Wednesday, May 26, 2010

It's ICMC Time

Category: News

The 27th annual International Country Music Conference kicks off on Thursday, May 27 in Nashville. The three-day event will focus heavily on bluegrass this year, thanks to a special 40th anniversary tribute to Rounder Records and the keynote Charles K. Wolfe Memorial Panel on bluegrass music.

Other features will include Dr. Dana Wiggins discussing k.d. lang, pre-World War II discographer Tony Russell lecturing on Carson Robison, Cincinnati Public Library music librarian Brian Powers presenting on King Records, and yours truly speaking on the "secret weapons" of Homer and Jethro's comedy.

Marty Stuart will receive a lifetime achievement award, and Barry Mazor's book, Meeting Jimmie Rodgers, will be presented with the Book of the Year award, and journalism awards will go to Derek Halsey and Walt Trott.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Dates of Note in Country Music, May 16-31

Category: News

Country Music Hall of Famers in bold

May 16:

Rick Trevino born in Austin, Texas, 1971 (now 39)
Laura Lee Owens, the "Queen of Western Swing," born in Kansas City, Missouri, 1920 (died 1989)

May 17:

Penny DeHaven born in Winchester, Virginia, 1948 (now 62)
Pat Flynn of the New Grass Revival born in Los Angeles, California, 1952 (now 58)
Grant Turner born in Abeline, Texas, 1912 (died 1991)
Paul Warren born in Lyles, Tennessee, 1918 (died 1978)
Red Smiley of Reno & Smiley born in Marshall, North Carolina, 1925 (died 1984)
Wiley Walker of Wiley & Gene died (unknown causes), 1966 (was 54)
New Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum building opened, 2001

May 18:

Leon Ashley born in Newton County, Georgia, 1936 (now 74)
Rodney Dillard of the Dillards born in East St. Louis, Illinois, 1942 (now 68)
Joe Bonsall of the Oak Ridge Boys born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1948 (now 62)
Gary Scruggs born in Knoxville, Tennessee, 1949 (now 61)
George Strait born in Poteet, Texas, 1952 (now 58)

May 19:

Martha Carson born in Neon, Kentucky, 1921 (died 2004)
Rex Gosdin born in Woodland, Alabama, 1938 (died 1983)
Mickey Newberry born in Houston, Texas, 1940 (died 2002)

May 20:

"Lonesome George" Gobel born in Chicago, Illinois, 1919 (died 1991). Although many may remember him as a comedian and regular on Hollywood Squares, one of Gobel's earliest jobs in entertainment was on the WLS National Barn Dance when he was a teenager in the 1930s.
Jack Cash, brother of Johnny Cash, died (chain saw accident), 1944 (was 15)

May 21:

Henry Glover born in Hot Springs, Arkansas, 1921 (died 1991). The R&B songwriter and pioneering black record company executive co-wrote "Blues, Stay Away From Me" with the Delmore Brothers and Wayne Raney in 1949.
Charlie Poole died (heart failure), 1931 (was 39)
Billy Walker died (car wreck), 2006 (was 77)
Vaughn Monroe died (post-operative complications), 1973 (was 61). Among the pop singer's many hits was "(Ghost) Riders in the Sky."

May 22:

Miggie Lewis of the Lewis Family born in Richmond County, Georgia, 1926 (now 84)
Buddy Alan born in Mega, Arizona, 1948 (now 62)
Rich Alves of Pirates of the Mississippi born in Pleasanton, California, 1953 (now 57)
Dana Williams of Diamond Rio born in Dayton, Ohio, 1961 (now 49)
Ralph S. Peer born in Independence, Missouri, 1892 (died 1960)
Royce Kendall died (stroke), 1988 (was 63)

May 23:

Mac Wiseman born in Crimora, Virginia, 1925 (now 85)
Ken Irwin, co-founder of Rounder Records, born in New York, New York, 1944 (now 66)
Misty Morgan born in Buffalo, New York, 1945 (now 65)
Shelley West born in Cleveland, Ohio, 1958 (now 52)
Rosemary Clooney born in Maysville, Kentucky, 1928 (died 2002). The legendary pop singer recorded a number of country songs, including covering Carl Smith's hit "If Teardrops Were Pennies."
Rex Gosdin died (heart attack), 1983 (was 45)

