42 CONTENT OUR STAFF
BLUEGRASS BANDS AGAINST DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AMERICAN BANJO MUSEUM LARRY CORDLE CARL JACKSON JERRY SALLEY BRADLEY WALKER VIDEO CHART GRASS ROOTS MARTY FALLE ZOE SHINER FAN PHOTOS
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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
BLUEGRASS BANDS TOGETHER A G A I N S T It’s hard for those in a happily committed relationship to understand or imagine the horrors of domestic abuse. Sadly, however, one in four women and one in seven men will experience domestic violence in their lifetime. The COVID-19 pandemic has enormously impacted those numbers. Since the pandemic, statistics reveal three times as many requests for services, “and the needs keep growing,” says Melody HetzlerDascanio, a licensed therapist working full time for Domestic Violence Services of Southwestern Pennsylvania. “I work with survivors of domestic violence daily.” When she is not working with victims of domestic violence, Melody is a bluegrass musician. “I have been a part of the bluegrass family for years,” she explains. “My family has our own local bluegrass band called Keep Off the Grass. My parents met because of music, and when she was pregnant, my mom was performing in a bluegrass band. They love music so much; they named me Melody!” Melody has a degree in music from Westminster College. “I planned to teach,” says Melody. 8
D O M E S T I C
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But when she graduated, it was summer, and school was out, so there were no teaching jobs. “I got a job teaching
Valley Boys who owns the Main Street Market, hosts weekly bluegrass jamborees where Melody’s family’s band often plays. “Over the years, Jimmy has gotten bigger name acts,” says Melody. We heard NuBlu last year, and we were all blown away. When I heard their song All the Way, about domestic violence, I was amazed because it told the real story. I’ve played the song countless times to my clients because I want them to know they are not alone. The issue of domestic violence is big enough that people are talking about it and writing songs about it.” Like many agencies, The Domestic Violence Services of Southwestern Pennsylvania relies on fundraising events to help supplement their budget. “COVID-19 has made that difficult,” Melody says. “We usually have a walk as our major annual fundraiser.” Using her contacts to help boost the event, Melody reached out via Facebook Messenger to Daniel and Carolyn Routh, known professionally as NuBlu. “I wanted to see if they’d share a link for our walk on their Facebook page. Without hesitating, Daniel responded that it should be a big event to raise more money and that Nu-
horseback riding at a mental health treatment facility for children who have suffered trauma.” That summer job was life-changing for Melody, who went back to school and got her master’s in counseling. Polk, Pennsylvania is a big bluegrass town, and Jimmy Miller, a member of The Pine
Blu would be happy to headline it!” After quickly talking with her Board of Directors, Melody says the event came together quickly. The Bluegrass Bands Together Against Domestic Violence event is on October 15 to honor Domestic Violence Awareness Month. “It is an honor for us to be involved in this,” says Daniel. “Any time, as musicians, we can come together for positive change, we are happy to do it. You hear about an organization that takes one of your songs to help so many people in need; that’s next level.” The song “All the Way” was co-written by Carl Jackson. “He is a phenomenal songwriter. I don’t think any of us realized the impact the song would have on so many.” Daniel recalls having played in the show 10
in Polk. “It’s a great town, and they are doing wonderful work on the domestic violence front there. They have a full-scale outreach program for domestic violence. Too often, there is no support, and the cycle continues. We like to show how bluegrass is relevant today, and that bluegrass musicians can make a living doing this. As a band, we have always made it our mission, through our fans and friends, to give back.” Melody says the event came together quickly and easily, and she hopes it can be an annual event. “Even better, we’d love to see it replicated around the country. [The event] is a perfect example of how bluegrass plugs back in and goes full circle to give back.”
The event is Friday, October 15, at the Green County Fairgrounds in Waynesburg, Pennsylvania. The charity concert will feature Nu Blu and Melody’s family’s band, Keep Off the Grass, and The Pine Valley Boys. For more information, go to peacefromdv. org. A 24/ hotline number is available at 800-791-4000.
American Banjo Museum Oklahoma City, OK
The American Banjo Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma is dedicated to the instrument’s history that epitomizes American music. The 21,000 square foot museum documents the rise of the banjo from its arrival in North America via the Atlantic slave trade to modern times. Brady Hunt and Jack Canine founded the Museum as a non-profit organization in 1998. First located in Guthrie, Oklahoma, the Museum moved to Oklahoma City in 2009. Visitors can now experience a world-class museum dedicated to celebrating the music and heritage of the banjo. Over 400 instruments are on display, many dating back hundreds of years, making it the most extensive collection of banjos on display in the world. 12
“It was once called The National Four String Banjo Hall of Fame Museum,” says Rachel Reichert, who is the Museum’s director of events. Rachel explains that the Museum was founded primarily by and for enthusiasts of the four-string banjo. Much as the banjo has evolved over the years, the Museum has grown as well. With the banjo taking on many forms and styles, the present name for the Museum is more appropriate. “Now we call it the American Banjo Museum. It is amazing to see the many banjos on display in the Museum and to learn that although they are similar, they can also be quite different.” The Museum’s instrument collection represents every era of the banjo evolution, from primitive homemade instruments to modern banjos. Also preserved
are Banjo-related publications, periodicals, photographs, and personal memorabilia for future banjo enthusiasts. The collection contains many rare and one-ofa-kind items and a collection of songbooks and sheet music, with some publications dating back to the 1800s. In addition to banjos, thousands of audio and video recordings of banjo performances are on display, ranging from the earliest days of sound recordings to the present day, with all playing styles represented. “While bluegrass is certainly a very important part of the collection, we have all styles of banjo playing represented, including Dixieland jazz,” says Rachel. “We hold a big Mardi Gras event each year to celebrate that.” Other events are held at the Museum throughout the year,
including a children’s event at Christmas. “We also have plans for a music petting zoo in the near future,” Rachel says. “We also hold live shows here from time to time in our performance space, which is a remake of Your Father’s Mustache Pizza Parlor.” The space features a stage and seats up to eighty people. The American Banjo Museum’s annual Hall of Fame dinner is one of the ancillary events associated with the Banjo Fest held each October. This year’s Hall of Fame dinner will feature five inductees, including Jens Kruger for five-string performance, Brad Roth for four-string performance, Paul Buskirk for historical, Greg Rich for design and manufacture and Scott Whitfield for instruction and education. Rich is being honored for his work creating high-quality replicas of 1920’s
era Gibson Mastertone banjos. Whitfield wrote two banjo method books and developed the curriculum for the International Banjo College. Past Hall of Famers includes Bela Fleck, Jim Henson, John McEuen, Roy Clark, JD Crowe, Pete Seeger, Steve Martin, Earl Scruggs, and the Kingston Trio, among many others. Rachel says the Hall of Fame dinner is always a popular event. “Last year, we had to do a virtual Hall of Fame due to [COVID-19], so we are looking forward to this year’s event,” says Rachel. COVID-19 has been a challenge for the Museum. “We closed for three months in 2020,” Rachel says, “but we managed to get by thanks to a few grants we received.”
