LeMars, Iowa…..”It has consistently amazed me how international stars of country music insist on keeping the roots of country music in their projects.”  Bob Everhart is the President of the National Traditional Country Music Association in America.  “We’re in our 36th year of producing and hosting the oldest country music event in the upper Midwest, and every year it seems like the international participants get higher, in name recognition, fame, and number.  This year is certainly no exception.  It’s also somewhat puzzling that they are so dedicated to a ‘rural’ sound in the country music they produce, as opposed to whatever might impel their records into some kind of music rating chart.  It’s also very interesting to those of us who actually live in the country, that international recording artists of this kind of music insist that the ‘roots’ of the music be prevalent in their productions.”
     “Greta Elkin from Londonderry, North Ireland, may be the most outspoken,” Everhart said.  “She is a true country artist who has not swayed from her original desire to reproduce the elements that made country music so popular in the first place.”
     According to Elkin, “I found my love for American country music in the banjo playing of my dad.  He wasn’t a master of the instrument, but he played quite well.  When I was a child I was fascinated with not only how much fun it was to listen to him, but how passionate he was with the music.  You know, a lot of America’s early ‘country’ music had Irish influences, especially in the fiddle leads, and as my dad so plainly delivered, in the banjo.  So, as a child, I had the delightful experience of hearing the music from rural America first hand, and it stayed with me my entire life.  I still perform the classic country songs, including a yodel now and then.”
     Elkin will be at the festival Everhart directs for the entire duration, August 29 through September 4, at the Plymouth County Fairgrounds in LeMars, Iowa.  According to Everhart, “Greta Elkin has been one of our regulars for quite a few years now.  She is very popular here in the upper Midwest, and has a sizable fan base that follow her around.  Once the festival is over with, she will give an intimate concert at the Oak Tree Opry in Anita, Iowa, on September 9th.  You can be sure that her fans will hear authentic ‘country’ music.”  According to Elkin, “I hope I never find myself in a situation where I have to change how I perform my music, just to get an urbanized radio station to play it.”
     “There’s a ton of performers coming from Australia this year,” Everhart noted, “and one in particular has a massive following down under.  Dianne Lindsay is Reg Lindsay’s daughter.  Reg Lindsay was a popular performer on the Grand Ole Opry.  Dianne is also the niece of Slim Dusty, perhaps the best known traditional country artist in Australia’s history of country music.  The fellow that has arranged for the performers from Australia, is Charlie Boyter.  Boyter makes his home in New South Wales, and is a mover and shaker in that part of Australia.  According to Boyter, “Australia still has very close contact with America’s more traditional country music.  Granted, Tamworth has a lot of country-rock these days, but outback Australia is still a traditional country music paradise.”
     “Also on the Australia list of stars,” says Everhart, “is a young boy, 10 years old, that has a surprising career in traditional country music.  Jordan Garner’s latest hit record is called ‘Just Like Slim’ which is of course about his admiration for Slim Dusty.  This is his first trip to America, and he’s anxious, not necessarily to visit Nashville, but to see the corn fields of Iowa, and participate in what he calls a ‘real country’ country-music festival.”
     “We have two excellent artists coming from Canada this year,” Everhart said.  “Gordon Wilcox from Toronto, has been coming for quite a few years, and usually combines his trip with a new recording session.  Gordon is a true country fan going all the way back to Jimmie Rodgers.  He has consistently made good recordings of America’s traditional country music, and continues to garner a lot of following in the Toronto area.  Aother Canadian on tap this year is from New Found Land.  Shirley Butt lives in Spaniards Bay, and was exposed to the great country music of fellow Canadian Hank Snow.  Today she has been nominated to be placed in America’s Old Time Country Music Hall of Fame.  Like many of the other international stars, Ms. Butt will be at the LeMars, Iowa, festival all seven days.  “This is my first time to the corn fields of Iowa,” she said, “and I’m looking forward to sharing my style of traditional country music with the American audience.”
     “Perhaps our furtherest away guest comes from the Czech Republic,” Everhart added.  “Danny Daskalov lives in Prague, but he was captivated by the music of Johnny Cash when he was quite young.  He still performs Cash songs, but he has created his own persona in country music, especially in Europe.  We’re really looking forward to the opportunity to not only listen to this great artist, but to also share his music with our American Johnny Cash lovers.”
     “We also have two of our favorite country music performers from Holland with us again this year,” Everhart said.  “Ben & Carmen Steneker from Buurse, Holland, are show stoppers if there ever was one.  Ben is known as the ‘Father of Country Music” in Holland, and rightfully so.  He has kept the music of Jimmie Rodgers and yodeling alive all these many years, and is still one of Holland’s most popular recording artists.  “I’ve never compromised my music very much,” Ben said.  “I’m still a classic country recording artist and performer, just as my daughter Carmen is.  We may use different techniques and technical knowledge in the recording studio these days, but the bottom line in everything we do, is that it must be country sounding, all the way.”
     Everhart has been directing the festival of old-time country, bluegrass, and folk music for 36 years.  “It’s really a pioneer exposition of America’s rural lifestyle” he said. “We’re like a county fair without a carnival or horse races.  We have ten performing stages instead. The focus is on America’s traditional rural music.  Those ten stages of entertainment will feature well over 600 performers for the seven days of the festival.  A tipi village consumes nearly a block of exhibitions, set down inside what appears to be an old pioneer ghost town.  Lots of pioneer arts and crafts.  We have some of the best rural country food available in our state of Iowa, and we also have a very genuine desire to make it all available at a modest cost.  As a matter of fact anyone under the age of 18 can get in free.”
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