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!

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.