The Museum offers a membership, and members have access to various online offerings, from the “Virtual at Noon” concert series to workshops, interviews, and banjo lessons. Another perk for members is access to the Museum’s archives, available to members by appointment. The Museum features special exhibits from time to time. The Women of the Banjo exhibit that chronicles women’s contributions will be on display through May 2022. The exhibit’s featured contemporary performers include Alison Brown and Rhiannon Giddens and pop icons Dolly Parton and Taylor Swift.
Larry Cordle 16
Larry Cordle crossed an item off his bucket list recently – and it was one he never thought would happen. He was one of four singers to back up Dolly Parton for a song included in a new album released in September, Country Faith Bluegrass, on the Billy Blue record label. For over 100 years, “In the Sweet By and By” has graced church hymnals. Sanford Fillmore Bennett wrote the lyrics in 1868, and Joseph P. Webster composed the music. “I have always loved that hymn from my childhood,” says Cordle. “Both of my parents sang in quartets, and it was a popular song.”
along with Carl Jackson and Bradley Walker, I was all in.” Parton recorded her part, along with a guitar accompaniment, and sent it to Salley. He then built the arrangement around her performance. “I loved singing the back vocals with Jerry, Carl, and Bradley in the style of the Jordanaires,” says Cordle. “We are all friends, and we all enjoy that style of music. I’ve gotten to do a lot of things in my life, but that was a highlight for sure. I’m really fortunate and really happy to have been a part of it.” They recorded it at Gorilla’s Nest Recording Studio in Ashland City, Tennessee.
Numerous artists have recorded the song, such as Elvis Presley, Louis Armstrong, Johnny Cash, Glen Campbell, Willie Nelson, Loretta Lynn, and Kenny Rogers. Over the years, Dolly Parton recorded it many times. The album version is a never-beforeheard version, arranged by Jerry Salley. “I’d do just about anything Jerry Salley had anything to do with,” muses Larry. “When he asked me to join him in singing backup vocals
Cordle says he has been a Dolly Parton fan for a long time. “She is such a natural and a great performer. To me, she is one of the best all-time songwriters ever and one of my all-time songwriting heroes.” Born and raised on a small family farm in eastern Kentucky, Cordle was introduced to bluegrass, country, and gospel music as a young child. His great grandfather, Harry Bryant, was an old-time
clawhammer banjo stylist, fiddle player, and dancer. Because the family lived in such a secluded area, Cordle says they had to make their entertainment. His grandfather would play fiddle in the evenings and dance, and young Cordle would second after him on the guitar. He recalls many happy times spent in the old country store with Bryant, playing and talking about music. “It was our escape into another world, something we grew up with and looked forward to. I was always happiest when we were in a jam session.” As much as he loved it, Cordle never thought he could make a living with music. After graduating from high school, he spent four years in the Navy, then attended Morehead State University, receiving a bachelor’s degree in accounting. Working at a CPA firm during the day, Cordle played clubs at night. His commitments remained divided until he wrote a song that changed everything. Ricky Skaggs was Cordle’s childhood friend and neighbor while growing 17
up in eastern Kentucky. When Skaggs heard Cordle’s song “Highway 40 Blues,” he promised to record it one day. In the summer of 1983, it became the number one song in the nation, skyrocketing Skaggs’ already solid country music career while launching Cordle’s songwriting career. At Skaggs’ urging, Cordle gave up the security of a full-time job and moved to Nashville to become a staff writer at Skaggs’ new company, Amanda18
Lin Music. He learned the ropes from songwriters like Carl Jackson. “I had the talent God gave me, some incredible luck, and much love, help, and encouragement from my peers and family.” The songs of Cordle’s band, Lonesome Standard Time, have been #1-hits on the Bluegrass and Americana charts, and a couple of nights a week, Cordle still plays at Nashville’s Station Inn.
Cordle’s lead and background vocals have enhanced some of Nashville’s most awarded music. His harmonies have blended with the voices of Garth Brooks, Blake Shelton, Bradley Walker, Billy Yates, Rebecca Lynn Howard, and co-writing pal Jerry Salley. The new Country Faith Bluegrass album featuring “In the Sweet By and By” is exclusively available at Cracker Barrel Old Country Store locations.
It’s always good to love what you do for a living, and to do it with good friends is even better. Carl Jackson has had that very experience time and again with his dear friends Larry Cordle, Jerry Salley, and Bradley Walker. Last year, the four musicians had the opportunity to provide backup vocals for Dolly Parton’s neverbefore-heard version of “In the Sweet By and By.” The tune is one of eight new recordings and six classics performed by some of the top names in music on a new album called Country Faith Bluegrass. Billy Blue Records released the album on September 17.
