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Breaking Country Music News


 

Bill Medley, the surviving member of the Righteous
Brothers, is teaming up with the Devil goes down to Georgia recording
artist Charlie Daniels to do a charity show on August 12th.  This is to
raise money to benefit “The Journey Home Project.”  Cutbacks to veterans
services from the federal government combined with an increase in
wartime active personnel has put a strain on health care, education, and
job opportunities for vets.  The Journey Home project sees as its
mission connecting donors to vets organizations that do the most good. 
Another beneficiary is “The Predators Foundation.” (a Nashville Hockey
Team).  It’s Charlie Daniel’s 40th volunteer jam performance.  The jam
is filled with celebrities of all kinds; Alabama, Lee Greenwood, the
Grascals, Trace Adkins, Ted Nugent, Oak Ridge Boys, Travis Tritt, and a
slew of other talented performers.  It all takes place August 12th at
the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville.

 

Terry Smith (The Far Side Banks of Jordan) will be
giving a concert at CGS Music Store, 1244 High St., in Lincoln, Nebraska
6pm-8pm on April 10th.  Bobby Miles will also be performing.  Unless
they’ve changed the operation of that venue, it’s long steps down to the
performance center, meaning there are long steps back up. Take note if
you have difficulty walking.  Terry Smith is without a doubt one of our
very best ‘true’ country music songwriters and performers who comes to
the upper Midwest frequently.  His albums are extremely well done, as is
his live performances, and are in constant demand.  He will also be
making appearances at the Oak Tree Opry in Anita, Iowa on July 31 and
August 1; he will be at the LeMars Festival all week (Aug 31-Sept 6),
and he will be at the Fremont Festival (Oct 2-3-4).  More information at
712-762-4363

 

If you are reading this bulletin, and are a member of
the National Traditional Country Music Association, we’ll be back in the
office by April 1, so please send your $25 annual dues in so we can
stay in business with this weekly column.  If you are not a member of
the NTCMA, this is an encouragement for you to join so we can stay
afloat.  Make your checks out to NTCMA for a mere $25 and send to P O
Box 492, Anita, Iowa 50020.  We thank you, ‘real’ country music fans and
players thanks you, and God thanks you for your generosity.

 

We stand with many others who believe the Oak Ridge
Boys should be inducted into the Nashville Country Music Hall of Fame. 
It seems so unfair in today’s so-called country music world that the
so-called country stars are on rampant self-congratulation ego trips,
for dubious (to say the least) achievement in music, obviously but the
really long-term gifted entertainers like the Oak Ridge Boys goes
unacknowledged.  They are members of the Grand Ole Opry and they
consistently fill concert halls for their tireless work for the American
Legion and other charities that more than qualify them for induction. 
There’s going to be a new book out written by Joe Bonsall, called “On
The Road With The Oak Ridge Boys,” scheduled to be on the shelves by May
1.  Bonsall said, “We love what we do.  This is all any of us wanted to
do since we were children, and we are still living our dream.  And, God
has blessed us with continuing to do it at a high level.”  Don’t know
exactly how to contact the Oak Ridge Boys but I place them in nomination
to be inducted into America’s Old Time Country Music Hall of Fame.  All
they have to do is show up in LeMars, and we’ll do something with
them at the American Legion to boot.

 

Remember last week when I told you about Gary Overton,
the CEO of Sony Records in Hashville, who said “If you’re not on country
radio, you don’t exist.”  Pretty harsh words for the thousands, no
maybe make that millions, of everyday country artists, and every other
person in the USA trying so hard to keep ‘real’ country music
alive…’simply do not exist’ according to Sony Music.  Overton
apparently got fired from his CEO nice paying job, my guess is that Sony
didn’t want YOU to stop supporting their artists by not buying their
CD’s.  DON’T!  DON’T BUY THEIR CD’S.  They won’t let your favorite local
artist on the radio, and Sony doesn’t believe you even exist.  Don’t
buy their products, don’t support their artists, JUST DON’T.

 

One of the displays that was well exhibited in the
Smithsonian Institution will be traveling to Bristol, Tennessee’s
‘Birthplace of Country Music Museum.’  Called the “New Harmonies
Celebrating American Roots Music,” it will be on display until
September.  It’s broken down into different sections like sacred music,
bluegrass music, country music, blues music, roots music, etc. and
there’s even a section on early country dancing.  You can learn to play
the fiddle, or the banjo, or you can just sit down and listen to whole
LP’s from the past, even those recorded for the Smithsonian by Bob
Everhart.  Grandparents may even want to teach their grandchildren what
vinyl records are all about.

 

Bob Dylan continues to stay in the news.  Now he’s
giving Christmas dinners to families on relief.  How’s he doing this? 
He has a brand new album coming out, actually it’s the 3rd in a series
of projects, called “Christmas In The Heart.”  It costs $9.99 of which
every penny goes to charity to provide those Christmas dinners.  So,
‘how and why’ do you ask, does a Jewish boy growing up in Hibbing,
Minnesota, want to do this?  It’s an evocation of the past, his own
past, mind you.  The music is from the 40’s and 50’s and it’s old
Christmas songs.  One of Dylan’s favorites is “White Christmas.”  “That
is Christmas imperialism,” says Sean Wilente, a Dylan historian.  “Now,
Christians, Muslims, Jews; we all have to sing “White Christmas.”  The
songs in total are the Christmas songs that Dylan was surrounded by as a
boy in Hibbing.  He’s got the Ditty Bops singing with him, as well as
the whitest bearded singers you ever heard backing on the vocals.  It’s
an instant musical transformation back in time, even including Donnie
Herron on steel.  Yes, did I hear you right, Donnie Herron on steel! 
That alone keeps it very much old-time country Christmas style.  Dylan
even does a polka song “Must Be Santa,” and of course back in the 40’s
and 50’s Dylan heard a lot of polka music ‘way up dere’ in Minnesota,
and he sings with great joy on this project.  As many of you know, Bob
Dylan, the Jew, is also a Christian, so it’s not so difficult for him to
stand against atheists and those who believe he can’t sing.  The cover
is great, an old postcard like photo of a team of horses and sleigh.

