Sunday, January 31, 2010

Dates of Note in Country Music, February 1-15

Category: News

(Hall of Famers in bold)

February 1:

Don Everly born in Brownie, Kentucky, 1937 (now 73)
Ray Sawyer of Dr. Hook born in Chicksaw, Alabama, 1937 (now 72)
Del McCoury born in Bakersville, North Carolina, 1939 (now 71)
Lisa Marie Presley born in Memphis, Tennessee, 1968 (now 42)
Scotty Wiseman died (heart attack), 1981 (was 71)

February 2:

Howard Bellamy of the Bellamy Brothers born in Darby, Florida, 1946 (now 64)
Emmett Miller born in Macon, Georgia, 1900 (died 1962)
Lester McFarland of Mac & Bob born in Gray, Kentucky, 1902 (died 1984)
Glenn Barber born in Hollis, Oklahoma, 1935 (died 2008)
Rusty Kershaw born in Tiel Ridge, Louisiana, 1938 (died 2001)
Louise Scruggs, wife and manager of Earl Scruggs, died, 2006 (was 78)

February 3:

Dave Rich born in Briar Creek, Kentucky, 1936 (now 74). Ernest Tubb heard a recording of Rich's and hounded friend Ray Price throughout a game of golf to record the song. The song? "City Lights."
Matraca Berg born in Nashville, Tennessee, 1964 (now 46)
Betty Foley, daughter and one-time duet partner of Red Foley, born in Chicago, Illinois, 1933 (died 1990)
Jiles Perry "J.P." Richardson died (plane crash), 1959 (was 28)
Buddy Holly died (plane crash), 1959 (was 22)
James Blackwood of the Blackwood Brothers Quartet died (stroke), 2002 (was 83). He was the last member of the original legendary Southern Gospel quartet.

February 4:

Clint Black born in Long Branch, New Jersey, 1962 (now 48)
Chris McDaniel of Confederate Railroad born in Rock Springs, Georgia, 1965 (now 45)
Vic McAlpin born in Defeated Creek, Tennessee, 1918 (died 1980)
Kenneth "Jethro" Burns died (prostate cancer), 1989 (was 68)
Tom Brumley of Buck Owens' Buckaroos died (heart ailment), 2009 (was 62)

February 5:

Claude King born in Shreveport, Louisiana, 1933 (now 77).
Sara Evans born in Boonville, Missouri, 1971 (now 39)
Shelby David "Tex" Atchison born in Rosine, Kentucky, 1912 (died 1982)
Henson Cargill born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, 1941 (died 2007)
Eddy Noack died (cerebral hemorrhage), 1978 (was 47)

February 6:

Dale Reno of the Reno Brothers born in Roanoke, Virginia, 1961 (now 49)
Richie McDonald of Lonestar born in Lubbock, Texas, 1962 (now 48)
Anita Cochran born in Pontiac, Michigan, 1967 (now 43)
Violet Koehler of the original Coon Creek Girls born in Wilton, Wisconsin, 1916 (died 1973)
Merle Kilgore died (cancer), 2005 (was 70)
Frankie Laine died (complications from hip replacement surgery), 2007 (was 93)

February 7:

Wilma Lee Cooper born in Valley Head, West Virginia, 1921 (now 89)
Garth Brooks born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, 1962 (now 48)
Tony Booth born in Tampa, Florida, 1943 (now 67)
Warren Smith born in Humphreys County, Mississippi, 1933 (died 1980)
Ambrose Allen of the Allen Brothers born in Sewanee, Tennessee, 1901 (died 1959)
Dale Evans died (congestive heart failure), 2001 (was 88)
Molly Bee died (complications of a stroke), 2009 (was 68)
Patsy Cline's last recording session, Nashville, 1963. The last song she recorded was a cover of Moon Mullican's "I'll Sail My Ship Alone."
Jim Reeves recorded "Four Walls" in Nashville, 1957. This song is said by many to be the beginning of the "Nashville Sound."

