. He was in the Baptist Hospital here in Nashville. He could hardly talk loud enough for me to tell what he was sayin’. He wanted to know if we could play some reunion dates together. And my answer immediately was, ‘Lester, number one, I want you to get well. Number two, yes we’ll play dates together when you get well. But my biggest concern now is for you to get more strength and get to feelin’ better; then we’ll talk about doin’ reunions. So that was kind of the way it was left.” Lester Flatt never recovered—he died after an extensive period of sickness.
Lester Flatt died on May 11th, 1979. The Nashville Grass became a partnership with all members as equal partners. Soon Seckler and Nixon became the leaders of the group until Nixon’s health failed about 1981. Then the band became Curly Seckler and the Nashville Grass .

Scruggs makes uptown appearance for documentary


Camera locked and loaded, Duane Heafner approached one of his musical inspirations.
Earl Scruggs, award-winner and icon to most bluegrass players, was only a few dozen feet away.
Heafner stood near the historic court square Thursday, hoping to nab just a moment with the Cleveland County native and revolutionary banjo stylist.
Scruggs, seen alongside cameras and at least half a dozen followers, came to Shelby to film parts of an intro film to be shown at Destination Cleveland County's Earl Scruggs Center: Music and Stories of the Carolina Foothills.
"This is sort of the setup for the courthouse piece," said museum planner Cissy Anklam.
Other shots in the short film will include "B-roll" material around town.
"Shots of him walking down the sidewalk," Anklam said as an example.
Scruggs will likely rest up for Friday's concert after filming completes, DCC Chair Brownie Plaster said.
Heafner said he didn't have tickets to Scruggs' hometown show, but hoped to land some before the legend took center stage at Malcolm Brown Auditorium.
"We're just so excited," Emily Epley, DCC executive director, told The Star earlier this year following the announcement Scruggs would return.
"Last time he came, the response from the community was tremendous. The tickets sold out extremely fast."
Proceeds from the concert will benefit the Scruggs Center, slated to be completed in late 2011.
Scruggs has been honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and by the Country Music Hall of Fame as well as a host of other music organizations. In 2008, he was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame at a special invitation-only ceremony.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Banjo player earns spot in Hall of Fame

Eric Ellis drove an asphalt truck for the N.C. Department of Transportation yesterday to help fix a road that had washouts from the heavy rains.

Today, he'll be down from his truck. He'll trade his work tools for a banjo and take center stage as he's inducted into the 2009 class of the Blue Ridge Music Hall of Fame in Wilkesboro.

"It's kind of hard to find the words (to describe how I feel) because of the company of the musicians," Ellis said. "I feel very humbled by it."

Ellis, who lives in Wilkes County's Mount Pleasant community, is being inducted in the category of sideman and regional musician. Other artists being inducted during tonight's concert and ceremony at the Walker Center are Ralph and Carter Stanley, Ola Belle Reed, Arthur Smith, Mike Seeger and The Primitive Quartet.

Ellis' cousin, David Johnson, was inducted into last year's inaugural class and will welcome Ellis into the Hall of Fame tonight. Johnson showed Ellis the finger roll patterns when Ellis was starting to learn banjo 35 years ago.

Other than that, Ellis learned from watching television and listening to records, developing a blistering bluegrass style he displays frequently at the Hometown Opry in North Wilkesboro. He's scheduled to play there today. The Hometown Opry starts at 7 a.m. Fridays at Main Street Music & Pawn (formerly Minton's Music and Pawn).

Ellis has a large regional following, and has also played with well-known artists Tony Rice, Bobby Hicks and Jimmy Gaudreau.

Banjo legend Earl Scruggs was also a great teacher for Ellis, who never played with him, but learned from his records. In 1996, when Scruggs was accepting an award in Raleigh, Scruggs wouldn't play because he claimed to be out of practice. The organizers had Ellis do the honors. "I had to stand there and play in front of him," Ellis said. "It was nerve wracking, but I wouldn't have taken a million dollars for it."

