CONTENT OUR STAFF ERIN SALLEY ALICE GERRARD DEVON O’DAY FOXGLOVES HAZEL DICKENS LAURIE LEWIS LIZZY LONG CHRIS SHARP REVIEWS SALT OF THE SEA ROBIN JACKSON ROSE MADDOX SWEET BRENDA WENDY TYNER WYATT ELLIS VIDEO CHART FAN PHOTOS REVIEW
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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! Keith@TheBluegrassStandard.com
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. Richelle@TheBluegrassStandard.com
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.
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. GoldenAgeOfMusicVideo.com
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. Emerald@TheBluegrassStandard.com
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 CandaceLately.com. Find her on Twitter at @Candace07 or email CandaceRNelson@gmail.com.
ERIN SALLEY Susan Marquez
The Lady On The Front Row Erin Salley has it down pat in the stand-by-yourman world of country and bluegrass music. She’s a wife, manager, merchandiser, salesperson, scheduler, publicist, and more for her husband, Jerry Salley. Married six years, Erin says she was quickly indoctrinated into the music world, much different from the world she knew before meeting the talented singer/ songwriter. Erin grew up in Thomasville, Georgia, just above the FloridaGeorgia line. She attended the University of Georgia, where she got a degree in landscape architecture. While living in Florida, a friend invited her to participate in the Blast on the Bay Songwriters Festival in Port St. Joe, Florida. “I saw Jerry perform and was really impressed,” Erin recalls. “The next day, my friend was supposed to go to a songwriting workshop, and she got cold feet. I told her I would sit with her. Jerry was on the panel, and we met afterward. I had never known anyone like him. Jerry can really craft a song.” Jerry Salley has been writing and singing in 8
Nashville since 1982. A native of the southern Ohio town of Chillicothe, Jerry has had a wildly successful songwriting career, winning multiple awards, including IBMA Songwriter of the Year in 2018 and 2019 and SESAC Country Music Songwriter of the Year in 2003. He was nominated in 2019 for the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame and a GRAMMY award. He has had multiple DOVE award nominations and won the DOVE award for the Inspirational Song of the Year in 1990. During their first few years of marriage, Erin felt she was on the sidelines with no musical background or knowledge of the music industry. “There are so many moving parts. I stayed confused for a while. Jerry is so knowledgeable, and in time, I learned all I could about the music industry so I could be supportive of him.” While Erin has always been a music lover, she didn’t know much about bluegrass music. “I have always loved country music and pop, but I think bluegrass is the kind of music that people need to
be introduced to by someone else,” she says. “So many bluegrass artists grew up in families that were musicians. It is a musical genre that has been passed down. I knew of Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs, but that’s about it. I had a lot to learn.” When the couple married, Erin moved to Jerry’s home in Hendersonville, Tennessee. “We discussed the importance of me traveling with him. His career isn’t a traditional nine-to-five job; it is a lifestyle that includes touring.” Erin has kept her toes in landscape architecture by starting her own business in Tennessee. “I get referrals from builders and architects, and when I’m home, I meet with clients. I’m fortunate that I can also work on projects from the road. It has been working out well for me.” Being part of the bluegrass family is important to Erin. “I can see how they are all so close and being a part of that has been fun for me. I sort of live in a bluegrass bubble these days, and I
like it. So much of our social life involves being around people from the industry, so I am totally immersed in that world.” Erin says she helps Jerry as much as she can. She manages booking, radio appearances, and getting his records on streaming platforms. “There has been a lot to learn, and it’s important to stay current as technologies are constantly changing.” And despite having to learn about another industry in addition to landscape architecture, Erin has enjoyed the challenge. “I do enjoy it. My career as a landscape architect requires me to be a good planner. Those skills carry over to what I am doing with Jerry, and I’m good at it. I make my lists, and I get great satisfaction checking things off. If someone needs a bio or a headshot, I handle it and check that off the list.” At Jerry’s shows, Erin takes care of the merchandise set-up and sales and details such as 9
making sure Jerry has water on stage. “I have become a professional CD seller,” she laughs. One of the things she enjoys about being married to Jerry is the family gatherings when they are home in Hendersonville. “Christmas is the best. We do it up big with all the kids and grandkids. I started putting together big scavenger hunts for the grandkids to find their Christmas presents. And we eat – a lot. Everyone is a good cook. We play games, laugh a lot, and of course, there is always lots of great music.”
Photo by Irene Young
Haunting. Stark. Hard-edged. As a singer, Alice Gerrard developed a style all her own and mastered the rhythm guitar, banjo, and fiddle as a musician. Her songwriting skills are solid as well. A tireless advocate of traditional music, Alice Gerrard is a legendary talent. Born in 1934 in Seattle, Washington, Alice grew up in a family of six children. “I sang with my mother and four sisters, but it was classically oriented,” she says. “My father also loved to sing, and a lot of my parents’ friends were musical.” So, Alice grew up in a household where parties included music and singing after dinner. “We did it informally, for fun.” By the time she was in middle school, Alice’s family had moved to California. Throughout high school, she enjoyed listening to 78 rpm records. “I listened to ‘Where My Heart Goes My Goose Goes’ by Frankie Lane and ‘Come On to My House’ by Rosemary Clooney. I was drawn to the more exotic-sounding, boogie-woogie and harpsichord music.” While she was encouraged to take piano lessons, Alice says she hated them. “I had a good grounding in music and a good ear, but to this day, I wish I had taken piano lessons more seriously.” In 1953 Alice set off for Antioch College in Ohio. “There was a budding folk revival of sorts at the time,” she recalls. “I listened to a lot of guitar music and folk songs. I 13
learned to play by ear, from listening to records over and over.” She often listened to Harry Smith’s Anthology of American Folk Music, published by Folkways Records in 1952. “My boyfriend at the time, Jeremy Foster, had a copy of the album. It had Cajun music, Blues, and all kinds of interesting music. I knew when I heard it that it was the kind of music I wanted to do. It was very influential to a lot of people, including me.” Jeremy’s old high school friend, Mike Seeger, was significantly influenced by his parents, who leaned toward folk music and music from other cultures. “Mike had field recordings of folk musicians. When I heard them, folk music and old-time music were starting to take hold in a big way. Bluegrass was an outgrowth of all that came before it. There was just a lot to drink in, and we were all like sponges.” Jeremy and Alice quit school. “Jeremy spent so much time on his music that he decided to drop out rather than flunk out in case he wanted to return to college someday. I felt that scholastically speaking, I was wasting my time in school. At that 14
point, I had no idea what I wanted to major in.” The couple married, and Jeremy returned to school in 1959, attending Oberlin College. “We were both into bluegrass music, and we talked Antioch College into having a bluegrass concert for the students. The Osborne Brothers lived nearby, and they agreed to play. For us, it was so great, but the students didn’t know what to make of it.” As the Osborne Brothers got to know their audience, they began playing songs like “Pretty Polly,” and everyone was on their feet by the concert’s end. “We brought the Stanley Brothers I the next year,” Alice says. Alice and Jeremy settled in the Washington, D.C. area. “Jeremy was from northern Virginia, and we had a lot of friends there - a vibrant group of young people who loved bluegrass music. That area became a real center of bluegrass and old-time music,” recalls Alice. “There were places to play all over, and people loved to go hear live music.” Alice says she and Jeremy also visited people in their homes, which provided a burgeoning, rich environment for the music. “Folklore societies brought people to the area, and it provided second careers for
some of those artists, who were playing for the new middle class.” Through Mike Seeger, Alice met Hazel Dickens. “She was already playing a lot, although she worked full time,” Alice says. “On weekends, we drove together to country music parks to listen to music. I was friends with Hazel for a long time. We had music parties, and at one party, musician Peter Segal, who was friends with David Grisman, showed up.” Segal went to the D.C. area to see a concert. It was an outdoor concert, and due to bad weather, it was canceled. He ended up going to a music part where he heard Hazel and me sing. Peter suggested we try to record, and that resulted in two Folkways albums, which, by the way, will soon be remastered and re-issued as LPs. I just heard the MP3, and it sounds great!” Jeremy met an untimely death due to a car accident, leaving Alice with four children. Alice eventually married Mike Seeger. Hazel Dickens and Alice Gerrard played together for many years. “She was the mentor, and I was the mentee,” laughs Alice. “She strongly influenced me. We
time professional band. She had a full-time job, and I had four kids
were never a full-
to raise, so we couldn’t do big tours. We usually did a couple of small tours each year.” Alice became interested in doing other music-related things, including founding and editing The Old-Time Herald, a labor of love for Alice for 25 years. The Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame Inducted Alice and Hazel Dickens in 2017. She has also received the IBMA Distinguished Achievement Award, a Virginia Arts Commission Award, among other awards. She received a GRAMMY nomination in 2015 for Best Folk Album. While she appreciates the recognition, she never strives for accolades. “I think more about the music. If I can please myself, I’m happy.” While her children weren’t into music, some of her nine grandchildren are. “I have to say, being a grandmother is so much more fun. I have taken some of my grandkids to music camps where I’m teaching, and they love it.” Hopefully, they will carry the music of Alice Gerrard to future generations.
