The Bluegrass Standard -December 2021

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Our Staff

Keith Barnacastle • Publisher

The Bluegrass Standard is a life-long dream of Keith Barnacastle, who grew up in Meridian, Mississippi. For three years, Keith brought the Suits, Boots and Bluegrass Festival to Meridian. Now, with the Bluegrass Standard, Keith’s enthusiasm for the music, and his vision of its future, reaches a nationwide audience every month!

Richelle Putnam • Managing Journalist Editor

Richelle Putnam is a Mississippi Arts Commission (MAC) Teaching Artist/Roster Artist (Literary), a Mississippi Humanities Speaker, and a 2014 MAC Literary Arts Fellowship recipient. Her non-fiction books include Lauderdale County, Mississippi; a Brief History, Legendary Locals of Meridian, Mississippi and Mississippi and the Great Depression.

Rebekah Speer • Creative Director

Rebekah Speer has nearly twenty years in the music industry in Nashville, TN. She creates a unique “look” for every issue of The Bluegrass Standard, and enjoys learning about each artist. In addition to her creative work with The Bluegrass Standard, Rebekah also provides graphic design and technical support to a variety of clients.

Shelby C. Berry • Journalist

Shelby Campbell is a writer and designer whose heart beats for creativity. A native of rural Livingston, AL, she found her passion in journalism and design at The University of West Alabama, where she received a Bachelor’s degree in Integrated Marketing Communications. Shelby also has her own photography business.

Candace Nelson • Journalist

Candace Nelson is a marketing professional living in Charleston, West Virginia. She is the author of the book “The West Virginia Pepperoni Roll.” In her free time, Nelson travels and blogs about Appalachian food culture at Find her on Twitter at @Candace07 or email


Susan Marquez • Journalist

Susan Marquez is a freelance writer based in Madison, Mississippi and a Mississippi Arts Commission Roster Artist. After a 20+ year career in advertising and marketing, she began a professional writing career in 2001. Since that time she has written over 2000 articles which have been published in magazines, newspapers, business journals, trade publications.

Stephen Pitalo • Journalist

Stephen Pitalo has been an entertainment journalist for more than 30 years, having interviewed everyone from Joey Ramone to Bill Plympton to John Landis. He is the world’s leading authority on the The Golden Age of Music Video (1976-1993), mining inside stories from interviews 70+ music video directors and countless artists of the pre-internet music era.

Kara Martinez Bachman • Journalist

Kara Martinez Bachman is an author, editor and journalist. Her music and culture reporting has appeared in dozens of publications and she’s interviewed many performers over the years, from local musicians to well-known celebrities. She’s a native of New Orleans and lives just outside the city with her husband, two kids, and two silly mutts.

Emerald Butler • Journalist

Emerald Butler is a writer, songwriter, fiddler, and entertainer from Sale Creek, TN. She has worked and performed various occasions with artists such as Rhonda Vincent, Bobby Osborn, Becky Buller, Alison Brown, top 40 radio host Bob Kingsley, and country songwriter Roger Alan Wade. With a bachelor’s degree in Music Business and a minor in Marketing, Emerald uses her creative talent to share the love of music with others.

Meghan Holmes • Journalist

Meghan Holmes is an Alabama born, New Orleans based, freelance writer and documentarian. She has a master’s degree in Southern Studies from the University of Mississippi and was a fellow at Loyola’s Institute of Environmental Communication. Her work has appeared in print and online publications, including Time Out, Sierra, Art & Design, and Good Grit.




Kara Martinez Bachman


Recent finalists in the RockyGrass band digital age. competition, The Wrecklunds, are all about “today,” but there’s a hint of the heart of yesterday. “Vinyl sounds mechanically made, and that’s what happens when you make music,” he said. It’s not just in the way this Colorado-based bluegrass outfit refers to itself as “traditionally Yep—the sounds of plucking, strumming, and modern,” which seems a type of conundrum until thumping are as physical as it gets. Ask any fast it’s explained. It’s also found in the format they picker with sore fingers, and they’ll tell you that for most love for putting the music forward. sure. By embracing vinyl recordings, the Wrecklunds harken back to what they used to love while looking forward to the future of music as they see it.

According to Eklund, many are making the transition, and oddly, it is inadvertently spurred by digital.

