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ding to en t ea gr a d ha rd da an St s as gr ue The Bl ille Partners. hv as N r ou ith w l ri Ap of th on m e th we learned We look forward to sharing what . Also look ic us M s as gr ue Bl of re tu fu e th t abou of you will for a Fan Club soon; we know all ic alive. us m r ou g in ep ke of rt pa a be to want Thanks! Keith Barnacastle — Publisher The Bluegrass Standard − click here to subscribe − it's free! The Bluegrass Standard magazine is published monthly. Opinions expressed are not necessarily the opinions of The Bluegrass Standard or its staff, advertisers or readers with the exception of editorials. Publication of the name or the photograph of any person, business or organization in articles or advertising in The Bluegrass Standard is not to be construed as any indication of support of such person, business or organization. The Bluegrass Standard disclaims any responsibility for claims made by advertisers. Advertising rates are subject to change without notice. The Bluegrass Standard reserves the right at its sole discretion to reject any advertising for any reason. It is our policy to publish any letters to the editor that are signed and verifiable by phone number. We reserve the right of anonymity upon request. Letters must be grammatically correct, clarity and original and free of libel. The Bluegrass Standard reserves the right to decline to publish any letter. Please send your comments to: editor@thebluegrassstandard.com The views expressed are not necessarily those of The Bluegrass Standard. Copyright ©2019. All Rights reserved. No portion of the publication may be reproduced in any form without the expressed consent of the publisher.

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Martin Guitar Redhead Express Johnny Staats Ralph Stanley Festival

Grits & Soul Blue Moon Rising Flint Hill more... THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD


Tomorrow’s Bluegrass Stars:

Justin and Aaron Koch

Larry’s Country Diner

Soundbrenner

Fiddle r ’s  Porch 

Perfect Touch Picks David Church Guitar Stand Co. Scott Slay Festival Guide THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD

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Will Banister


The Blu e gras s St andard St aff 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. She writes for many publications.

Richelle@TheBluegrassStandard.com

James Babb • Creative Director James is a native Californian, and a long-time resident of Palm Springs. He creates a unique "look" for every issue of The Bluegrass Standard, and enjoys learning about each artist. In addition to his creative work with The Bluegrass Standard, James also provides graphic design and technical support to a variety of clients.

James@TheBluegrassStandard.com

Shelby C. Berry • Journalist Editor 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.

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The Blu e gras s St andard St aff 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.

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

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.

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 has used her education, experience, and creative talent to share the love of music with others.

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Martin Guitar

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Celebrating the Artisans who Create and the Artists who Play Martin Guitars

by Keith Barnacastle Chris Martin’s great, great, great grandfather, Christian Frederick Martin was a wood worker by trade. He was fascinated by the guitar. Soon after arriving in the United States in 1833, he opened his first guitar shop at 196 Hudson Street in New York City. He immigrated to the United States seeking opportunity and freedom. In 1839 he moved his business to Nazareth Pennsylvania. To this day, Nazareth is the Martin Company headquarters office and home to the US manufacturing plant. At the beginning, each guitar was individually made and this appealed to guitarists who wanted a personalized instrument. He subsequently realized that to be profitable he needed to standardize models and have consistent features. Frederick Martin succeeded in expanding distribution of his instruments across the United States and eventually around the world. Fast forward to 1979 when Martin Guitar Company opened its first custom shop that worked with artists to create the personalized instrument of their dreams. This innovation at the company has helped it stay as the premier creator of high-end acoustic guitars. All of Martin’s high-end guitars are still created in the Nazareth facility. Another significant milestone was achieved in 2019 when the Company celebrated its 30th anniversary of a joint partnership in Mexico at the Navojora Sonora facility. The facility initially only manufactured guitar strings, but has grown to be a very THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD

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significant part of the creation of Martin Guitars. Although generally manufacturing the lower end of the Martin guitar lineup, the Sonora facility manufactures a full-gloss, solid wood guitar with the signature Martin rich tone. The most important part of the manufacture of the Martin guitar is the X-Bracing design. In 1999 the Company’s challenge was to introduce an HPL (high pressure laminate) concept guitar that may someday revolutionize how guitars are made. Recently, the Research and Development team created a concept guitar with traditional Martin X-Bracing and other modifications using titanium truss rods, liquid metal bridge pins, Carbon Fiber Bridge and other Martin proprietary parts. Chris acknowledges the Research and Development team for coming up with the advanced design. Carbon fiber bracing has allowed the manufacture of a lighter weight guitar. After 20 years of manufacturing guitars at the Sonora facility, the company is thinking about pricing and how the same degree of quality can be made at a more affordable price to attract a wider range of guitar enthusiasts. Martin’s acoustic guitars are the workhorse for most musicians performing at festivals and events. He proudly states that we now have improved the product and lowered the price. Who can argue with that? Chris chuckled when I spoke with him as he described what an incredible guitar the company has created. The concept guitar became a new line after the prototype guitar was played by the management of the research and development team. They wound up ordering guitars for themselves. 10

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Still Martin appeals to the upper end market. The company sees its market share primarily in the medium and high-end sector of the guitar business. Juan Ramirez, the manager of the Mexico plant, who visited NAMM in Anaheim, told Mr. Martin that he didn’t realize all the competition that was out there in guitar manufacturing. Indeed, I agree with Juan. I was overwhelmed as well by the enormous number of guitar companies on display at the NAMM show. On a more personal note, I asked Chris what his first guitar was and whether it was a Martin. He smiled again and said yes it was and then relayed that when he was at summer camp one of the counselors had a D-18 and Chris thought that was so cool. Chris called both his grandfather and father and said he wanted a guitar for Christmas. On Christmas day a Martin 518 guitar with a wide neck and nylon strings appeared. Chris started taking lessons from a patient of his maternal grandfather, a physician. To say the least his teacher was a little amazed that his first guitar was a Martin 518. “I have many students, but no one has ever shown up as a starting student with a Martin guitar. Chris initially thought he would be more of a Beatles music guitarist. Instead he found himself sitting straight up with one foot on a footstool and holding the guitar upright. This was more of the Segovia style and he though he never remembered the Beatles playing this way. He does give Mr. Conrad, his teacher, credit for teaching him how to read music. Chris never really gelled with guitar lessons. He never really pictured himself as part of a band. Martin Guitars was honored at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. The show in 2014 featured a collection of early American guitars. It featured the early guitars of C.F. Martin. What a great honor it was, especially with the accompanying lecture by the curator of musical instruments at the museum. The show was inspired by a woman living in lower Manhattan’s historical district who brought the 1833 history of Christian Frederick Martin’s guitar shop at 196 Hudson Street to the attention of the Historical Society and a bronze plague was placed on a building in that block to honor C.F. Martin’s first workshop. Chris feels a sense of responsibility to the brand and maintaining its reputation, being very grateful to the creative and dedicated workers who create the THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD

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instruments and to the artists who perform with Martin guitars. Martin Guitar loves taking older high-end Martin Guitars and rebuilding them. The artesian workers focus on models made famous by musicians who played the high-end instrument and loved the rich sound. Martin’s highly respected repair department, the rehabilitation of older instruments using as much of the original wood as possible is a labor of love. I asked Chris whether a Martin guitar gets better with age much like the Stradivarius violin. He supported that concept. The moral of the story is do not keep a good guitar under the bed and not play it. The most important person in Chris Martin’s life was his Grandfather. He lived with his Grandfather for a while. His Grandmother had passed and Chris and his Grandfather spent hours discussing all things Martin guitar. One of his favorite stories was that of the Dreadnought guitar. He wondered where the name comes from. His Grandfather told him it comes from the WWI Dreadnought battleship with which he and his Grandfather were obsessed. That’s a story for another time. Chris has a 14-year-old daughter, Claire Frances Martin who is interested in music and plays piano, flute, ukulele and loves music. She also loves to sing. Will she eventually take over as the leader of Martin Guitar? Chris said that is her decision and whether she has the passion for the job. Chris is aware of the scarcity of precious wood available for high end guitars. He has an abiding interest in preserving the world’s precious woods, the heart of Martin guitars. Readers should know that we do not want to cut down all the trees and therefore need to talk about alternatives to wood. There is only so much Rosewood, Sitka Spruce, Maple and Mahogany. Martin is a green company and has found ways within the organization to save energy reduce waste and protect the environment.

Given the amount of competition in the industry, Chris feels that if you are not making a very good guitar in today’s competitive market for guitars... don’t even bother. 12

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Redhead Express by Susan Marquez It’s not important that only three of the four women in Redhead Express are true redheads. What’s important is that the four siblings are solid musicians with a strong background in American folk music who are also influenced by jazz, blues, rock, pop and both early and modern country music. Their story begins on Thanksgiving Day 2007. “Our mother is a pianist,” explains Kendra Walker Stevenson, the oldest of the Walker siblings. “We were homeschooled in Palmer, Alaska, and music was part of our curriculum. We all played piano and violin, and I also picked up the guitar after getting one for Christmas.” That same Christmas, in 2006, LaRae got the banjo she had been wanting, and Meghan got an upright bass. Alisa (the non-redhead) was partial to the family’s violin. “We realized we had enough instruments to have a band, so we practiced a few songs and played for the first time at the Anchorage Folk Festival. We were invited to a bluegrass jam session, which gave us more confidence.” The girls’ parents were confident enough in their children’s abilities to leave their THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD

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home in Alaska to pursue a bigger dream. They sold everything and headed for the Appalachian Mountains area to study American roots music. “We traveled to Virginia, the Carolinas, and Tennessee – places that have a rich history of bluegrass and old-time music. We explored what our sound would be.” The family traveled to see bands they liked. “We watched them play and really studied what they were doing,” says Kendra. “We also played wherever we could, sometimes playing for hamburgers.” Many amazing opportunities presented themselves along the way. “We didn’t know anything about booking or recording, or the music business in general. We were fortunate to meet Terry Smith at a festival in Galax, Virginia and he invited us to go to his home in North Carolina where he shared his music with us and taught us so much.” Kendra recalls that they met Jim Conner, who wrote My Grandmother’s Feather Bed. “Jim taught LaRae how to play the claw-hammer banjo.” The family settled in northern Idaho, but spend a lot of time in Nashville, playing and recording. “Nashville is such a special place for us,” says Kendra. “Initially we spent our time in Nashville building our musical community and making connections. When everyone around you is better than you, it forces you to learn and get better.” The group plays at various festivals, fairs, performing arts centers, schools, churches, community events and retirement communities. “We just finished up a four-month tour,” Kendra says. “Traveling is a pretty big production for us.” Big, indeed. There are four female siblings in the band, plus two brothers. Joseph plays drums, and Ammon plays keys and upright bass. A third brother, Sean, is on an extended mission trip through their church. Kendra, who serves as the band’s leader, is the singer/songwriter of the group. She also plays guitar. LaRae plays banjo, Alisa is the fiddle player, and Meghan, the youngest, plays bass. Between LaRae, Kendra and Lisa there are five grandchildren in the family. “Our parents travel with us,” Kendra explains. “My mom watches the kids while my dad does real estate training via telephone. Our children, who are all under five, have seen more of this country than I had by the time I was 18 years old!” The family travels in a large passenger van and RV. “We have a bus, but it’s been in the shop. We are hoping it will be ready by the time we go on our next tour. Having bunks will sure make traveling a lot easier.” It’s not easy to put Redhead Express in a box. “Our sound is unique,” says Kendra, who says some refer to the group as folkrock or folk-pop. “We’ve even been called 14

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alternative country, but I think we have a sound that’s all our own.” The group does covers on a variety of songs, as well as original music. “We have a new project called Paper Dolls, which is a separate project to push our original music. I do most all the writing, although Alisa wrote when she was younger.” Alisa published a children’s book, Fishy Tales, last year. The book is illustrated by LaRae.

“We owe all we’ve accomplished to the decision our parents made for our family,” says Kendra. “They took a leap of faith because they believed in us. Now that I’m a parent, I can see what a big deal that is. I really appreciate all they’ve done for our family.”

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Johnny Staats:

Mandolin Pickin’,UPS Drivin’

© Rich Schaffer Photography

by Kara Martinez Bachman You’ll rarely ever come across anyone more personable, lighthearted, and gratitude-filled than mandolin player Johnny Staats.

It’s not only his talent that has gotten him featured on television shows including “The Today Show,” “CBS Evening News,” and in publications such as The New York Times and People Magazine – it’s also, no doubt, his infectious personality.

© Rich Schaffer Photography

Staats is so entertaining, he was selected by his “day job” employer, UPS, to talk and perform in two Ted Talks (Technology, Entertainment, Design). In those presentations, he relayed information that any aspiring bluegrass performer will surely find hopeful.

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While not performing in one of four bands – including Johnny Staats and The Delivery Boys, a duo with two-time national flatpicking champion Robert Shafer, plus a gospel group AND a country group – he’s wearing a brown uniform, delivering packages on a UPS route in West Virginia. A guy like Staats is big enough to make touring his only gig; but for him, family came first. “I didn’t want music to turn into work,” he explained, saying he does about 70 show dates a year, including the majority with The Delivery Boys, which also includes musicians Ray Cossin, Butch Osborne, Doug Cossin and Davey Vaughn. He said those gigs are only on weekends, so he can otherwise don those iconic brown shorts and treat package delivery customers to his fun, wise-cracking, friendly attitude during weekdays. This has allowed for not only the security of medical insurance and other benefits for the past 30 years he’s spent with UPS but allows him to see family more often than most professional performers are allowed. Any touring musician can tell you that being away from home constantly takes its toll on family life. “I want to show everybody it can be done,” he said. “I just juggled both careers, and there’s no regrets.” No wonder he has no regrets; Johnny Staats has done some seriously cool stuff. He’s played on the Grand Ole Opry stage with Ricky Skaggs. He’s played with Huey Lewis and the News. He’s recorded with notable performers such as Kathy Mattea and Sara Evans. This October, he’s about to set out on a tour of Ireland with Brandon Lee Adams, the up-and-coming artist who Staats assures has really been making waves recently in the bluegrass world. That’s just the tip of the iceberg of the creative life Staats has somehow managed to build... and all while driving a UPS truck for over 50 hours a week. © UPS

“I did a lot of things I didn’t think I’d be able to do,” he said, reflecting on past decades and expressing true gratitude. Initially inspired by the most notable mandolin player of them all – Bill Monroe – Staats has been playing the instrument since he was a kid, after his dad got him picking it. Staats also plays fiddle, bass and guitar. The

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mandolin, though, grabbed ahold of his heart and just never did let go. “It’s the Celtic sound of it, and the high-pitched notes,” he said. “If I had to pick between guitar and mandolin, it would definitely be that mandolin. It was like it bonded with me.” Staats said the sounds coming from that instrument are what matters to him most. His passion isn’t spurred on by getting to do a Ted Talk or being interviewed on CNN. His passion comes from the notes plucked out that he thinks just might – if he’s lucky – make somebody feel something.

