LeMars, Iowa…..”We have enough bluegrass to make a spectacular show!”  Speaking, is Bob Everhart, the President of the National Traditional Country Music Association.  “Bluegrass has always been part of country music, and in the early days, what we might have called ‘hillbilly’ music, or even ‘mountain’ music, was in reality the beginning of both genres of bluegrass and country music.  Today’s ‘country’ music doesn’t reflect that very well, however bluegrass music is still in the groove when it comes to ‘carrying on the tradition.’ We are really happy that one of bluegrass music’s favorite traditionalists will be with us at our 36th annual National Old Time Country & Bluegrass Festival in LeMars, Iowa.  Little Roy Lewis will be kicking off the weeklong event that starts on August 29.  Now known as “The Little Roy and Lizzy Show” he is carrying on the incredible tradition of the very famous Lewis Family, who retired from performing several years ago.
     “Little Roy Lewis has won tons of awards as an entertainer and as an incredible banjo player.  He learned to play banjo when he was six years old, and became the focus point of the Lewis Family, America’s first family of bluegrass-gospel music.  The family started playing in 1950, and rose to prominence as an icon of bluegrass gospel music to untold thousands of fans throughout the United States, and the world.  The Lewis Family was nominated for induction into ‘America’s Old Time Country Music Hall of Fame” several years ago, and that honor will be bestowed on Little Roy during his and Lizzy’s performance on August 29, in LeMars, Iowa.  In the beginning of the Lewis Family’s upward climb to fame, Little Roy won a local talent contest singing “Juicy Watermelon” playing a Sears Silvertone 5-string banjo.  Today, he is recognized as one of the foremost 5-string banjo pickers in America.  When the Lewis Family decided to retire from show business, after performing bluegrass and gospel music for 45 years, Little Roy decided to continue by teaming up with neighbor Lizzy Long, who had played with the family sporadically throughout her life.  The blending of their voices and instrumental talent, immediately created a ‘new’ bluegrass sound with ‘tradition’ smack dab in the middle.  Joined by Lisa Hoyle on bass, Al Hoyle on acoustic guitar, and Nathan Stewart on mandolin, they had an already done-deal bluegrass band.  Their newest CD also reflects this same musical attitude, “Tradition With A Twist,” is a favorite among bluegrass disc jockeys, and it’s only been out a short time.”
     According to Sheila Everhart, who helps her husband Bob with the scheduling of the seven-day ten-stage festival, “We were so glad to have Little Roy Lewis stop by.  He and his band are just coming back from a “Biscuits & Bluegrass” cruise to Alaska, so they are traveling East when it’s over, right through our town, so it sure made for a great ‘opening’ for the festival.  We have enough bluegrass bands to keep some of the music going through the whole week, not the least of them being Ralph Stanley, who is on tap to be with us, but no date has been confirmed yet.  Tut Taylor the incredible Dobro player from North Carolina will be with us on Monday. The bluegrass bands we have confirmed, include the Link Family from Missouri, one of the most up and coming bluegrass bands in Mid-America.  Joining them is Highway-52 (Iowa); Josh Slone and Coal Town (Kentucky); Jacob Austin Band (Texas); Jones Boy’s Band (Iowa); Kenaston Family Band (Nebraska); Kanseville Boys (Iowa); Froemming Family (Minnesota); This Side of Sunday (Iowa); Super Pickers (Minnesota); along with two great clogging groups, the Silver Creek Cloggers from Iowa, and the Dakota Prairie Cloggers from South Dakota.  We still have a few other bands not confirmed at the time of this writing, so it sure looks to be a good year for bluegrass at the LeMars Festival.”
     “I had the Lewis Family on my television show,” Bob added, “Little Roy and Sheila became great friends.  She especially enjoys his comedic pranks on stage.  It’s pretty amazing, we did seven years of PBS television shows called “Old Time Country” (that eventually aired in 22 States) so long ago, and they are still in re-runs, usually at 6:30pm on Thursday nights.  The Lewis Family appearance has been one of our favorites, mostly because it was so well done.”

     The bluegrassers will be joining some of the most prestigious names in classic country music today.  Jim Ed Brown, Helen Cornelius, and Jeannie Seely from the Grand Ole Opry, joined by the legendary Bonnie Guitar (Dark Moon); June Webb (of the Webb Sisters who worked with Roy Acuff and Hank Williams) and several other celebrities.  More information is available from the NTCMA website

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