May 24:

Mike Reid born in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania, 1947 (now 63)
Rosanne Cash born in Memphis, Tennessee, 1955 (now 55)
Billy Gilman born in Westerly, Rhode Island, 1988 (now 22). Gilman's "One Voice" hit #1 when he was 12, making him the youngest person in Billboard country chart history to have a #1 song.
Gene Clark of the Byrds and Dillard & Clark died (bleeding ulcer), 1991 (was 46)
Vivian Liberto died (cancer), 2005 (was 71). Vivian was Johnny Cash's first wife and Rosanne Cash's mother.
Jimmie Rodgers recorded "Old Love Letters (Bring Memories of You)," "Mississippi Delta Blues," "Somewhere Down Below the Dixon Line," and "Years Ago" in New York City, 1933. Ravaged with tuberculosis, they would serve as the final recordings of the Father of Country Music.

May 25:

Tom T. Hall born in Olive Hill, Kentucky, 1936 (now 74)
Jessi Colter born in Phoenix, Arizona, 1947 (now 63)
Dr. Humphrey Bate of the Possum Hunters born in Castallian Springs, Tennessee, 1875 (died 1936)
Ernest V. "Pop" Stoneman born in Monarat, Virginia, 1893 (died 1968)
Dick Curless died (stomach cancer), 1995 (was 63)

May 26:

Levon Helm of the Band born in Marvell, Arkansas, 1940 (now 70). The actor and drummer/singer for the Band made his acting debut in Coal Miner's Daughter.
Hank Williams Jr. born in Shreveport, Louisiana, 1949 (now 61)
Jimmie Rodgers died (tuberculosis), 1933 (was 35)
Onie Wheeler died (heart attack), 1984 (was 62). He died on the Grand Ole Opry stage during a performance of the post-Friday Night Opry show, Grand Ole Gospel.
The first International Country Music Conference held in Meridian, Mississippi, 1983. The three-day event began as a memorial to Jimmie Rodgers and coincides with the anniversary of his death.

May 27:

Don Williams born in Floydada, Texas, 1939 (now 71). Don is one of the four "class of 2010" inductees into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
Redd Stewart born in Ashland City, Tennessee, 1921 (died 2003)
Kenny Price born in Florence, Kentucky, 1931 (died 1987)
Opryland opened, 1972 (died 1997)

May 28:

John Fogerty born in Berkeley, California, 1945 (now 65). The leader of Creedence Clearwater Revival recorded an album of country songs under the pseudonym Blue Ridge Rangers in 1973, hitting the country chart with his rendition of "Jambalaya."
Jerry Douglas born in Warren, Ohio, 1956 (now 54)
Phil Vassar born in Lynchburg, Virginia, 1965 (now 45)
Gary Stewart born in Jenkins, Kentucky, 1945 (died 2003)

May 29:

Carl Story born in Lenoir, North Carolina, 1916 (died 1995)
Mother Maybelle and the Carter Family become members of the Grand Ole Opry, 1950
Hank and Audrey Williams divorced, 1952

May 30:

Mike Snider born in Gleason, Tennessee, 1960 (now 50)
Lewis Crook of the Crook Brothers born in Trousdale County, Tennessee, 1909 (died 1996)
Karl Davis of Karl & Harty died (cancer), 1979 (was 73)
Bobby Harden of the Harden Trio died (unknown cause), 2006 (was 70)

May 31:

Vic Willis of the Willis Brothers born in Schulter, Oklahoma, 1922 (died 1995)
Johnny Paycheck born in Greenfield, Ohio, 1938 (died 2003)
William "Red" Rector died (heart attack), 1990 (was 60)

Forest Fire

Category: Concert Review

The Jefferson Memorial Forest, located in the Louisville suburb of Fairdale, Kentucky, hosted the sixth annual Forest Fest bluegrass show on Saturday (5/15). The weather was perfect for the outdoor event, with the temperature in the mid-70s and clouds that kept the sun from being overbearing to those in attendance. Six hours of bluegrass music culminated with a musical forest fire set by headliners Dailey and Vincent.