February 8:

Joe South born in Atlanta, Georgia, 1942 (now 68)
Dan Seals born in McCamey, Texas, 1948 (now 62)
Don Wayne Reno of the Reno Brothers born in Roanoke, Virginia, 1963 (now 47)
Pappy Daily born in Yoakum, Texas, 1902 (died 1987)
Bob Dunn born in Fort Gibson, Oklahoma, 1908 (died 1971). Dunn is credited as being the first country musician to use amplification for his instrument.
Merle Watson born in Deep Gap, North Carolina, 1949 (died 1985)
Lulu Belle Wiseman died (Alzheimer's disease), 1999 (was 84)
Keith Knudsen of Southern Pacific died (chronic pneumonia), 2005 (was 56)

February 9:

Red Lane born in Zona, Louisiana, 1939 (now 71)
Joe Ely born in Amarillo, Texas, 1947 (now 63)
Travis Tritt born in Marietta, Georgia, 1963 (now 47)
Ernest Tubb born in Crisp, Texas, 1914 (died 1984)

February 10:

George York of the York Brothers born in Louisa, Kentucky, 1910 (died 1974)
Arthur Satherley died (natural causes), 1986 (was 96)
Kendall Hayes died (cancer), 1995 (was 59)
Jim Varney died (lung cancer), 2000 (was 50)

February 11:

Wesley Rose born in Chicago, Illinois, 1918 (died 1980)

February 12:

Moe Bandy born in Meridian, Mississippi, 1944 (now 66)
Stephen Sholes born in Washington, DC, 1911 (died 1968)
Harley "Red" Allen born in Pigeon Roost, Kentucky, 1930 (died 1993)
Lorne Greene born in Ottawa, Ontario, 1915 (died 1987). The legendary actor hit the Billboard top 40 country charts in 1964 with "Ringo."
Sammi Smith died (emphysema), 2005 (was 61)

February 13:

David McLaughlin of the Johnson Mountain Boys born in Washington, DC, 1958 (now 52)
Tennessee Ernie Ford born in Bristol, Tennessee, 1919 (died 1991)
Boudleaux Bryant born in Shellman, Georgia, 1920 (died 1987)
Jim McReynolds of Jim & Jessee born in Coeburn, Virginia, 1927 (died 2003)
Charlie Moore born in Piedmont, South Carolina, 1935 (died 1979)
Buddy Lee died (cancer), 1998 (was 65)
Waylon Jennings died (complications of diabetes), 2002 (was 64)

February 14:

Razzy Bailey born in Five Points, Alabama, 1939 (now 71)
Bill Nowlin, co-founder of Rounder Records, born in Boston, Massachusetts, 1945 (now 65)
Harry Stone born in Jacksonville, Florida, 1898 (died 1968)
Lonnie Glosson born in Judsonia, Arkansas, 1908 (died 2001)
Buck Griffin died (heart failure), 2009 (was 85)

February 15:

Hank Locklin born in McLellan, Florida, 1918 (died 2009)
Wally Fowler born in Adairsville, Georgia, 1917 (died 1994)
Louise Scruggs born in Lebanon, Tennessee, 1927 (died 2006)
 Nat "King" Cole died (lung cancer), 1965 (was 45). The legendary pop crooner hit #1 on the Billboard country charts in 1944 (with the King Cole Trio) with the song "Straighten Up and Fly Right."

Dorris Macon died (suicide), 1981 (was 71)
Roy Lanham died in Camarillo, California (cancer), 1991 (was 68)

Friday, January 22, 2010

Musical Freight Train

Category: Concert Review

In over a dozen years of attending bluegrass shows at the Shepherdsville Country Music Place, the January 22 Dailey and Vincent show is the first time I have ever walked into a venue already three-fourths full -- some 75 minutes before the show. The early arrivals, in addition to getting a coveted seat for the concert, were treated to two songs in the sound check: "The Class of '57," the classic Statler Brothers song, and an a cappella rendition of "Get Down on Your Knees and Pray."

When the sound check raises goose bumps there is quite an expectation. Forgive the cliche, but Dailey and Vincent did not disappoint. They took the stage five minutes early like a musical freight train heading full-throttle toward the audience, and they did not slow down until after "Foggy Mountain Breakdown," which was their seventh song into the show.

