Sunday, May 29, 2011

ICMC Memories

Category:  News

The 28th annual International Country Music Conference was a rousing success.  Highlights, as usual, were hard to pick from, but here are a few:

  • The Friday evening "Studio B" session featured three legendary record engineers:  Glenn Snoddy, who worked at WSM when Hank Williams did his "Health and Happiness" shows; Tom Pick, who worked for people as diverse as Jerry Reed and Donna Fargo; and Ron "Snake" Reynolds, engineer for many legendary songs (including that one by George Jones about putting a wreath upon his door that everyone loved except George).
L-R: Ron "Snake" Reynolds, Tom Pick, moderator John Rumble,
and Glenn Snoddy discussing the role of the engineer during
the Friday evening panel at legendary Studio B.
  • Barry Mazor showing clips of the Ganaway country music shows from the 1950s, the Ozark Jubilee and Town Hall Party.  The few moments of Jim Reeves singing "Four Walls" with sparse accompaniment on Ozark Jubilee was worth the price of admission alone.
  • The Belmont "Lifetime Achievement" Award went to Hall of Famer Ralph Emery for his contributions to the world of publications through both his own books as well as allowing scholars access to his treasure trove of recorded radio shows.
  • Hall of Famer Frances Preston and should-be (one day, no doubt, will be) Hall of Famer Jim Ed Brown were on hand to present the Charlie Lamb Awards for journalism.  Tennessean country music writer Peter Cooper was given the contemporary award, while Hank Williams biographer (among so many other books) Colin Escott was presented with the lifetime achievement award.
  • Alton Delmore's daughter Debby attended to hear first-time presenter Dr. Gregory Reish illustrate the complex guitar techniques of the early Delmore Brothers recordings.
  • The family of Starday co-founder Don Pierce were also on hand, this time for picking coordinator Nate Gibson's talk on Starday artist Glenn Barber and the rockabilly records released by country artists on Starday.  (Gibson also wrote a superb look at Starday Records with Pierce.)
The food was good, the presentations were excellent, and the picking was superb.  

As of this writing there's only 360 days left until ICMC 2012!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

ICMC Time!

Category:  News

The 28th annual International Country Music Conference begins later today (5/26) in Nashville.  This year's keynote addresses are on bluegrass music and the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the birth of Roy Rogers.  Other topics include Hank Williams, the Delmore Brothers, Alan Lomax, and Bill Monroe.  Again this year they're allowing me to present on Homer and Jethro, this time focusing on their 1964 album Fractured Folk Songs.  Lifetime achievements will go to Ralph Emery and Colin Escott.

ICMC is the premiere event for the discussion of country music and its satellite topics (e.g., Cajun, folk, and even southern rock) on a scholarly level.  It began as a tribute to Jimmie Rodgers, and it is held annually on the weekend nearest the anniversary of Rodgers' death.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

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 40)
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 63)
Pat Flynn of the New Grass Revival born in Los Angeles, California, 1952 (now 59)
Grant Turner born in Abeline, Texas, 1912 (died 1991)
Paul Warren born in Lyles, Tennessee, 1918 (died 1978)
Arthur Lee "Red" Smiley of Reno & Smiley born in Marshall, North Carolina, 1925 (died 1984)
Wiley Walker of Wiley & Gene died in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (cancer), 1966 (was 54)
New Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum building opened, 2001.  Nearly every living Hall of Famer was present at the opening ceremonies, and the audience was treated to tour the new facilities for free.

May 18:

Leon Ashley born in Newton County, Georgia, 1936 (now 75)
Rodney Dillard of the Dillards born in East St. Louis, Illinois, 1942 (now 69)
Joe Bonsall of the Oak Ridge Boys born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1948 (now 63)
Gary Scruggs born in Knoxville, Tennessee, 1949 (now 62)
George Strait born in Poteet, Texas, 1952 (now 59)

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 in Dyess, Arkansas (injuries from accident with table saw), 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 in Spray, North Carolina (alcohol-related heart failure), 1931 (was 39)
Billy Walker died in Fort Deposit, Alabama (car wreck), 2006 (was 77)
Vaughn Monroe died in Stuart, Florida (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 85)
Buddy Alan born in Mega, Arizona, 1948 (now 63)
Rich Alves of Pirates of the Mississippi born in Pleasanton, California, 1953 (now 58)
Dana Williams of Diamond Rio born in Dayton, Ohio, 1961 (now 50)
Ralph S. Peer born in Independence, Missouri, 1892 (died 1960)
Royce Kendall died in LaCrosse, Wisconsin (stroke), 1988 (was 63)