“They sell like hotcakes,” he said of the band’s vinyl “I’m sort of a vinyl nut; I’ve got a bunch of records,” release. “They are much more seductive to the said The Wrecklunds guitarist, Bryan Eklund. buyer because they’re larger, they’re more fun. I think there is a resurgence of people buying vinyl. It influenced a decision to release their “Moon CDs are almost passe at this point because people Over Broadway” as a vinyl record in addition to are gonna stream.” CD and digital formats. It comes down not only to nostalgia and a focus on recent trends but also to While many older bluegrass fans are in the habit of a sound quality that’s beloved by aficionados of purchasing CDs of their favorite bluegrass artists, the form that -- to fans, at least -- presents as much the resurgence of vinyl makes sense. If one wants a bulk in sound experience as it does in the sensory quick and easy listen, digital download is best, and pleasure of having something substantial to hold. that’s, of course, fine. If the focus is on a deeper To fans, vinyl is as complete an experience as music and more sensory approach to all aspects of music, can deliver, and more and more who aren’t old vinyl beats the CD format hands down for its fans. enough to remember the vinyl days are giving it a spin. The nostalgia of pressing music in vinyl is meaningful on a personal level to The Wrecklunds. “I feel like in a lot of ways,” Eklund explained, “the shift to the digital platforms isn’t as rich as the “A lot of these songs we love and play, they came mechanical sounds you get with vinyl.” from listening to vinyl that’s in our collection,” Eklund said. They started with records of those Those who lived in the pre-cassette tape and preold favorites, such as The Stanley Brothers and CD eras remember the pops, cracks, and skips of Jim and Jesse. It’s those old songs that form the our favorite vinyl. And the depth of sound they “traditional” part of their “traditionally modern.” provided when paired with a quality receiver, And what The Wrecklunds create today delivers turntable, and speakers that might seem to be the “modern” part of the equation. The band is ancient behemoths to the uninitiated in today’s quite prolific and already has a vast catalog of 10

original music that relies not only on those old influences but also on other roots forms. “We are bringing other influences, other roots music, such as blues and country,” Eklund said. “We still have the older tunes in our sets, but we’ve gone into writing songs that are current and modern. They’ve even toyed with the idea of someday adding more non-traditional instruments into the mix, including drums, which Eklund said would bring “a bigger sound.” For now, though, The Wrecklunds are most focused on releasing new music and opening up new avenues through touring. They’re working right now on a live album and on another that will include all-original material. The band’s prolific nature is because they all write, but Eklund said the process of selecting the best of that material comes naturally. He said they know they have a keeper “when we’re playing a song and it hits everybody when we all feel it.” Eklund’s bandmates include Eric Drobny (bass, vocals); Brandt Miller (banjo, guitar, vocals); Mark Swaim (mandolin, guitar, vocals); and newest member, Kyle O’Brien (fiddle, vocals). In addition to working on two albums, they’ll be blazing new paths this spring. “In April, we’ll hit the west coast, start in San Diego and then go up,” Eklund said. “We want to develop new markets out there.” For this guitarist, however, the standard of measurement seems to be found in less tangible things, such as simply putting out records with the highest quality the band can muster, along with following an inner drive to become better. “We’re all pretty serious about making music,” Eklund said. “We’re trying to get to higher and higher levels within ourselves.” 11


Shelby C. Berry

First Branson Bluegrass Winter Youth Festival to Be Held in Branson, Missouri Bluegrass music and Branson seem to have a symbiotic relationship, and they just fit together. It’s something about bluegrass, folk, Americana, and old-time music and the Branson area that make you feel at home and relaxed in the laid-back lifestyle of yesteryear. Many people in the Branson area embrace these values and lifestyles, especially when raising our youth in this type of music and environment, making it the perfect fit for a bluegrass music festival. Branson is nestled in the Ozark mountains and is a favorite family place to visit. From the Wild West-style Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede dinner attraction to Silver Dollar City and everything in between, adventure exists around every corner in Branson. There’s no better place to enjoy a youth music festival than at the Branson Event Center. Hosted by Branson Academy for the Advancement of Music and Theatre, Ozark Mountain Music Association, Tomorrow’s Bluegrass Stars, and Greater Ozarks Bluegrass Society, the festival is December 11-12, 2021. It will include workshops, jams, live performances, square dancing, band scramble, and band coaching. 13

“We are hoping that our live performance on Sunday will be televised by the cowboy church as well,” said Wendy Wright of the Ozark Mountain Music Association. According to Wendy, the festival was born out of the desire to preserve bluegrass music, specifically in today’s youth, by encouraging them and teaching them along the way. Wendy, the brainchild, and Tomorrow’s Bluegrass Stars president Larry Smith were driven by seeing young musicians grow out of their comfort zones through other events like this. “The faculty at the Branson Bluegrass Winter Youth Festival is dedicated to cultivating and fostering the community of young artists who will preserve and perpetuate bluegrass music for the next generation. This festival is a greenhouse for young artists to blossom and connect with those who share their passion and drive. When interviewing these kids in the years to come, they will still be talking about the experiences they had here and how it influenced their music,” said Crystal McCool of the Ozark Mountain Music Association. 14