Former Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver lead/tenor singer Jamie Dailey and former Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder mandolinist Darrin Vincent (younger brother of Rhonda Vincent) teamed up in 2007, and since then they have been bowling over the bluegrass world the way they mesmerized the capacity crowd in Shepherdsville. Eight IBMA Awards (including back-to-back Entertainer of the Year trophies) later, they are the hottest act in bluegrass -- and for very good reason. In the finest tradition of old-time performers, Dailey and Vincent combine fine harmonies, good music, superb song selection, and a healthy dose of comedy to provide a very entertaining show. And entertain is exactly what they did, to the point where they took a ten-minute intermission almost under duress.

Dailey and Vincent (center) singing
with band members Jeff Parker (l)
and Christian Davis

As with both of their former bosses, a number of gospel songs were performed throughout the show, highlighting the new totally a cappella release Singing From the Heart. Additionally, they performed several Statler Brothers tunes to promote the forthcoming release Dailey & Vincent Sing the Statler Brothers, which will be available beginning February 1 at Cracker Barrel stores.

The duo received a number of standing ovations during the show, including for their spine-tingling rendition of the Statlers' "More Than a Name on a Wall." After finishing with "Don't You Want to Go to Heaven When You Die," they were called back for an encore. Before closing the show, Dailey quipped, "Phew. It's pretty tiring when you sing for yourself."

The band has already been well-received in bluegrass circles, but there is no telling where they will go from here. Based on their superlative performance Friday night, each and every accolade they receive will be more than deserved.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

If Teardrops Were Pennies

Category: Obituary

It is with tremendous sadness that I report the passing of one of country music's greatest entertainers, singers, and legends. Carl Smith passed away Saturday (January 16) in Nashville.

Carl began his career in Knoxville (which could be nicknamed "the cradle of the Hall of Fame" given all the Hall of Famers who started there), on WROL. In 1951 he married June Carter and got a record deal on Columbia. The marriage to June didn't last. The marriage to Columbia was far more successful, as Carl scored hit after hit through the 1950s and 60s.

He continued to have hits in the 1970s, but he -- not the decline in success -- ended his career. He retired to live on his farm with second wife Goldie Hill (of "I Let the Stars Get in My Eyes" fame) and raise horses.

Carl's career earned him a spot in the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2003. However, in one of the biggest insults to a Hall of Fame inductee ever displayed, he was not allowed to give a speech on the CMA Awards telecast the night of his induction. Had traditional country fan Vince Gill not been hosting the show and acknowledged Carl in his seat, the very presence of the newest recipient of country's highest honor would have gone completely unnoticed.

The love of Carl's life, Goldie Hill, died in February 2005 of cancer. They had been married for 47 years at the time of her passing.

Country music has lost a "tall tall gentleman" of talent. We will not see the likes of him again.

A sad and loving farewell to Carl Smith, who was 82.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Dates of Note in Country Music, January 16-31

Category: News

Hall of Famers in bold

January 16:

Ronnie Milsap born in Robbinsville, North Carolina, 1943 (now 67)
Jim Stafford born in Eloise, Florida, 1944 (now 66)
Sandy Pinkard of Pinkard & Bowden born in Abbeville, Louisiana, 1947 (now 63)
Roy Lanham of the Sons of the Pioneers born in Corbin, Kentucky, 1923 (died 1991)
Ruby Falls born in Jackson, Tennessee, 1946 (died 1986)

Dizzy Dean born in Lucas, Arkansas, 1910 (died 1974). The legendary baseball player is credited with dubbing Roy Acuff "King of Country Music."
Bill Monroe seriously injured in a car wreck, 1953. Monroe was away from performing for six months while recovering.

January 17:

Amanda Wilkinson of the Wilkinsons born in Belleville, Ontario, 1982 (now 28)
Steve Earle born in Fort Monroe, Virginia, 1955 (now 55)
Walter Bailes of the Bailes Brothers born in Kanawha County, West Virginia, 1920 (died 2000)
Grady Martin born in Marshall County, Tennessee, 1929 (died 2001)
Cliffie Stone died (heart attack), 1998 (was 80)
Frank "Hylo" Brown died (natural causes), 2003 (was 81)
The street in front of Graceland renamed "Elvis Presley Boulevard," 1972

January 18:

Bobby Edwards born in Aniston, Alabama, 1926 (now 84)
Hargus "Pig" Robbins born in Spring City, Tennessee, 1938 (now 72)
Mark Collie born in Waynesboro, Tennessee, 1956 (now 54)
Linda Parker of the Cumberland Ridge Runners born in Covington, Kentucky, 1912 (died 1935)
Eddie Hill died (long-term illness), 1994 (was 74)

January 19:

Oscar Sullivan born in Edmonton, Kentucky, 1919 (now 91)
Stu Phillips born in Montreal, Quebec, 1933 (now 77)
Phil Everly born in Chicago, Illinois, 1939 (now 71)
Dolly Parton born in Locast Ridge, Tennessee, 1946 (now 64)
Stephanie Davis born in Bridger, Montana, 1958 (now 52)
Dennie Crouch of the Nashville Bluegrass Band born in Strawberry, Arkansas, 1967 (now 43)
Leo Soileau born in Ville Platte, Louisiana, 1904 (died 1980)
Ken Nelson born in Caledonia, Minnesota, 1911 (died 2008)
Ralph Peer died (unknown cause), 1960 (was 67)
Vic McAlpin died (unknown cause), 1980 (was 61)
Carl Perkins died (stroke), 1998 (was 65)

January 20:

Slim Whitman born in Tampa, Florida, 1924 (now 86). In 2008, Whitman was incorrectly listed as deceased the day after his birthday.
John Michael Montgomery born in Danville, Kentucky, 1965 (now 45)
George Burns born in New York, New York, 1896 (died 1996). The legendary comedian and actor had a top 20 country song in 1980 with "I Wish I Was Eighteen Again."

January 21:

Mac Davis born in Lubbock, Texas, 1942 (now 68)
Jim Ibbottson of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1947 (now 63)
Huddie "Leadbelly" Leadbetter born in Mooringsport, Louisiana, 1889 (died 1949). The year of Leadbelly's birth is open for debate, as is the actual day, with numerous sources citing January 20, January 21, or January 23, and years of 1888 or 1889.
Cedric Rainwater died (heart attack), 1970 (was 56)
Jim Anglin died (cancer), 1987 (was 73)
Colonel Tom Parker died (stroke), 1997 (was 87). In addition to Elvis, Parker managed Eddy Arnold, Hank Snow, and Minnie Pearl early in their careers.
Patsy Cline appeared on Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts and won the talent show,1957

January 22:

Teddy Gentry of Alabama born in Fort Payne, Alabama, 1952 (now 58)
J.P. Pennington of Exile born in Berea, Kentucky, 1949 (now 61)
Dickie McBride of Cliff Bruner's Texas Wanderers born in New Baden, Texas, 1914 (died 1971)
Jimmy Day died (cancer), 1999 (was 65)
Janette Carter, the last surviving member of the Carter Family, died (Parkinson's disease/illness), 2006 (was 82)

January 23:

Etta May born in Bald Knob, Arkansas, 1962 (now 48)
Johnny Russell born in Sunflower County, Mississippi, 1940 (died 2001)
T. Texas Tyler died (cancer), 1972 (was 55)
Art Stamper (fiddler in the Clinch Mountain Boys) died (throat cancer), 2005 (was 71)
Johnny Carson died (emphysema), 2005 (was 79). Carson had a number of country artists on The Tonight Show, including over three dozen appearances by Homer and Jethro, who Carson considered his favorites.
The Winter Dance Party begins in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 1959. Three of the headliners, Buddy Holly, J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson, and Richie Valens, would die 11 days later.

January 24:

Doug Kershaw born in Tiel Ridge, Louisiana, 1936 (now 74)
Jack Scott born in Windsor, Ontario, 1936 (now 72)
Ray Stevens born in Clarksdale, Georgia, 1939 (now 71)
Becky Hobbs born in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, 1950 (now 60)
Keech Rainwater of Lonestar born in Plano, Texas, 1963 (now 47)
Shot Jackson died (complications of stroke), 1991 (was 70)
Justin Tubb died (aortic aneurysm), 1998 (was 62)

January 25:

Claude Gray born in Henderson, Texas, 1932 (now 78)
Rusty Draper born in Kirksville, Missouri, 1923 (died 2003)
Speedy West born in Springfield, Missouri, 1924 (died 2003)
Cactus Jack Call died (car wreck), 1963. A benefit concert for the disc jockey five weeks later was the final performances by Patsy Cline, Hawkshaw Hawkins, and Cowboy Copas.