May 23:

Mac Wiseman born in Crimora, Virginia, 1925 (now 86)
Ken Irwin, co-founder of Rounder Records, born in New York, New York, 1944 (now 67)
Misty Morgan born in Buffalo, New York, 1945 (now 66)
Shelley West born in Cleveland, Ohio, 1958 (now 53)

Leroy Troy born in Goodlettesville, Tennessee, 1966 (now 45)
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 64)
Rosanne Cash born in Memphis, Tennessee, 1955 (now 56)
Billy Gilman born in Westerly, Rhode Island, 1988 (now 23). 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 in Sherman Oaks, California (bleeding ulcer), 1991 (was 46)
Vivian Liberto died in Ventura, California (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 75)
Jessi Colter born in Phoenix, Arizona, 1947 (now 64)
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 in Bangor, Maine (stomach cancer), 1995 (was 63)

May 26:

Levon Helm of the Band born in Marvell, Arkansas, 1940 (now 71). The actor and drummer/singer for the Band made his acting debut in Coal Miner's Daughter.
Randall Hank Williams Jr. born in Shreveport, Louisiana, 1949 (now 62)
Jimmie Rodgers died in New York, New York (tuberculosis), 1933 (was 35)
Onie Wheeler died in Nashville, Tennessee (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.
Judy Lynn died in New Albany, Indiana (congestive heart failure), 2010 (was 74)
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 72)
Redd Stewart born in Ashland City, Tennessee, 1921 (died 2003)
Kenny Price born in Florence, Kentucky, 1931 (died 1987)
Slim Bryant died in Mt. Lebanon, Pennsylvania (long-term illness), 2010 (was 101)
Opryland opened, 1972 (died 1997)

May 28:

John Fogerty born in Berkeley, California, 1945 (now 66). 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 55)
Phil Vassar born in Lynchburg, Virginia, 1965 (now 46)
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 51)
Lewis Crook of the Crook Brothers born in Trousdale County, Tennessee, 1909 (died 1996)
Karl Davis of Karl & Harty died in Chicago, Illinois (cancer), 1979 (was 73)
Bobby Harden of the Harden Trio died in Nashville, Tennessee (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 in Knoxville, Tennessee (heart attack), 1990 (was 60)

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Great Blog on Roger Miller

Category:  Blog Plug

Guitar wizard, singer and songwriter Deke Dickerson has reprinted his terrific liner notes to the Bear Family Roger Miller CD A Man Like Me: The Early Years of Roger Miller in his blog.  You can read it here.

Dr. Don Cusic of Belmont University is working on a biography of Miller for publication.  A collection of stories about Miller, titled I Ain't Got No Cigarettes, is also in print.  Sadly, Miller's biggest albums -- Dang Me (also titled Roger and Out), The Return of Roger Miller, The Third Time Around, and Words and Music By Roger Miller -- are not in print.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

A Year of Keeping Their Heads Above Water

Category:  Anniversary

On May 1, 2010 it started raining in Nashville.  That's nothing new.  Spring is filled with rainy days in the Southeast.

The problem is, it didn't stop.

Two days later Nashville was waterlogged.  When the rain finally stopped falling eleven Nashvillians were dead and mile after mile of formerly dry property lay beneath the swollen Cumberland River.  Among the places hit were tourist sites such as the Wildhorse Saloon, the Grand Ole Opry House, the Opryland Hotel, and Opry Mills.  Although the Country Music Hall of Fame was an island, surrounded by the flood waters, it sustained minimal flood damage and reopened immediately after waters receded and the streets reopened.

Nashville media has devoted considerable coverage to the anniversary of this historical event (even as the city sits beneath a flood watch for fear of a cold front stalling over the area).  Many damaged businesses are back to normal (e.g., the Opry, the hotel), while other places will have to endure at least another year before reopening (Opry Mills, once feared damaged beyond repair, will not return before 2012).  The city has recognized that neighborhoods that lay in the flood plain and were destroyed should not be rebuilt.  The houses were demolished and the community turned to green space.

The volunteer spirit that gave Tennessee its nickname was alive and well in the days and weeks following the flood, which allowed the city to start the road to recovery quickly.  Nashville's flood scars will remain visible for years, if not decades, but they will rebound.  One need only look at places that have suffered catastrophic natural disasters in the past to realize this is true.