Devon O’Day hosts a Nashville-based southern American family-oriented radio program that is true to her southern American roots. Raised in the Louisiana delta farming community of Jonesville, Devon spent a lot of time on her grandfather’s 80acre farm. When she was in junior high, her family moved to Alexandria, Louisiana, where Devon and her actor/sister, Faith Ford, sang backup on the Super Country USA radio show. It was on that show that Devon became fascinated with the bluegrass culture. “I wondered how people became fiddle players.” Her family once had an old house in Texas. “When the house was torn down, there was an old feed sack behind a door, and inside was a fiddle my great-grandfather once played. That fiddle has been passed down in our family, and now I have it. If only that fiddle could tell us its stories.” Devon’s road to broadcasting wasn’t a straight one. She attended the University of Louisiana in Monroe and then moved
to New York, joining her sister Faith, who moved to the Big Apple right out of high school. Devon did post-graduate work in the writer’s program at New York University and became a model with the prestigious Ford Modeling Agency. She also studied acting at many well-known acting studios, choosing voice-over work as her specialty. “One day, I was on the roof of a building in New York on a modeling job,” recalls Devon. “The photographer asked me to get up on a ledge, and when I expressed my concern about falling, he replied that I shouldn’t worry because they were insured. That’s the day I decided to leave New York for good!” It occurred to Devon that she didn’t have to go back to the Louisiana delta. On a wing and a prayer, Devon moved to Nashville. “I got an apartment on Music Row, and my sweet dad drove up in a used Plymouth Horizon he bought for me. I applied to a hair salon as a receptionist and considered going to
cosmetology school. I really loved the salon culture.” But broadcasting was tugging at her heartstrings. Devon sent letters to TV stations and radio stations. “I applied to WSIX six times. Finally, I decided I needed a better name for broadcasting.” Devon was born Suzanne Ford. “I decided I needed to change my name, which made my mother crazy. There was a place called Devon’s Farms in the Belle Mead area of Nashville. I thought it sounded like a strong name. I kept trying to find a name that started with D for a last name. I answered the phone while on a temp job and heard the name O’Day. I decided that was it!” She applied again for a job at WSIX as Devon O’Day, and they called her in for an interview. “They said they had heard of me, which was impossible, but the name worked. I tell people always to be persistent and don’t take no for an answer.” Gerry House, who had the country’s number one morning show, hired her as a producer. “I told him I was an on-air personality, but he 17
said if I wanted a job, I was a producer. That was the best decision I ever made. Gerry made me work hard, but I learned things you can’t learn in school. His show prep was unreal.” Devon wrote for TV shows, and she has been a prolific songwriter. She has written songs for Hank Williams Jr., Ray Stevens, Trace Adkins, Neal McCoy, and a number one hit by George Strait called “The Big One.” She co-wrote songs with Dove18
award-winning songwriter Kim McLean for Lee Ann Womack, Pam Tillis, Marty Raybon, The Freemans, and Soul Real. Devon’s voice has been heard on all major television networks, and she has hosted specials for Bravo, Lifetime, and PBS. She has been the voice on many commercials, and she has narrated over fifty audiobooks. Music is a passion for Devon, and she has shared her love of music
on syndicated programs, including Country Hitmakers, which is heard in 130 markets. As New Media Host and Development at Main Street Media, Devon has a show that features authentic Americana music. “It is a lifestyle and music show, and I have the opportunity to introduce a lot of great music to the public.” Devon introduced her listeners to bluegrass when she was on air at WSM. “My only caveat with my show is that the
music has to be really great – according to me. We have people who interact with the show every day in real-time, so I get immediate feedback. I’ve heard people say they’ve never heard people play like that. They hear the intricacies and harmonies, and they see it as something true. They can’t turn away.” Devon has never had children but says she has
been called “the Earth Mother of Music Row.” Because she is a songwriter, she listens to up-andcoming songwriters’ work and helps them. “I introduce them around. One year, I fed twenty-eight of them for the holidays. I fed Big and Rich before they were big or rich.” Devon’s other passion is animals. She lives on a farm in Lebanon, Tennessee,
where she cares for special needs livestock, including a blind steer named Stevie Wonder and Barney the hero pig, a chick magnet. “He lives in the chicken house.” Devon has written three books about animals, including a devotional book entitled Paws to Reflect: 101 Devotionals for the Animal Lover’s Soul.
FOXGL Minneapolis’ Foxgloves
Want You to Get Over the Female Band Thing Already
LOVES The Foxgloves coalesced to make extraordinary music in the Americana genre, forever shelving the “all-female” moniker. All members contribute vocals, but you’ll find Nikki Lemire on harp and autoharp; Maura Dunst on fiddle, mandolin, and guitar; Sara Tinklenberg on vocals and percussion; Liz DeYoe on guitar; and Steph Snow on
the ukulele. Longing to be seen and heard for their engaging presence, rich instrumentation, compelling storytelling songwriting, four-part harmonies, and creatively reimagined covers, this band creates uncompromising music with true purpose. We asked the band, celebrating their recent
victory as BEST BAND at the Blue Ox Virtual Band Competition, to sit down with us and discuss the Foxgloves’ sound, mission, and journey. How did you get together? Steph: I made an online post about forming an all-women Americana, country, or folk band. 23
artists we loved, which Sara: Steph initiated a post helped lay the groundwork in a private Facebook group for what we wanted to asking if other women were create. We all come from interested in forming an different avenues in music, Americana/country/folk which is apparent in our band. A small group replied, writing. Our sound leans and some dates were put out towards folk and bluegrass as options to meet. Steph, these days, but our desire Nikki, Maura, and I were for complex harmonies, the first four to get together, themes, and arrangements and we met for drinks and often means our music snacks while discussing doesn’t exactly fall into ideas and influences. After any particular genre. It is a that, we went to Steph’s place variety show, and we love to sing and play and get a that. sense of the styles we were all bringing in. One of the Liz: I joined last year by first songs that we played responding to Steph’s was one we still do today Facebook post about (Angel from Montgomery), looking for a new guitarist. Nikki: When we initially chatted, we shared music/ 24
What’s the story of the band name?
Steph: The foxglove flower is a beautiful, poisonous flower found in the wild. Living in Minnesota and playing roots music, many of us were leaning towards a nature-esque name. One of my favorite flowers is the foxglove, and I frequently grow it in my garden. So, we threw out a bunch of different names, but this one fit us just right. Nikki: Beautiful and dangerous. Feminine but with an edge. I think it sums us up perfectly. What’s the best part of being in an all-female band, and what is the worst? Liz: Best: I don’t have to deal with a male band member hitting on me. Worst: the all-women aspect being highlighted instead of our musicianship and being thought of as a gimmick. Steph: Best: Understanding of the difficulties and trials that many of us face or have faced. Worst: Not getting the same access/recognition as an all-male band.
in it together. That’s very Nikki: We do feel honored affirming. But I think we to be all-female, and we get underestimated, or recognize that it is still rare people assume that we’re in our particular circle, ornamental. Our blood, especially when we hear sweat, and tears go into things like, “You were the everything we do, just first all-female group to play like any other band. I also (a certain song).” Perhaps think access is an issue. there will come a time when So much about a band’s this question is posed to early trajectory has to do men in the same way! with what doors will open for them. If you can’t get Maura: We all had to those doors to open, or work a little harder to you don’t even know where get here, and now we’re they are, to begin with,
it’s that much harder to make the right moves. And representation matters! I’m always so proud and hopeful when I see little girls in the audience watching us play. It’s important for the boys, too, but it’s especially key for the girls to see themselves reflected in the people they watch on stage. If they only go to concerts with allmale bands on the lineup, it’s that much more of a leap for them to say, “can I play bass?” or “I want to 25
write a song!” I’d love to see more bands, venues, and bookers be thoughtful about gender parity when putting shows together. Those little changes have a big impact over time. We’ve come a long way, but there’s still a lot of work to be done. I’m more than willing to roll up my sleeves. Anyway, long story short, put your daughters in guitar lessons. What bands are your heaviest influences, and what is one the fans would never guess? Liz: Tommy Emmanuel, Maybelle Carter, Gillian Welch Sara: Indigo Girls, Lucius, The Staves, The Chicks, The Secret Sisters, The Wailin’ Jennys, basically female groups with heavy and rich vocal harmony! Maura: Brandi Carlile, Lucius, Gillian Welch, John Prine, Jason Isbell, Lucinda Williams. I listened to Dar Williams obsessively when I was younger, then I lost track of her, but I caught 26
a live stream of hers the other day, and listening to it all again 20 years later was interesting. I could see her influence all over my songwriting, even though I hadn’t listened to it in a long time. I’m not sure what influence fans would never guess! I’m probably pretty predictable in that way. I like a lot of bluesy stuff, which is different from what we play but not so dissimilar that it’s unexpected. I’ve been paying much closer attention to bluegrass fiddle players lately, and bands like Della Mae and I’m With Her, trying to study what they do. I’m a classical violinist trying to pass as a fiddle and mando player, so I am still figuring out what my style as a picker is, I think. Nikki: I particularly like the mixed rhythm and unexpected synth colors that are creeping into music lately. We’ve been listening at my house to a lot of Low’s new album HEY WHAT, and King Gizzard’s Butterfly 3000, as well as Trousdale’s new EP What Happiness
Is and Maygen and Birdwatcher’s Moonshine. I feel the influence of these on my writing recently. Minneapolis has a thriving music scene in many genres. How do the Foxgloves fit in there? And does living in Minneapolis inform your songwriting? Maura: We feel fortunate to live in such a musical city. There’s an awesome Americana scene here, which helps, and of course, there’s some great bluegrass in the Twin Cities. We’re not a true bluegrass band, but we flirt with the genre, so we’ve been able to connect with that world in a really rewarding way. The venues in the Twin Cities are so fantastic, and there’s a thriving musical world here in the flyover! Minnesota has been the subject of a few songs I’ve written, so I suppose it informs my songwriting that way. We do a song called “Have Mercy,” about surviving Minnesota winters, and a song called “Swede Hollow,” which is about a park in
St. Paul. My songwriting is unpredictable — I can spend a whole day writing a song, not getting one line. The next week I’ll be scrambling to get something written down fast enough because a whole song is coming out fully formed, and I’m on the train or at work, so I can’t sit down with a guitar, and I can barely keep up with the rate at which it’s coming to me. So I’d love to say that my environment informs my songwriting, but I don’t seem to have any control over it.
