LeMars, Iowa…..The home of the largest ice cream manufacturer in the world, Blue Bunny, is also home of the Rural Roots Music Commission.  Formed eight years ago to honor recording artists and original song composers working in what the Commission calls ‘rural’ music, has finalized the 2011 ‘CD of the Year’ awards.  The President of the National Traditional Country Music Association, Bob Everhart, was on hand to make the announcement public.
     “When the Rural Roots Music Commission formed eight years ago, the first premise on the table was whether we were going to try to ‘stuff’ artists into a definitive ‘box’ or whether we were going to create a ‘box’ to fit the artist.  From my personal point of view, nothing is so flexible as creative works, especially in music.  It’s stupid to call the music we hear today on corporate-controlled radio stations, ‘country’ music when there is no sustaining connections to country music of the past.  That was the second thing on the table when the Rural Roots Music Commission formed.  Are we going to try to deal with major-label releases and treat them as ‘country’ records, which they aren’t, or are we going to acknowledge there is a tremendously huge number of talented and creative geniuses in America (and around the world) that better understand the ‘content’ of what a real country music record should consist of. This has led to some interesting developments in how the honors are bestowed from a rural point of view.  A point of view that originates in rural America.  Yes, we should even say we ‘live’ in the country.  Iowa is one of the most rural of America’s states.  Our rich farmland is selling for unbelievable prices, just recently Branden Janowski, a 33-year old software executive, bought 430 acres of Iowa farmland for $4 million dollars.  That’s an amazing observation of where rural Iowa is today.  It is also a reflection of how we select deserving ‘real’ country music artists and composers,” Everhart said,  “we consider each and every one of them as very valuable to this music genre”
     Francis Hahn, a retired CIA operative, who serves on the RRMC advisory board, noted.  “Politics has always played a role in just about everything that happens in a democracy.  However it certainly dampens the enthusiasm generated by deserving artists who never get even a mention for their work in a corporate controlled music environment.  We hope that somehow, we can bring a little compassion and intelligence back to the music world of what genuine country music is, and once was.”
     Everhart went on to add, “There is a tremendous amount of time spent on each and every CD we receive for these awards.  I personally review them for Tradition Magazine first.  Tradition Magazine is the house organ of the National Traditional Country Music Association (formed in 1976).  Every subscribing member receives it.  Next the CD’s are reviewed by the Rural Roots Music Commission, and the best (usually the ones that receive honors) is passed along to those small rural radio stations that still play ‘real’ country music.”
     “It is with great honor that I announce the winners of this years awards” Everhart said.
BEST CLASSIC COUNTRY TRIBUTE CD OF THE YEAR – “Classic Country” Sean Benz of Windom, Minn.  A tribute to Johnny Cash  –
BEST OLD-TIME COUNTRY CD OF THE YEAR – “Play Charley” Charley Boyter of Penrith, Australia –
BEST CONTEMPORARY ORIGINAL GOSPEL CD OF THE YEAR – “Verily Abide” Janet Cline, Oakland, Nebr. –
BEST WESTERN CD OF THE YEAR – “Round Em Up” T.J. Casey, Billings, Mont. –
BEST ORIGINAL COUNTRY CD OF THE YEAR – “Traditional Sounds of Norville Dollar” Norville Dollar, Festus, Mo. –
BEST JUNIOR COUNTRY CD OF THE YEAR – “Just Like Slim” Jordan Garner, Blight Park, Australia –