January 26:

James O'Gwynn born in Winchester, Mississippi, 1928 (now 82)
Dave Rowland of Dave & Sugar born in Sanger, California, 1942 (now 68)
Lucinda Williams born in Lake Charles, Louisiana, 1953 (now 57)
Clayton McMichen born in Allatoona, Georgia, 1900 (died 1970)
Goebel Reeves died (heart attack), 1959 (was 59)
Hillary Clinton
disparagingly invoked Tammy Wynette's "Stand By Your Man" during an interview, 1992

January 27:

Buddy Emmons born in Mishawaka, Indiana, 1937 (now 73)
Lee Carroll of Exile born in Glasgow, Kentucky, 1953 (now 57)
Cheryl White of the Whites born in Wichita Falls, Texas, 1955 (now 55)
Richard Young of the Kentucky Headhunters born in Glasgow, Kentucky, 1955 (now 55)
Tracy Lawrence born in Atlanta, Texas, 1968 (now 42)
Joe Callahan of the Callahan Brothers born in Madison County, North Carolina, 1910 (died 1971)
Claude Akins died (cancer), 1994 (was 67). Among the actor's roles was Sonny on the TV series Movin' On, which featured the title song performed by Merle Haggard.

January 28:

Bill Phillips born in Canton, North Carolina, 1936 (now 73)
Greg Cook of Ricochet born in Vian, Oklahoma, 1965 (now 45)
Skeeter Willis died (lymph cancer), 1976 (was 58)
Al Dexter died (heart attack), 1984 (was 78)
Jimmy Fortune joins the Statler Brothers, 1982

January 29:

Patsy Sledd born in Falcon, Missouri, 1944 (now 66)
Irlene Mandrell of the Mandrell Sisters born in Corpus Christi, Texas, 1957 (now 53)
Lloyd Perryman of the Sons of the Pioneers born in Ruth, Arkansas, 1917 (died 1977)
Little Jimmy Sizemore born in Paintsville, Kentucky, 1928 (died 1985)

January 30:

Jeanne Pruett born in Pell City, Alabama, 1937 (now 73)
Norma Jean ("Pretty Miss Norma Jean") born in Wellston, Oklahoma, 1938 (now 72)
Harold Morrison born in High Lonesome, Missouri, 1931 (died 1993)
Melvin Endsley born in Drasco, Arkansas, 1934 (died 2004)
Ott Devine died (unknown cause), 1994 (was 83)

January 31:

Lynwood Lunsford of Lost & Found born in Roxboro, North Carolina, 1962 (now 48)
Warren Smith died (heart attack), 1981 (was 47)

Monday, January 04, 2010

A 90-Second Pick-Me-Up

Category: 50 Songs to Hear

SONG: When I Lift Up My Head
ARTIST: Browns
SONGWRITER: Dottie Rambo
ALBUM: Old Country Church
YEAR/LABEL: 1967; RCA Victor

That's not a song people usually mention.
(Maxine Brown, discussing "When I Lift Up My Head," July 4, 2009)

It has often been said, given the number of sibling acts in country music history, that there is no harmony like family harmony. Very few people have proven that more accurately than the Browns.

The trio began as a duet, just Jim Ed and his older sister Maxine. When Bonnie graduated from high school she joined the group. Their career seemed at an end when Jim Ed was drafted, but good friend (and guitarist on the first Browns recordings) Jim Reeves went to bat for them at RCA and got them signed. Their first RCA hit was one for the ages: the Louvin Brothers composition "I Take the Chance." Out of the Army, in 1959 Jim Ed recorded the landmark "The Three Bells" with his sisters. and set everyone in country and pop on their ears with the song. Other hits followed, including "Scarlet Ribbons" and a version of Hank Locklin's "Send Me the Pillow That You Dream On." In 1967 the two sisters retired from show business to concentrate on raising their families, leaving Jim Ed as a solo artist.

Before they parted company professionally they recorded a gospel album, Old Country Church. The shortest song on the album is also the best: "When I Lift Up My Head."