Minnesota is the wilderness is always less than 30 minutes away. What is your favorite song you have written together?
been a song about that! What is your favorite song to play live? Maura: “Trouble.” I always get excited when I see that one on deck. I also really like “Swede Hollow” — it’s not one of our crowdpleasers, but it builds in this powerful way, starting with a cool guitar part on its own and growing into this big, active sound with lots of moving pieces.
Maura: We haven’t written together yet! So far, it’s been mostly individual writers bringing finished songs to the band that we then arranged as a group. Nikki and I did some co-writing over the pandemic where I sent her lyrics, and she put them to music. We’re hoping to do more collaborative Liz: “Toledo,” “Wild River songwriting going forward, Honey” Nikki: Our city supports so stay tuned. female musicians and Sara: I will always LOVE the women in the arts, and Nikki: Of the songs we have storytelling and harmonies we feel proud to be a part done, my favorite to write in some of our originals, like of this community. Some on was “Wild River Honey.” “Carmen” and “Rio.” But movers and shakers here I listened to the new Secret I have also been enjoying really inspire us and have Sisters album and wanted to some of our “newer” songs invited us to stages we have do something with a time like “Trouble,” “Toledo,” and felt so honored to play on. change and a taste of mixed “Wild River Honey’’ as they It’s been a dream. As far as rhythm. I also misread the are up-tempo and tend to be Minneapolis goes, I often lyrics meant to be “Wind crowd-pleasers. find that being out in nature, River Honey.” After I put the removed from my daily lyrics to music, I realized my Nikki: Tough call, but I’m stressors, is what opens my mistake! We decided to keep going to say, “Unhinged.” mind. I usually write a song it, but it still makes me laugh It is on our EP, and it still or two while sitting in the when Maura talks about gets a big response from sauna or out for a hike or her love of the Wind River the crowd, even though ski. The great thing about Mountains. It should have we’ve been doing it since the 27
looking at what sounds we wanted to lean into. How did you fare during the After not rehearsing for so pandemic? Did you learn many months during the anything about yourself pandemic, we were ready to as a band because of the hold rehearsal time sacred lockdown? in the spring when we could finally be together. We Liz: YouTube videos can get worked hard, and it paid off! you far! The Blue Ox Virtual Band Competition (which Maura: It presented some we won!) was good, and we challenges, for sure. We “played” quite a few virtual first got together in the fall gigs during the pandemic. of 2019, so by the time we We all needed music more had a set worked up and than ever. a bunch of exciting gigs scheduled, everything just Nikki: The isolation was ground to a halt. There good for us to build our were some disappointing song base. We spent the cancellations and tough time working on the band calls about what we were logistics, writing, and and weren’t comfortable
with. We absolutely wanted to follow guidelines and be safe, and that continues to be a regular conversation. I guess I’m proud of us for getting the ball rolling again. It’s hard to get going again after slamming on the brakes, but we did it, and 2021 exceeded our expectations as a band. You could tell that people were so hungry for live music and willing to do whatever it took to make it happen in a safe setting. There’s something so primal about people singing together and listening to music in a group — it’s bonding, healing, and rewarding. So, it was worth the wait.
On June 1, 1935, Hazel Dickens was born the 8th child of 11 children. In the documentary Hazel Dickens: It’s Hard to Tell the Singer from the Song (2001), Hazel said she’d been born late in her mother’s life and that they lived near the coal
together with neighbors to play and sing. Saturday nights, they looked forward to the Grand Ole Opry. Her father, H. N. Dickens, was an old-time banjo picker and played for dances until he became a Primitive Baptist minister. “The high-lone-
camp, Montcalm, in Mercer County, West Virginia. Her father hauled timber and coal, and her brothers, cousins, and uncles worked in the mines. Music was for pleasure, and they got
some sound generally came from the church,” Hazel explained, which greatly influenced her singing. Her father often made her sing in front of people, and it was always the same tune:
“Man of Constant Sorrow,” in the unaccompanied style of Primitive Baptists. Hazel’s life in coal country was hard. Like most mountain people in those days, Hazel didn’t graduate from high school. A few of her
nieces and nephews graduated high school and went to college, but most worked early on and sacrificed their entire lives in the mines and the factories. Hazel’s first job was in a factory.
She and a few of her siblings joined the migration in search of better work and ended up in Baltimore when she was 16, in the early 1950s. Like other migration transplants, Hazel, her siblings, and others formed an Appalachian community within the factory community. They got together to visit and play the familiar mountain music from home. During that time, musician/musicologist Mike Seeger worked in Baltimore at a tuberculosis ward, and there he met Hazel’s brother, Robert, who was a patient. Mike Seeger, the half-brother of folksinger Pete Seeger, was interested in new sounds, songs, and the Dickens family. In Hazel’s documentary, he said, “It was just mountain music in 1954.” Seeger introduced the Dickens siblings to other musicians in the area and took them to see performers like Bill Monroe and the Stanley Brothers. Mike, Robert, and Hazel performed as a small group, which Bobby Baker joined for a short while. Hazel bought her some cow-
girl shirts to look the part. At one of the jamming sessions with other musicians, Hazel met Jeremy and Alice Foster (Gerrard). Alice’s husband had told her about the little-bitty girl with a great big voice. According to Hazel, when Alice, who was classically trained, and she sang together that night, “our voices just
matched, better than singing with men.” In 1966, Anne Romaine and her Southern Folk Cultural Revival Project organized a southern states tour of musicians. Out of necessity and because of the lack of funds, Alice and Hazel
worked up duo work for this politically themed tour. Hazel had seen firsthand the exploitation of working-class people. Writing her lyrics about that exploitation, she discovered the power of honest expression and how it emotionally affected others. Her song, “Working Girl Blues,” expressed angst against the wealthy boss living in luxury off the toil of the laborers he barely pays. She wrote about the tragic life of miners in coal country through her brother’s story, “Black Lung,” and her song, “Mannington Mine,” about the early morning explosion on November 20, 1968, at the Consol No. 9 coal mine north in Farmington, West Virginia. There is little doubt the rallies and the protest songs aided in the United States Congress passing the 1969 Coal Mine Safety and Health Act that improved safety standards, increased Federal mine inspections, and provided better safety and health rights to miners. Her concern, however, did not dwindle, and in 1989, she performed at the Benefit for 31
Striking Pittston Miners in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. But Hazel also recognized the plight of women, and
and from those harmonies, she and her daughter Wynonna drew their duet inspiration. Laurie Lewis
she wrote about it in her song “Don’t Put Her Down, You Helped Put Her There.” Women of the early 1970s fighting equality battles in a man’s world flocked to hear Hazel and Alice.
said Hazel Dickens is right in there with Bill Monroe, Carter Stanley, Lester Flatt. “She addresses issues. She’s emotional and sincere.”
Hazel Dickens and her songs inspired many women, especially those in music. Alison Krauss said she loved the hard singing of Hazel Dickens. “She’s a ten,” she said. Naomi Judd said, “this is legitimate stuff, authentic music; it’s what we cut our teeth on.” Before her singing career with Wynonna took off, Naomi bought a Hazel Dickens and Alice Gerrard album, 32
with the National Endowment for Arts after she became a 2001 NEA National Fellow:
“Be yourself. The hardest thing in the world is realizing that you have to be yourself, and you’ve got to say what’s in your heart and mind instead of trying to emulate somebody else. “It’s Hard to Tell the Singer When I started out, I kept from the Song,” wrote Hazel comparing myself to a lot Dickens. She said she wrote of the writers that I liked. traditional and political I’d tell myself that I could songs to satisfy both sides never write anything like of herself. “I was learning them. But you don’t do it about my own self and overnight. You have to keep what was inside. I had never plugging away at it.” had the opportunity to express myself, and so I didn’t know what was in there.” Hazel’s awards: Hazel left future bluegrass Award of Merit, Internagenerations a piece of adtional Bluegrass Music vice through her interview
Association (IBMA), 1993; induction, Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music Association (SPBGMA) Hall of Greats, 1995; Best Bluegrass Female Vocalist Award, Washington Area Music Association (WAMA), 1998; honorary doctorate, Shepherd College, 1998; 2001 NEA National Heritage Fellow Hazel’s recordings with Rounder Records: Singles and EPs “They’ll Never Keep Us Down” (Rounder Records, 1976) – for the film Harlan County, U.S.A. “Busted” / “Old Calloused Hands” (Rounder Records, 1980) – from the album Hard Hitting Songs for Hard Hit People Solo albums Hard Hitting Songs for Hard
Hit People (Rounder Records, 1980)
County Miner,” “Mannington Mine Disaster.”