When asked about the future, he said, “I just wanna keep on making the best music that I can possibly make. I want people to look back and say, ‘man, he really moves me.’ ” Then, he added, “I just want to be remembered for my music.”

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Dr. Ralph Stanley’s Hills of Home Festival by Emerald Butler Dr. Ralph Stanley’s Hills of Home festival began on Memorial Day weekend in 1970. The festival was originally established by Dr. Ralph Stanley himself in honor of his brother, Carter. Located in the Stanley Brother’s hometown of McClure, Virginia, the festival is coming up on its 49th annual year. Eight years ago in 2011, Dr. Ralph Stanley called his son, Ralph II, up to his house. “He asked me if I’d be interested in running the festival,” Ralph II remembers. “I told him I didn’t know. I thought he was doing an awful good job with it, and he ought to just keep it the way it is.” Unfortunately, Dr. Stanley was unable to continue to keep it that way.

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“His words to me was ‘well it’s getting too much for me to handle… if you don’t want to do it that’s fine, but if you don’t, I’m not having it no more. I’m just going to close it down.’ So, when he told me that I said, ‘well dad since you put it that way, I’ll do the best I can to keep it going.’”

Ralph Stanley II has done just that. The festival takes place on the very grounds that the Stanley Brothers grew up on, and even where they now lay to rest. Ralph II shared that they play the Stanley Brothers music in the graveyard nearby where the two legends are buried. The Ralph Stanley Museum and Traditional Music Center are also located near the festival in Clintwood, Virginia. A trolley will be running to transport festival attendees to the museum. This year’s line-up includes Larry Sparks, Rhonda Vincent, Po Ramblin Boys, Ralph Stanley II & The Clinch Mountain Boys, and many more. Camping spaces and hookups are also available at the festival. They even have a golf cart parade that will commence at the end of the show on Saturday after Ralph II and his band picks out their finale. This year is sure to be fun as always, but Ralph II shared that he has some exciting plans in the works for next year’s 50th Anniversary. "Our plan is to remodel the old stage," he shared. Ralph II went on to tell that his dad, Ricky Skaggs's dad, and Keith Whitley's dad, along with some other handymen, built the old stage there. "The plan is to remodel it and make it look as original as we can." Ralph Stanley II acknowledged that it hasn’t been confirmed yet, but he is talking to Ricky Skaggs about playing on the new stage next year. “According to what Ricky told me,” Ralph II began, “he’s really wanting to do it because he has a lot of respect; it THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD

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brings back a lot of memories to him.” “It’s a job. It's hard to run a festival. It's not easy, and it's a lot of expense. It ain’t only booking the bands,” Ralph II informed. Still, Ralph II keeps his father's legacy in mind through it all, and he shared why he thinks his dad started the festival. “I think he enjoyed playing close to home, being on his farm where he was raised. At the same time, I think he was doing that to help keep Carter's name alive and keep up the history of the Stanley Brothers, so people could see where they came from.”

Like his father, Ralph Stanley II is keeping the Stanley heritage alive, and he invites others to be a part of that by coming to the festival and enjoying the music and fellowship that his father started.

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Grits & Soul by Susan Marquez When thumbing through a rack of albums at a store in Raymond, Mississippi, Anna Kline ran across a 1964 James Brown LP called Grits & Soul. “He couldn’t sing by contract, so the whole album is instrumentals,” explains Anna. “I just liked the title, and filed it back in my head, not knowing what I might do with it.” Anna has always loved music. She played for about eight years or so in Memphis before moving to Jackson, Mississippi to work at Malaco Records. Then she met a guy who knew a guy who worked at a music store. That guy was John Looney, and he began coming to band practice of a band in which Anna was playing. “We started writing songs together, and in 2011 we did a tune called “Floodwaters,” which later on became the title track of a CD.” The news director of the local NBC affiliate heard the tune and used it as the backdrop of a video piece on floods in the area. “The piece got regional recognition, as did our song, and we were off to the races. It’s amazing how one incident can alter the course of your life forever.” Anna and John formed their own group, and called it Grits & Soul. “I think the name was symbolic of what we are doing which is spreading the Gospel of Southern sound. We consider ourselves an American duo who fuse roots country with Southern soul and blues. Much of what we do is taken from elements of our Southern heritage.” With Anna on vocals and guitar, and John on vocals, mandolin and guitar, the two have developed their own unique sound. They decided to take their act to Asheville, North Carolina, where there is a big roots music scene. “Lots of other people did the same thing,” says John. “Asheville seemed like a place for musicians to go. There was a steady influx of people in and out. We realized we had a lot of work to do.” The couple says they had to take on some “crazy roommates” to help with the rent. They played jams almost every night. But while they were there, they met some local legends who played true mountain music, including GRAMMY Award-winning fiddler Bobby Hicks and Donny Lewis. The duo began doing some “exploratory, new frontier stuff” as they worked to find their own sound. “I saw Chris Thile (Punch Brothers) play when I was 16,” says John. “I didn’t even play mandolin then, but he was a big inspiration for me.” A big break came for the duo about six months into their move to Asheville. “We had the opportunity to contribute to a Kickstarter campaign for a film on bluegrass. We paid $500 and in exchange got 10 hours at Compass Records in Nashville. We gathered THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD

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up some friends and recorded some tracks in Nashville, then brought them back to Ashville to finish.” The resulting CD was Floodwaters, released in 2013. That LP kept things going for Anna and John, who say they got a series of lucky breaks soon after. “2014 was a big year for us,” says Anna. “We played MerleFest and made the rounds in the Southeast. We went to Europe where we played the Country Festival in Belgium and picked up gigs at festivals in Paris and in Italy. It was big fun!” A year ago, the couple had the opportunity to purchase an old home in Mount Sterling, Kentucky, which is John’s hometown. The circa 1871 fixer-upper has been a full-time project for the couple. “We still manage to play,” says Anna, “and we are working on a new CD of original music, which will hopefully be out this fall.” The duo often plays with The Local Honeys. “They have invited us to play square dances with them, which is fun. John knows a lot of Kentucky fiddle tunes which works well for that.”