“Nothing like this has ever been done before! We have a terrific venue with a 500seat theater donated to us by the city of Branson. We are all doing it for the kids. We hope it’ll be the biggest youth festival in the country! All performers are 21 and under, and we want to make it a premier festival for youth in the country. We are getting a great response from kids all over,” said Larry. The festival features our Tomorrow’s Bluegrass Stars favorites like Ashlyn Smith, the Cotton Pickin Kids, Roller Family Bluegrass, and the Farnum Family Band. “Our band Roller Family Bluegrass is so excited to participate in this youth festival! Last year was such a hard year for most people, so we are excited to bring joy through our music to others during the holiday season. We are thankful to the sponsors for putting this together. This festival will be an encouragement to both the players and listeners,” said Abby Roller. With good music filling the air, young musicians can join in instrument workshops, square dancing, band

scrambles, an instrument petting zoo, and even jam sessions. While the festival will be featuring bluegrass youth as the artists, all ages are welcome to attend this twoday event. As an event run by four entirely non-profit organizations, this event truly is all about the artists and helping them reach their potential. “Our family is excited to be involved in TBS and to participate in the Branson Bluegrass Winter Youth Festival. We will be there to serve as needed, along with many others making up the all-volunteer staff. Appointed as the TBS Regional Director for the Mid-America Region, I serve an area that includes Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, Texas, Kansas, and Oklahoma. TBS currently has 64 of its 426 young members living in this region. As the dad of our family band, I cannot overemphasize the value of an event like this in their lives!” said Norm Farnum of the Farnum Family Band. The Branson Bluegrass Winter Youth Festival will be offering free masks for those who would be more comfortable wearing one. The event held

in a 35,000 square foot facility offers plenty of opportunities for social distancing. “We will be encouraging any artists or attendees that have any symptoms of COVID to please not attend the event,” said Wendy. “We will give full refunds to anyone in those instances.” Immerse yourself in good music, better company, and all things youth in bluegrass at the inaugural, and hopefully annual, Branson Bluegrass Winter Youth Festival. Two-day festival passes are $25, one-day passes are $15, and both are available for purchase in advance or at the event. Artists are encouraged to come to the event and sign up there, even if they aren’t with a band. All are welcome to join in on this opportunity for bluegrass’ youth! Buy your tickets for the festival in advance here - https://www.baamt. org/events/bluegrass-festival/ event-passes/.


Danny Jones Giving A Bigger Voice To Gospel Music


Kara Martinez Bachman

Danny Jones was raised around Gospel and found a way to make it his livelihood and mission. “Not everybody is called to be an evangelist or a Sunday School teacher,” Jones said. Some feel called to labor, and some feel called to sing.

I don’t see them as artists. I see them as the guys I played in the backyard with.”

Page Podcast. He fulfills other creative functions at Singing News that highlight Gospel in print and deliver it through its traditional radio network, internet podcasting, and brand-new television network.

Jones parlayed this youthful connection to Southern Gospel into a career that allowed him to have a strong hand in supporting the That network is Singing music -- and musicians -- he News TV (Singingnewstv. Jones felt called to build enjoys most. com), a subscription-based platforms others could stand streaming service offering upon while doing their good Since 1969, The Singing access through devices work. News has told the stories such as Roku, Fire TV, and of the spiritual voices of iPhone. As VP of The Singing News, our times. With a multiJones decided long ago to platform approach to getting “We’ve been pleasantly make media his mission, the hymns and harmonies surprised at the reception and through it, he’s been out there, The Singing News it’s gotten,” Jones said of able to spread music and an continually grows and adds the just-launched viewing outlook that runs thickly new ways to reach those option. “It’s exceeded where through his veins. seeking wholesome content. we thought it would be at this point.” “I was raised around it,” he For 26 of those years, Jones said, of gospel music and has been an essential part of Jones explained how the everything related. “Both that mission. He recognized channel offers a wholesome, my grandfather’s taught at and continually acted upon family-friendly mix of singing schools in Georgia.” what he sees as a calling to Southern Gospel concerts lift those who aim to uplift and performances by Today -- now that he knows spirits into the spotlight. current artists. Its old more gospel artists than footage of vintage shows anyone could count on He started as Managing dates as far back as the many fingers and toes -- he Editor of print, and after 1960s. A subscription considers the performers to rising through the ranks provides the customer be family. over time, he eventually access to many original fell into the VP role he has series and the interviews “People ask me all the time today. As a Singing News giving an insider look at who’s my favorite group, but talent, he hosts the 4th the world of gospel music 17

news updates. With the subscription, customers also enjoy classic films, such as Gene Autry movies, fulllength faith-based movies, and beloved television series like “The Beverly Hillbillies” and “Gunsmoke.” “We’re still in a rolling start, where it [the programming] is being added to every day,” Jones added. When it comes to the performers, Jones said the channel showcases both 18

sides of the genre, including both onstage performances and real-life glimpses of what happens offstage. He said many subscribers love the channel because they are older people, and the shows they can watch there bring back memories. “They love being able to combine their love of music with what they remember growing up,” Jones said. “It’s a feel-good mix.” What must feel good to

Jones is knowing he’s found a way to turn his interests and beliefs into a career that’s meaningful and creative. Just as his grandfathers before him, he’s immersed himself in growing gospel audiences and in supporting the harmonizers, choristers, cantors, players, pickers, and ministers he knows and loves. It’s hard to think of a more fulfilling mission.



Scott Kirby

For Scott Kirby, who has performed professionally for 16 years, recorded nine albums, and written 135 songs, the art of writing originals is an intimate and personal process. “I write from that center of inspiration, whether it’s a feeling or a fantasy. If I can put myself in that place, it’s cool. I have a lot of other songs that are that way, moments in my life that I’ve woven into songs like grieving,” Scott said, speaking in depth about his long and successful songwriting career.