By the Sweat of My Brow (Rounder Records, 1983)
They’ll Never Keep Us Down: Women’s Coal Mining Songs (Rounder Records, 1984) - included new studio recordings «Coal Mining Woman,” “Coal Miner’s Grave,” “Coal Tattoo,” and “They’ll Never Keep Us Down,” recorded for the 1982 film Coalmining Women.
It’s Hard to Tell the Singer From the Song (Rounder Records, 1987) A Few Old Memories (Rounder Records, 1987) With Alice: Hazel & Alice (Rounder, 1973) Hazel Dickens and Alice Gerrard (Rounder, 1976) Others: Come All You Coal Miners (Rounder Records, 1973) - Recorded At the Appalachian Music Workshop At Highlander Center, October 1972, included Dickens singing “Black Lung,” “Cold Blooded Murder,” “Clay
Coal Mining Women (Rounder Records, 1997) - included an a cappella performance of «Clara Sullivan›s Letter» and compiled songs from 1973 Come All You Coal Miners and 1984 They›ll Never Keep Us Down releases
Bay-area singer, songwriter, fiddler, and guitarist Laurie Lewis not only has a complete and seemingly satisfying career as a musician, but this woman of bluegrass also has friends willing to step up and support her during the worst of times. Just after Thanksgiving, Lewis was slated to appear at Freight and Salvage, the legendary Berkeley, Calif. venue that may very well serve as the epicenter of west coast roots. Things are now improving for the better, but what happened to Lewis is one of the greatest fears of every performer; she lost her voice. “I’ve had an issue since July. I lost my singing voice due to paresis,” Lewis explained, of the dreaded condition that essentially amounts to partial paralysis of the vocal cords. “I could not sing for months.” As a notable figure in the regional music scene for decades, she always does that yearly show. She came up with a solution that yielded something altogether new. “I screwed up my courage, and I asked my friends if they would come and sing my songs,” Lewis said.
As it turns out, these friends are no slouches. They’re some of the best-known names of the genre. Molly Tuttle showed up for Lewis. Kate Brislin and Jody Stecher did, too. Kathy Kallick participated, as did Richard Brandenburg, the T Sisters, and more. When you’ve got friends willing to chip in and lift your music on your behalf, you’ve come quite far. “I am so grateful for my incredibly generous, talented friends. It was the best Laurie Lewis show ever, and I didn’t sing a note,” she laughed.
Speaking of friends, two friends Lewis made years ago are the women who have perhaps inspired her the most: Hazel Dickens and Alice Gerrard. When she heard them, Lewis had already been into bluegrass for years, having had the flame ignited by acts such as The Greenbriar Boys and The Dillards. She listened to female performers such as Emmylou Harris, but it wasn’t until she heard Dickens and Gerrard that she found her inspiration. “It was the first time I’d heard women singing what I call ‘real’ bluegrass,” Lewis said. She liked them so much, and she’d record their stuff as covers. “I wanted raw, visceral vocals with an edge, so I became enamored of them.” “Later on, I got to get to know Hazel and Alice as people,” Lewis said. “I met Hazel first at a 35
fest…we shared the stage… I’m a pretty shy person; I think it took me a long time to feel comfortable around her, though. It wasn’t her fault; it was just a feeling of …maybe I don’t belong here.” Lewis was wrong in that initial impression. “As for Alice, I wrote to her and said, ‘I think you should do an album of original music, and I think I should produce it.’ We worked very closely on that, and after working on that together, we got close,” Lewis explained. That 2013 record was called “Bittersweet.” More recently, Lewis has released two albums. In March 2020, was And Laurie Lewis, a collection of duets with various west coast musicians. November 2021 brought Freight ‘98, a live show recorded at Freight and Salvage back in 1998 but never released. Long lost to Lewis’s files, the recording of this gig resurfaced when the Southern Folklife Collection of the University of North Carolina in Durham approached Lewis. “They 36
wanted my archives,” she said, “and while I was boxing up so much material, I ran across these CDs. I popped it in [the CD player], and I was like, ‘this is good stuff.’” Bluegrass has always appealed to Lewis because it matches her interest in organic things. “I have always been very lyric-driven, and I pay attention to lyrics,” she explained. “I love all the natural imagery in bluegrass songs.” She said the creators of bluegrass are traditional, “rural people,” so there are “lots of natural similes and metaphors.” Plus, she loves the “lightweightness” of acoustic instrumentation. “I love the interweaving of the percussiveness of the mandolin and the fluidity of the fiddle,” she said. “The whole thing…it’s just a great template to work within as a writer. It’s a loose weave of sounds.” Many musicians have recorded Lewis’s songs, but “this is never a goal,” she said. “I write songs for myself,” Lewis said. “I don’t seem to have a bone in my body that is out there selling a song. But I do sell it to the audience when I perform it.”
LIZZY LONG DREAMING
In a tree stand or on a stage, Lizzy Long is living life to the fullest. She’s doing her best to stay busy on the road and off. “It could always be busier for me, but I’ll take what I can get,” Lizzy said. In between traveling dates, Lizzy isn’t afraid to roll up her sleeves and get her hands dirty, whether that’s with house projects, writing new music, or hunting. “Music ain’t quite back to where it was with covid and stuff. It picked up about May or June, and it was great to get out. There were some places where you could tell that people were still scared to get out. I don’t live 40
in fear like that. I think everybody needs to live to the fullest, and we’re just going to have to get used to this thing.” While the world was experiencing a different form of life throughout the pandemic, Lizzy decided to try something a little different of her own. She released a new album, Dreaming Again. “I went a totally outof-the-box progressive style, which is kind of different for me, but at the same time, it’s got a little bit of tradition in there.” At the beginning of the recording process, Lizzy talked with her producer Wayne Haun about making the album more Americana-
like, progressive, or something that would get more radio airplay and catch a few more ears. Dreaming Again straddles the fence of progressive and traditional. Her song “Old-Fashioned Heart” is an illustrative example of this modern and classic combination. Lizzy sings of Facebook complications, and Google searches with a dobro and fiddle escort. Lizzie writes love songs like “Dreaming Again,” thinking about her husband of 9 years. Lizzy shared that her other half likes to stay out of the spotlight himself but supports Lizzy with her music. “We own an insurance company, and I
said, ‘Babe, I’ll come to help you in the office,’ and he said, ‘no, you need to focus on your music. You go back there and write songs and stuff. I’ve got this.” Then there are the musical numbers. “I love different stuff, and I grew up loving Broadway and theatre,
asked. Imagine sitting in an old schoolhouse or church in the Smokey Mountains at night where the stars are out and sitting in the choir loft is a string quartet. In front of them is a bluegrass band, and Lizzy Long is singing lead. That is where these recordings take you. “I wouldn’t
of the songs on the album share who she is. This past year hurled many challenges her way, including COVID-19. “I’ve had some health concerns, and I don’t want to say what it is, but I’ve had some treatments and stuff,” Lizzy said. She gives a lot of credit to her
and I love singing those songs. I always loved Cats, and I thought, you know I don’t think I’ve ever heard anybody do this bluegrass style or acoustically, so we attempted it. Then who doesn’t love Phantom of the Opera?” Lizzy
necessarily say we planned this album out. It just kind of happened; everybody just kind of worked together on this album with the mix of everybody’s feelings that day when we got in there.” Lizzy shared that many
friends and family for encouraging her resilient spirit. “I’ve got good friends. They’ve sat with me through all of my treatments. Just being around people helped me get through it. I think just staying busy, and keeping projects helps 41
too. Just don’t give up. It’s tough when you’re sick, but I’ve been doing this for nearly 28 or 30 years now. I don’t know no other way of living.” Lizzy’s advice for other young women who want
to play music is “be original.” Lizzy hears girls say they want to be Rhonda Vincent, Dolly Parton, or Alison Krauss, but she says there is already a Rhonda Vincent and company. “Be
yourself.” Also, “don’t let no man tell you that you can’t do something. I can fix anything on my own, and so can you! You’ve just got to roll your sleeves up and do it.”
Mississippi Chris Sharp’s
Robins has a clear vocal delivery, moving from power to finesse with ease, as it suits her. My favorite songs are Bourbon and Beer, Leave the Porch Light On, Seven Devils Ridge, Hurricane (picked by the label as the lead single), the country ballad I’m Not to Blame, with its midchorus salute to Hank Wiliams, and I Won’t Have a Prayer.