Written by the late gospel great Dottie Rambo, the song takes up just 91 seconds of time. It is the most enjoyable, uplifting minute and a half on the record -- or just about anywhere. Maxine sang the lead with her sibling backing her on a "call and response" throughout the song. Regardless of a person's religious belief, the pure joy of this song will lift their spirit.

The Browns have performed numerous "reunion" shows on the Grand Ole Opry and the Midnite Jamboree in Nashville that have filled the auditoriums. The joy of the music provided by the first family of harmony is the reason people pack the house. That joy is most evident in the brief by exceptional "When I Lift Up My Head."


The entire Jim Edward, Maxine and Bonnie Brown album
-- golden nuggets ("Lookin' Back to See," "I Heard the Bluebirds Sing"), an early Conway Twitty composition ("The Table Next to Me"), and a cover photo featuring Jim Ed holding Hawkshaw Hawkins' guitar.

"The Bandit" (from Three Shades of Brown) -- the theme to the 1953 film O Cangaceiro gets the harmony treatment from the Browns.

"Man With a Plan" (available on The Three Bells 8-CD set) -- a fun song written by Ira Louvin.

"The Three Bells" -- it may sound strange to include this, since it was not only the biggest hit of the Browns' career but one of the biggest songs in country music history, but get this recording out and enjoy it. It is a masterpiece. If you don't have goosebumps, have someone check your pulse.


Rose of My Heart
Rock of Ages, Hide Thou Me
Our Town
Old Memories Mean Nothing to Me
Not That I Care
Nobody Eats at Linebaugh's Anymore
My Book of Memories
Lost to a Stranger
A Little Bitty Heart
Life Has Its Little Ups and Downs
Life is Too Short
I Want a Home in Dixie
I Lost Today
Down to the River to Pray
Don't Let the Stars Get in Your Eyeballs
A Death in the Family
Dark as a Dungeon
Bottomless Well

Stealin' Time
Starting Tomorrow
Sleep's Dark and Silent Gate
She's a Runaway
Painted Bells
Out to Sea
One More Song
New Delhi Freight Train
Long Way Home
Heart of Rome
Harriet Tubman's Gonna Carry Me Home
Entella Hotel
Desperados Under the Eaves
Crossing Muddy Waters
Cliffs of Dooneen
Bruised Orange (Chain of Sorrow)
Baby Mine

Friday, January 01, 2010

The New Year Starts Off Hot on a Cold Night

Category: Concert review

Part of the beauty of bluegrass music is the close connection and interaction between fans and bands. That connection enabled the Cherryholmes family to earn an ovation for their sound check, which they conducted in front of the early-arriving crowd at the Shepherdsville Country Music Place on New Year's Day evening. The lucky early comers, about half of the capacity crowd who would fill the house at show's beginning, appreciated the bonus music. The band most likely appreciated the size of the audience watching them tune up, given that their first appearance in Shepherdsville was before fewer than fifty people.

Cherryholmes opened the show with a beautiful a cappella rendition of the National Anthem before launching into the first half of the show. The highlights included a brand new song they premiered for the loyal Kentucky fans, a bluesy gospel number called "Changed in a Moment" featuring mom Sandy on lead vocal, and a smoking version of "Brand New Heartache."

The influence of jazz on bluegrass has only been mentioned comically, in the late Randall Hylton's song "The Mother of Bluegrass." In this show, Cia mentioned Django Reinhardt, probably the first time the jazz master has ever been referenced at a bluegrass show. The children did two jazz numbers, one vocal and one instrumental, to close out the first half of the show.

Cherryholmes returned after the intermission with a list of requests, and they fulfilled them all. At one point regional bluegrass star Tommy Brown joined the band onstage for a superb version of "Room at the Top of the Stairs." After the intermission requests were filled, Jere asked the audience if there were more songs. People called for "Red Satin Dress" and "He Goes to Church" (which they did), and, of course, the obligatory cry of "Free Bird." After stunning renditions of "No One to Sing for Me" and "When He Reached Down His Hand for Me," the band finished off with a smoking encore of "Orange Blossom Special."

Cherryholmes will return to Shepherdsville in late February for friend Tommy Brown's mid-winter festival. The fans who walked away with smiles on their faces after the family's mesmerizing performance on New Year's day are counting the moments until that next appearance.