NEW YORK CITY…..When the Beatles took the stage at the Ed Sullivan
Theater in New York City in 1964, who would have ever guessed that some
of the people that made that particular show, would be showing up at a
festival in the middle of a cornfield in drought-ridden Iowa during the
National Old Time Music Festival in LeMars?
     “Saul Held was the Chief Broadcast
engineer for CBS-TV at the time of Sullivan’s Show.  He was my dad, and I
got to visit him on the set of the Ed Sullivan show.  It was a
remarkable experience for me, and ultimately led me to my marriage to
one of the most wonderful Christian singers and songwriters in the
world.  We’re going to be at LeMars.”
     Nancy Dean, is the wife of Ronnie
Dean.  She actually saw many of the Ed Sullivan shows that her father
helped produce.  She recalls, “I saw the Muppets.  I watched,
fascinated, as the director spoke over the PA, not to the puppeteers,
but to Bert and Ernie themselves. No visible humans were onstage; the
characters were simply real. Later during a break, the puppets were
parked lifeless in front row seats.  I was crushed.  The Carol
Burnett show was one of my favorites.  My dad broadcast the show weekly
for years.  He collected the autographs of Chet Atkins, Patty Duke,
Allan Sherman, Dom DeLuise, the Beatles, and many many more.  My dad was
on the ground floor of the advent of television, and he stayed with it
as long as he possibly could.  That’s why I admire people like Bob &
Sheila Everhart.  They’ve been doing this festival of America’s
old-time music for 37 years.  That’s got to be a record of sorts, in
anybody’s book.”
     Bob Everhart was quick to respond to
Nancy Dean’s thoughts.  “I visited the Ed Sullivan Theater when I was in
NYC, and today it’s the David Letterman CBS set.  The thing I liked
about Sullivan, was that he would but anyone on if they had talent and
were good, and that meant he had a lot of ‘country’ artists.  That’s not
the case today, far from it.  That’s also the reason Sheila and I stay
close to the grindstone keeping America’s rural music alive.  Country
music itself is a very old genre of music.  It’s been around since the
beginning of America.  What Sheila and I like to focus on, not only as
Smithsonian Institution recording artists, but as performers, is what
country music was like many years ago.  We actually perform ‘young’
country music.  This guy from White House, Tennessee, Ronnie Dean, is a
young country-gospel songwriter performer.  The Rural Roots Music
Commission picked his CD “Everything” as their “Bluegrass Gospel CD of
the Year.” That’s quite an achievement for  Ronnie Dean.  The people who
sit on the RRMC selection committee are pretty much all ‘rural’
     “Ronnie Dean will be with us at our
37th annual “National Old Time Country-Bluegrass-Folk Music Festival
& Rural America Lifestyle” on Saturday, September 1.  He will be
performing on a brand new show called “A Tribute to Ed Sullivan,” which
will contain a huge variety of performers that very well may have been
selected for just such a program in the past. A producer from Florida,
Tommy Worrell, is coming to emcee the program, and is also considering
taking the same show to Miami for an opportunity to produce it there.”
     “We certainly have the celebrities that
would qualify for the Ed Sullivan Show with us this year,” Sheila
Everhart, Bob’s wife added.  “Lynn Anderson, Ed Bruce, Charlie McCoy,
Michael Martin Murphey, Terry Smith, June Webb, and over 650 additional
singers, pickers, players, instrumentalists, yodelers, and performers
also on the bill, on no less than ten stages functioning from 9am to
midnight, every day for seven days.  It’s a scheduling nightmare to say
the least.  It’s all part of the Ag-Expo we direct.”
     According to Ronnie Dean, “I’m really
looking forward to performing on a show my wife was so closely connected
to.  My new album “Everything,” fulfills my musical destiny.  My mom
was a classically trained violinist and pianist, and my dad loved
country music, his favorite artist being Hank Snow.   I learned how to
play guitar first,  until it drove my mom nuts, but it certainly has
taken me on a most interesting road in music.  Two years ago, bluegrass
music changed my life.  I had no idea the genre was so huge.  It’s an
emotional experience for me, and I’m particularly looking forward to
sharing my music in the middle of that cornfield in Iowa, that features a
tribute to Ed Sullivan.”

     The festival the Everhart’s direct is
strictly acoustic in nature, and begins on August 27th going all the way
through to September 2nd.  RV’s come from across America to partake of
ten stages of on-going entertainment, along with good Midwest home-style
food.  It all takes place at the huge Plymouth County Fairgrounds in
LeMars, Iowa, home to the world’s largest ice cream manufacturer, Blue
Bunny.  According to the Everhart’s “We wouldn’t forget about ice cream
at our festival.  On at least one day it’s free.  We also have lots of
contests and workshops to help those who are just beginning to be
interested in playing America’s ‘young’ country music.  We have a
website at”

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