Artist: Kim Robins CD: Leave The Porch Light On Label: Pinecastle Artist Website: www.kimrobins.com Label Website: www.pinecastlemusic.com I’m not sure what I expected from this Kim Robins CD, Leave the Porch Light On. I met Kim several years ago at IBMA in Nashville in one of those dozen-people-go-in-for-a-large-suite adventures I was a part of that can be fraught with peril. Well, it had its moments but no peril. We had a big time sharing lots of music. There’s some powerfully good songwriting here, including two with credit for Robins, of which two may be my favorites on the CD. Five of the songs on this CD feature Robins’ guests Kyle Estep and Clay Hess on lead vocals, with Robins lending harmonies. She assembled a great band, with me very much enjoying the guitar work of Hess and Estep and the great fiddling of Tim
Bourbon and Beer is my favorite of all. It is a dark, dark song about a man’s battle with alcohol and the effects on those who love him, a poignant telling of a sad story with which many will identify. The line “...cause when a man loves liquor, the liquor always wins...” is dark and as good a line as a songwriter can hope for. I’m not to Blame is a heart-render. The song’s protagonist is hurt, heart hurt, and expresses her pain, making us hurt along with her. Kim delivers her pain. Salute, Kim Robins. Releasing a CD with other artists covering the lead vocals on five of the thirteen songs makes me wonder who was thinking what. Robins was perfectly capable of doing the entire CD. This is not billed as a various artists CD, though it does admit to “and Special Guests.” The “Special Guests” did a fine job, worthy of their CD, I think, but I feel sort of short-changed. Robins doing seven songs out of thirteen is 53.8%, Kim Robins. I reckon I was expecting a hundred percent. That is not to say there is anything unlikeable on Leave The Porch Light On. I enjoyed every song, the band, the recording, and Robins’ clear, emotive voice. I want to hear more.
of The Mountains,” “I’m Asking You Today,” “Hoot Owl Call,” “Tall Fall,” “See You on The Other Side,” “Can’t Build a Bridge to Glory,” “Dust On The Royal,” and “Moonshine Song.” I could add some more, but one has to stop somewhere. Nothing disappoints. Everything satisfies. If I picked a most favorite, it would be “I’m Asking You Today,” which just swings all the way through. Having this CD in your regular rotation will bring smiles to your face. The sad part will be the day you reach for the CD cover only to fail to find the CD inside, finding it instead on the floorboard of the truck, covered with mud and boot-prints. This ever happened to you? Well, it has me. I’d hate to mislay this one.
CD: The Next Mountain Artist: Rick Faris Label: Darkshadow Recording Artist Website: rickfaris.com Label Website: darkshadowrecording.com Rick Faris and Dark Shadow Recording have brought us a capital B Bluegrass CD with the release of The Next Mountain: tastefully recorded, easy on the ears, toe-tapping, just thumping. From the first listen, I was hooked. Faris’s stellar vocals combined with an all-star group of musicians really bring it home. Besides the vocals, Faris is not unfamiliar to good guitar work. This is a very enjoyable CD. Once again, Stephen Mougin and Dark Shadow Recording give us great talent, original music, and flawless recordings to enjoy. I am thankful to all the musicians who bring us original music in the tradition we love. Producing this music and packaging it in a manner that is very pleasing is an important part of the entire process. Salute to all involved with The Next Mountain.
Salute to Rick Faris for bringing us new, original music that expands the frontier of Bluegrass in the most satisfying way. It broadens horizons within the context that is Bluegrass music. This is easy when contemplated, but rather difficult when executed, because having your own sound can only develop within the context of new music. Faris has figured this out. I salute him. When you add Laura Orshaw, Ronnie and Rob McCoury, Jason Carter, Mike Bub, Sam Bush, and Ronnie Bowman, you’re gonna get some good results. I also particularly want to mention the bass playing of Zak McLamb and the mandolin playing of Harry Clark. I appreciate what I have here with The Next Mountain. I sure want some more.
There are just too many stellar musicians to mention here, and they all bring home the bacon. Everything is in the pocket, and even the fast songs (“Moonshine Song”) are unrushed. This is how it should sound. My favorite songs are: “What I’ve Learned,” “Laurel 45
Savoring the Salt of the Sea: Appalachian Salt Sovereign Revives Centuries-Old Craft
While some may consider salt a simple ingredient, Nancy Bruns knows it’s often the very foundation of a meal. It balances sweetness, helps suppress bitter flavors, and helps amplify other mouthwatering flavors. Salt is the foundation of flavor – and her business. Bruns, the co-owner of J.Q. Dickinson Salt-Works located in Malden, West Virginia, is a seventhgeneration salt-maker in the hills of Appalachia. 46
Along with her brother Lewis Payne, she revived her family’s 200-year-old tradition of salt-making in 2013. Since then, she has expanded the salty product line of her brine enterprise, and the small batch, finishing salts can now be found in highly acclaimed kitchens from coast to coast. “I feel very humbled at the number of people across the country who support us and love our salt,” Bruns said. “It was my goal to become a national brand, and I think we are definitely getting that
recognition.” Briny Beginnings In the early 1800s, William Dickinson traveled from Virginia to the Kanawha Valley to establish a salt harvesting business by drilling into an ancient sea trapped beneath the Appalachian Mountains. By 1851, his salt received the designation of “Best Salt in the World” at the World’s Fair in London. His business continued for 150 years and helped establish the region as the premier salt-producing
region in the country. Dickinson, his sons, and grandsons harvested salt on America’s oldest working salt farm for generations. Today, J.Q. Dickinson SaltWorks creates a mineral-rich, pristine salt that exhibits a clean and complex flavor. Bruns pays homage to that tradition by handharvesting finishing salt and using the power of the sun and mountain breezes to evaporate the brine and crystallize the salt. Seasoned Stage
Bruns, a chef by training, has more than 20 years of culinary experience. “I grew up cooking with my parents. They loved to try new recipes, and my brother and I were often in the kitchen with them,” Bruns said. “It was a great family activity.” Bruns attended Bucknell University before enrolling at the New England Culinary Institute in Vermont. She then owned a restaurant and catering business in North Carolina before selling it in
2008. During this time, she developed an interest in salts from around the world and began filling her pantry with fleur de sel, pink Himalayan, and more. She then sought to marry her love for food and family heritage by reviving the family business in salt harvesting. With a lack of a salt producer in the MidAtlantic region, Bruns – the savvy entrepreneur – recognized the need she could fill. Today, J.Q. Dickinson Salt-Works offers six 47
different types of finishing salt: Heirloom Salt, Ramp Salt, Smoked Salt, Ghost Pepper Salt, Mushroom & Herb Salt, and Bourbon Barrel Smoked Salt, in addition to seasonings and other products. And, not only that, J.Q. Dickinson Salt-Works has also expanded into curating Appalachian goods through its storefronts in Malden and Morgantown. The mercantile highlights artisans and helps provide an outlet to sell their products, ranging from pantry supplies and home goods to fragrances and gifts. “We are part of a sustainable economic community. It is important to support other businesses in the region, and they support me,” Bruns said. “I buy as much as I can as locally as possible. The majority of the products we sell are not available from other vendors. I want to highlight the great work Appalachians are doing. My roots run deep here, and I want to see our region succeed.” RECIPE: Watermelon Feta Salad with Appalachian Salt While some people snack directly on J.Q. Dickinson Salt-Works salt, my favorite way to enjoy the treat is on a summer salad. Of course, it’s absolute perfection when produce is fresh and in season. But it’s also nice to enjoy a summer salad during this time of year as a light and refreshing accompaniment to a winter meal.
Ingredients: • 1 cup feta cheese chunks (you can purchase these crumbled or buy a block and crumble them yourself) • 2 cups seedless & rindless watermelon cubes (these work best when cut into about 1” cubes, but they can also be in spears) • 1/3 cup chopped mint leaves • 2 TBS lemon juice • 3 TBS extra virgin olive oil • 2 TBS balsamic vinegar • 1 tsp J.Q. Dickinson Heirloom finishing salt • Freshly ground black pepper Directions: 1. Whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar until combined to make a vinaigrette. Set aside. 2. Toss together watermelon cubes and feta cheese chunks. 3. Top with mint leaves. 4. Drizzle vinaigrette. 5. Sprinkle salt to your liking. 6. Grind a bit of fresh black pepper. 7. Enjoy and pretend like the snow isn’t falling outside. If you’d like a more substantial meal, place the salad over a bed of arugula and dress liberally with the vinaigrette.