Since moving to Kentucky, Grits & Soul was on an episode of Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern. “John went on a guided turkey hunt and then Andrew butchered the bird and fried it up,” says Anna. “Then we played some bluegrass. It turns out that Andrew is a big bluegrass fan!” The couple will also be on Kentucky Life, which will air on Kentucky Educational Television. “The show is about East Kentucky songwriter Jim Ford and features me and Linda Jean Stokley of The Local Honeys singing his song Big Mouth USA.” The show will air May 4. 26

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Blue Moon Rising – Again by Shelby C. Berry Two decades of making music with people you consider friends is a huge feat in the music industry. Blue Moon Rising has beaten the odds. This bluegrass band, founded in East Tennessee in 2000, had two goals in mind – to write and record original bluegrass music and play their songs at festivals. And while Blue Moon Rising dipped their toes into bluegrass with the simplest of goals, their music rose to appear on countless charts, including the Billboards and the Roots Music Report. Created by the joining of Tim Tipton, Justin Moses, Chris West, and Keith Garrett, Blue Moon Rising has seen a few changes in the lineup over the years, but one thing stayed the same – their core focus on bluegrass music. “Chris and I met as teens, and several years later we got together to form a band,” said Keith. “Most of the original members are from the same area in Tennessee, so it was just natural.” Fast forward twenty years and the current lineup of Blue Moon Rising is a mix of original and new members of the band. Three original band members remain – Keith, Tim Tipton on bass, and Chris West on guitar. The three newer powerhouse musicians are Justin Jenkins on banjo, Brandon Bostic on resonator guitar, and Randall Massengill on guitar. “While there’s some diversity among the members, we’ve all really been modeling our sound after bands like Blue Highway all these years. That’s the kind of sound that made me want to create music,” said Keith. “We love creating something no one has ever heard, and Chris West is one of the most underrated songwriters in the business.” Tim’s heavy Bill Monroe-like influence adds to the band’s overall sound, but he also, having honed his songwriting skills over the last decade, contributes original material to their recordings. “We’ve recorded songs by artists like Bruce Springsteen and other Americana style song choices that aren’t traditionally bluegrass,” said Keith Garrett, mandolin player and original member for Blue Moon Rising. “This allows us to acquire a fanbase of people who may not would have ever heard us play otherwise.”

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Blue Moon Rising has released six incredibly strong records full of original material and some favorites across genres. Dedicated fans come from all over the world, especially the United States and Canada where the band has played hundreds of shows. Now after many years as a band, band member changes, and individual successes, Blue Moon Rising returns with the full force of a brand-new label. In January 2019, the band announced their signing with Mountain Fever Records with plans for a new record. “We are all looking forward to working with all the folks at Mountain Fever,” said Keith. “We’re excited about this new record and the freedom they offer us in regards to what we want out of the label and our music.” Only weeks after announcing their partnership with Mountain Fever Records, Blue Moon Rising released the first single from their new album – “Louisville Rambler.” In mid-May, they are set to release their appropriately-titled record After All this Time. “There is a song Chris wrote on our new album with an older country sound, and there is a line in the song that mentions ‘after all this time.’ We thought it was a great line and fits our journey of coming back together to create this music so well,” said Keith.

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What initially began as a group of friends coming together to record an anniversary album, while all being involved in personal projects, became a reunion of Blue Moon Rising. The band has even started discussing recording a gospel album later this year.

“I feel strongly that the guys in this six-piece group are all great friends. For me, this is a chance to make music with people that I really like,” said Keith. “We all have the same vision, and there is a comradery there that makes this something to look forward to. I think if we can keep doing that and performing great music together, it will be a great thing.”

www.bluemoonrisingband.com

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From Flea Market to Flint Hill by Kara Martinez Bachman Back when Chance Parish was a high schooler working on a dairy farm, he had no idea where he’d soon be headed, no inkling he’d make the first contact that would lead to creation of bluegrass, gospel and country band, Flint Hill. He met there this other guy, who just happened to play bass. “Me and him started picking,” Parish said. “Then we came across a dobro player, and discovered he was my fifth cousin.” At some point, they saw a performance by a young guitarist and singer. Parish was impressed. “We ran into this young boy who was wearing these high western pants and a big belt buckle,” Parish explained. “I said, he’s gonna go somewhere.” And he did; he went straight into the band that, with the addition of a mandolin player, would be called Flint Hill. The Central North Carolina outfit played its first gig in March 2016 and have been having a great time ever since. THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD

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The full lineup includes Parish, on banjo; Adam Frazier, on bass; Larry Williams, playing dobro; Chris Poole, with his lead vocals and guitar; and Mark Burgess, on mandolin. In just a few years, it seems they’ve impressed both audiences and event organizers. For instance, they’ve been a presence at the Doyle Lawson Festival, happening again this year in Denton, NC, May 9-11. “It’s unheard of for a little band like us to come back four years in a row, and we’re going back this year,” he said. “We’re proud of that.” Parish got his start in music not plucking a banjo but sitting on a bench. “I’ve been playing the piano since I was four...by ear,” he said. Then, when he was maybe about 12 years old, he was browsing around at a flea market one day and something interesting caught his eye. “I saw this old fly-by-night company made a banjo, and I paid $100 for it,” he said. It sounds as if the thing just got put aside for a while; the time wasn’t yet right for Parish’s passion to be fully realized. “I had never really listened to bluegrass that much, but then heard one song by Flatt and Scruggs.” He said to himself: “I think I have a banjo somewhere.” He was about age 14, and the time was finally ripe; he really learned to play the thing. He said he “eventually fell in love with bluegrass.” “I’m playing a Granada now,” he said, adding that the first cheap banjo is broken, and “sits on the wall as a decorative piece.” Aside from the rare compliment of being asked to return again and again to the Doyle Lawson Festival, Parish said Flint Hill has been rewarded with other kudos that make the band proud. “In 2017 we played at three local fiddler conventions, all within a hundred-mile radius, and won first place band at all three conventions,” he said. 32

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Although the band is too new to have a big collection of recordings, Parish said they did get their feet wet with what he called an “ice-breaker” album of gospel tunes. Gospel probably won’t be the primary focus for the next record, though; the guys will head in another direction. “We have looked at maybe doing a classic country album in the future,” he said, hinting at what might be to come. Are there any other plans on the horizon? Where does Parish see Flint Hill in the future, as its fan base continues to grow? He was even-keeled about his hopes, and his answer was perfect for a young guy doing it for nothing more than love of the instrument that unexpectedly intrigued him one day at a flea market.

“We’re just doing it because we love and enjoy it. We don’t want to assume...” Parish said. “We just fly by the seat of our pants, and wherever it takes us, it takes us.”

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Justin and Aaron Koch by Shelby C. Berry 34

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New Youngsters, New Future for Bluegrass Life offers us endless possibilities and choices throughout our time on this earth, but we enter the world with at least one thing chosen for us – our family. The bond of family, especially that of siblings, has a very special meaning for some young people as they grow. Why might you ask? Bluegrass. Yep, you heard that right! Musical siblings are bonded like none other, and the Koch brothers are no exception. While many siblings do everything together, it doesn’t always mean that they will share the same hobbies and goals in life. Justin and Aaron Koch, however, have been bonded together for so much of their life that they also began their musical journey together. Only five years ago, Justin and Aaron Koch began taking guitar lessons at a local music shop in their hometown of Pensacola, Florida. A year later, Aaron moved on to the mandolin and, eventually, the bass. Justin’s preferred instrument has remained the guitar over the years, and he has become an incredibly talented flat-picker. “Aaron and I like the long-standing history of bluegrass music, and we enjoy how it never fails to bring everyone together,” said Justin. After less than two years playing, Justin and Aaron played on the open stage at a bluegrass music festival in Palatka, Florida, surprising everyone with their talent on mandolin and guitar. Aaron even got to meet and jam with his mandolin hero, Danny Roberts of the Grascals while at the festival.