Now Ellis joins the company of Scruggs, who was inducted into the Blue Ridge Music Hall of Fame last year. The Hall of Fame is in the Wilkes Heritage Museum.

Also performing tonight will be members of the family of the late Ola Belle Reed, a songwriter who was born in Ashe County's Grassy Creek community.

The ceremony will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $25. For more information, visit www.walkercenteronline.org or call 336-838-6260.

Watch Eric Ellis perform a solo during a show with David Peterson, Mickey Boles and Ron Shuffler at the Lester Flatt Memorial Bluegrass Festival at LINK

Monday, June 8, 2009

Bricktown readies for pickin’, grinnin’ at American Banjo Museum

Banjos should be playing in Bricktown, an area near downtown oaklahoma City, in about 90 days as work wraps up on a $2 million renovation of a century-old warehouse at 9 E Sheridan Ave.

Johnny Baier, director of the American Banjo Museum, admits the journey so far has had its share of surprises, including a report by a surprised structural engineer that the building hadn’t collapsed long ago.

"The north and south walls were not attached to the building and apparently never were,” Baier said. "They were in danger of collapsing. It wasn’t until we took out the interior finish that the problem became clear. That meant about a $60,000 fix to attach these front and back walls.”

Baier credits industrialist Jack Canine for backing a "proper” renovation of the warehouse, which will include exhibits far more sophisticated than the do-it-yourself displays that were built by museum volunteers for its current home in Guthrie.

"For what we were able to accomplish there with no budget for building or exhibits, just enough to pay for a small staff, Mr. Canine saw what we were able to do and was impressed with what we did the past few years,” Baier said.

Being able to spend $350,000 on exhibits, Baier said the project "far exceeds” any dreams the museum board had when they started planning a move to Oklahoma City.

The warehouse’s makeover has been extensive: crews reopened bricked-in windows and painted the exterior red — a color more in keeping with the building’s history.

The entry steps were changed, as well, allowing people to walk straight into the museum instead of the old side steps. Those touring the inside can get a glimpse of where a replica of a Shakey’s restaurant — pizza parlors that sparked a revival in banjo music about 40 years ago — will be on display. The elevator is already in place to take visitors to the second floor, which will include more exhibits and a performance stage.

Construction crews are hoping to finish work by June 30 with staff moving into the building as early as mid-July.


Surprises in store
More surprises are expected with the grand opening, which Baier said is "set in stone” for Sept. 10-14. Even Baier doesn’t know who will show up, since the participation of big names, such as Earl Scruggs, will depend on whether they already have paying gigs that week.
"We’re not willing to pay what it costs ... we can’t,” Baier said. "But they’re all interested in being here.”

Baier said banjo enthusiasts nationwide visited Bricktown and toured the future museum home. Many were pleased with the museum’s new neighborhood, Baier said, and other guests were thrilled to encounter unexpected banjo performances in area restaurants and hotel lobbies.

Jim Cowan, director of the Bricktown Association, believes the museum, combined with the Academy of Contemporary Music opening across the street, will transform the district’s brand and image.

He and Baier look forward to what the two organizations might do together, and to music becoming a more integral part of everyday life in Bricktown.

"This is a dream for them to come in, buy this building and have such strong financial support that they can do the building right and pay tribute to its history,” Cowan said.

"It will mean a lot to have a museum in Bricktown, and the tourism and motor coaches it will bring to Bricktown is significant — the restaurants will love it. The museum really adds a new dynamic to Bricktown.”