Robin Jackson A Bluegrass Homecoming
On December 7, 2017, Carl Jackson and Robin Arnold said, “I do,” in the small town of Louisville (pronounced with a prominent “s” unlike the Kentucky version), Mississippi. “The day that will forever live in infamy,” said Robin Jackson. It happened like this. Robin and her family lived in West Virginia in 1974 when her
mom decided to move back to Louisville, her and Carl Jackson’s hometown. But Carl was already on the road with Glen Campbell. “Him being 12 years older than me, there would have been no reason for us to have known each other,” said Robin. “But throughout the years, Mama and Daddy would go to his Christmas concerts when I moved off to Atlanta. They told me they were
going to Carl Jackson’s concert.” And to that, Robin inquired, “Who is that?” They explained that Carl was “a very talented musician smalltown boy who had made it big and that he sings with Dolly Parton and a whole bunch of other big names.” And to that, with still little interest, Robin replied, “Okay, have a good time.” Around 2010, Robin, then 51
recently divorced, was visiting her family in Louisville and went with her mom to the funeral home to pay respects to a local family who had lost a loved one. “So, we go to the funeral home, and I didn’t know Carl Jackson from Adam.” Her mom introduced Carl and Robin, but Robin was “certainly not looking for anything. We talked for maybe a minute, and then I went on to see the family.” Carl and Robin did finally friend each other on Facebook, but that was the extent of their friendship for around two years, until Christmas when it was time for another Carl Jackson homecoming. Her mom, of course, was going, but when Robin said she’d go with her, “Mama said the tickets were sold out.” Robin messaged Carl on Facebook and told him she was home for Christmas and wanted to see the show, but she couldn’t get a ticket. Carl assured her he could make that happen. It did. And at that Christmas Homecoming, Robin “intentionally” met Carl Jackson for the first time. “Two weeks later, when we were home for Christmas, we had our kind of first date at McDonald’s until 3:00 o’clock in the morning,” said Robin. She explained how being from the same small town has advantages, especially when you’re a divorced female. “In a big town, it’s kind of weird starting to date again because you have no idea who the person is you’re marrying. He may be a nice guy and sweet, but you know nothing 52
about his family history. That was one of the things that immediately drew me to Carl because our families had grown up together; they knew each other. We’re all kind of intertwined.” As connected as their families were in a small town, the music was not, at least not for Robin. Her music had been a mixture of the 80s, rock ‘n’ roll, country, and absolutely no bluegrass. “I knew the big names like Bill
Monroe and Roy Acuff. When Carl and I first started dating, somebody asked what I thought of “Little Mountain Church,” and I’m like, I’ve never heard it; I don’t even know what you’re talking about. It’s been a big enjoyable learning experience.” That learning experience includes Robin getting up close and personal with bluegrass artists. Years before, at pop and rock
concerts at Mississippi State and elsewhere meant being in the audience and leaving afterward because there’s no possible way to get close to the artist. “It’s really different in bluegrass because after the show, the bluegrass artists, whether at a festival or a venue, will come out and talk to their fans because they know these fans truly love them. I have been spoiled being with Carl because I’ve gotten to know a lot of the big main people. Carl says they’re just like we are. I will talk to and learn about them and learn about Carl and what they did for him and what he did in their life. It’s a family atmosphere that is heartwarming.” Carl Jackson’s music career began at age 14 when he toured for five years playing banjo for Jim and Jesse and the Virginia Boys. His next stint as banjo player was with Glen Campbell for 12 years. Robin met the Campbell family at the onset of Glen’s Alzheimer’s Disease after James Keach’s production company had already filmed the documentary I’ll Be Me during Glen’s Goodbye tour in 2012. “I met him in April 2013 at TK’s (TK Kimbrell) house, who was his manager. I walked in, and Carl says ‘Glen, this is Robin,’ and I was walking in thinking, Oh my gosh, that’s Glen Campbell. Everybody was talking, and then Glen started singing “Rocking Robin.” After that, he was no longer Glen Campbell; he was Glen. And I saw him up until about four weeks before he died,” on August 8, 2017.
The disease itself is ravaging, Robin said. “I did know him a little bit, and I’m very grateful for that. But I’m more grateful for the love Carl has for him and the love that Glen had for Carl.” Carl is godfather to Glen and Kim’s daughter, Ashley. “She is just so fortunate to have him,” Robin said, adding that Carl will “probably step into that father figure role for Ashley, in some form or another. “It’s good for both of them.” As Robin and Carl continued to date, Robin drove back and forth to Nashville because “Nashville was much more fun than Atlanta when you’re with Carl Jackson. We would go places and see people and see shows and do shows; you do everything a bluegrass artist does. I started making that trip and continued that trip for about five years. And I told people that I can tell you every nook and turn on Interstate 24 and 75 from Nashville to Atlanta.” Christmas 2017 came around, and Robin was home in Louisville for Christmas and another Christmas Homecoming show. “We’ve always been engaged,” she said, and so she texted him the message, “Look, do you want to get married today, or do you not want to get married, and he said, Let’s go. “We went uptown to the courthouse, got our marriage license, went across the street to a gift shop where the owners were friends of ours. He was a pastor and a past Ole Miss football player. We stood in the back of the store and got married and didn’t tell anyone until the next night when we were having dinner with all the 53
musicians for the show. I didn’t even tell my mom. It was silence for just a second, and then everyone erupted in laughter and cheers, and everything like that.” Robin left Georgia, put everything in storage, and the Jackson couple started adding on to the Tennessee house, which led to another story. “The guy walked out on us during construction, and everything was done wrong, so we have been trying to recover since February of 2018,” said Robin, “and then COVID hit, so it hasn’t been a smooth way of going. But I love Carl Jackson, and he loves me, and our marriage will be really strong surviving all this.” With COVID and the housing dilemma, it’s hard for Carl to concentrate on music in the studio, but that doesn’t make him want to stop. He starts a big project in February, and “I think everyone will be surprised and be excited when they find out what it is,” said Robin, adding that he has a bluegrass album and a duet album he wants to put out. Robin works the merch table at Carl’s events and makes a list of songs everybody asks about, like “Lee and Ruby Pearl.” She tells them the songs will be out on a future album. Carl also wants to produce albums for other people like Colonel Isaac Moore. “We’ve been talking about that for five years.” In short, retirement is not on Carl Jackson’s mind or his heart, and “he will continue as long as God will let him pass it on to others.”
Robin says that in marriage, whether it’s your first, second, or third, you have to “listen to each other, compromise, and try the best you can to make the other person happy. I have bad days, and so does Carl Jackson. I try to make Carl as happy as I can, and I try to treat him with respect and love the best way I know how to do. Take the time to appreciate and love each other.” Robin’s Private Time: Robin finds peace—in her car. “It’s my solitude place. I pray when I’m in the car. She finds peace also—at the grocery store. “I go to the grocery store and get my coffee and walk around. I can stay two hours.” New Year Resolution: One resolution is to get the construction on the house done. “But also enjoy life and realize how blessed we are.” Tidbits: The Jacksons are expecting their first grandchild, “Carl Jackson is going to be a grandfather!” YouTube channel: “I would love if everyone would subscribe to our channel and see how my husband plays and how he sounds.”
Rose Maddox SHELBY BERRY
A Tribute to an American Classic & the Pioneer of Women in Bluegrass
“I found that when [Rose Maddox] started working my show that she was probably one of the most fascinating, exciting performers that I’d ever seen in my life. She was a total performer. She captivated the audience. She held them in the palm of her hand and made ‘em do what she wanted to. The songs she sang were classics, and I loved the way she sang and kind of danced at the same time. I thought there was, and still think that, there will never be a woman who could outperform Rose Maddox. She’s an American classic.” — Johnny Cash Rose Maddox is a bluegrass and country music pioneer who paved the way for the women, and other artists, who came after her. From Emmylou Harris and Dolly Parton to Janis Joplin, Rose Maddox influenced artists of all genres and generations with her impeccable talent and spunky style. Her rags-to-riches story started with her sharecropper family in a small southern town. 56
Bill Monroe encouraged her, and she took his advice to release a bluegrass album. She made history as the first woman to do so with the release of Rose Maddox Sings Bluegrass. But the influence on musical history neither began nor stopped there. The Maddox Family, though born in the state that produced Delmore Brothers, Hank Williams Sr, Emmylou Harris, and the band Alabama, their musical story began in California after they relocated there in the early 1930s. Rose’s mother, Lula, had long dreamed of living in California. They sold everything for $35 to make that dream come true. A native of Boaz, Alabama, Rose was seven years old when the family set out for California. Alongside her parents and four siblings, they hitchhiked to Meridian, Mississippi, where they hopped on a train and rode it all the way west. A few years later, after hearing the Sons of the Pioneers perform live at a local theater, Rose was convinced she had found her
While the Maddox family did have some musical background as their grandfather was a fiddler, this was their first real experience in the music industry. By the late 1930s, they had become local radio stars. Soon after, the family signed a recording deal with Indie label 4 Star Records, an indie label that re-named them as the Most Colorful Hillbilly Band in America because Rose and her brothers were known for flashy, embroidered costumes that became the band’s trademark. This spectacular fashion eventually defined country music attire for generations to come.
Beyond releasing legendary hits like “Philadelphia Lawyer” and “Honky Tonkin’,” the band made their Grand Ole Opry debut in 1949 and met Bill Monroe. Rose signed as a solo artist in 1953, and the family band disbanded three years later with some bitterness towards Rose’s flourishing musical career. Rose released 15 country hits from her California base between 1947 and 1964, becoming a West Coast mainstay long before the Bakersfield country sound of the 1960s. But it was 1962 that proved to be the most pivotal year of her career yet. Only one year later, Rose surpassed country music icons Patsy Cline and Kitty Wells to be named Cashbox’s Female Country Artist, and she went on to tour with Buck Owens and Merle Haggard. In one of her later EPs, Rose joined forces with a few artists she inspired, Merle Haggard and Emmylou Harris. Harris believes that Rose never received the recognition she deserved. calling to become a singer. She began singing at age 11 with her brothers in Californian honky-tonks during the Great Depression. The Maddox Brothers & Rose blended everything from bluegrass and old-time country music to hillbilly, rockabilly, folk, jazz, gospel, and boogie-woogie. Their music was often referred to as “Okie Boogie” and later influenced what we know as country music and laid the foundation for rock ’n’ roll music to come.
“Part of this is due to a reluctance in American society to celebrate the value of white country and roots music,” Harris said in a 2002 interview for the Honky Tonks, Hymns, & the Blues segment of National Public Radio. Too often an overlooked performer of her time, Rose Maddox finally received her first well-deserved Grammy nomination for her 1994 album release for $35 and a Dream for Best 57
She told the story of her exceptional career in her 1997 biography Ramblin’ Rose: The Life and Career of Rose Maddox before passing away the following year at the age of 71. Shockingly, neither the Country Music Hall of Fame nor the Bluegrass Hall of Fame has inducted Rose, but her impeccable musical catalog speaks for itself and transcends gen-
Over two decades after her death, Rose Maddox still deserves recognition as one of the greatest musical success stories in any genre. She shaped the course of music from the Great Depression to the start of rock ’n’ roll and became an icon with her musical career for all generations to come.