BEST COWBOY CD OF THE YEAR – “Windmill In The Sunset” Earl Gleason, Belen, NM –
BEST TRADITIONAL COUNTRY CD OF THE YEAR – “Doing What I Do” Clarence Hayden, Richmond, Mo
BEST TRADITIONAL COWBOY YODEL CD OF THE YEAR – “Yodeling Familiar Trails” Tom Hawk, Cumberland, MD
BEST JUNIOR PERFORMER CD OF THE YEAR- “Songs From The Heart” Emma Lin Heyen, Council Bluffs, Ia
BEST TRADITIONAL BLUEGRASS CD OF THE YEAR -“Flickertail Holler” Flickertail Holler, Cummings, ND
BEST RURAL COUNTRY CD OF THE YEAR – “Cup of Joe” Johansen Sisters, Norfolk, Nebr
BEST JUNIOR INSTRUMENTALIST CD OF THE YEAR – “Piano Hymns & Southern Gospel” Nikolaas Kooi, Inwood, Ia
BEST OLD-TIME BLUEGRASS CD OF THE YEAR – “Tradition With A Twist” Little Roy Lewis & Lizzy, Lincolnton, Ga
BEST BLUEGRASS GOSPEL CD OF THE YEAR – “The Water Is Wide” – The Link Family, Lebanon, Mo
BEST COUNTRY MUSIC TRIBUTE CD OF THE YEAR – “Hillbilly Heaven – Sherwin Linton, Minneapolis, Mn
BEST CONTEMPORARY COUNTRY CD OF THE YEAR – “Cookin’ Up Country” – Maggie Mae, Oxford, Wi
BEST AMERICANA CD OF THE YEAR – “Music Beneath the Mesa” – Jonathan Lee Pickens, Ramah, NM
BEST OLD-TIME FAMILY MUSIC CD OF THE YEAR – “The Reeds” – Punjo Reed, Mountain View, AR
BEST BLUEGRASS CD OF THE YEAR – “Sandy Creek Pickers – Sandy Creek Pickers, Lincoln, Nebr
BEST CLASSIC BLUEGRASS CD OF THE YEAR – “Josh Slone & Coal Town” – Josh Slone, Littcar, Ky
BEST ORIGINAL GOSPEL CD OF THE YEAR – “Crazy World” – This Side of Sunday, Council Bluffs, Ia
BEST LEGACY CD OF THE YEAR – “Sings Patsy Cline” – Sandy Uttley, Huntington, PA –
     “The awards will be made ‘in-person’ at the 36th annual National Old Time Country, Bluegrass, & Folk Music Festival and the Pioneer Exposition of American Rural Lifestyle,” Everhart added.  “That’s a pretty long name, but it is self explanatory.  We are just like a county fair, except all of our attention is devoted to rural music rather than carnival rides and who had the biggest hog.  That’s why we are members of the IAFE (International Association of Fairs and Expositions).  We’re the ‘other’ county fair.  It all takes place at the Plymouth County Fairgrounds in LeMars, Iowa, August 29 through September 4th.  There are ten sound stages running from 9am to midnight every day, and well over 650 participating musicians, songwriters, performers, entertainers, and just plain pickers, all seven days.  All of the ‘CD of the Year’ awards will be made on the main stage, which is where Jim Ed Brown, Helen Cornelius, and Jeannie Seely will appear.  Other greats too, including Johnny Cash’s daughter Kathy, who will help with our tribute to her father, as well as judge songs in our songwriting contest.  Also expect super-picker Eddie Pennington from Kentucky, Bonnie Guitar from Washington, Terry Smith from Nashville, Peter Daskalov from the Czech Republic, Greta Elkin from Ireland, Ben Steneker from Holland, and an entire “Outback Country Show” from Australia.  All of these participants are concerned about ‘why’ real country music doesn’t receive the same honor and attention that pseudo-country music, which we hear on the radio, does?  We have nice flat ground for RV’s to park, for as little as $12 a day with an electric hook-up.  Admission is $15 per day (all activities), or a 7-day pass for $60.  Great food on the ground consistsof the Culver’s Restaurant, Tailgater char broiled Iowa steaks, Oklahoma chicken and fish, even 1919 rootbeer floats made with Blue Bunny ice cream.  There’s a tepee village with lots of busking, and even arts and crafts.  We tell people who spend their dollars in gasoline, why drive a thousand miles to see one show, when you can see a thousand shows in LeMars, Iowa for a lower price.”
     Everhart can be reached at or 712-762-4363

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