Dr. Ralph Stanley, now 86 years old and still in superb
voice (Oooooo Death), will commence his final tour October 16th.  It
will run through Dec., 2014, so it’s kind of a long tour, but it is
projected to encompass more than 80 shows at festivals, folk clubs, and
performing arts centers.  It is being billed as “Man of Constant Sorrow
Tour: The Dr’s. Farewell.  He will be traveling with the Clinch Mountain
Boys, and will no doubt be a fantastic celebration of the life of Dr.
Ralph, the mountain music he’s made famous and his legacy that will
endure the course of time.  I had him on my television show, and he was
outstanding, even when he played banjo backing me on a couple of songs. 
As for me, I had to change my diapers frequently the whole time he was
with us. We’ve also tried frequently to get him to come to LeMars for
induction into America’s Old Time Country Music Hall of Fame, but he has
always been busy in that time frame.  Maybe next year will be the year
since it’s his last tour. Over his historic career, he has won virtually
every honor America has to bestow on its master musicians, except
ours.  He has three Grammy awards, one as best male country vocalist, a
category in which he competed with Tim McGraw, Willie Nelson, Johnny
Cash, and Lyle Lovett. I’d have to say that’s pretty heavy stuff.  He
was the first performer to be inducted into the Grand Ole Opry in the
21st century, and he is a member of the International Bluegrass Music
Hall of Fame and is a recipient of the National Medal of Arts.  And
those that he has helped along the way….Ricky Skaggs, Keith Whitley,
Larry Sparks, and Charlie Sizemore just to name a very few.  Come see us
Dr. Ralph, we want you in our Hall of Fame too.
One of our young country singers from a couple of years
ago, Matt Boone from Tennessee (Daniel was his great grandfather), had a
mild heart attack.  He’s at the Dyersburg Regional Medical Center in
Tennessee, but believes it’s only a minor attack, still….prayers
I popped into a interesting experience on the internet
regarding Waylon Jennings.  Most fans remember him as being a member of
the Highwaymen (also had Johnny Cash in it), but sometimes we forget
about another group he was in called the ‘Old Dogs.’  That was with
Bobby Bare, Mel Tillis, and Jerry Reed.  Shel Silverstein, a tongue in
cheek writer if there ever was one, wrote most of that group’s music,
and then died shortly thereafter.  Anyway that particular album focused
on aging gracefully (and maybe not so gracefully), but the song that was
listed with the article was one entitled “Me And Jimmie Rodgers.”  I
hadn’t heard it, so I fired it up.  It’s pretty humorous, but it’s also a
touching ode to one of early country music’s greatest artists, who
eventually was known as the ‘Father of Country Music.” I was impressed.
Johnny Cash just seems to keep popping up all over the
place.  The most recent addition to downtown Nashville is the Johnny
Cash Museum, and it’s been creating a lot of buzz in music city since it
opened May 30th.  It’s an incredible collection of over 600 artifacts
that range from childhood toys to memorabilia from Johnny’s last days.
You don’t suppose this is where our low-life thieves took the harmonicas
of Cash that we had in our own museum?  Former Vice President Al Gore
visited the museum, and he said “I’ve seen a lot of museums around the
world, this is first class and you will see, you can mark my words, this
will become one of the major tourist attractions in Nashville. Another
of the visitors to the museum, none other than LuLu Roman, who will be
at LeMars this year.
Coming to LeMars (with or without Bobby G Rice) is Allen
Karl and Donna Cunningham.  They record for Allen’s company Century II
Records (who also records Jim Ed Brown).  At any rate, their latest
release has hit pay dirt and is #1 on the top-200 radio show, a
prestigious radio chart in Japan of all places.  Perseverance,
performance, and production is giving them a great opportunity to be
heard by more and more radio stations and fans.  They were part of this
year’s CMA Music Fest, singing at the Nashville songwriters gatherings
on several days.  they also attended R.O.P.E.’s ‘Breakfast With The
Stars’ where they were visible throughout the event, and as a result
have gained new fans to listen to their music.  That’s really what it’s
all about these days….building a fan base.  No one, and I mean no-one
in Nashville is going to help an aspiring artist unless that aspiring
artist has a few million dollars.  No major label, no recording studio,
no press agent, no manager, no radio station, no television, no
show…nobody will help you unless you have money up front.  That’s not
the case with Allen Karl.  He lives in Maryland, but he is putting a new
spin on the music business in a big big way.  Of course some of those
greed-mongers don’t like it, but I’m with and for him all the way.  Both
Allen and Donna are country music artists, and they aren’t pretenders,
they’re the real deal. Watch for them at LeMars, you will be astonished
at their abilities too.
Another ‘coming to LeMars’ maybe is the Deering Banjo Bus. 
It’s one of those huge busses made over to be a showcase for Deering
Banjos.  They will not only have a great Deering display, they will also
offer  banjo lessons, let you try out Deering banjos that will be for
sale, even banjo books, etc.  We’re trying.
Remember David Church and Terri his wife.  They came to
Missouri Valley to our festival some years ago.  Since then they have
risen quite a bit on that long ladder to fame and fortune via RFD-TV. 
They’ve been most popular on the show that Sheila and I have done six
times….”Midwest Country.”  Now Church is a featured artist on the ‘home’ page after his song climbed to the top of the
charts.  His song “The Old Red White & Blue” rose fast in the charts
on one of the world’s most popular music websites. David Church (who
sounds somewhat like the original Hank) and his wife Terri (who sounds
somewhat like the original Patsy) are recognized for making their own
music.  David’s background is firmly rooted in traditional music with a
strong influence from Jimmy Martin, Hank Williams, Marty Robbins and
Merle Haggard. This is a really nice couple that keep their country
music country, so if you get a chance to see them, don’t hesitate, you
will enjoy their show thoroughly.  I told Terri I hoped they might make a
return trip to LeMars, and she suggested that might happen, but we need
to wait awhile until things cool down a bit.