He continued, “If I’m really feeling something, that’s when it becomes clearest to put into song.”

those in our lives that make it worth living,” he said. So obviously, even in more challenging times, Scott has been known to channel his emotions, and even grief, through song.

For example, with his song “Hazel Eyes” from his 2018 EP, Scott said it was easier to express through the lyrics his feelings for his wife early Scott had a high school in their relationship. friend who died of brain cancer. Before she passed, “My song ‘Cool Water’ is Scott wrote a song for for my wife also. She had her and sang it to her at a heart valve replacement her bedside. This song, right after we got married. “L.A.M.B,” meaning Lindsey It took a while to come Ann McKenzie Beloved, is through all of it with some all about the girl he grew up perspective and write about with and what she meant to it. The song became all them. about being grateful for Shelby C. Berry


Lennons and Rolling Stones of the world.” Today, Scott’s sound is an eclectic blend all its own coined “mojo” by a Canadian comedian he met along the way.

“This type of music is important, but sometimes these songs take you to a place that isn’t happy to be at,” said Scott. In the sixth grade, he got his first taste of music in the public school system in northern Wisconsin, first with the tuba and then with the guitar and electric bass. As he started learning to play music, every genre of music influenced him.

“If you can feel the music with the artist, that’s what I feel mojo is,” said Scott. “I try to be as authentic I was a kid, they reached me. to the moment as I can be when I’m playing. It’s about The first cassette tape I had was Hootie & the Blowfish. getting down to the heart of a performer and sharing Then, I moved on to the my true self in that moment Goo Goo Dolls, Counting with people.” Crows, and the Dave Matthews Band. Listened to About three years ago, the my first Bob Dylan song as a senior in high school,” said most rewarding part of Scott’s experience changed Scott. quite a bit. He and his wife had a son, Elton Ray, who “Then I met Tuck Pence, loves to be just like his dad. a local musician here

in Wisconsin. I started backing him up years ago and realized his dad “When I first learned taught me how to play jazz music, I opened to guitar. He taught me all the fact that music could about songwriting. He has go anywhere,” said Scott. an approach to making “Jazz opened me up to the a living doing what you possibilities, and the other love. Otherwise, I probably genres kept me rooted. Like love the same music that The Blues Brothers did when everyone does, the John 22

“My kid at three years old is monkey see, monkey do. He’ll get up there and play like he sees me do. I got him a ukulele and a 6-string guitar. He’s a long way away from making a record, but aside from it all, that’s one of the most rewarding things I’ve taken out of my career at this point - being able to

see my music through the eyes of my kid.”

“The show was created to feature local artists and provide a streamline way to While inspiring his kid get local artists’ music out to could easily be a full-time the world. From Fall 2020 to job, Scott stays busy with his now, I’ve worked with over regular weekly spots, always 30 artists,” said Scott. trying to change it up, keeping moments authentic, He received two grant and other live performances. awards to fund and support He also works with a local this project with the radio radio station on a bluegrass station, and now Scott has music show that features the Burch Barn, where local musicians called videos are recorded and sent Midwest Music Hour. out to radio.

“The radio station was the path, and it was my thing. I hope it becomes a more permanent fixture when I’m not doing it any longer. People love hearing from local artists,” said Scott. If you’re in the Wisconsin area on December 18, you can see Scott Kirby and his mojo live backing up Tuck Pence in Wausau, Wisconsin, as he opens for The High Hawks. 23



Minnesota-based musician MoeDeLL grew up in southern Virginia, and it’s readily apparent in his songs -- with country, bluegrass, and old-time music influencing his Americana sound. It’s hard to tie the musician to a single genre due to his fluid style and emphasis on storytelling. “I write a lot,” he says, “so I’ve put out about an album a year since 2016.” His most recent, Ain’t that Something, reflects on life, love, and even the global pandemic, although he wrote much of the record in 2019, before COVID-19.

ever. There was this one kid who played banjo, and he was amazing, and I wanted to learn guitar and be able to play with him. Of course, at the time, I could barely strum a G chord,” he says.

Bill Monroe was there. I just remember seeing a man in a powder blue suit. I wish I had seen him when I was older,” he says.