Singing harmony with Cordle, Salley, and Walker was quite natural for Jackson. “We are all really close friends, and I have done songwriter nights and house concerts with Cord and Jerry for many years. Folks refer to us as ‘The Trio’ sometimes when we play, but Bradley has joined us quite a few times and made us ‘The Quartet,’ I guess. I’ll often have one or more of them come in and join me when I’m working on a project, or they’ll call me in to do something.”
While Jackson has had many opportunities to sing with Dolly, it was the first time the other singers had Salley produced the song the chance to sing with for the album and asked the music legend. “I know Jackson, Cordle, and Walker what they were feeling,” to join him singing harmony says Jackson. “I have been vocals as a bluegrass a Dolly fan ever since I saw quartet, reminiscent of her backstage at the Grand the Jordanaires. “I’ve been Ole Opry when I was 14 blessed to sing with Dolly years old. One of my many many times over the years,” goals was to someday sing says Jackson. “We are good with Emmylou Harris, Dolly friends. She is such a sweet Parton, and Linda Ronstadt. person, and she is a real I now have been fortunate class act. She is so funny; she to sing numerous times with really makes every moment all of them! So, I know what you are around her special.” that feeling of singing for 20
the first time with Dolly is like.” Jackson says he is not sure if Dolly chose to sing “In the Sweet By and By” on the album or if she was asked to sing that song. “When I did the Orthophonic Joy album, we wanted Dolly to sing “When They Ring Those Golden Bells,” which she did. But often we throw out options to artists or listen to what they’d like to do.” As it turns out, “In the Sweet By and By” was an ideal choice for the Country Faith Bluegrass album. “Jerry did a wonderful job with the song,” says Jackson. “Dolly recorded her vocals with one guitarist and sent that track to Jerry. She told him to add what he wanted, but she had the opportunity to approve it before it was released.” Salley took the guitar off the track, arranged the bluegrass band instrumentation around Parton’s voice, and then added the quartet harmonies. “Jerry told me that Dolly loved it,” says Jackson, “and that meant so much to all of us.”
Carl Jackson Susan Marquez
although I have to say I was already pickin’ pretty good!” After the show, Jackson’s dad told Jim McReynolds that if they ever needed a banjo player to keep young Carl in mind. When Jackson was 14 years old, McReynolds called and asked if Jackson could tour them. “God blessed me so much. Jim and Jesse opened so many doors for me to play at the Grand Ole Opry and the new bluegrass festivals that were coming along. I spent the summer of 1968 and the next several years on the road and enjoyed many wonderful times with Ole Miss was playing that them. On our first trip out, Carl Jackson is a multiple night; I wanted to stay home which was about two weeks, Grammy award winner. and listen to the game on I got mighty homesick for The Louisville, Mississippi the radio. But my dad made my parents and sister. But I native picked up the banjo me go, and I loved the show learned so much about the at the age of eight and never once I got there.” music business, singing, looked back. His father and stage presence, and more. It two uncles had a bluegrass That night changed the was like I was on the front band called The Country course of Jackson’s life. row of bluegrass school! I’m Partners, and young Jackson During an intermission, thankful my parents, my often joined them. “My Jackson wandered backstage principal, and Jim and Jesse father was a big Jim and with his dad, and they met recognized and supported Jesse fan, and when I was Jim and Jesse. “My dad the talent God gave me.” eleven or twelve, he took mentioned that I played the Jackson went on to play me with him to see Jim and banjo, and before I knew it, with The Sullivan Family, Jesse play on a Saturday I was on the stage playing and his group, The Country night in Reform, Mississippi. with them. The crowd went Store, before being asked to I remember it well because wild because I was just a kid, tour with Glen Campbell. 22
He was with Campbell for twelve years before striking out on his own. Jackson has been a vocalist on dozens of recordings with some of music’s biggest stars
and is a prolific songwriter and producer. He has won numerous Grammys and IBMA awards for his work. “Being a part of this song is an honor,” Jackson says.
“To sing background for Dolly, and to do it with this group of talented vocalists, who just happen to be some of my best friends, is a true blessing to me.” 23
When Billboard Magazine called him “One of Music Row’s greatest veteran tunesmiths,” Jerry Salley was already celebrating an incredibly successful, multiaward-winning songwriting career. In 2019, Salley was nominated for the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame & for a GRAMMY for producing the multi-artist project Gonna Sing, Gonna Shout. Salley is also the 2019 & 2018 IBMA (International Bluegrass Music Association) Songwriter of the Year and was named the 2003 SESAC Country Music Songwriter of the Year. Salley has had over 500 different songs recorded, and his songs have sold more than 18 million records worldwide.
Jackson, Larry Cordle, and Bradley Walker accompany Parton, singing harmony vocals as a quartet. Still, Salley said the process was a natural roll of the dice to connect with the legendary Dolly Parton. “In the past, all of the Country Faith projects have been just ‘leased’ songs,” explained Salley. “In other words, they would pull something out of an album and get licenses on those, so the compilation albums consisted of previously released songs.” Deborah Evans Price, coowner of the Country Faith brand, mentioned to Salley, Creative/A&R director of Billy Blue Records, and Ed Leonard, president of Daywind Records, about producing a Country Faith Bluegrass record.
dozen other top ten/top twenty gospel songs. In addition to his songwriting, producing, and artist touring, in 2018, he was tapped to lead Billy Blue Records and Billy Jam Records, Nashville’s newest Bluegrass, and Americana Records labels Tapped to produce the Country Faith Bluegrass album, Salley sat down with Price and made a list of the artists they wanted to work with on this project, and Dolly Parton was at the very top of the list. That took Salley on a quest that enlisted one of Salley’s best friends, accomplished Nashville guitarist Tom Rutledge.
