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: The new CD is available from:, 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 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 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.

Makin' Music: Bluegrass will fill the air at Jomeokee Campground, near Pilot Mountain

The Jomeokee Campground and Music Park at the base of Pilot Mountain looks a lot like it did when bluegrass legend Lester Flatt owned it.

The bathhouses and concession stands that Flatt built still remain. The nearly 100-acre park has retained its natural beauty.

And these days, the music is back.

This weekend, the campground will be home to a bluegrass festival that is reminiscent in sound and spirit to the festival that Flatt used to hold on the property until his death in 1979.

The Jomeokee Traditional Music Festival will be at Flatt's old music park on Friday and Saturday. The lineup will include musicians with deep roots in this musically fertile area, such as Rex McGee, and national acts, such as Junior Sisk and Ramblers Choice.

Flatt, one of the most influential guitarists and singers in country and bluegrass music, is best known for the music he made with Flatt and Scruggs. Flatt started having festivals at the campground in 1974. A year later, he bought the property, renamed it Lester Flatt's Bluegrass Park and continued his annual festival, which drew thousands of people.

He sold the campground to Alan Pace in December of 1979 with one provision.

"The agreement at the time he sold it was that he would have one final farewell festival," said Pace, who still owns the campground.

Flatt died of heart failure a few months before his final festival.

Pace renamed it Jomeokee, which means "Great Guide" or "Pilot" in the language of the Sauras, an American Indian tribe that lived in the area.

"It's the prettiest view of Pilot Mountain in the country," Pace said.

The campground was home to a few beach-music festivals as well as radio station WTQR's annual reunion, but those ended several years ago.

Pace's son, Tom, and Ralph McGee, a King musician, revived the idea of having a bluegrass festival at the campground. This year's festival is the fourth.

"It's still in its building stages, for sure," said McGee, who owns King Music Center. "We're still developing it and letting it grow as it will."

The music will begin Friday at 5 p.m. on a stage near the original stage where Flatt and other bluegrass legends once picked.

As with other bluegrass festivals with camping, some of the best music will be played in the campground until the early-morning hours.

McGee said that the festival usually draws about 1,000 people. The atmosphere, he said, is family friendly.