In addition to writing prolifically, MoeDeLL also performs upwards of 250 MoeDeLL’s talents improved with time, as he shows per year (COVIDrelated cancellations consistently focused on writing and performing his and closures notwithstanding). music, often performing Following a piece of solo with an acoustic advice he received when guitar. He performs he first began playing routinely as a trio with musicians Tim Sunde on music for a living, he emphasizes “playing the upright bass and Chris same quality show in O’Brien on dobro. front of five people as you would in front of 5000.” Though there were He performs at venues no musicians in his including festivals, immediate family, MoeDeLL started how wineries, farmers’ MoeDeLL fondly recalls many young musicians do, teaching themselves his Virginia youth and the markets, and bars. Most of his shows are near country and bluegrass guitar and eventually Minneapolis, though he becoming part of garage music then. “In my also routinely plays in household, there was bands. “I think I always Wisconsin (and keeps an a lot of Hank Sr. and liked telling stories, and updated list of upcoming Waylon Jennings, and from a very young age, performances on his to this day, I worship I knew what I wanted website). Waylon Jennings, and to do, but my skill level on the bluegrass side, was way behind where “This time of year, things we listened to a lot of my brain was at. My sort of slow down, and the standards...Lester grandparents and my I take all sorts of gigs to Flatt, Earl Scruggs, Doc mom raised me, and I Watson, and those guys. pay the bills, anything remember telling them I wanted to play guitar, and I remember this guy who from background music at a restaurant or brewery they got me an old junker played banjo took me to a bluegrass festival when to a full-blown festival guitar, which I thought with a couple of thousand I was really little, and was the coolest thing 25

people - it varies,” he says. “I like playing so much, and I get a lot of gigs with people telling me I sound authentically country, like purely down south, and I can always say that I am from where the music comes from.” MoeDeLL originally relocated to Minnesota to record with a nowextinct record label and stayed even after being offered opportunities to return home. “If someone 26

“Ain’t That Something.” His breakneck touring and writing pattern was interrupted in March 2020 with the arrival of COVID-19 in the United States. “My very last show was in a tiny town in Auburn, Wisconsin, and at the time I thought nothing of it, like everybody else in the world, and then next In 2019, MoeDeLL started week everything was shut down,” he says. writing the songs that would become his most Shortly after, he wrote recent record release would’ve told me the upper Midwest had a really good bluegrass scene, I would’ve said, ‘yeah right,’ but there are a lot of really good bands up here. I’m more of a mix of bluegrass with other genres compared to some of the other groups, but there’s a wide variety,” he says.

one of the album’s two singles, “Hummin’ Along,” directly addressing the complicated emotions surrounding the pandemic, as people felt like life had been put on hold and struggled to maintain social connections as well as a sense of normalcy. With lyrics including, “everything will be all right / I’ll just wait ‘til then,” he addresses “how I felt like everybody in the world was feeling,” he says. MoeDeLL will be playing several shows a week in the Minneapolis area throughout the end of the year. In spring 2022, he hopes to tour the southeast either solo or with his trio, depending on their availability. In the meantime, he’s also working on his next record. “I have a banjo player now on this record, so we are going to have a nice four-piece,” he says. “I want to stay a little more standard, and I’m excited to tour the south because I think the music will go over well there. I love Minnesota but, in my heart, I also know this is southern music.”

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Susan Marqauez

Tommy Jackson


As he ties his dancing shoes, Tommy Jackson has a feeling of euphoria. Taking the stage, it’s obvious he is in his element. Dancing is Tommy’s passion, and preserving the art of clogging, buck dancing,

and hours it takes to dance at this level unless you are having fun.”


and square dancing is his mission in life. “It’s not something I do for the money,” he laughs. “I’ve danced for barbeque chicken, and I’ve danced for a chocolate cake. I do it for the pure joy of it. You don’t put in all the work

six years old. “There was a barn dance every Saturday night at Cherokee Orchard in Nolensville. There was also a regular barn dance in downtown Franklin at what is now the rescue squad building.” But Tommy didn’t dance until he was 23 years

encouraged him to go with them to Tennessee City. “I walked in and saw the most beautiful young woman. My friends said I needed to forget it because she only dated dancers. I jumped up and started dancing. I suppose all those years of

“My interest was in racing cars. I didn’t really care Tommy, an east Tennessee about dancing too much.” native, says he began going It had been a while since to barn dances with his he had been to a barn parents when he was five or dance, and his parents

watching dancers taught me more than I realized.” Tommy dated the talented lady for two years; then, she went on to the Grand Ole Opry. “We stayed friends for many years until she passed away.”

inducted Tommy, and, at the ceremony, recognized his forty-year-plus contributions to the dance form and training the next generation of dancers. He still dances his Rocky Top Revue, which Tommy claims is the longestTommy discovered that running square dance team dancing was a lot of fun, name in the United States. and he loved being around The troupe practices for others who loved music and their upcoming shows loved to dance. “My mother on the Public Square in asked me to start a dance Franklin every Sunday team, so I did. I realized afternoon, giving those who that dancing was ideal for happen to be there a free kids who weren’t athletes. show. All kids want to belong and to fit in. Dancing gives kids “I have no kids of my that opportunity to be a own, but these kids are part of something.” To this like my family. I’ve been day, Tommy says the lessons he gives are free. “I’m not the best, but I teach them the basics and let them choose which direction they want to go.” Some may argue that Tommy is one of the best. In 2017, the Clogging Hall of Fame in Spartanburg, South Carolina,

to a lot of weddings over the years, and now their children are my students. I’m out there having a blast. There are dancers, and there are entertainers. I want my students to be entertainers.” And many of them are, performing regularly on stage at the Grand Ole Opry. “That is such a huge deal for these kids,” he says. “I tell the kids that dance isn’t about thinking; it’s from the heart. I love to watch their expressions when they finally get it down. They become real hambones. To see kids that I’ve taught dancing on stage at the Grand Ole Opry gives me so much satisfaction.” The Rocky Top Review is comprised of five dance teams, starting at age three through adults. “Everyone has to learn to work together. I give a lot of credit to Robyn Durdin, who has been with me for close to thirty years since she was ten years old. 29