“Dolly brought Tom to Nashville when he was sixteen years old, to Nashville from Indiana. Next thing you “Every song that they wanted know, Tom is playing for Dolly to do was a bluegrass record, Parton,” explained Salley so we approached Price and about Rutledge’s connection her team and said, what do to the self-proclaimed you think about going in Backwoods Barbie. “They and recording some new became very good friends, songs that have never been and she sort of raised him released? Billy Blue Records up in the country music could be a part of that and business. Tom and I became partner with you on this. really good friends when They loved the idea!” he started his management company, and he helped me For Country Faith Salley is no stranger to the a lot on some of my bluegrass Bluegrass, Salley bluegrass genre. His song records early on. Long story produced eight new “All Dressed Up,” recorded short, Tom is working again recordings and gathered by Joe Mullin and The Radio for Dolly in her offices in the six classics performed Ramblers, won the IBMA publishing department and by some of the top Gospel Recorded Song of The helps re-demo and repurpose names in bluegrass, Year award in 2016. Salley is a a lot of her songs. Sometimes including Dolly five-time IBMA Award winner, you have these demos that Parton’s neverwhich includes receiving the lay around, and they sound before-heard version 2006 IBMA Album of the Year kind of dated, so they go of the old hymn award for his contribution (as back in and re-record them. “In the Sweet By an artist) to the Celebration Once we decided to try to and By.” Salley of Life album. He has written get Dolly, I thought, well, I’ll and bluegrass eight #1 Gospel hits, multiple call Tom to see if that’s even a favorites Carl #2 Gospel hits, and over a possibility.”
Writing and singing in Nashville since 1982, he has written multiple hits in country, bluegrass, and gospel music. He may well be the most successful songwriter to have earned equal recognition from all three genres of music. Salley had a goal when the opportunity presented itself to work on the Country Faith Bluegrass project—let’s get Dolly Parton.
Tom asked Dolly about using one of her songs for the project but hoping to use something she hadn’t released before. Parton was interested in providing a new recording, but she did not want to travel to a studio because of the pandemic. She had previously recorded “In The Sweet By and By” on her Little Sparrow bluegrass album released in 2001, with a Celtic feel, backed by Celtic band, Altan, from Ireland. But, she also had a different, never-before-heard unreleased recording of “In The Sweet By & By” in her studio archives with just a guitar and her vocal. Dolly gave Rutledge permission to send 26
that version to Salley to use for his production. “She told Tom, ‘You give this to Jerry, and he can do anything with it as long as I approve it in the end,’” said Salley. “So, I listen to it, you know, for probably four weeks, trying to figure out exactly what I want to do. Once I knew what I wanted to do, I took her vocals and arranged a band all around her vocals. If you listen to the song, you’ll notice that it kind of starts off slow, kind of like her original guitar vocal did. After the first chorus, we double-time it. Once I had the tracks done and had her vocal, you know, in there
with everything together, I asked my good buddies Carl Jackson, Larry Cordle, and Bradley Walker -- the three of us are like, well, we are brothers, and we’ve been doing this a long time. I wanted to put four guys together and make it sound kind of like a Jordannaires thing, you know? Salley’s history with Jackson and Cordle has produced some stellar work. Jerry recorded “You’re Running Wild” on the Louvin Brothers Tribute on Universal South Records as a trio with friends Larry Cordle and Carl Jackson. Entitled Livin’, Lovin’, Losin’ – Songs of the Louvin Brothers,
the album features numerous country music stars singing songs made famous by the legendary duo. The project won the 2003 Grammy for Country Album of the Year. “When we finished it, and I got the final mix finally done, I tweaked it forever, but we sent it over to Tom, and he had to sit down and play it for her. She just loved it, and then she sent the kindest note to me about how much she loved and appreciated it and was so excited to do it.” “And, you know, the one thing that I’ve learned through all this, of course, is that I always knew what incredible lady she was, how generous she is, but, you know, a lot of these new young artists could take some lessons in humility from somebody like Dolly Parton. I wish everyone could be as kind and generous, and humble as she is. I mean, there’s no one like her. Can you think of a bigger story than her in our generation? I mean, offering her time and allowing somebody like me even to have a shot at something like this? So, it’s been an incredible journey, and we are so excited that we finally have the record out.” Country Faith Bluegrass, the 10th installment from the acclaimed series, is available across all digital platforms via Billy Blue Records, with physical CD copies exclusively available on CrackerBarrel.com and in Cracker Barrel Old Country Store locations starting Oct. 4.
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By Emerald Butler
Bradley Walker Bradley Walker was born with Muscular Dystrophy, but his powerful voice and hardworking lifestyle carried him onto a Dolly Parton record. Dolly’s latest release, “In The Sweet By and By,” on the newest Country Faith Bluegrass Album, captures Bradley backing up the country queen with some of his close friends, Carl Jackson, Larry Cordle, and Jerry Salley. Bradley credits Jerry Salley for inviting him to be a part of this project, and Bradley’s heroes turned friends have helped him get to where he is today. Bradley began singing at his church in his hometown of Athens, Alabama. When Bradley was age 10, the Oak Ridge Boys invited him to sing on the Nashville Now show. Even with this early success, Bradley later became a Material Analyst at Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant in his hometown. Over the years, Bradley has
continued to work his day job while still pursuing his musical dreams and driving to Nashville. The late Joey Feek became one of his biggest fans, and it was while singing at her funeral, Bradley was discovered and signed by gospel music icon Bill Gaither. Bradley released his first record, Call Me Old Fashioned, in 2016. Bradley followed that album with a star-studded sequel called Blessed in 2017. The album features many of Bradley’s heroes, such as Jimmy Fortune of the Statler Brothers, Alison Krauss, Vince Gill, and the Oak Ridge Boys. “Jerry Salley is one of my dearest friends, and he called me to sing bass on this recording with Dolly,” Bradley shared. “Larry, Carl, and Jerry have not only been dear friends but mentors to me, and I was just tickled to death to get that call.” Salley had a vocal track of Dolly’s version of
“The Sweet By and By,” recorded years before but not published. Remote recording and vocal track stacking have come in handy during the pandemic, so Bradley went in last year to record the bass track for the song. “Jerry and Larry are pretty much responsible for me becoming a bass singer. They each released gospel albums several years ago, and they both asked me if I would come in and sing some bass harmony. That was the beginning of me singing a lot more bass.” Bradley is also part of another quartet with Jimmy Fortune, Mike Rogers, and Ben Isaacs. “I’ve been a singer all my life, and I love singing lead. Just as much as singing lead, I love blending my voice with other voices. It’s something that’s a lot of fun and just being able to create something with friends like that makes it even more special.” 29
Bradley has spoken to Dolly once in passing at the Grand Ole Opry, but this was Bradley’s first experience singing with Dolly Parton, even if it was digitally. “Incredible,” Bradley shared when asked what it was like to be on a record with Dolly. “To hear all of our voices with Dolly is like something beyond 30
your wildest dreams. She is such an iconic person and an iconic voice. It’s such a blessing to me. It’s very special. When you hear your voice with Dolly Parton, it’s just like ‘Wow, that happened.’” Bradley shared that it wasn’t only her voice or her music that inspired him, but who she is as a person and a Christian.