Earl Scruggs.  Yes you know who that is.  So do I, I did a
show with him in Oklahoma City for the Woody Guthrie Festival.  I know,
why do I mention that I know these people.  I’m not bragging, I’m just
saying I met them, or worked with them, or know them, or consider them a
friend.  You would do the same thing…..wouldn’t you?  Anyway, Earl
Scruggs Gibson RB-Granada Mastertone banjo will become part of the
Country Music Hall of Fame. The banjo, which was Scrugg’s primary
instrument and has never before been exhibited, will go on display July
12th.  This particular banjo will certainly be in good company in the
museum’s “Precious Jewels” display.  Already there is Mother Maybelle
Carter’s Gibson L-5 guitar; Lester Flatt’s Martin D-28 guitar; Bill
Monroe’s Gibson F-5 mandolin; Jimmie Rodger’s Martin 00-18 guitar, and
Hank Williams Martin D-28 guitar.  It’s kind of interesting how Scruggs
got his Granada.  He got it in a trade with Don Reno in the late 1940’s,
and this is the banjo he played on his 1949 recording of “Foggy
Mountain Breakdown.”  He had another banjo, the one he learned on, which
was an open-back 5-string banjo manufactured circa 1900, which belonged
to his father. It will go on display in the Earl Scruggs Center, which
is scheduled to open in Shelby, North Carolina, later this year.
Great news from the Smithsonian-Folkways Recording
Company.  Well, yes, this is the label that Sheila and I record for. 
They’ve been very good to us, and even though some of our recordings are
getting older now, we still get royalty checks from them regularly. 
The great news is….The Seldom Scene…a terrific bluegrass band
stationed out of Washington DC, yes same city as the Smithsonian,
performed on the Smithsonian Folklife Festival yesterday (June 28) Why
this is important is because the Seldom Scene also previewed the group’s
first album with Smithsonian-Folkways, their very first one.  The album
will be available in 2014.  I think Sheila and I are up for an
appearance on the Folklife Festival next year, but we’re still working
on logistics. Anyway, the Seldom Scene played a significant role in
popularizing bluegrass music in the Washington DC area for over 40
Different kind of music….North Dakota’s State Historical
Society is considering a plan to buy Lawrence Welk’s boyhood home to
bring in tourists and preserve the musical legacy of one of the state’s
most famous sons.  The Legislature this year included $100,000 in the
historical society’s budget to buy the six-acre parcel in tiny
Strasburg.  Welk died in 1992 at age 89, but his television show is
still popular in re-runs on public television.
While off the beaten path, here’s one of interest.  We live
next to Atlantic, Iowa, about 12 miles away.  At the Interstate-80 Exit
to Atlantic, there used to be about a dozen old railroad passenger
cars, all painted purple.  They were called the purple-martin cars, and
were moved from Griggsville, Illinois to that location as a tourist
attraction.  Sheila and I played there a number of times, they had a
nice little performance area, ice cream parlor, a tourism store, a small
café, and whole railroad cars full of various birds, not the least of
them being purple martins. A guy named David Thebodo was hired in
Fairfield, Iowa, as assistant director of fiscal affairs.  He actually
grew up in Massachusetts and in 1974 he was among the first out-of-state
influx to Maharishi University in Fairfield.  There he studied
transcendental meditation with an infused curriculum.  He later moved
back to New England for graduate school, but returned to Fairfield with
his children, and purchased a local scrap yard in 1989.  Business was
not good, so he gradually transformed the business into a rail car
brokerage, especially since he now owned the dozen or so passenger cars
that failed as a tourist attraction in Atlantic.  And, he kept adding to
his collection, adding a dozen or more railroad cabooses.  He formed a
Rail Merchants Banner, and eventually received a call from Walt Disney
Studios to see if he could supply them with six railroad cabooses. 
“Sure” Tehbodo said, and he was in business.  You can see some of the
cabooses, as well as some of the purple martin cars in the new movie
“The Lone Ranger.”  Don’t be surprised if you see Johnny Depp running
around on the top, or the bottom, or inside one of them. Thebodo also
provided rail cars for 2011’s “Transformers: Dark Side of the Moon.” 
Now the procurers of the upcoming fourth movie of the Transformers is
asking Thebodo to provide them with a replica of Detroit’s automated
‘people mover’ that circles the city.  No, Thebodo didn’t get to rub
elbows with Johnny Debb when he visited the film site in New Mexico, but
he did get to watch a shoot of a train crash scene where Disney built a
replica vintage train engine and an entire Old West town outside of
Patrick Gottsch, formerly of Elkhorn, Nebraska (and still
part time) never ceases to amaze me.  He created RFD-TV in 2000 on a
shoe-string and took it to a national identity.  Then he started “Rural
Television” another similar property to RFD-TV. Now get this….He’s
going to launch a radio channel through SiriusXM satellite radio.  This
move into radio is expected to result in the hiring of 25 people in
Omaha, where it will emanate.  Rural Radio will launch July 15 on
Channel 80 and include commodity market news, weather, original and
classic country entertainment and western sports programming.  Now he
has an opportunity to reach SiriusXM’s subscriber base which is now at
24.4 million. Patrick expects subscribers to listen in their cars,
pickups, tractors, and combines. OK Patrick, please keep a little
traditional country music and bluegrass too, on the air.
Little Jimmy Dickens begins three weeks of radiation
treatments for pre-cancerous conditions on his vocal chords.  The
doctors say he will recover, but prayers are always appreciated.
Bob Everhart –

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