She runs all our operations and handles costumes and so much more. She also trained under Robert Spicer.

of those is Robert Spicer, a man known as “The Master” among dancers. “I studied under Robert for

We had a six-year-old kid not long ago who danced on a TikTok video that went viral. Ellen DeGeneres

Knowing Robyn is there gives me peace because if anything happens, she can keep things going for as long as she wants to be involved.”

two years and learned so much,” says Tommy.

saw it and called him, and he was even cast in a commercial. That’s exciting stuff.”

Tommy says that age isn’t an issue when it comes to clogging. “It’s a skill that is acquired over time. I’ve seen a 95-year-old win a state championship. I love watching the oldtime dancers. I learn a lot about showmanship, professionalism, and skill from those masters.” One 30

Tommy co-owns a radio station, WAKM, with his sister. “So many of the old-time artists are being nudged out of the spotlight, and we work to make sure they are given their due.” Just as he wants to preserve old-time music, he is committed to the future of this form of dancing. “I’ve been blessed to be the vessel to introduce kids to dancing and to help them come up in it if they choose.

If you’re in the Nashville area, you can most likely catch Tommy dancing on Friday and Saturday nights at the Nashville Palace. “People come in from all over.” He also dances each year at Bluegrass Along the Harpeth, a festival put on each summer in Franklin by his dance team.


Susan Marquez

Barry Waldrep and Friends Celebrate

Tony Rice


He was born in Danville, Virginia, but Tony Rice grew up in Los Angeles, where his father, Herb Rice, introduced Tony and his brothers to bluegrass music. He learned from some of the West Coast’s most talented bluegrass and country artists, including Roland and Clarence White of the Kentucky Colonels. By 1970, Tony spread his musical wings and moved to Louisville, Kentucky, where he played with the Bluegrass Alliance and J.D. Crowe’s New South. More musical endeavors ensued over the next decade, which led him on a path of experimentation with material that blended jazz, bluegrass, and classical styles. He studied chord theory and learned to read charts, although he enjoyed musical improvisation. He had a strong solo career and collaborated with artists Ricky Skaggs, Bela Fleck, David Grisman, and Jerry Garcia. By his 2013 Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame induction, Tony had developed a disorder that forced him to stop singing, and his induction performance was the last time he played guitar in public. In 2014 he was diagnosed with lateral epicondylitis, or “tennis elbow,” which made playing the guitar painful. At that point, he retired from performing altogether. Tony Rice died in his home in Reidsville, North Carolina, on December 25, 2020. As a musician, Tony developed into an expert guitarist, leaving a lasting imprint on the bluegrass genre. After Tony’s death, Ricky Skaggs stated that Tony Rice was the single most influential acoustic guitar player in the last fifty years. Tony was undoubtedly one of the most influential, inventive, and beloved musicians in all of bluegrass and Americana music.


This year, on the first anniversary of Tony’s passing, bluegrass instrumentalist and producer Barry Waldrep will be releasing a 21song tribute album called Barry Waldrep and Friends Celebrate Tony Rice. And what a list of friends. Americana greats Rodney Crowell and Jim Lauderdale make appearances on the album and jam band artists Warren Haynes and Oteil Burbridge. The tribute album also includes Country superstars Vince Gill and Emmylou Harris and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees Spooner Oldham and Patrick Simmons. Tony’s music reached beyond just bluegrass. The variety of artists on the LP are a testament to the wide range of music Tony influenced. Barry says the artists on the album all knew the music of Tony Rice very well. Also included on the album are many well-known musicians and harmony singers, all influenced by Tony. The album includes thirty-seven featured artists, and on it, Tony’s songs and stylings will continue to live on through the musicians he inspired. “All of these artists knew the music of Tony Rice very well,” Barry says. “Artists from classic and Southern rock royalty to heavy metal, Americana, country and roots Gospel. “Tony Rice has always been more than an influential guitar player to me,” says Barry. “He moved me emotionally with everything he played. It all came from the heart through his fingers on the strings of the guitar. He influenced guitar players, but he also inspired so many singer-songwriters in many different genres with a voice that was unmistakably 34

Tony Rice.” In 2011, Barry and Tony were traveling together for a show. “He told me a lot about what inspired him as a musician,” says Barry. Several years later, Barry participated in a project to benefit Tony. “We went into the studio and cut our song, but the album was never completed. In February 2021, my manager, Brian Smith, suggested we release the song we had recorded as a single in tribute to Tony. As I listened to the song over and over, I began thinking of the conversation I had with Tony back in 2011. I called Brian and told him I thought we should do an album instead of one song.” Every song on the album is a standout. “Song for Life” featuring Rodney Crowell is special because the song was written by Rodney and recorded by Tony. Vince Gill and Emmylou Harris provide harmony vocals on the cut. The song that got the whole thing started, Me and My Guitar, is the actual recording from seven years ago, featuring John Cowan. The bassist for the Doobie Brothers, John, has an incredible vocal range. John and Barry are joined on the recording by Oteil Burbridge and Benji Shanks. Visit for a list of contributors and more information.