“She’s never been afraid to put her faith and her belief in God out front, and I admire that about Dolly so much.” Dolly Parton’s “In the Sweet By and By” and the whole Country Faith Bluegrass album is now available on Billy Blue Records.
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FOR THIRTY YEARS, BLUEGRASS ENTHUSIASTS THROUGHOUT MISSISSIPPI HAVE TUNED THEIR RADIO DIALS TO THEIR LOCAL MISSISSIPPI PUBLIC BROADCASTING CHANNEL TO HEAR GRASSROOTS. EVERY SATURDAY EVENING, HOST BILL ELLISON PRESENTS TWO HOURS OF CAREFULLY CURATED BLUEGRASS, ROOTS, AND AMERICANA MUSIC, ALONG WITH EXCITING BACKSTORIES AND INTERVIEWS BEGINNING AT 8:00 PM. “I KNOW TO TUNE IN BECAUSE BILL’S SHOW IS ALWAYS SO GOOD,” SAYS RONNIE AGNEW, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF MISSISSIPPI PUBLIC BROADCASTING. “I HAVE TO ADMIT THAT I WASN’T MUCH OF A BLUEGRASS FAN BEFORE LISTENING TO BILL’S SHOWS, AND NOW I’M A BIG FAN!”
THE BIRTHPLACE OF THE BLUES, SO THEY SHOULD DO A WEEKLY BLUES SHOW. AND I HAD JUST STARTED PLAYING BLUEGRASS MUSIC WITH THE VERNON BROTHERS, AND BLUEGRASS MUSIC WAS EXPLODING WITH FESTIVALS AROUND THE COUNTRY, AND YOUNG PEOPLE WERE EMBRACING IT. SO, I TOLD HER THEY SHOULD DO A BLUEGRASS SHOW.” MIKE MORGAN WAS THE ORIGINAL HOST OF THE SHOW, WHICH WAS NAMED GRASSROOTS. “THE SHOW ABSOLUTELY EXPLODED,” SAID BILL. “MIKE DID A GREAT JOB, AND HE INTRODUCED THIS AREA TO ARTISTS LIKE DOYLE LAWSON AND HOT RIZE. EVERYBODY I KNEW AT THE TIME LISTENED TO THE SHOW EVERY SATURDAY NIGHT.”
GRASSROOTS CELEBRATED THIRTY YEARS ON THE AIR THIS SPRING. “I’D LIKE TO THINK I HAD SOMETHING TO DO WITH GRASSROOTS BEING ON MPB,” SAYS BILL. “IT WAS ONE OF THE ORIGINAL PROGRAMS ON PUBLIC RADIO MISSISSIPPI WHEN IT STARTED BACK IN THE EARLY 1990S.” BILL RECALLS THAT HE WAS DOING NEWS AT WJDX RADIO IN JACKSON WHEN THE LADY IN CHARGE AT MPB INVITED HIM TO LUNCH. “SHE WANTED TO PICK MY BRAIN,” HE LAUGHS. “THEY PLAYED CLASSICAL MUSIC DURING THE DAY BUT WANTED IDEAS OF WHAT TO PLAY AT NIGHT. I TOLD HER WE WERE IN
BILL MOVED TO WTYX RADIO IN JACKSON AND CONTINUED TO PLAY WITH THE VERNON BROTHERS. WHEN MIKE MORGAN TOOK A JOB WITH ALABAMA PUBLIC BROADCASTING IN 1991, HE GAVE BILL A CALL. MIKE TOLD BILL THAT SINCE HE WAS ALREADY IN RADIO AND A BLUEGRASS MUSICIAN, HE WOULD BE THE NATURAL PERSON TO TAKE MIKE’S PLACE AS HOST OF GRASSROOTS. “HE TOLD ME TO PUT TOGETHER AN AUDITION TAPE, AND HE’D TAKE CARE OF THE REST.” BILL TOOK OVER AS HOST OF GRASSROOTS IN MAY 1992. “I
TRIED TO KEEP IT AS CLOSE TO THE REGULAR FORMAT AS POSSIBLE. I HAD ALWAYS ENJOYED WHAT MIKE DID, AND I THOUGHT THAT IF IT WASN’T BROKE, I WASN’T GOING TO FIX IT.” BACK IN THOSE DAYS, PEOPLE COMMUNICATED WITH BILL VIA TELEPHONE AND LETTERS SENT IN THE MAIL. “THAT WAS WAY BEFORE THE INTERNET AND TEXT MESSAGING.” A FEW MONTHS AFTER BILL BEGAN HOSTING THE SHOW, HE RECEIVED A LETTER FROM A LISTENER. “YOU HAVE RUINED THE SHOW.” BILL SAYS HE WOULD HAVE RESPONDED, BUT THE LETTER WRITER DIDN’T SIGN HIS NAME. TYPICALLY, BILL RECORDED THE SHOW AHEAD OF TIME. “ON THE WEEKENDS, THE STATION IS AUTOMATED,” EXPLAINS BILL. “FROM TIME TO TIME IN THE 1990S AND 2000S, I WOULD GO IN AND DO THE SHOW LIVE, WHICH IS KIND OF WEIRD BECAUSE I’M THE ONLY ONE IN THE BUILDING! I JUST LIKED GETTING MY RADIO FIX. THE FUNNY THING WAS THAT WHEN I WAS THERE, THE PHONES WOULD BEGIN TO LIGHT UP. CALLERS WOULD TELL ME THAT I PLAYED TOO MUCH BLUEGRASS AND NOT ENOUGH FOLK MUSIC OR WHATEVER. IT NEVER BOTHERED ME BECAUSE I WAS JUST HAPPY THAT THEY WERE LISTENING!” NOW THE SHOW IS TAPED IN THE BILL ELLISON STUDIO. “THAT’S RIGHT,” SAYS RONNIE AGNEW. “WE NAMED THE STUDIO AFTER HIM. FOR 33