Jeri Katherine Howell and Better Together opened the show. Howell is a 17-year-old regional singer who seems to be on a mission to rescue the reputation of under-20 singers from the terrible condition they currently find themselves in thanks to a number of teenage female singers in country music. Howell's voice is mature beyond her years, and her harmonizing with bass player Daphne Fields owes plenty to Hazel Dickens and Alice Gerrard. Howell is a very promising young talent in bluegrass.

Berk Bryant (L) prepares to introduce
opening act Jeri Katherine Howell &
Better Together

Another local band, Shepherdsville's Blue River, gave an excellent performance. Their sound relies heavily on the traditional sounds of bluegrass. They provided solid covers of the Stanley Brothers' "If That's the Way You Feel" and Charlie Monroe's "I'm Coming Back But I Don't Know When" as well as their own tunes. Highlights included "The Streets of Chicago," the gospel song "Glory in My Soul," and the instrumental "Ridin' the Goat at Dundee." This band can easily become a national success story.

Blue River performs for the crowd

The one disappointment of the afternoon was Earl Bull and Clinch Mountain Bluegrass. This band came to Forest Fest at the personal recommendation of show MC and bluegrass radio DJ Berk Bryant. Unfortunately, they were plagued with sound problems from the moment they walked on. Front man Earl Bull's banjo was turned up so loudly that it drowned out lead instruments even when he was simply playing rhythm. Worse, monitor problems caused Bull to sound terribly off-key almost as frequently as he was on key. Bryant has played this band on the bluegrass show and their recordings show that they sound much better than they did on stage.

Everything that came before paled in comparison to the headliners. Dailey and Vincent wasted no time in showing the enthusiastic crowd just why they are the reigning IBMA Entertainer of the Year act. They featured songs from all three of their Rounder releases as well as the tribute to the Statler Brothers, which is available only at Cracker Barrel stores.

Jamie Dailey (L) and Darrin Vincent
move closer to the audience to sing

After getting the crowd warmed up they moved from the stage to the lawn near the front row. While out front they sang the Statlers' "Susan When She Tried" and two a cappella numbers, "Moses Smote the Water" and "Don't You Want to Go to Heaven." Mandolinist/singer Jeff Parker would later return to the crowd to dance with a fan and "visit" with audience members while singing.

Dailey and Vincent's spine-tingling rendition of the Statler Brothers classic "More Than a Name on a Wall" (which is on their debut album, not the Statlers tribute) helped close out their 75-minute set. They returned for an encore as a few sprinkles began to fall on the audience. It hardly mattered, for nothing could dampen the the spirits of the crowd thanks to the superb performance Dailey and Vincent gave to close out the festival.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Five Feet High and Rising

Category: News

As the "thousand-year flood" in Nashville continues to ravage Music City, the damage to country music is only beginning to be realized.

Country Music Hall of Fame: The Hall of Fame has six feet of water in the basement. The news report says this poses no threat to the archives or the exhibits. The loading/staging area of the Ford Theater has also suffered some water damage, but the theater itself was unharmed.

WSM-AM: The radio station's studios were located in the lobby of the Opryland Hotel. The Opryland Hotel has as much as twenty feet of water on the ground floor. WSM is still on the air, broadcasting from the engineer building at the transmitter. Their online simulcast was off for two days but has been restored.

The Opry Museum: Reports say that the artifacts at the Opry Museum, located outside the entrace to the Grand Ole Opry House, have suffered serious damage.

Grand Ole Opry House: The Opry House has suffered major flood damage to backstage, the stage itself, the dressing rooms, and the auditorium. The Tuesday show was held at the War Memorial Auditorium, which was the Opry's home prior to the move to the Ryman. The current plan is for the Opry to go "on tour," as it were, between various venues (including former homes the Ryman and the War Memorial Auditorium) while repairs are made to the Opry House.

NOTE: The Ryman Auditorium was not damaged. Anyone who is familiar with the Ryman's location knows that it is located uphill on Fifth Avenue from Broadway. (The other side of Broadway runs downhill.)

Country singers Jeannie Seely and Julie Roberts had their homes damaged by the floods. As of now, these are the only two singers who have specifically been mentioned as being directly affected.

Please keep the city and its citizens in your prayers. And if you have a spare dollar, please donate it to the American Red Cross or the Nashville Red Cross chapter. The next "thousand year flood" might be in your hometown.

Nashville Salvation Army site