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FESTIVAL GUIDE Danny Roberts commented on Aaron’s talent from the stage saying. “He’s gonna be a good one!” Being a young musician just beginning to really devote yourself to your music, what a compliment and word of encouragement from your idol! Since the festival three years ago, Justin, now eighteen, and Aaron, fourteen, have been working tirelessly, honing their craft to become the best musicians they can be.

The Koch brothers always enjoy getting to play together for their local bluegrass association, the Gulf Coast Bluegrass Music Association in Pensacola, Florida. They loving playing for this hometown crowd who has cheered them on since the day they started playing music together. “We like the feeling that this type of music gives us,” said Justin. “The lyrics and the melodies are like nothing else in the music world.” They have a love for playing bluegrass music together, but they also enjoy branching out and playing with other young musicians. This desire to play with other musicians is what led the Koch brothers to the young bluegrass musician group, Tomorrow’s Bluegrass Stars. Justin and Aaron credit John Colburn, founder and former president of Tomorrow’s Bluegrass Stars, as well as the other TBS mentors, in having a huge role in their bluegrass careers as musicians. “These leaders and mentors have encouraged us so much over the last few years, and we can’t tell you how much that means to us!” said Justin. The Koch brothers tend to enjoy the opportunity to pick and play with other musicians as their favorite part of the group - learning, growing and simply playing music with others. “It’s great to just sit down and trade licks and lips!” said Justin. 36

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When asked what they would say to new bluegrass artists interested in joining them in Tomorrow’s Bluegrass Stars, Justin explains how he loves the wonderful blend of bluegrass talents and how the organization really opens doors for these musicians. “Go online and join today! You won’t regret it!” said Justin. As Justin and Aaron are developing their sound, they love to perform upbeat songs that are a little more on the progressive side while still maintaining the traditional feel bluegrass fans know and love.

Aaron

“We want to try to be as smooth and tasteful as we can with our music. That’s our number one goal with what we want to do.” While the brothers love playing music together, Justin is currently playing with a local band in Florida called Down the Road, and Aaron was recently signed by the Ali Shumate Band as their mandolin player. One thing is for sure—big things are coming for Justin and Aaron Koch.

“Both of us have music in our blood, and we know it will play a huge part in our futures, no matter where those futures might lead us in our music!” said Justin.

Aaron

Justin

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by Susan Marquez At age 75, Larry Black still has the booming voice of a seasoned radio announcer. It’s a voice that has been honed over the years since he first got behind a microphone in his hometown of Mobile, Alabama. “Back then, bluegrass and country musicians would pay to do live performances in radio studios. I loved meeting the musicians as they came through.” After high school, Black went to college in Florida, but lasted just one month. He returned to Mobile and radio, and got a scholarship to a college in Springfield, Missouri. “I lasted a year there before quitting,” he says. “But I did find the girl of my dreams and got married.”

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Black’s radio career took him around the country to places like Charlotte, North Carolina and Hartford, Connecticut. The couple landed in Ithaca, New York where he worked with Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN). Larry and his wife, Luann, had three boys, Ian, Adam and Jared. It’s been 40 years since the Black family moved to Nashville, where Larry Black did a contemporary Christian radio program. He did a radio show on Sunday mornings that was syndicated in over 170 markets, and he also worked for a record company. “I was hired on by WSM radio to do a weekend show. We broadcast the show from Opryland Park. The program director asked me if I’d fill in for other DJs who were going on vacation, so I ended up doing every time slot. The Gaylord family, who owned the radio station, came to town and heard the morning show one day and Mr. Gaylord didn’t like the ‘blue’ content of the program, saying it wasn’t familyfriendly. I was asked to fill in the regular weekday morning show and three months later I was hired to do the “You Can Be a Star” program with Jim Ed Brown on TNN. That opened the door for me to get to know a lot of country stars.” After being on TV for a while, Black ran into Roger Miller and his wife on a plane. “He called me by name, and I had never met him. He told me he watched me on TV.” It wasn’t long after that when Buck Owens came into the studios and called Black by name. “I told him I’d never met him, but I was a fan. He said he watched me on TV all the time.” It was then that Black really understood the power of the media. Black began auditioning for television shows produced in Atlanta and did several episodes of In the Heat of the Night and I’ll Fly Away. He also got some movie roles 40

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in films including Ernest Goes to Camp, Ernest Scared Stupid, October Sky and Pure Country 2. With his country music connections, Black began a production company and produced Country Music Spotlight and Country’s Family Reunion. “The nucleus to making that happen was knowing so many people from my radio and TV career.” One of the things from his radio days that really stuck with Black was the stories he used to hear in the booth. “When stars came in, they’d tell stories and I thought what if we just pulled some of them into one room and opened up the mic? Out of that idea, Larry’s Country Diner was born.” The show launched in August 2009. “We would have Rhonda Vincent and other bluegrass groups come in, which fit in well with the show.” The show is live and is not edited. What is said on the set is what the viewers hear. It is unintentionally unscripted, and the show’s motto is “where the cameras are always rollin’ and we don’t care.” The show pulls in an estimated 1.6 million viewers per month and is available in over 80 million homes via RFD and various streaming devices, as well as on internet TV. IT can also be seen on Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire and CountryRoadTV.com, the new online/OTT network that is geared specifically in celebration of the country lifestyle. The audience is seated at tables on the set and enjoy a meal while the show is happening around them. There is a regular cast of characters developed by Black that includes his sidekick, Keith Bilbrey, Sheriff Jimmy Caps, Waitress Renae, and avid church lady Nadine, along with special guest appearances by country, bluegrass and Gospel artists. Black says that Larry’s Country Diner is reality television at its best. His wife, Luann, is always in the audience for the live tapings, and his sons all work behind the scenes. The Blacks also host cruises and perform shows in the Starlite Theatre in Branson, Missouri.

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The Western Country of Will Banister by Kara Martinez Bachman Will Banister’s vocals are soothing, and his sound maybe reminds us of another time, of days before country melded with rock and then began its flirt with pop. Depending on the song and your mood, he might remind you a little of Brooks and Dunn or Alan Jackson, reminiscent of the style that was on all the airwaves during that early 1990s surge in country. Or, you might think he’s more reminiscent of an earlier great. “I grew up listening with my dad and grandpa. They were big Hank Williams fans,” Banister said, of the legend he cites as his main influence. “But Merle [Haggard] is right up there with Hank in my book.” However, you slice it, though, Banister is pure west. He grew up in Portales, New Mexico, one-town-over from Clovis, where the famous Norman Petty Recording Studio was located. In the 1950s and 1960s, the studio gave birth to records by everyone from Buddy Holly to Roy Orbison. As luck would have it – or, more likely, as geography would dictate – a very young Will Banister would end up recording his first album with Johnny Mulhair, who had once worked at the famous studio and after venturing off on his own, ended up producing some notable records himself. “He produced LeAnn Rimes’ Blue,” Banister said. His mom took him over to Mulhair’s studio when he was about 12 years old, so he could cut a few records. Every so often, they’d go back to the studio for THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD

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another song. “When I was around 19 or 20 or so, he encouraged me to start writing some songs,” Banister reminisced. By age 21, he’d recorded at Mulhair’s place his first fullfledged album, Turned Her on to Country, which featured 11 alloriginal tracks. “That first album led to some appearances overseas,” he said, adding that “the first time I went, I’d never been on an airplane.” He was booked in England. Scotland. France. Spain. He even had the pleasure of gigging at London’s Wembley Arena. Since then, he’s released a few more CDs of mostly original material, books well over 150 dates a year – mostly with his band, The Modern Day Ramblers – and has had a few cool things happen to him, one of which was playing at an event featuring former U.S. President George W. Bush. “I played after his speech,” Banister said. “That’s pretty high up on my list of experiences.” As far as the future goes, Banister will keep on doing what he does best. He’s got a steady schedule booked, and said he’s working right now on a new album of 10 songs he co-wrote, plus one cover. “I don’t have a [release] target date yet, but it’s getting near completion. I’m real proud of it.” While not making music, Banister enjoys a family life with his wife of eight years, Tessa, and their four young children, ages 7, 5, 2 and 3 months. It’s a rich life and a full plate having so many young ‘uns, but Banister said his traveling works out in the flow of things. 44

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“It is tough, especially for some reason those overseas gigs, it gets to be a bummer sometimes,” he said, but stressed that his kids welcome him home with open arms and they all enjoy their together time when he’s home. “My wife’s real supportive of me,” he said. “I couldn’t do it without her.” For someone who grew up singing around the house with his family, Banister hopes to pass that on to his kids. It’s still too early to tell if any of them will follow in their father’s footsteps and take up guitar, but Banister said he imagines it would be “pretty neat to all sit around and play or sing.” One thing’s for sure, though...he’s going to do all he can to pass on something that’s near and dear to his heart.

“I’m trying to get them hooked on country like I was,” Banister said. “Let’s see if it sticks.”

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4 BIG DAYS • May 23-26, 2019 • SALMON LAKE PARK 247 Salmon Lake Road, Grapeland, TX 75844

David Davis and the Warrior River Boys

Robertson County Line

The Baker Family

East Mountain

Christian Davis

The Farm Hands

The Marksmen

Williamson Branch

The Family Sowell

Tin Top Road

Catahoula Drive

The Floyd Salmon Memorial Day Weekend Gospel Music Festival EARLY BIRD REDUCED RATE 4-DAY PASS $60 - by May 15, 2019

Call 936-697-5949 for Credit Card purchases For info contact: coleebiller@aol.com 936-697-5949 www.TXBluegrassMusic.com By Mail: Include order form with your check and mail to: Texas Bluegrass Music, LLC P.O. Box 1303 Magnolia, TX 77353

WEDNESDAY: Potluck at Pavillion at 6:00 pm CAMPING: Over 400 Full Hook ups $22/night for 30 & 50 amp Golf cart rental please call 936-687-2594 to reserve in advance.

ADMISSION:

Thursday: $15 Friday: $20 Saturday: $25 Sunday: $15 Weekend in advance: $60 by May 15 Weekend at the gate on Thursday: $65

Pay Pal | All Credit Cards | Checks or Cash Name: Address: Phone: Credit Card: I am paying for

tickets @ $60 each (advance price)

Children 15 & under Free with parents

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The Musical Device Company Inspiring Change by Shelby C. Berry Occasionally, in this digital world, a revolutionary company comes along, like Soundbrenner, a growing music technology startup from Berlin, Germany founded in 2014 by two musicians. Co-Founder and CEO Florian Simmendinger leads a team of nineteen in Berlin and Hong Kong. All are determined to bring milestone technology to musicians around the world. Recently hitting the huge milestone of more than 500,000 musicians using their products every month, Soundbrenner’s mission is to bring beautiful design and advanced technology by combining wearable tools and amazing software. As a classically trained musician recently named in Forbes 30 Under 30, Florian was frustrated by the lack of technology in music. After graduating with a degree in business administration, he met his co-founder Julian Vogels, a musician with a degree in musical technology and a career as a Full Stack Developer. The two of them set out to make a difference. They ultimately created a device that allows artists to feel the rhythm instead of listening to it with a traditional click of a metronome. “Feeling the beat is more natural and far less annoying,” said Florian. Florian and Julian raised their first round of funding, set up an office in Hong Kong, and managed an online crowdfunding campaign that raised more than $250,000 USD before the products were created. THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD

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“Julian and I are both musicians, and we have experienced, with our own gear, how little innovation was taking place in our world. A lot of the flagship devices we use were designed in the 1990s,” said Florian. “So, we saw an opportunity to solve a huge pain point by bringing great software and design into the world of musical equipment. Ultimately, we want to help more people succeed in their goal to become a great musician.” This desire to create great products that genuinely make a difference in a musician’s practice and performances led to the creation of Soundbrenner’s first device – the Pulse. The Pulse was designed to eliminate distractions from the metronome click and perfect the inner tempo to allow artists to really focus on their music by freeing their ears to listen. The artist feels the rhythm through vibrations instead of chasing the sound of a click. “A number of aspiring musicians get frustrated over the constant click of the metronome whilst starting out and lose the motivation to continue practicing.” The Soundbrenner Pulse is the first metronome artists enjoy using because it’s wearable, smart, and powered by vibrations, allowing artists to master the most difficult songs. Synced with a companion app on your phone, you can change the tempo in seconds without taking the smartphone out of your pocket. Simply tap the Pulse, and its magic. “We think that in combination with our app, the Pulse is the best rhythm practice tool you can buy today. One feature that many band players love is the ability to synchronize multiple musicians at once!” said Florian. Only months ago, Soundbrenner launched their second musical technology device – the Soundbrenner Core, the first smart multi-purpose music tool combining the functionality of professional music tools with wearable technology.

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Also launched as a crowdfunding campaign, the Core raised over

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$500,000 from 2,500 musicians, becoming the most successful tech crowdfunding campaign in Kickstarter history. The Core results from countless hours of research and design, bringing you a vibrating metronome, magnetic twist tuner, decibel meter, and a watch, all in one device. Soundbrenner describes it as the tool that helps musicians put the focus back on what really matters – the music. Through all of the different functionalities of the Core, it Florian Simmendinger becomes an essential device for musicians of all skill levels and experience, accompanying them through every practice and performance. In addition to the smartwatch functionality, the Core does some incredible things for musicians. While the vibrating metronome functions similar to the Soundbrenner Pulse, the magnetic twist tuner comes off of its base and attaches to any guitar, bass, ukulele, or violin to detect micro-vibrations from the strings and provide accurate tuning, even in noisy environments. The decibel meter portion of the device monitors surrounding volume levels and alerts the user when they are exposed to levels that could be harmful. After less than five years in business, countless artists have trusted Soundbrenner to bring them products that help master their craft, the vision at Soundbrenner. Top professional musicians use Soundbrenner’s wearable devices. Among them are Jordan Rudess of Dream Theater, John “JR” Robinson (the most recorded studio drummer in history), Robert Bubby Lewis (the bassist for Snoop Dogg), Ne-Yo, and Lupe Fiasco. “The Pulse by Soundbrenner is totally amazing for me,” said Chastity Ashley, percussionist for Duran Duran. “I mean, it’s like a complete game changer.” At Soundbrenner, they believe that musicians are not born, they are crafted from practice. As artists, everyone strives for passion and confidence each time they play, motivated to play better and to master the craft. Practicing with Soundbrenner’s products help to better play each beat and note until the music comes naturally. THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD

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“We strongly believe the role of musical equipment is not to replace practice and give musicians a magic pill, because that would be a false promise,” said Florian. “Practice will always be an integral part of becoming a great musician. And we think this tough journey is worthy of celebration.”