SOMEONE TO COME INTO THAT STUDIO FOR AS LONG AS HE HAS, DOING THOSE SHOWS EVERY SATURDAY NIGHT, HE DESERVED TO HAVE THE STUDIO NAMED AFTER HIM. THERE ARE A LOT OF CONSISTENT THINGS IN THIS WORLD. WE GET UP. WE GO TO WORK. WE LISTEN TO GRASSROOTS.” RARELY, A PREVIOUSLY RUN GRASSROOTS SHOW AIRS AGAIN, BUT AFTER KATRINA HIT, IT SEEMED THAT WOULD BE THE CASE. “MPB WAS AN EMERGENCY BROADCAST SYSTEM STATION,” EXPLAINS BILL. “AFTER KATRINA, IT WENT INTO FULL-TIME NEWS MODE. THE STATION WAS A LIFELINE FOR SO MANY PEOPLE WHO WERE AFFECTED BY THE HURRICANE. WE DID 24/7 WALL-TO-WALL COVERAGE FOR THE ENTIRE WEEK. SATURDAY MORNING, 34
WE WEREN’T SURE YET WHEN REGULAR PROGRAMMING WOULD RESUME. I WAS TOLD THAT IF GRASSROOTS WENT ON THAT NIGHT, THEY WOULD PLAY A REPEAT SHOW.” BILL DIDN’T THINK RUNNING A SHOW WITH “HAPPY BANJOES” WOULD BE A GOOD IDEA. “I WENT IN AND PRODUCED A SHOW, NOT SURE IF IT WOULD EVEN RUN. I CAREFULLY SELECTED SONGS THAT WERE A BIT MORE SOMBER, AND I THANKED THE FIRST RESPONDERS. I SPENT ALL DAY WORKING ON THE SHOW, AND IT JUST FELL INTO PLACE.” AT 8 PM THAT EVENING, GRASSROOTS WAS THE FIRST MUSIC SHOW TO AIR ON THE STATION SINCE KATRINA HIT A WEEK EARLIER. “WE GOT A LETTER A FEW DAYS LATER FROM A GUY ON THE COAST WHO SAID HE WAS SITTING IN A TENT WITH HIS NEIGHBORS THAT SATURDAY
NIGHT. ALL THEY HAD WAS A COUPLE OF LANTERNS AND A BATTERY-OPERATED RADIO. HE SAID WHEN I PLAYED ‘CAPTAIN,’ A GOSPEL SONG ABOUT SURVIVING A ROUGH SEA LIFE, THEY ALL BROKE DOWN AND CRIED.” IN 2010, GRASSROOTS RECEIVED THE GOVERNOR’S ARTS AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN BROADCASTING. “THERE WAS A NICE CEREMONY WITH THE MISSISSIPPI ARTS COMMISSION,” RECALLS BILL. “IT WAS A WONDERFUL HONOR. I HAD TO MAKE A SPEECH, AND I THOUGHT IT WOULD BE NICE TO HAVE MIKE MORGAN THERE SINCE HE WAS THE ORIGINAL HOST. HE CAME TO JACKSON FOR THE CEREMONY, AND I WAS ABLE TO RECOGNIZE HIM AND HIS WORK. HE REALLY APPRECIATED THAT.”
Marty Falle is a free spirit and a kind soul. At his home near the ocean in South Carolina, he has a sign in the kitchen that reads, “My home is the open sea where stars shine bright, and my soul is free,” which Marty said kind of sums it up. “Music is my first memory,” Falle said. “I was with my mom, at my childhood home in Parma, Ohio. The instrumental ‘Love is Blue’ was playing on an old Zenith radio in the living room while rays of sunlight lit up the room. My mom was cleaning and humming along. Whenever I hear that song, I am instantly there.” Falle’s father had records 36
that included decidedly uncountry tunes, specifically Burt Bacharach, Frank Sinatra, and Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. He recalls his parents dancing to “This Guy’s in Love with You” in the living room, and Falle filled his days playing 45s repeatedly, everything from “American Pie” by Don McClean to “I Never Promised You a Rose Garden” by Lynn Anderson. “And then there’s Neil Diamond’s ‘Sweet Caroline,’” he said. “I eventually saved enough for a stereo, blaring Deep Purple, Pink Floyd, and Rush, much to the chagrin of the neighbors.” Everyone in Falle’s childhood home was required to choose
an instrument, take lessons, and practice. Falle chose the viola in second grade, then tenor saxophone in 4th grade, and then in 9th grade added bass, guitar, and piano. Then he got the itch to join a rock band with some other football players at school. “I told them I played bass, even though I did not have a clue. I remember taking my paper route money and putting ten dollars down on a Kay bass from Parma Music, and I paid it monthly until it was paid off. I could not afford a bass speaker, so I made one from scratch. I used to play high school dances, and I remember my speaker cabinets shaking
As much as the musicianship and playing were there, the singing did not develop in the same manner, as Falle had joined the choir in high school to get out of detention but learned that his voice could be an asset as well, once his choir director helped him embrace his vocal range.