Benefit Earl Scruggs Fundraiser June 19th


A benefit-fund raiser, Earl Scruggs - Home Again! is scheduled for June 19th at 7:30 PM at the Malcolm Brown Auditorium in Shelby, NC's high school. Tickets are available on line through etix.com. Please visit Destination Cleveland County for more information, tickets and updates.Link

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Music City Walk of Fame


Sam Bush (left), Pam Tillis, Earl Scruggs, Steve Cropper, Megan Mullins and Gunnar Nelson at the announcement of the Music City Walk of Fame
Photo Credit: Marilu White

Pickin' Performance


Earl Scruggs performs onstage at the Stagecoach Country Music Festival in Indio, Calif., on April 25, 2009.
Photo Credit: Paul Butterfield/Getty Images

Earl Scruggs in Nashville


Earl Scruggs walks the red carpet at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville on May 17, 2009.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

N.C. Music Hall of Fame to Open Soon



It took nearly 10 years, but the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame found its home at the "home of science."

Located in the old Kannapolis jailhouse, the hall of fame honors musicians, singers, songwriters and producers from the Old North State who have made contributions to American music.

Invited guests to a special reception, hosted by California music mogul Mike Curb, got a sneak peek inside the hardwood-floored showroom Thursday. Exhibits showcased musical artists from all genres with North Carolina roots -- artists like Randy Travis, Andy Griffith, Ben Folds, Thelonius Monk and Earl Scruggs.

And there are some big names enshrined here: Famed fiddler Charlie Daniels, beach music croners Billy Scott and the Chairmen of the Board, big band leader Kay Kiser and opera singer Victoria Livengood.

Even its curator, Eddie Ray is a music pioneer himself.

Ray, 83, from Franklin, N.C., worked his way up through the label system from assistant shipping clerk to becoming the first African-American vice-president of Capitol Records.

"I've always been interested in music history and in honoring the legacy of these artists," Ray said.

In this small-statured, soft-spoken man lives a wealth of music history. Ray has signed and promoted some of the biggest names in music. He brought Pink Floyd from the United Kingdom for Capital Records.

He promoted jazz and R&B piano player and songwriter Fats Domino for Imperial Records. Ray said he would pitch Domino to country music stations, saying "he was the next Louis Armstrong."

"He (Fats Domino) was the first crossover artist before there ever was such a thing," Ray said, with a smile.

Ray, as a music executive, signed Curb when he was 16 years old in the 1960s. Since then, the duo have been working together in the music industry. Curb went on to head MGM Records and then started Curb Records, a major country music label.

Curb's foundation is backing the hall of fame, which has struggled in past years to find a permanent home for its collection.

Doug Croft, an executive with the Thomasville Chamber of Commerce, dreamed up the idea of a music hall of fame back in the 1990s.

He said he began reading a music book published by "Rolling Stone" and recognizing musicians that had North Carolina roots.

"You've heard of all the big ones, like Charlie Daniels," said Croft, "so I made a list of all artists, producers and writers from North Carolina."

At the same time, he saw an ad for the Alabama Music Hall of Fame in a Reader's Digest and he thought North Carolina needed the same thing.

In 1999, the hall of fame organization was formed and the group inducted its first class -- which included The Chairmen of the Board, Loonis McGlohan, and promoter Bill Griffin.

"Bill Griffin was the one that made Greensboro a major between Atlanta and Washington, D.C. for Motown groups at the time," said Bill Kopald, chairman of hall of fame's board of directors.

Kopald is a former local news anchor who lives in Greensboro. He got involved with the music hall of fame in 1999. At that time, the group tried to get a museum opened to show the memorabilia the group had collected.

"Lots of places were interested -- Thomasville, Greensboro, High Point," Kopald said. "But no one stepped forward."

Croft said the group was pretty active in promoting the idea of a physical hall of fame, but, soon, with no takers, the group went on hiatus, he said.

Until about a couple of years ago, when Kopald got a call from Eddie Ray.

"He said, 'We've heard about you and talking about you,'" Kopald said. "He was calling on behalf of Mike Curb."

Being from North Carolina, Ray thought there needed to be a place to honor the artists, promoters and producers from the state that made an impact on music.

Curb and Ray both are interested in music history, and Curb is good friends with Dole Food Company owner David Murdock.

"Mike talked with Mr. Murdock, and we got a 10-year lease for $1 a year," Kopald said.