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Guitarist Rusty Thornhill played guitar, and gosh darnit, he hurt. It wasn’t the kind of hurt lyricists write about in tragic love songs; it was the kind that came from playing with finger picks that tore up his fingernail cuticles or caused him to hold his hand funny to keep the pick from flying off. Although he wasn’t an engineer or designer, Thornhill wanted to take things into his own hands – literally – and design a pick that met his needs while still creating great sounds. In 2003, he started his own company, Perfect Touch Picks, and brought his own ideas to the marketplace. Thornhill passed away in 2015, and by that time, his picks were available in over 40 stores. Since then, his daughter Jenny Thornhill has taken the reigns at Perfect Touch, carrying her father’s legacy forward and even improving upon it. Today, she runs the company with her son, Ezra. She said her son is on the Autism spectrum, and her dad left the business to them both because “he wanted to make sure that he [Ezra] had meaningful work.” “Dad liked to play Chet Atkins-style guitar,” Thornhill said. “He was a tinker and an innovator...he decided to fix all the things that are wrong with finger picks.” Thornhill said his creations offered a pick that was “longer, so they stay off the cuticle entirely,” and that is “abraded on the inside, so they won’t go flying off.” The picks are made of either nickel silver or brass. “The nickel silver has an amazingly bright sound,” Thornhill said, adding that the brass picks are more “mellow and organic sounding.” 52

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The fingerpicks, fully handmade by Thornhill and Ezra, are available both online at Perfecttouchpicks.com, as well as in select shops. You might find a Perfect Touch Pick for sale at a store in Washington State; at Eagle Music, in the U.K.; sold by a banjo instructor working in New York; or at a folk music store in Chattanooga. Thornhill obviously respects her dad’s original designs, but she believed there was room for improvement. She was open to making a good thing even better. “I have made two changes so far, by request of my customers,” she said. “When I inherited the business, I had to kind of reverse-engineer everything.” One change was increasing the thickness of the pick from a .020 thickness to .025. She said the original thickness was fine, but she wanted better. “The .020 is fairly decent, it will hold up to anything unless you have a heavy hand,” she said, adding the caveat that dobro players sometimes have difficulty with this thickness. After the redesign, she sent picks to testers, “to make sure they still had the same sound.” and they did. Although the old design is still available as a special option, the focus is now on the thicker style. Another design change happened last year, when Thornhill incorporated a different blade style. “I developed a little bit of a wider blade,” she said. “The extra width gives it a whole lot more heft...a lot more bottom to the tone.” The story of the Thornhill family’s business shows how the best ideas are often just tweaks. The best ideas are often found in discovering ways to make something that’s working well work even better. And in the case of her dad’s original goal – to do away with the hurtin’ – it’s sometimes about common sense.

“Who ever thought that attaching the pick right across your fingernails was a good idea?” Thornhill laughed.

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Fiddler’s  Porch 

David Church by Emerald Butler He’s been called the most requested artist on RFD-TV, and he gained that title with his tribute to classic country music and the legendary Hank Williams. David Church performs a collection of material from Hank songs to his own originals: on TV and in person. He’s recorded two albums, and he shares the music from both as he tours and performs across the country with his wife, Teri Lisa. David grew up on Classic Country and Bluegrass music. In the ‘90s he toured with a Bluegrass group called Open

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Highway. “Bluegrass is very important in my life,” David shared. “I love the music and have the utmost respect for the entertainers and pioneers of the music.” However, as time went by, David found that his country roots bled through. “My sound, even in bluegrass, was leaning more into what I call Country Grass sound… as more people heard it, they really wanted more of the country thing,” said David. David Church put together his first Hank Williams tribute show in 2002. “I don’t call it impersonations,” he stated. “I know I’m not Hank and never will be. We just try to recapture his music and his vocal style.” Though in the beginning, David said that he was hesitant to do so. "I never set out to do that. I knew a lot of other tribute artists that had a hard time getting their own music out there after they started doing it. Every time we would do a show out somewhere people would request one of Hanks songs, and it created a buzz that people really wanted to hear.” Shortly after his first tribute show, CMT found out about this buzz. In 2003, there was a commemoration for Hank Williams’ passing in Montgomery, Alabama, and David was invited to do a show for the event. David got to meet a lot of Hank’s family and friends that were still living. He also got to meet steel guitar legend and member THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD

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of Hank’s band The Drifting Cowboys, Don Helms, who became a good friend of David's. In March 2003, they went into the studio and recorded the tribute album "A Legend Froze in Time". The other boost in David’s career came with the success

he had on RFD-TV. It all began with a show that was recorded in a little theater called the Midwest Country music theater in Sandstone, Minnesota. The theater was beginning a new relationship with RFD-TV, a station that David says was primarily focusing on farming, cows, and other agricultural content. “When the Midwest Country show got on there it just went wild,” David informed. “At one time, just a few years ago, the music was about 57% of RFD’s viewership.” David Church still records shows for RFDTV, but he also shares his music around the country with live performances. 56

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“I’m proud of being able to be a little part of keeping the tradition alive.” He

still carries on this tradition and has done so lately while on tour. Over the past couple of months, David has been on tour in the south. He also shared that he is considering a new recording project soon that might include some Bluegrass Hank Williams Jr. sang about family tradition. Though that song may be more about the addictions and struggles of Hank and his father, David Church finds the best in the music and the entertainers. So no matter what exact genre or tribute, you won’t go wrong with going to Church.

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 Fiddler’s Porch 

by Emerald Butler

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Jason and Catherine Reid had been in the furniture business for several years before they decided to start their own company, the Guitar Stand Co. One day Jason decided to make a guitar stand for his guitar; he wanted something a little sturdier than your typical metal or plastic stand. “He was like ‘I have a guitar… and it’s on this cheap black metal stand, and it’s ugly,’" his wife Catherine recalls. “So, he was like I’m going to make a guitar stand, so he did. Twenty years later we were at a crossroads in our life, job-wise, and we were like we have an opportunity right now to do this, so we did." They sat down and designed the line themselves then had it produced. They designed the step pad, patented the chain link, built the website, and launched their new business. The Guitar Stand Co. has several different models of guitar stands. These models range from wood and metal to chain link. “People pay how much for guitars? And they put them on what?” Catherine asked. "Why shouldn't, when you remove your guitar or have your guitar sitting in it, and it's in your space, why shouldn't it look nice? When you pull your guitar out, it's not going to be an eyesore." These guitar stands are definitely unique, and they provide their own unique statement with or without a guitar, or even a banjo. “It’s quality. All of our things are handmade; hand welded. Jason has checked every single skew in person before they are shipped.”