Johann Sebastian Bach,” Falle said. “I performed in musicals like ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ and ‘Jesus Christ Superstar,’ and I joined the barbershop quartet, pop ensemble, and orchestra. The best part was getting an ‘A’ for just showing up. In 10th grade, we put together a 50s rock and roll doo-wop group and did Dion’s ‘Teenager in Love’ and the Silhouettes’ ‘Get a Job.’ The next year I did ‘Suite Judy Blue Eyes’ with my friends Ron and Lenny. I learned the Stephen Stills guitar parts when I was home with mononucleosis for a month.”
“We did ‘Messiah’ by George Frideric Handel, and ‘Magnificat in D Major’ by
Things got more serious when Falle moved on to Ohio University when he became
violently, so much so that I tried to keep it from falling off the stage riser with one leg while I tried to sing and play ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ and ‘Gimme Three Steps.’ At one dance, it all came crashing down, smashing on the dance floor.”
enamored with Appalachian music, and soon he embraced a cappella and rock band opportunities. However, country and bluegrass were like bolts of lightning striking full force once Falle moved to Eastern Kentucky Coal Country. “I got a dog, a pick-up truck, and a job as a traveling salesman for a Lawbook Company. The locals welcomed me and turned me on to Maker’s Mark bourbon, bluegrass music at the Renfro Valley, Dwight Yoakum, and a bunch of other fun stuff. My truck stereo blared out Steve Earle, Keith Whitley, Bill Monroe in places like Harlan, Pikeville, and Pineville. It was strange and beautiful 37
at the same time. Over the years, I have lived in Ohio, Kentucky, Georgia, and now South Carolina. The ‘real’ Appalachia influences my songwriting to this day.”
Bub of the Del McCoury Band; and David Grier, guitarist for Corey Walker, the 2014 IBMA Momentum Award for Instrumentalist of the year recipient.
feeling of having enough money to buy a pair of snakeskinned boots and a new set of Goodyear Wranglers (with the raised white lettering) for my truck.”
“I started fronting cover bands as a singer and guitar player. It was fun for a while, but deep down, I wanted to be 100 percent Marty, whatever that was. I finally went all-in with my first record, ‘Ohio,’ and have done originals ever since. One day, I decided to film a video of my song ‘Hoochie Coochie Gal from the Buckeye State’ with some friends and a talented line dance group.”
“Marty Slayton personifies what makes harmony vocals special,” said Falle about his secret “vocal” weapon. “She has become as important as anybody to my songs, and Marty has recorded 50 original songs with me at Warner Bros, Mix Dream, County Q, Westwood, and Omni Studio. I marvel at her abilities, plus she is a great person.”
His recordings ‘Ohio,’ ‘Dingtown,’ ‘Bloody Coal,’ and others help track the journey of a lifeline bluegrass musician with a steadfast devotion to the music, with some hard lessons learned in the process.
The video quickly went viral and soared to 3M views. Then CMT reached out to Marty and started playing the song in heavy rotation during prime time. “It was not long after this that I made the big leap to Nashville is where I met Jonathan Yudkin and Billy Decker and learned how to record and mix the right way. Jonathan is an essential partner in producing my reissue of ‘Ohio,’ ‘Long, Long Road,’ ‘Bloody Coal,’ and ‘Virgin on the Bluegrass.’ Billy has mixed over 50 of my tunes. County Q and Westwood are like family to me, and I am grateful for the friends I have made and the music we create.” Falle’s bluegrass record evolved from his love of the genre and the dream team he assembled. The group included legendary producer Jonathan Yudkin, Grammywinner/Dobro player Rob Ickes; acoustic bassist Michael 38
Yudkin is a fan of Falle and said he is a seeker who is full of surprises. “He seeks stories, history, legends, and paths in creativity,” Yudkin said. “If you tell Marty a local legend about Bigfoot, then a week later, he will have a song called ‘Midnight at Bigfoot Ridge.’ Also, His fresh sound comes from the fact that he is not trying to emulate bluegrass bands of the past or present. Instead, he is creating his songs out of his love of music and not influenced by other artists, which I enjoy the most about working with him. His songs are always unpredictable and surprising.” Falle’s new country version of ‘Superman Jimmie,’ featured on his new album, got the attention of NASCAR and requested to use it on broadcasts. “Truthfully, there are two sides to me, the corporate guy and the singer-songwriter guy. I could never get rid of either one. I remember the
“A lot has changed since I wrote ‘Ohio’ and recorded the original demos with Keith Whitley’s guitar player Lou Toomey in Kentucky,” Falle said. “I wanted to do a full album, so I worked with some talented bandmates at the time, including Vince Ruby, Russ Hagler, Mark Matthews, and Adam Mercer in a studio in Akron. It was there we made ‘Hoochie Coochie Gal from the Buckeye State’ (which made it on CMT), ‘I am a Cowboy,’ and ‘Moving Day.’ After that, Vince and I started cutting corners, and it reflected in the recordings.” Falle met producer Jonathan Yudkin, who had worked with Mutt Lange, Rascal Flatts, Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood, and Keith Urban. Yudkin took an interest in helping Falle develop as an artist. After long hours at studio County Q, Falle changed how he wrote and recorded. The studio’s motto was, “We make two things here at County Q: music and friends.” Yudkin became Falle’s producer, and the two recorded more than 60 songs with Paul Scholton, Sam Hunter, and Jay Vern filling out the roster
for production. “Lastly, the process is never complete until Billy Decker mixes. Billy’s mixes have appeared in over 50M albums sold and billions of streams, including 15 #1 singles. Billy is a generous man, and we have become close friends over our ten years together. I look forward to the final mix day at Westwood, sitting at the board with Billy and Jonathan, listening to the full record.” When finished, it’s like Christmas morning. When asked how Falle and his family kept their health and sanity during the pandemic,
Falle said, “I feel terrible and pray for those who have lost family and friends due to Covid. We have been fortunate to this point. My wife Amber and my 9-year-old son Macklin get through with a strong faith in God, Lego building, and Amazon -- who knew you never had to go inside a store? I am blessed to have a talented wife that homeschools our son. Macklin plays tennis and piano and routinely beats me in Chess, Stratego, and a variety of card games.” As much as Falle is excited about his new album, he’s already written the songs for his next record.