The Curb Family Foundation backed the hall of fame, putting up the money to renovate the old jail building in Kannapolis -- a process that took the better part of two years.

"When you get people together that share the same passion, the same interests, that's when things get done," Kopald said. "We're in a good location here. This is a part of Kannapolis -- the old mill town rising from the ashes."

Part of the mission of the hall of fame is to honor artists; the other part is education.

Once the museum opens full time, Ray said the plan is to hire interns to help with music research and build a digital archive of songs and interviews with native artists.

"We believe we should preserve these," Ray said. "This is more than just a physical site."

The music hall of fame is expected to open to the public by June 1.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Earl Scruggs to Play at Rockygrass! July,25

We are proud to announce the single-day lineup for the 37th Annual RockyGrass Festival in Lyons.

Friday, July 24
Sam Bush Bluegrass Band | Del McCoury Band | Peter Rowan | Mike Marshall & Darol Anger w/ Väsen | The Wilders | Three Ring Circle | The High 48s | Anne & Pete Sibley

Saturday, July 25
Steve Earle & the Bluegrass Dukes | Earl Scruggs w/ Family & Friends | Claire Lynch Band | California | Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper | Kruger Brothers | Bearfoot

Sunday, July 26
Hot Rize | To Be Announced | Danny Paisley & The Southern Grass | Darrell Scott Bluegrass Band | Sarah Jarosz | Steep Canyon Rangers | The Blue Maddies

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Country Music Pioneer Everett Lilly of Clear Creek to Receive 2009 Vandalia Award on May 23


Charleston, WV (HNN) -- The Vandalia Award, West Virginia’s highest folklife honor, will be presented to state, national and international musical pioneer, talented performer and ambassador of traditional mountain culture, Everett Lilly of Clear Creek, Raleigh County, on Saturday, May 23, as part of the 33rd annual Vandalia Gathering. The award will be given to Lilly during a 6:30 p.m. ceremony and concert in the Norman L. Fagan West Virginia State Theater in the Culture Center, State Capitol Complex, Charleston. Lilly and his band Everett Lilly and the Lilly Mountaineers also will perform during the concert. The event is free, and the public is invited to attend.

The West Virginia Division of Culture and History presents the Vandalia Award annually to a West Virginian who has made outstanding contributions to the continuation of the state’s folk heritage. The20award recognizes lifetime achievement in the performance, creation or perpetuation of West Virginia traditional arts. The Vandalia Gathering, an annual three-day festival of traditional arts and folk heritage, is celebrated Memorial Day weekend at the Culture Center and the State Capitol grounds. More than 40,000 people attend the three-day festival each year.

Everett, with his late brother “B,” traveled the world, performing and promoting their bluegrass musical roots. Known as the Lilly Brothers and playing with neighbor Don Stover, the group spread the word about the down-home music to New England and later, in the 1970s, to Japan, where they were the first professional bluegrass band to perform in the country.

One of seven children, Everett began singing with brother B at an early age, mostly at the local Methodist church, where their father played the pump organ. They also spent time with various musicians in the region and soon became interested in recording and radio musicians of their time, including Mainer’s Mountaineers, the Monroe Brothers, the Delmore Brothers and the Carter Family, to name a few. They began to visit churches, schools, shows, radio stations and theaters to perform. While still teenagers, they were on WCHS radio’s Old Farm Hour in Charleston.

In 1948, they joined the Saturday night Wheeling Jamboree on WWVA. Their work was broadcast to New England and Canada over the radio station’s powerful signal.

In 1951 Everett joined Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs in the popular Foggy Mountain Boys band, eventually recording 14 songs with the group. In approximately one year though, Everett received an invitation to form a band in Boston with fiddler, Tex Logan, whom he’d known from his time in Wheeling. Everett, B and Stover moved north and played under the name the Confederate Mountaineers. Soon they had a steady job playing at the Hillbilly Ranch, on the edge of Boston’s entertainment district.