Mississippi Chris Sharp’s


work: a musical event: a trip back home, an exhortation, a few lamentations, an exultation, a restoration. Mosley gives us twelve original songs. If the songwriting Mosley was a pitcher in the major leagues, he would be the the 1934 version of the St. Louis Cardinals’ Dizzy Dean. That is saying something. I like all twelve songs, but what’s not to like. Mosley is a major songwriter, crafting songs that speak right to one’s heart with soothing melodies and poignant lyrics. Those songs are:

CD: Small Town Dreamer Artist: Daryl Mosley Artist Website: Label: Pinecastle Records Label Website: I have hadly had a chance to catch my breath over Daryl Mosley’s release of last year’s The Secret of Life, which really got my attention. I reviewed that CD for this magazine, and it can be found right here: https:// Just now beginning to catch up on my breathlessness, Mosley has a new CD, slated for release on November, 2021. Bring out the oxygen. I’m likely to need it. Let’s start here: This new Mosley CD, Small Town Dreamer, is an important

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12.

Transistor Radio Hillbilly Dust The Last of His Kind Bringing Simple Back He’s With Me The Waverly Train Disaster You Are The Reason I Can’t Go Home Anymore The Way I was Raised Mama’s Bible Here’s To The Dreamers Sing Me Song About A Train

It’s gonna be tough to separate out the favorites from the rest, and my favorites list is subject to change with every listen, depending on my inclinations at the time, or whatever song is playing at the moment. My current favorites are: Transistor Radio, Hillbilly Dust, The Way I was Raised, and The Last Of His 39

Fried apple pies memories for Appalachia CANDACE NELSON

Appalachian cuisine is wide and varied: from wild game and garden vegetables to hearty stews and sorghumsweetened baked goods.

the country.

To make these small hand pies, cook down fruit, most often apples, with cinnamon, ginger, or cardamom, and envelop them in a small It melds with southern circle made of pie crust. cuisine and has Press the edges together characteristics from the and crimp with a fork to Midwest; there are no stark boundaries between place prevent the sweet mixture from seeping out. Bake until and food. Instead, it’s an golden brown in a cast iron amalgamation of all the pan or heavy skillet, despite above. their name. And, finally, Fried pies – sometimes called enjoy – once they’ve cooled a “half-moon pies” because bit, of course. of their crescent shape – are ubiquitous across Appalachia From portable snack lunches for school kids to desserts in and in pockets throughout 40

a lunch pail for an industrial worker, these handheld pastries have played a role in many lives of Appalachians from childhood through retirement. The iconic dessert has even transcended the confines of the mountains into the world of arches – the Golden Arches. According to Eater, McDonald’s adopted an apple pie recipe from a franchise located in Knoxville, Tennessee, and was added to the line-up as the fast-food chain’s first dessert in 1968 –

the same year as the Big Mac. The fried apple pie made its way onto every McDonald’s franchise menu in America by 1970. McDonald’s served fried apple pies until 1992 before opting for a modern baked version due to consumer concerns over healthy eating.

created as convenient lunch that could remain-dirt free as miners enjoyed the filling and could throw away the exterior dough they held.

These hand pies are not unlike turnovers from other cultures, like the bridie in Scotland, the empanada in Spain, the samosa in India, Though the fried apple pie is the pork pie in China, the one of my favorite versions of patty in Jamaica, and the a single-serve pastry, it is just pepperoni roll in my home one type of hand pie. Savory state of West Virginia. fillings of meat or veggies can fill portable pies, like the Whatever the form the delicious handheld pastry “pasties” found in Cornwall takes, its impact on created for miners. Legend Appalachian culture is states that the pasty was

omnipresent. The hand pie conjures memories of childhood dinners at grandma’s house with fried apple pies as desserts and snacks on school field trips. And with each bite, not only does one taste the flavors of love and labor but also the history of this placebased food and decades of Appalachian culture. RECIPE: Classic Fried Apple Pies


This Foxfire Book of Appalachian Cookery-inspired recipe with personal touches and preferences serves as a base for any customization or personalization you want to incorporate into a fried apple pie recipe. While the name implies the pies are fried, usually they cook in a cast-iron skillet, an essential in any Appalachian kitchen. Ingredients: Apple mixture 1.5 cups dried apples 1 tablespoon butter ½ cup white sugar ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg ½ teaspoon cardamom Pie crust 2 cups all-purpose flour ½ teaspoon salt ½ cup shortening or lard ½ cup water