 

Art Menius, the founding father of the International
Bluegrass Music Association, and later the Folk Alliance, is going to be
with us in LeMars this year.  He recently wrote an article entitled
“Why There Are Too Many Touring Bluegrass Bands,” that has created some
controversy.  We’ve always had bluegrass bands at our festival in
LeMars, always.  Just last year we had David Davis & The Warrior
River Boys from Alabama; Larry Gillis & Swampgrass from Georgia;
Goldwing Express from Branson, Missouri; Dirty River Ramblers from
Nebraska; and the very popular bluegrasser Larry Cordle (Murder On Music
Row) who we teamed up with the Kenaston Family, another great bluegrass
group from Nebraska.  That line-up alone is a fantastic 3 or 4 day
bluegrass festival, all on its own.  We have several small bluegrass
development groups in Iowa now. Did any of these so-called bluegrass
supporters show up to actually ‘support’ bluegrass music in Iowa? No
they did not, not a single one of them.  In light of the recent
shut-down of IBMA and the walk-out of its officers, Mr. Menius had this
to say about developing bluegrass today.  “Expecting bluegrass music to
become pop music, even by changing the music is not realistic.  Far too
many bluegrass bands are performing bluegrass professionally, and
touring more than the market can bear.  This has been the case for at
least the last 45 years.  What this means is great musicians have to
work day jobs to support their families, which restricts how much they
can tour.  He went on to suggest perhaps 15 to 25 full time touring
bands to make it feasible to be a full-time touring group.  The fee
however would be quite high for these groups.  He even goes on to talk a
little about wanna-be bluegrass bands, of which we have a few in Iowa,
and how their very availability to perform at a low cost has ultimately
deprived the more talented groups from pursuing a career doing what they
love.”  I guess I would have to put Mr. Menius in the position of
festival producer, and then watch him wince when the bills come in to be
paid, especially if its bad weather or low ticket sales!  We will
certainly be looking forward to having him with us at LeMars, and of
course all those loud-mouthed so-called Iowa bluegrassers who claim they
support bluegrass…..but don’t.

 

A fire apparently broke out in the “Yakoff” theater in
Branson (you know the Russian comic) on March 20th.  The specialty act
that was appearing then, the Acrobats of China, had not appeared on
stage yet.  Everyone is apparently OK more news as we get it.

 

Mickey Gilley was so well-received in LeMars last year,
and doing so well on the road, after he left LeMars, he announced that
2015 will be his last year in Branson.  He has continued his ‘on the
road’ gigs since LeMars, and hes’ to keep his show on the road again
next year.  He will personally appear at his theater in Branson in
April, May, and June.

 

You might remember Norman Blake.  He’s the guy who
played such a neat acoustic guitar on “,Man Of Constant Sorrow” and sang
“You Are My Sunshine,” in the “Oh Brother Where Art Thou” Coen Brothers
movie.  You might also remember that I had Norman Blake on my
television show for PBS-TV, called “Old Time Country Music.”  On that
show, I got to perform with Norman on acoustic guitar and his wife Nancy
on upright acoustic bass.  On the song I did with them (I did several
but remember this one the most), “Summertime” with just my little Marine
Band harmonica, Nancy bowed the bass.  It was an incredible experience
for me.  Anyway, Norman, at the age of 77, is just releasing a new
album, “Wood, Wire, & Words,” which is an all Norman originals
recording.  Lots of old-time sounding railroad songs on it, Norman grew
up next to a rail road track where 22 steam engine trains rolled by
every day, and he also has a lot of ‘story’ songs on his new album as
well as some super country ‘rags.’  T-Bone Burnett, who produced the
sound track for “Oh Brother” described Norman Blake as “one of a handful
of the best acoustic guitar players in the world.  He learned hundreds
of country songs, including rags instrumental tunes, and fiddle numbers,
knowing the influences and nuances of every one of them.  He should be
an absolutely revered musician.”  Norman Blake is definitely a revered
musician in my book.  I was so incredibly fortunate to simply sit and
play the harmonica while this guy backed me on acoustic guitar.  I had
goose bumps on my spine the entire time we were playing.  “Wood, Wire,
& Words” is a new release I am anxiously looking forward to
hearing.  On the side-bar, you might also remember that Norman recorded
“Nashville Skyline” with Bob Dylan, and he worked as a backing musician
for Johnny Cash off an on for some 40 years.  After I got to know
Norman, from our time together playing, and later, I repeatedly tried to
get him to come to our festival so we could put him in America’s Old
Time Country Music Hall of Fame, but he refuses to fly, so that sort of
ended that honorarium.

 
Bob Everhart for Country Music News International

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