By the 1960s, the group, calling itself the Lilly Brothers, became part of a folk music revival, traveling and playing in New England and the Midwest. In the early 1970s, after the death of his 16-year-old son Jiles in a car accident, Everett moved back to West Virginia.

In the last 30 years, Everett has performed with his other sons in the bands Clear Creek Crossing and the Lilly Mountaineers, occasionally joined by B, until his death in 2005.

The Lilly Brothers and Don Stover were inducted into the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) Hall of Fame in 2002 and the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame in 2008. Everett’s recording Everybody and Their Brother, was named the IBMA Recorded Event of the Year in 2008.

Everett Lilly is the 29th recipient of the Vandalia Award. He will be featured in the Summer 2009 issue of Goldenseal, the magazine of West Virginia Traditional Life. For more information about the Vandalia Gathering or the Vandalia Award, contact Jacqueline Proctor, deputy commissioner for the Division, at (304) 558-0220.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Music history exhibit celebrates innovators

Golden East Crossing mall in Rocky Mount, NC is featuring a music history exhibit at the mall through the end of the month.

The collection — Rhythm & Roots, Southern Music — is a display of instruments and information dedicated to the music and musicians of the South. It is located in the space near PacSun and is free to view. The exhibit focuses on traditional music forms from the South, such as blues, country and gospel, and it highlights transplanted music from Asian, Caribbean, Latino and Native American communities. Rhythm & Roots comes from the Southern Arts Federation, a coalition of state arts agencies across the South, as a traveling exhibit.

“Rhythm & Roots is a tribute to all of the musical forms that come together to create the Southern sound,” Southern Arts Federation Executive Director Gerrie Combs said in a statement.

The exhibit recognizes musicians such as Thomas A. Dorsey, Charley Patton, Arnold Schultz, Dewitt “Snuffy” Jenkins and Earl Scruggs — deemed “early innovators” for their pioneering types of music.

The exhibit is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays.

Flatt and Scruggs Collection Photos

I wanted to let everyone see photos from the Flatt and Scruggs exhibit I displayed a couple of years ago at the Josh Graves fundraiser in Tarrant Alabama. If anyone wants me to exhibit my collection at a festival, etc. in the greater Alabama area please let me know.
















I wanted to let everyone see photos from the Flatt and Scruggs exhibit I displayed a couple of years ago at the Josh Graves fundraiser in Tarrant Alabama. If anyone wants me to exhibit my collection at a festival, etc. in the greater Alabama area please let me know.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Curly Seckler and Tennessee Mafia Jug Band tape Song of the Mountains

Marion, VA -- Bluegrass music legend Curly Seckler along with regular Grand Ole Opry performers, the Tennessee Mafia Jug Band will headline the next Song of the Mountains concert in Marion, Virginia at the Lincoln Theatre on May 16th. Also on the show that evening will be the bands Constant Change, and Jett’s Creek. Comedy relief will be provided by Arizona native Gary Crain who impersonates dozens of popular performers past and present and will provide some musical humor as well.
Bluegrass legend Curly Seckler began his career in music in 1935, performing with his brothers on WSTP radio in Salisbury, NC. In 1939 he hit the big time, when Charlie Monroe recruited him to sing harmony in his new band after the breakup of the Monroe Brothers. Curly worked several stints with Charlie Monroe early in his career. He also teamed with various other bluegrass pioneers, including Jim and Jesse McReynolds, Mac Wiseman, The Sauceman Brothers, and The Stanley Brothers. In 1949 Curly joined Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs' Foggy Mountain Boys, as tenor singer and mandolinist. Except for a couple of brief absences, he remained with Flatt & Scruggs until 1962. During that time he recorded well over 100 songs with them, including many of their best known and most popular hits ("Roll in My Sweet Baby's Arms," "Salty Dog Blues," I'll Stay Around," "I'll Go Stepping Too," "Dim Lights, Thick Smoke," etc.). Curly Seckler is regarded as one of the best tenor singers ever in bluegrass, and in 2004 he was inducted into the IBMA Hall of Honor

Earl plays at Stagecoach Country music festival.

