LeMars, Iowa…..”When the ‘Rural Roots Music Commission’ was organized in 1980, we had no idea we would be able to expand the purpose, or the interest, into such a large arena of music appreciation.”  Bob Everhart is President of the National Traditional Country Music Association.  “We started what might be called our ‘music protection’ society in 1975, which eventually became the NTCMA.  We quickly realized that the very slow process of placing recognition and honor on those that have made a lasting impression on country music, was leaving a huge amount of worthwhile contributors without recognition.  That was the beginning of the Rural Roots Music Commission.  We also had to find a way to distinguish what we do, so we began labeling the musical genre ‘rural country,’ so as not to be confused with present day country music,” Everhart said. “Only a handful of those that have made significant contributions to this particular kind of music, were being honored.  We decided to seek out recording artists, performers, instrumentalists, songwriters, producers, promoters, even media specialists, that have been successful in ‘rural country music’ by making annual awards at the convention and festival promoted by the National Traditional Country Music Association.  And, we decided to do this on several different levels of interest, Local, Statewide, Regional, National, and International.  In other words, we were, and are, dedicated to finding the very best participants in all areas of this genre of music.”
     Everhart went on to say, “We honor contributors to ‘rural country’ music in two ways now.  Some are inducted into America’s Old Time Country Music Hall of Fame which is located in the Pioneer Music Museum in Anita, Iowa. Others, especially those active in ‘recording’ rural country music, receive recognition from the Rural Roots Music Commission.  The latter process requires a review of CDs recorded and made available to the public, each year prior to the festival which takes place August 29-September 4th, 2011, at the Plymouth County Fairgrounds in LeMars, Iowa.  CD’s received are reviewed in Tradition Magazine, the house organ of the NTCMA, and then forwarded to the Rural Roots Music Commission who decide the awards to be made.”
     “There are a number of categories for these honors,” added Everhart.  “We are extremely pleased to announce that Josh Slone, of Littcarr, Kentucky, has been selected to receive “Best Classic Bluegrass Album of the Year.”   The award will be presented to Mr. Slone, on Wednesday, August 31, at 11:30am on the main stage of the festival.  Josh is the lead vocalist and guitarist of a group called CoalTown, with nine of the songs on their CD written by talented songwriter, Mike Wells.  Josh Slone, with his signature deep country and bluesy vocals along with the tightly blended harmonies of the CoalTown band, have certainly caught the attention of industry leaders, including the Rural Roots Music Commission.  According to one panelist, “this particular CD is a unique blend of bluegrass mixed with country and mountain soul.”  “Exactly what the Commission is looking for,” added Bob Everhart who sits on the Board.  Uncle Billy Dunbar, who does a bluegrass radio show in Iowa, was more specific.  “The boys from Coal Town sing about what they know.  It is true roots music from the coal mines of Kentucky, and the valleys and mountains, singing about love, sweat, and tears.  They sing and pick the real sounds of country folk.”  Everhart also found an interesting ‘connect’ between Josh Slone his band, and the State of Iowa.  “Ike Everly brought his family from Kentucky to take a job on a radio station in Shenandoah, Iowa.  That’s where the Everly Brothers made their first appearance.  Not much later, the ‘Father of Bluegrass Music,” also from Kentucky, came to the same radio station with his brother Charlie, to take their first professional job playing the same music ‘live’ on radio.  We welcome Kentuckian’s Josh Slone and his CoalTown with open arms.”  
     The festival Josh and CoalTown, will attend, has been going for 36 years.  “We will have well over 600 country music performers at this event throughout the week,” said Bob Everhart.  “We have ‘ten’ sound stages running for seven days to accomodate them.  9am-midnight every day for seven days seems like a huge production, and it is.  Getting everyone to the proper stage at the proper time can be a scheduling nightmare, however the end result is an absolutely unbelievable gathering of like-minded fans and participants who like their country music to be ‘rural’ in nature.  That means it’s ‘real’ country music, not rock and roll called country, not heavy metal called country, not jazz called country, not rap called country, not blues called country.  We call it like it is…and it’s ‘rural’ country, the real-deal.  We’re also very pleased we are able to provide a clean non-alcoholic non-drug venue for the fans of this music to come to.  The Plymouth County Fairgrounds in LeMars, Iowa, is large, and level.  Huge air conditioned buildings for shows, as well as outdoor stages.  Great country cookin’ and some of the best Iowa corn-fed beef steaks anyone is likely to ever eat.  LeMars is also home of Bluebunny Ice Cream, the largest ice cream manufacturer in the world, so we combine all the ‘best’ of everything.  Country music, country food, and country ice cream.  You just can’t beat a deal like that, not at the prices we charge.  General admission is $15 per day per person, a seven-day gate pass is just $60 per person.  This includes everything, all ten stages, and all celebrities.  This year, Jim Ed Brown, Helen Cornelius, and Jeannie Seely will be with us from the Grand Ole Opry.  Bonnie Guitar, the legendary recording artist of “Dark Moon” will also be with us, and well over 600 pickers, singers, players, musicians, and performing artists.  We have excellent RV camping facilities too, with 30-amp hook-ups at $12 a day (no reservations).  A Tipi Village in an old ghost town setting is a great place for ‘jammers’ to gather, and throw in six old time dances in the Dance Hall, and it’s a pretty good deal for the dollar.  Workshops, contests, open stages, even the front porch of an old log cabin becomes focal points of entertainment interest, done much the way it was done when homesteaders started settling Iowa.  We keep telling folks, don’t put all your money in your gas tank to drive hundreds of miles to see one show, come home, be with us, and see a thousand.”
     More information about the NTCMA and the Rural Roots Music Commission, the Pioneer Music Museum, and the annual festival of Agricultural Arts, Crafts, and Rural Lifestyle is available at their website at

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