Directions: 1. Place dried apples in a saucepan with water to cover. Cook until tender, about 30 minutes. 2. Drain off the liquid from the mixture, then mash lightly with a fork. 3. Add in cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, butter, and sugar. 4. Cool until room temperature. 5. Use a store-bought crust or make your own: a. Combine flour and salt. b. Cut in shortening or lard with pastry cutter or fingers until the mixture forms small crumbs. c. Slowly add water and mix well after each tablespoon d. The dough should come together in a ball. e. Chill for half an hour. 6. Divide dough into 4-6 balls. 7. Roll each into a thin circle. 8. Place a spoonful of the cooked apple mixture on half of each dough round. 9. Fold the other half over the side. 10. Moisten the edge of the pastry and press the edges to seal with a fork. 11. Make a tiny slit in the top of each hand pie to let the air out as it cooks. 12. Pour about ½ inch deep of oil into a skillet. 13. Heat the oil to medium-high and place the pies in the pan in batches. 14. Cook about 4 minutes on each side until golden brown. 15. Drain off any excess oil immediately. 16. Let cool down before enjoying! 17. Top with powdered sugar or a dollop of vanilla ice cream.






Kara Martinez Bachmann

at the intersection of Appalachia & Himalaya It might seem odd to compare the folkways of Appalachia to the culture of the Himalayas, but to music teacher Tara Linhardt, these mountain communities aren’t such strange bedfellows. Some similarities are apparent while others are more obscure, and this bluegrass musician first discovered the commonalities and disparities while traveling abroad during college. “I was studying Buddhist philosophy in Nepal…I stayed with a Nepali family,” she said. She was introduced to woodcarving, classical Indian drumming, and an array of artistic and cultural folkways with


which few Americans are lucky enough to interface. “There are so many similarities between the music and the culture,” Linhardt summarized.

both familiar and exotic. The deadline for the next Music, Arts, Adventures tour – happening in March – is essentially here.

These connections are all mapped out in a one-hour film called “The Mountain Music Project,” a 2006 documentary (available on Amazon) that includes Linhardt and tells the story of the two rural roots music forms.

“I like to keep it pretty small [between 5 and 12 people], so it’s like a group of traveling friends, so even if they’ve never met, they become friends pretty quick,” Linhardt said. You don’t have to be a musician to join the tour, but about half of her guests are people who make music.

She loved learning about Nepali culture so much she decided to start a tour company that allows bluegrass musicians and fans to take in things that seem

“I have it arranged so the first week is the arts and culture tour… so you don’t have to be in great shape,” Linhardt said. “It’s not cookie-cutter stuff…I pour my

soul into it. We see the Unesco World Heritage sites—we visit temples, monasteries—you can meet the woodcarvers and even try it out.” “Some of the best woodcarvers and bronze-casters are in Nepal,” she added. For those fit enough for walking, following the cultural tour is an optional “trekking week.” It’s not grueling but does involve lots of exercise and outdoor activity. It provides the perfect balance of physical activity and comfort. “I try to pick hikes that are culturally interesting,” Linhardt explained. She brings the group on walks through “cool villages” and past views of “majestic mountains.” It’s communing with nature but isn’t all-out “roughing it.” “We have porters carry most of our stuff and sleep in beds in guest houses, not on the ground,” she assured. Linhardt’s passion for this is evident.

“What inspires me is inspiring other people,” she said. Linhardt teaches music lessons as her “day job.” These skills inform both her tour planning and interactions with tour participants and the Nepali musicians they encounter. “I love that spark and sparkle when their minds are blown, and everyone who has gone on my trips has had that, and I feed off that fun,” she said. Many are inspired by the new music they encounter on the tour that they’ve purchased instruments while abroad to bring some of the indigenous Nepali sounds home to the states. “I’ve had people buy the Nepali Sarangi; It’s a four-string fiddle. I’ve had people buy the bamboo flute and the traditional drum,” Linhardt explained. She takes them to meet kids who play music. Part of the proceeds from trips goes to donations for disadvantaged Nepali kids. Linhardt said she funded music education at seven different orphanages.

The best part is that this interface isn’t unidirectional: It flows both ways. “I have gotten some [Nepali] kids hooked on bluegrass stuff,” she said. “They’d play for us, and we’d play for them. The look in their eyes watching a Scruggs-style banjo roll. It was like— whoa!” “One of the kids,” she reminisced, “one of the first things he looked up [online] was banjos.” He asked if Linhardt could get him one. Her initial reply was funny and true. “Kathmandu is a hard place to find banjos!” “I teach mandolin and guitar, and as I bring Nepali musicians and American musicians together and watching them inspire each other…watching that crossfertilization that transcends cultures…” she reminisced, a dreamy sound to her voice. “We can all get our groove on together.”



How does the intrepid traveler know whether this tour will be a fit? Attendees aren’t required to be musicians, so Linhardt simplifies it into two easy questions. “Do you like music? Do you like seeing cool stuff?” If your reply to both is a resounding “yes,” then you’ll want to visit If you’re interested in finding out more, time is of the essence, and Linhardt said she couldn’t wait to facilitate what she considers to be a genuine life-changing experience.





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