More than 40,000 people and their collapsible campfire chairs crammed onto the Empire Polo Field in Indio this weekend for the third annual Stagecoach country music festival.

Brad Paisley, Reba McEntire, Little Big Town and Hootie and the Blowfish frontman Darius Rucker all turned in standout performances on the Mane Stage, while rebel rock from the likes of the Charlie Daniels Band and Reverend Horton Heat packed 'em at the tented Palomino Stage.


Kevin Costner also turned up, with his new band Modern West, while 85-year-old bluegrass legend Earl Scruggs made another appearance on the Mustang Stage.

Curly Seckler Joins Stepson Johnny Warren for CD Release Party

Curly Seckler joined his stepson Johnny Warren at the Station Inn to celebrate the release of the new CD, A Tribute to Fiddlin' Paul Warren. The CD features Johnny playing a superb collection of old-time fiddle tunes he learned from his dad, the legendary Paul Warren, on the fiddle that Paul used for most of his tenure as a member of the Foggy Mountain Boys and the Nashville Grass. The Station Inn CD release party will feature Johnny Warren on fiddle, Charlie Cushman on banjo, Kent "Superman" Blanton on bass, and special guest Curly Seckler. Additional special guests will likely appear as well. For more information, visit: www.stationinn.com The new CD is available from: www.charliecushman.com, Ernest Tubb Records, County Sales, and other fine retailers.

Earl Scruggs returns home for concert


It's been almost two years since Earl Scruggs performed in front of a hometown crowd.
That's about to change. Scruggs, credited with revolutionizing and popularizing the banjo, will return to Malcolm Brown Auditorium June 19th. Tickets go on sale Thursday.
"We're just so excited," Emily Epley, executive director for Destination Cleveland County, told The Star earlier this year following the announcement Scruggs would re-turn. "Last time he came, the response from the community was tremendous. The tickets sold out extremely fast."
Proceeds from the concert will benefit the Earl Scruggs Center: Music and Stories of the Carolina Foothills, slated to be completed in late 2011.
Scruggs has been honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and by the Country Music Hall of Fame as well as a host of other music organizations. In 2008, he was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame at a special invitation-only ceremony.
Tickets will be made available beginning at 9 a.m. at First National Bank, 1338 E. Dixon Blvd., and online at destinationclevelandcounty.org. Prices range from $45 for the main floor, $35 for the second tier and $25 for balcony seats.

Liberty Square: A Lester Flatt Celebration in Sparta, Tennessee


Sparta, Tennessee, home of bluegrass legend Lester Flatt, will celebrate the icon's memory with a special event on the city's Liberty Square on Saturday, May 23rd beginning at 11:00am.
In 2007 the Tennessee State Legislature declared the 4th Saturday in May to be "Official Bluegrass Day in Tennessee" and in keeping with the branding of Sparta, Tennessee as "Bluegrass U.S.A.", the city will host its annual event, Liberty Square: A Lester Flatt Celebration beginning this year on May 23rd. Sparta, Tennessee has a rich bluegrass heritage and is not only the home of Lester Flatt but also the home of Benny Martin, Blake Williams (Lester Flatt & The Nashville Grass, Bill Monroe & The Blue Grass Boys, Williams & Clark Expedition), Josh Swift (Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver) and many more great musicians and luthiers. It is also home to Oldham's Theater where Lester Flatt first watched the movie "Bonnie & Clyde", that featured Flatt & Scruggs' Grammy award winning "Foggy Mountain Breakdown".
In 2002, the City of Sparta erected a monument on the city's square in honor of Lester Flatt and another special presentation will take place this year as well. "We are proud of our heritage and the contributions Sparta citizens have made in the past to Bluegrass music and want to not only acknowledge that, but also recognize the people who are continuing to make contributions today", stated Sparta's mayor, Tommy Pedigo.