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The company just launched in April of last year. Currently, Guitar Stand Co. guitar stands are available for purchase on their website. However, if you’re looking to check one out in person, you can find their Legacy stand at the famous Gruhn’s Guitar’s store in Nashville, Tennessee. Catherine stated that although she’s happy to have their stands at Gruhn’s, she hasn’t begun to really knock on doors to get their stands in stores yet. “We have stock, like a warehouse. This isn’t like mom and pop in your garage building onesies (or) twosies. I could get an order for 5 and send it out today.” Still, Guitar Stand Co. has made their

presence known at various festivals and events like IBMA. “We’d love for it to be a huge booming business,” Catherine shared. She said that she would love to see their stands in museums, on more festival stages, and in the hands of well-known musical celebrities. Though they don’t typically do custom designs, Catherine admitted that she might make an exception for Garth Brooks, Bruno Mars, or Willie Nelson. 60

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"I'd like our name, Guitar Stand Co., to be synonymous with Fender, Gibson, and Martin. I'd like for our reputation to be like theirs. That's why we named our name so basic. Guitar Stand Co., we want to be the original." They certainly are being original, curving the “Edge”, and building their “Legacy” with their “Chainlinx”, “Signature”, “Sleek”, and many other unique guitar stands.

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 Fiddler’s Porch 

Scott Slay “The Rail” by Emerald Butler No one is railing against Scott Slay’s new album, “The Rail.” In fact, let me go on record to say that I think that it is the best new bluegrass album to come down the line so far this year. Luckily, I had the pleasure of speaking with the Colorado residing musician and digging into the album and how it came to be. Originally from Walnut Hill, Florida, Scott Slay has resided from the edge of the panhandle to the U.S. Capital, and now he resides in the Denver, Colorado area. When he’s not playing at festivals, breweries, or theaters, he teaches music in public school. Outside of the classroom, his band Scott Slay and The Rail has combined

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the sounds of bluegrass, folk, and Americana music to blend into what he calls “trad” or traditional music along with his original material. His new album, “The Rail” is an excellent example of just that. It features several guest artists including Sierra Hull, Scott Vestal, Mike Munford, and more. “When I moved to D.C. I found out that Mark Schatz was pretty much my neighbor, so I started doing stuff with him, and then I got an idea to record my own record. I started off and recorded almost all of it at a place in Falls Church, Virginia called Cue Studios and recorded most everything with Sammy (Shelor) on banjo, Mark Schatz playing bass, me playing guitar, and then I dubbed in some mandolin stuff… then I just started thinking that I already had Sammy and Mark on it and I just wondered ‘how big could it get?’” Scott shared that he continued to reach out to people that he knew and didn’t know. His curiosity ended up recruiting several of his favorite musicians and singers for his project. 64

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“It was amazing to have Josh Shilling singing on a lot of my stuff. He’s one of my favorite vocalists that’s out there right now. Such a dream to have the band leader from Lonesome River Band playing banjo, then you’ve got the lead singer Brandon Rickman singing the harmony parts with me. It’s awesome because the Lonesome River Band is my favorite Bluegrass band.” Scott also shared one of his most memorable days in the studio while recalling Mark Schatz and Mike Munford arguing about whose lead sheet to use for the song Runaway Move. “It was just funny to be sitting in a studio and two amazing bluegrass greats are kind of casually arguing over a lead sheet to one of my songs,” Scott told me while chuckling. During our interview, Scott shared a little knowledge behind The Truth Came Out; a song that he co-wrote with his wife. “The speaker is saying that maybe they weren’t perfect for the person. They gave them all their love, but it wasn't enough. But there were so many things that were being overlooked. In the end, the person who causes the relationship to end kind of regrets it in a way looking back. I feel like a lot of people can identify with that on both ends. You go through a relationship you think is great and, because of the lack of communication, possibly, you find out that the person is completely unhappy, and it all falls apart. But then many times you get to the other side and that person always realizes that the grass is always greener on the other side, and they kind of miss what they had and want it back. So, it’s kind of like a mixture of those feelings and sentiments.”

Perhaps, as his song portrays, the whole album is railing for its own truth. Through sound, song, and soul.

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Summer Bluegrass Events Father's Day Grass Valley, CA June 13-16

Mt. St. Helens Washington August 9-11

RockyGrass Lyons, CO July 26-28 SW Pickers Red River, NM August 22-25

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Sally Mountain Queen City, MO July 3-7

FESTIVAL GUIDE

Remington Ryde Centre Hill, PA July 3-7

Bean Blossom Indiana June 8-16

Ralph Stanley McClure, VA May 23-25

Raleigh, NC Sep 24-28

Dollywood Pigeon Forge, TN May 24 - Jun 2

Salmon Lake Grapeland, TX May 23-26 THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD

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May Bluegrass Festivals

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Dates

Event

Location

May 2-4

Little Roy & Lizzy Music Festival

Lincolnton, Georgia

May 2-4

Mr. B's Bluegrass Festival

Woodford, Virginia

May 9-11

Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver Bluegrass Fest.

Denton, North Carolina

May 9-11

Great Southern Music Festival

Ochlocknee, Georgia

May 9-12

Parkfield Bluegrass Festival

Parkfield, California

May 15-18

Outer Banks Bluegrass Island Festival

Manteo, North Carolina

May 16-18

Amelia Bluegrass Festival

Amelia, Virginia

May 16-19

Gettysburg Bluegrass Festival - May

Gettysburg, Penn.

May 17-18

Bloomin' Barbeque & Bluegrass Festival

Sevierville, Tennessee

May 23-26

DelFest

Cumberland, Maryland

May 23-25

Ralph Stanley Bluegrass Festival

McClure, Virginia

May 23-25

Chantilly Farm Bluegrass Festival

Floyd, Virginia

May 29 - Jun 1

John Hartford Memorial Festival

Bean Blossom, Indiana

May 30 - Jun 2

Strawberry Park Bluegrass Festival

Preston, Connecticut

May 31 - Jun 2

Ogden Music Festival

Ogden, Utah

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June Festivals & Events Dates

Event

Location

Jun 5-8

Bluegrass in the Hills

Hopedale, Ohio

Jun 6-8

Cherokee Bluegrass Festival

Cherokee, N. Carolina

Jun 6-8

HOBA Spring Bluegrass Festival

Big Sky , Montana

Jun 7-8

HoustonFest

Galax, Virginia

Jun 7-9

Circa Blue Fest

Martinsburg, W. VA

Jun 7-9

Sacajawea Bluegrass Festival

Pasco, Washington

Jun 8-16

Bean Blossom Bluegrass Festival

Bean Blossom, IN

Jun 13-15

Blue Ox Music Festival

Eau Claire, Wisconsin

Jun 13-16

Father's Day Bluegrass Festival

Grass Valley, CA

Jun 14-16

Wenatchee River Bluegrass Festival

Cashmere, WA

Jun 15-22

Rudy Fest Bluegrass Festival

Morehead, Kentucky

Jun 20-22

Charlotte Bluegrass Festival

Charlotte, Michigan

Jun 20-23

Telluride Bluegrass Festival

Telluride, Colorado

Jun 26-29

ROMP Festival

Owensboro, Kentucky

For the complete list with links to full info, check out our Events tab at TheBluegrassStandard.com! THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD

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