Bluegrass Broadcaster Brenda Lawson Honors the Music and Her Husband’s Legacy
If you want to have an authentic radio experience, tune in to “The Bluegrass Jamboree” online Sunday 7-10 am, where Brenda Lawson plays bluegrass, gospel, and she takes requests from listeners. “If I have it, I’ll play it!” Brenda laughed. But the road to this moment was bumpy. “Bluegrass was a part of my entire childhood; my father introduced us all to the music and took us to many jamborees,” said Brenda, who was not a bluegrass fan. “As a child, I can’t say I enjoyed it too much, but as I grew, I found a love for the music and the people. My interest grew further when my family began putting on bluegrass festivals, and that is when I realized the true meaning of bluegrass music.” Starting as the cook of her family festival, Brenda soon found her talent was not over a stove but in front of a microphone. “My father encouraged me to become the emcee ‘against my will’ because he always felt I had a very outgoing personality. As usual, my father was right, and my personality won the heart of David Gee, owner of a local AM radio station WXGI. He was the first to offer me a spot on Sunday mornings from 10 am-12 pm. I talked it over with my husband Calvin, who was from Winston Salem, North Carolina, and he was a businessman thrown into the bluegrass lifestyle. He knew
from the start I was a package deal that included my bluegrass family. I decided I couldn’t do the show without Calvin, who became the ‘Him’ in the show title. Calvin believed in me and the show enough to help me decide to go for it; he ran the show behind the scenes.” Brenda and Calvin’s “Sweet Brenda & ‘Him’” show aired for more than ten years on Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights on WXGI AM, WSVS AM, and Bobcat Country WBBC FM. As SPGMA winners for Bluegrass DJs of the year for two years in a row, the couple also organized many festivals, shows and emceed other bluegrass festivals for other promoters. “The first Amelia Family Bluegrass Festival I was 22 years old, and we still talk about that festival around the Christmas tree. I honestly can’t believe we ever made it to the second one, much less 44 years of festivals.” Brenda and Calvin were partners in the Rockahock Bluegrass Festival in Lanexa, Virginia, with owners Randy & Angie Caldwell for ten years, resulting in the couples becoming very good friends. Using their experience and connections in the bluegrass world, they hired the bands, handled promotions and marketing, and assisted in 61
organizing and working the shows. With Brenda and Calvin, however, the love came before the work. Losing her husband, Calvin, at age 75 was devastating for Brenda. “The loss of my husband has been a loss I could have never imagined,” she said solemnly. “We did everything together, and the last couple of years without his calm guidance have been very hard. His legacy continues with the relationships he built with fellow promoters, band members, and bluegrass fans/family. Calvin’s business sense and level-headedness not only guided me but all those around us in the industry.” Brenda also carries on their legacy with the “Sweet Brenda” show to honor Calvin and the music they loved.
SHELBY C. BERRY
The Inspiring Career of Wintergrass’
Wendy Tyner Bluegrass Love Sparked by the Magic of Disney & Powerful Women who Paved the Way You may have heard of the annual Wintergrass Music Festival in Bellevue, Washington, and the excitement it brings to the bluegrass fans who attend it each year. However, you may not know Wendy Tyner, the Director of Philanthropy and Publicity and one of the leading ladies of Wintergrass - but you should.
grass. While the music of Bill Monroe and Earl Scruggs
seeping into every part of her life. At age 17, she began dating her husband, and it was all fueled by their equal commitment to music and attending live shows. “My dad taught me the value of music and how it can wrap around your soul and become part of who you are,” Wendy said.
Wendy oversees all philanthropy and publicity for Wintergrass, spending countless hours working with government officials and private and public organizations throughout partnerships that bring you the festival that we know and love.
engrossed most bluegrass fans in the 1970s, the sound of the banjo in the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band is what first caught her eyes and ears.
Of course, every music festival has someone like Wendy in their pocket, but what makes her special is far more than the fact that she is a woman in blue-
While Wendy grew up in California and her access to bluegrass music was limited, her love for the simpleness of bluegrass and all that it brings began
Wendy’s husband began working at Disneyland in California at 18 years old, and Wendy later at 25 after completing her Master’s degree. Little did the two of them know that stepping through the front gates of the happiest place on earth would lead to their love for bluegrass music in a way they never thought possible. “There was this section of Frontierland and Adven-
provide the very best, and Wes had equally high standards.” While Wendy has mostly just played banjo music for fun over the years, she also dabbled in clogging locally and regionally before Wintergrass found her, and she changed the game for them. Like all good stories in Wendy’s bluegrass career, all roads lead back to the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.
tureland where you could listen to performers play live music, and we loved it!” said Wendy. “That’s where we first really heard bluegrass music. It was there that I first saw members of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band play.” “I was in my 40s when I finally decided to start taking lessons myself,” said Wendy. “I don’t play much, but I love the people in bluegrass music, the feeling of community, and the sense of inclusion.” She explained that the feeling is regional, national, and international, and it all comes from the idea that back porch
jams and barbeque picnics founded bluegrass. “I love that idea.” Wendy took banjo lessons from Wes Corbett, whose tremendous career in edgy contemporary bluegrass playing includes bands like Joy Kills Sorrow, The Bee Eaters, and The Molly Tuttle Band before finding his home with The Sam Bush Band. “Even at 22 years old, Wes was a masterful player who learned to play by ear, so I was taught from the very best from the beginning. I learned while working in Disneyland always to
Wendy was a huge fan of the band and tried to help book them for some local shows while working as a teacher for kids with severe disabilities. She accidentally found herself on a 45-minute phone call with band member John McEuen and booked the band for a Vietnam peace trees fundraiser. “We sold 250 tickets and turned 250 more away. We raised all the funds for everything, and I did all of the publicity and organized the event,” said Wendy. “The team at Wintergrass attended the concert and asked if I could volunteer to help with publicity for the festival.” Starting with Wintergrass 65
as a volunteer for three years, Wendy became full-time for publicity and philanthropy. Wintergrass has been a primarily women-led festival since 1994 and Wendy was thrilled to join a group of powerful women in a music industry that she loved for so long. “I became empowered by Wintergrass and connecting people with the music,” said Wendy.
is celebrated diversity,” said Wendy. “This year, eight of the 28 artists for Wintergrass are bands of all female musicians and not because of movements pushing for diversity and inclusion. We have always done this. It reflects our culture and who we are. It’s what we are proud of.”
Diversity for today’s festival looks even more inclusive than the festivals from the beginning - including creMany talented women have ative bands that are all written, danced, and sung Jewish, lgbtq+, and the list their way to fame throughgoes on. out music history. Blazing trails for other women to “Creativeness leads us in follow is something that women in bluegrass have been known for since the beginning, establishing legacies for years to come. Wendy and the other women leaders of Wintergrass are proud to stand behind a festival that represents this every year. Founded by a group of ladies in the late 90s after attending IBMA, they felt like that type of festival would fit seamlessly in the Pacific Northwest, especially in the winter when there aren’t many other festivals happening. “One of the things we have done since the beginning 66
the bands that we choose, but we relate to the bands that represent diversity,” said Wendy. An inclusive, represented artist lineup and the youth education program make Wintergrass special. The education program started with the youth academy and later added teacher training, teacher fellowship, and the award-winning youth orchestra. Wintergrass and its leaders have won and been nominated for IBMA, CMA, and Grammy music awards. This year, the excitement
for Wintergrass is bigger than ever after last year’s festival became an online event titled Pocketgrass due to the pandemic. “People are yearning for live music! They have to be together and want to be together more than ever before,” said Wendy. Wintergrass is following Washington state rules for live music. All attendees, volunteers, and musicians must be masked and vaccinated. Each venue is being sold at 50% capacity to keep distancing. Distanced jamming and limited enrollment or education program
sessions will take place. If Washington cancels the event, all attendees will receive full refunds. Sixty workshops led by headliners and regional musicians will be available with the price of admission. They will cover instruments, songwriting, clogging, and harmony. You can still purchase your tickets online at https://wintergrass.com/. “Community, fun, abundance, and inclusion are imperative for our festival. Anyone is welcome, no matter race, gender, or
sexual preference. If we can empower women and foster inclusion and community, we will feel like we have done our job and walk away with a smile on our face,” said Wendy. “It’s like the Mary Oliver poem titled ‘At Blackwater Pond’ that says, ‘What is that beautiful thing that just happened?’ We want people to walk away thinking that. I hope that when people leave that they are in awe of what they heard, saw, and felt.”