“I can’t wait to get back to Nashville. We are also planning to perform the entire album Virgin on the bluegrass live for TV taping at SIR Nashville Soundstage.” Falle confirmed a little-known fact about himself that Yudkin mentioned—his penchant for enjoying cuisine that’s a bit on the wild side. “Marty is also a connoisseur of lesser-known dishes such as Moose Mousse, Rattlesnake Tar-Tar, and Bat Cakes,” Yudkin said.
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ZOE SHINER A HEART FOR GIVING BACK When Zoe Shiner is not attending her preveterinarian classes at Purdue University, she loves to escape her reality through music and teach others to do the same through mentoring at The Festival of the Bluegrass Kids Music Camp in Lexington, Kentucky.
although she played them in a vastly different style than her dad initially imagined. She was a 6th grader when she started performing at countless music festivals and getting involved in her bluegrass community.
“Local music festivals were a huge inspiration for me,” Zoe said. “I also do a lot For the past decade, Zoe has of theater, and getting to used music as her way to escape from the world, but her provide music for the roles I am in is cool. Getting out in first taste of music was a bit different from other bluegrass my community and getting musicians. Raised in a family involved in local jam sessions of music lovers, her parents was amazing.” were obsessed with the With a medley of influences, Grateful Dead - taking Zoe to a concert at three years old Zoe takes her love for bluegrass, her background and buying her a guitar for in rock music, and her talent Christmas. for theater and brings them Rock music would not be Zoe’s together for a musical sound destiny. First drawn to the that is all her own. warm tones of the mandolin, “I listen to bluegrass music, Zoe eventually took up the fiddle and the guitar— obviously, but I also take a 42
lot of inspiration from artists in the 1950s and 1960s. I connect to artists like Patsy Cline and love bringing that to my music. I also love bringing modern music into bluegrass styles,” Zoe said. Zoe aspires to be a vocalist like Rhiannon Giddens, whose work with The Carolina Chocolate Drops inspired Zoe. In this interview, Zoe talks about giving back to the bluegrass community, how music affected her mental health through college, and her plans to stay musically focused while following other dreams. The Bluegrass Standard: How do you balance between your music and other obligations like school? Zoe: It’s difficult with classes, and I use music as an escape
from reality. As I have so much going on, having that musical escape as a creative outlet is important. Mental health is just as important as physical health, and music helps keep that balance for me. BGS: What’s your most memorable live performance to date? Z: It wasn’t one that I was performing but one that I was co-directing at The Festival of the Bluegrass Kids Music Camp. The other director showed up late, and I was in charge of the 80 kids performing - conducting and helping them. That was special.
BGS: You mentioned music Z: One of the big changes as an escape and benefit to mental health. How has music for me was not going to my weekly jam sessions. I met so helped? many people there, and you don’t realize how much you Z: I would say the transition from middle to high school. I value your time there until had lots of personal changes you don’t have it. So, I started the Corona Quarantine happening at the time and Bluegrass Association group friendship changes too. on Facebook. It grew quickly I was thrown into a new overnight, and everyone environment, and I didn’t started adding videos and have anything to cling to. Music allowed me to join playing with and for each other. multiple groups, and music became my community. I BGS: What inspired you to got my emotions out in a host an online virtual music way that’s mentally and festival with your dad in emotionally healthy. 2020? BGS: How have you adapted Z: My dad and I did a virtual your music during the 43
music festival for local food banks called Music for Meals Virtual Music Festival and raised over $3000. I’d love to record music one day. My career as a vet is most important, but I want to take music with me as I develop and grow. BGS: Share your experience with Tomorrow’s Bluegrass Stars.
having that community of young females was especially helpful. Overall, it’s taught me how to speak up and be stronger. I’m taking those skills forward so I can flourish in this tough music industry. BGS: What advice do you have for an upcoming bluegrass musician wanting to join TBS?
Z: Do it! Being a kid in the Z: I joined about four years bluegrass industry is hard. ago. At the time, I was playing When someone says no, give them ten reasons to with Ashlyn Smith. Through say yes. Just keep pushing TBS, I got to play with a lot and don’t give up. Play for of other amazing kids. It’s yourself and not other people’s great for kids - and women especially. It’s hard for women gratification! in the music industry but 44
BGS: What’s the last song you listened to? Z: “Say No to This” from the Hamilton soundtrack BGS: Do you have a favorite movie soundtrack? Z: SIX the Musical has a phenomenal soundtrack. It’s about the six wives of Henry the 8th! BGS: Favorite TV show theme song? Z: The Office theme song, obviously! BGS: What song puts you in a good mood?
Z: Carrie Underwood’s Do You Think About Me BGS: And your dreams for your music? Z: I want to be able to fit music in my life somehow. It would be amazing if I found a way to use music to help
others and keep it in my household. I want to foster kids. My mom had a baby three years ago, and I realized it was not for me. So many kids need a home, and I want to give love to these kids that need it. Follow Zoe’s music journey
or find someone to jam with on Facebook at Corona Quarantine Bluegrass Association. “Anyone can pick up an instrument. There is no good or bad time to start playing,” said Zoe. “Play for yourself and not for others!”