Liberty Square: A Lester Flatt Celebration will take place in Sparta, Tennessee on Saturday, May 23rd and will feature food and craft booths from local vendors as well as a classic car show and of course, bluegrass music. The event will begin at 11:00am and is free to the public. Bluegrass music will begin on the main stage in front of the historic Oldham's Theater at 2:30pm and will feature music by Sparta's own Williams & Clark Expedition, 2-time SPBGMA "Entertaining Group of the Year" Nothin' Fancy, and 7-time IBMA Female Vocalist of the Year Rhonda Vincent. Sparta, Tennessee is centrally located 12 miles south of I-40 (Exit 288) between Nashville and Knoxville. For more information on Sparta, TN and Liberty Square: A Lester Flatt Celebration, including a complete schedule of performances, please visit www.SpartaTN.com or call 931-808-8083.

Bluegrass in Wilkes draws a crowd - Curly Seckler




Top performers in bluegrass and country music filled the stage Saturday for the third annual Festival on the Lake at W. Kerr Scott's Forest Edge Community Amphitheatre.
The festival was a benefit for Rendezvous Mountain State Forest Educational Park, and was sponsored by Friends of Rendezvous Mountain.
Some 300 to 400 people, including folks from all over North Carolina and surrounding states, were on hand throughout the day, according to Jennifer Michael, a member of Friends of Rendezvous and one of the main organizers. Many stayed in local motels and hotels, while others brought campers and used the reservoir's facilities.
Ms. Michael said she was pleased with the festival, that attendance was up from last year. She noted that there were more venders, particularly food venders, to serve festival-goers.
Though a forecast of rain probably deterred some folks from coming, advanced ticket sales were strong, she said.
The last two acts of the evening, Big Country Bluegrass Band and bluegrass legend Curley Seckler, brought out the largest crowd, Ms. Michael said. Big Country performed at 7:45 and Seckler hit the stage at 8:30, performing with Big Country.
Seckler, a native of China Grove who now lives near Nashville, Tenn., sang tenor and played mandolin as one of the Foggy Mountain Boys with Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs between 1949 and 1962. The 89-year-old Seckler participated in recording some of the group's classic material, including "Foggy Mountain Breakdown," "Roll In My Sweet Baby's Arms" and "Salty Dog Blues."
Seckler is a member of the International Bluegrass Hall of Fame.
Big Country's members hail from Virginia and North Carolina. The band, which headlined the festival last year, has performed on the Grand Ole Opry and other major venues. Ms. Michael noted that a large contingent of bluegrass enthusiasts from Virginia filled seats at the festival, drawn there by Big Country.
Music for the festival began at noon and continued through the afternoon and into the night. Emcee for the stage was Harrold Mitchell and the sound was handled by Tim Varner.
Among others performing were Elkville String Band, a local group; Roy McMillan and the High Country Boys, Heather Berry and Tony Mabe and R.G. Absher and Extra Measure, another local band.
R.G. Absher and Extra Measure opened the festival for the second year in a row. All groups, including Seckler and Big Country, performed both in the afternoon and at night.
A tribute to Gray Parsons was held at 4:50 p.m. Parsons was a volunteer fireman who died of a heart attack as he answered a fire call in February. He was a big bluegrass fan and a supporter of the Friends of Rendezvous, Ms. Michael said.
The tribute, which included a gospel song, honored him for his support, she said. Because Parsons was a member of the state forest service, other members of the forest service were present Saturday for the tribute.
Millers Creek and Champion firemen directed parking and provided assistance throughout the festival, she noted.
All funds from the concert are being used for Rendezvous Mountain State Park and the work of the Friends of Rendezvous Mountain for the park, Ms. Michael said. Though accounting hasn't been completed and some donations are still coming in, it appears that some $2,000 to $3,000 was raised, with tickets at $15 each.
The money will be used to improve Rendezvous, which is a forest park providing education. Ms. Michael commented that Rendezvous is a major community asset, located in one of Wilkes County's most scenic areas.