SHELBY C. BERRY
Mandolin-Picking Child Prodigy
& His Rise to Stardom 68
Because of bluegrass music’s nurturing background, it’s relatively common to spot those early rising stars. However, the sudden success of the twelve-year-old Maryville, Tennessee-based, bluegrass musician Wyatt Ellis was quite unexpected, especially since he spent the first six months playing mandolin with a broken arm. He began playing piano at age five but gravitated toward stringed instruments, especially his mom’s favorite, the mandolin, four years later. Bluegrass veteran Roscoe Morgan became Wyatt’s mandolin instructor, and the sound and technique of Bill Monroe soon enamored Ellis. “Bill Monroe is my biggest musical inspiration. He created a whole vocabulary for the mandolin,” said Wyatt. “There is just something real about his music.” Wyatt has participated in Christopher Henry’s Bill Monroe workshop for two years, studying his music in a note-to-note fashion. For Wyatt’s family, especially his mother Teresa, the success years have been a blur as their focus shifted toward Wyatt and his musical career, especially at the height of the pandemic. “I really got serious about music during 2020 when everything shut down,” said Wyatt. “When the pandemic began, I lost all of my connections to music. I don’t have any musicians in my family, but I found an entire bluegrass community online.” When the COVID-19 shutdown began, Wyatt spent more time growing his music and connecting with other artists and mentors, like award-winning mandolin player and singer/songwriter Sierra Hull. As a former child prodigy and mentee of Alison Krauss, Sierra wanted to share her knowledge of music and life lessons with another artist who, like her, needed a little guidance and friendship to kickstart their career. As part of the Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program, Sierra Hull taught the bluegrass mandolin to Wyatt throughout an eight-month apprenticeship during the pandemic. Like Sierra, Wyatt started before the pandemic, playing at local festivals, shows, and bluegrass jam sessions. Still, he worried about keeping momentum during the pandemic before finding Skype lessons, online platforms, Monroe Mandolin Virtual Camp, and his apprenticeship with Sierra. “Working with Sierra was inspiring. She helped me improve my overall musicality, and she helped me with my timing and ability to play clearly,” said Wyatt.
After the apprenticeship, Wyatt got the opportunity to perform with Sierra Hull. “It was a great experience! The most memorable part was for the encore. We went into the crowd and jammed with The Po’ Ramblin Boys,” said Wyatt. While Wyatt is continuously learning, he is already following his mentor Sierra’s footsteps. Capitalizing on the momentum of Wyatt’s success, Gibson recently named him a Gibson Mandolin Endorsing Artist, making him the youngest of their artists. “To own an instrument capable of creating the driving, rhythm, and soul of my heroes is a dream come true. Bill Monroe created bluegrass music’s signature sounds using his 1923 Gibson mandolin,” said Wyatt. Wyatt’s partnership with Gibson began when his mom Teresa reached out to David Harvey, head of Gibson in Nashville, about a better-quality instrument for her son. Surprisingly, David was already familiar with Wyatt from his videos on YouTube, and soon conversations began about him becoming a Gibson mandolin endorsing artist. As a member of the Gibson Generation Group, Gibson Brands endorsed Wyatt as part of the mentorship program alongside twelve of the best child musicians in the world. This Gibson Generation Group program offers Wyatt outstanding career opportunities like singing and playing at the world-famous Station Inn in Nashville on their Sunday night jam after attending Doyle Lawson’s show the night before. Straight Up Strings, Blue Chip Picks, Apollo Picks, Ear Trumpet Labs, and K&K Sound also endorsed Wyatt, and he is a proud member of Tomorrow’s Bluegrass Stars. As we move into a new year, Wyatt has just concluded working with Paul Brewster as part of his 2021 Tennessee Folklife apprenticeship award, which allowed him to focus more on his singing and playing. He is currently putting together an album of original tunes that he composed last year, one of which — a song titled Shacanoge — won first place at the second annual Monroe-Style Tune Writing Contest. “I dream to one day share my gifts with the world,” said Wyatt. “It would be a dream come true to become a member of the Grand Ole Opry.”
Movement. Come All You Coal Miners (featuring Hazel Dickens, Sarah Gunning, Jim Garland, George Tucker, and Nimrod Workman) brings to light the toils of the everyday coal miner in a dark, heartless workplace. The importance of Mountain Moving Day and its theme resurfaces in 2005 when Rounder re-releases the record under Papa, Don’t Lay that Shit On Me and in the 2006 release Harlan County U.S.A.: Songs of the Coal Nowlin gives readers a Miner’s Struggle. Undoubtedly, personal Rounder Records tour, Rounder Records became the from its 1971 incorporation to rebel record label aiding the the COVID-19 years and the rebels and their causes, and the company’s 50-year celebration masses loved it. in October 2020, a rare feat in marriage and business. But more than a rebel, Rounder Records was a legend “We were relentless in our jumpstart for artists like Bela determination to save money Fleck, Tony Rice, Alison any way we could. Around the Krauss, and bands like J. D. time we started, underground Crowe and the New South, newspapers were printing and George Thorogood and lists of phone company credit Destroyers, who was—shall we cards from major institutions. say—Bad to the Bone. Nowlin You’d just select one from a shares these stories like an corporation involved in waging ecstatic father bragging on his war on Vietnam, give the many talented children. operator a card number, and your call was placed as long It’s no easy task leaving as the number was still valid. the 1970s with Rounder …The new method would be Records, especially without when Ken would call personmentioning Rounder’s 1979 to-person, and the operator unionization story. Readers would ask for Buzz Busby or will enjoy discovering the somebody, and I would say ‘80s with Thorogood and his he’s not here, and I’d hear Ken Destroyers doing 50 states blurt out, ‘The records will be in 50 dates and welcoming shipped in the morning” as we Alison Krauss to the label, hung up.” (Nowlin, p.32) and the ‘90s, celebrating the 20th anniversary of Rounder The Rounder Records’ team Records. occupies the 1970s, building the company through radio, The road from the 1960s until recordings, mail orders, and the 2020 and the stories along the Library of Congress. However, Rounder Records route will its construction during perilous be no arduous trek because protest times is bold and Nowlin assuages nothing in downright risky. Mountain what he fearlessly and candidly Moving Day (Rounder 4001) writes. Perhaps, Alison Krauss tackles the Women’s Liberation explains her record label best his readers who paved the early musical roads, including Elvis, Chuck Berry, the folk revival of the early ‘60s with Joan Baez and Bob Dylan, and the British mid-’60s invasion of the Beatles and Rolling Stones. However, the main story begins in 1970, when Nowlin, Marian Leighton Levy, and Ken Irwin founded Rounder Records. The company’s first two records were 0001 and 0002 …respectively.
Vinyl Ventures: My Fifty Years at Rounder Records by Bill Nowlin Equinox Publishing (April 21, 2021) ISBN-10 : 1800500068 ISBN-13 : 978-1800500068 Review by Richelle Putnam In Vinyl Ventures: My Fifty Years at Rounder Records by Bill Nowlin, the author pours his history/memoir foundation by recalling how “…record retail was expanding in the 1960s, as the ‘baby boom’ generation entered its teenage years.” Nowlin’s history/memoir immediately fills his readers in on the musical environment and the record labels within that environment. He reminds
Ventures: My Fifty Years at Rounder Records by Bill Nowlin, you will learn much about the music industry and the people who make it or break it. You’ll also grow as a person, realizing that music is more than unassuming enjoyment and entertainment. Nowlin makes it clear that It’s the complexity and from its meager beginning, analysis of societies, the Rounder Records had a language of diversity, and the mission, and from that mission, history and heritage of cultures the founders never faltered. around the globe. More than profit from the music was the preservation of Reviewer’s Notes: the music. That’s a legacy few Having entered teen years in attain because few businesses 1966, this reviewer remembers think and plan beyond profit. ripping the cellophane off the On April 14, 2010, the press latest purchase, sliding the release headlines read: record from its cover carefully, CONCORD MUSIC GROUP and making sure fingerprints ACQUIRES CELEBRATED didn’t smudge the shiny, black AMERICAN ROOTS LABEL vinyl. The record spun on a ROUNDER RECORDS. turntable until scratches and From there, Nowlin takes smudges from age became one readers through more changes, with the rhythmic beat. including new leadership, Nowlin’s money-saving story the company’s move to conjured memories from my Nashville, and the celebration teen years. After visiting my (or non-celebration due to dad, who lived 100 miles away, the COVID-19 pandemic) of I’d make a person-to-person Rounder’s 50th anniversary. call to his number and ask to So often, big conglomerates speak to our designated codeobliterate the organic, name to let Dad know I had homegrown attraction and arrived safely home. When he ideals of the smaller entities said, “He’s not here,” we hung they take over. That’s not so up the phone, him knowing I’d with Rounder, and Nowlin made it home safely and us analyzes that much better than both having accomplished the this reviewer: “…Rounder mission. Records—the little folk label https://youtu.be/Q7YsaLB7fIA from Cambridge—seemed to remain very much respected by the powers-that-be at Concord. The 21st Century Craze of Whatever else we did, we Vinyl Records: seem to have built a legacy out of love for the music, Did you know Adele’s newest one that endured and spoke album is also on vinyl? to something in the hearts Or that Taylor Swift is reof people in the business.” releasing her album “Red” (Nowlin, p. 272) on vinyl. In 2020, for the first time since 1986, vinyl When you choose Vinyl in this excerpt of her interview with music historian Barry Mazor: “Rounder is about tending to the whole career of a musician. …they have that love for music and for traditional music for what it is. …” (Nowlin, p. 279)
record sales topped CD sales, and in the first six months of 2021, vinyl record sales were 108 percent higher than the same period in 2020. Plus, large department stores like Target, Walmart, Amazon, and others are cashing in on vinyl sales. Why? In a CNBC interview, Billy Fields, the resident vinyl expert at Warner Music Group, says, “Vinyl is eternally cool.” Here are a few “vinyl” gifts (some autographed) from the reviewer’s friends and family. You can’t do this with streaming. And you certainly can’t decorate the walls with plastic CD covers. Well, you can—but it won’t be near as cool.