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June 2011

E E R F

ati ng 6 y ear s!

Music Culture of the Shenandoah Valley, Central Virginia, Blue Ridge, Piedmont, South West,Virginia Highlands, and beyond

Steeldrivers

IN THIS ISSUE: v Grass Fest Turns 50 v Apples To Records v Legend #1 Americana v SPBGMA Recap

PLUS: v CD

Profiles and Reviews . . . and More!

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Winter 2011

Table Of Contents

5 Celebrate The First 8

Wow! It’s hard to believe we’re back to

spring again! Are you as excited as I am? Winter; you can just go on and get! Looking over the festival lineups this spring and summer, it’s hard to be patient. There are so many of my favorites, and newcomers making the rounds this year. You’ll want to mark your calendar’s for a very special celebration of the 50 year anniversary of the very first bluegrass festival ever held. On July 4th weekend Luray will commemorate that event. And it turns out Virginia’s governor has declared July as Virginia Bluegrass month. As my friend Kaye would say; Whoo Hoo! Checkout the Spins section this time from some great new releases you’ll want to listen to. So much music - so little time ... I’ll see you out there!

Greg Tutwiler, publisher

10 I’ll Take You There 11 Song Book 12 14 Reckless 16 Apples & Music 20 Strummin’ Tunes 22 FEST GUIDE 25 26 Americana Rhythm is published six times a year. All correspondence CONTRIBUTORS should be sent to PO Box 45, Bridgewater VA, 22812 or email to Ed Tutwiler greg@americanarhythm.com. Copies of Americana Rhythm are made Kaye D. Hill available free at various pick up locations within the publication’s reWayne Erbsen gion. Subscriptions are available inside the United States for $15 US Ryan Babarsky currency made payable by check or money order sent to Subscriptions UNC Ashville Students at PO Box 45, Bridgewater, VA, 22812. Foreign subscription requests Andrew McKnight should be sent to greg@americanarhythm.com. Copyright 2008. All Doak Turner rights reserved. Reproduction of copy, artwork or photographs is strictly Becky Allen prohibited without permission of the publisher. All advertising material Scott Perry subject to approval. DISTRIBUTION PUBLISHER/EDITOR IN CHIEF Mark Barreres Greg E. Tutwiler David LaFleur EDITORIAL ASSISTANTS Nate Sparks Ed Tutwiler Ed Tutwiler Jacenta Tutwiler Doug Williams Lisa Tutwiler Stuart Thomas MARKETING & PROMOTION Floyd Country Store Mark Barreres (GrassRootsNetworking.com) Letters, Comments, Suggestions ADVERTISING greg@americanarhythm.com Greg Tutwiler www.americanarhythm.com Business office 540-433-0360

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Spring 2011

Spring 2011

By Edward Tutwiler

Bluegrass Party Begins It could be fraught with error

when one takes a position that this or that event or happening is the first ever of such type event. So, when Mr. Don Depoy, Executive Director of the Shenandoah Valley Mountain Music Makers Association and spearhead of the Shenandoah Valley Mountain Music Makers Trail, recently announced that the first ever bluegrass festival was held in Luray, Virginia in 1961, we wanted to hear more. It turns out that he is correct but don’t just take Don’s word for it— also note this fact: On February 1, 2011 Virginia Governor, the Honorable Robert F. McDonnell, issued two Certificates of Recognition. One declares July 2011 as Virginia Bluegrass Festival Month (and that’s pretty cool in its self) but the other honors Virginia resident Bill Clifton for his contribution as musician and as the promoter and organizer of the world’s first bluegrass festival held at Oak Leaf Park in Luray, VA on July 4, 1961.

Why It’s Called Blue Grass

According to information in a recent press release from the Shenandoah Valley Mountain Music Makers Association, the term blue-grass was first used in printed material to describe a style of music sometime around 1957 or 1958. The term showed up on a Smithsonian Folkways record titled, Mountain Music, Blue Grass Style (SF 40038). It was assembled by the late Mike Seeger. As described in Billboard Magazine, prior to 1958, the early string music of Bill Monroe, Flatt &

first bluegrass festival ever held. The publication titled, Country Music USA, written in 1968 by Bill Malone (a historian specializing in country music and other forms of traditional American music) was the first definitive academic history of country music. This book credits the Oak Leaf Festival as the first event of its type. Malone is Professor Emeritus at Tulane Uni-

Scruggs, the Stanley Brothers, and others was originally listed under several different categories. In the mid1940’s, writers were calling this music genre folk music. By 1949, the term had changed to Country & Western, which later morphed to simply C&W. The Western part of the terminology was dropped by late 1962 leaving only the term Country music. By this same time period, writers interchanged the term blue-grass with hillbilly and mountain music in magazines and reference books. It is important to Bill Monroe & the Bluegrass Boys, 11/16/63, note that the Mechanics Hall Worcester, MA academic reference guide, Music Index, which versity, currently resides in Madireports all published academic son, WI and continues to write as papers about music, did not add a country music historian. As an a separate category named blueaside, it is interesting to note that grass until 1987. Malone also writes that the first multi-day bluegrass festival was When country/western music held in Fincastle, VA on Septemstarted reaching heights in popuber 3-5, 1965 (editor’s note: the larity, the various styles of string story about this festival was pubmusic (and even the emerging lished in Americana Rhythm MuNashville sound) shared the same sic Magazine, Issue16, May 2008). stage. In the 1950’s, music parks were springing up in various arIt Started With Bill eas, and Oak Leaf Park in Luray The organizer and promoter of the was one of those. Oak Leaf Park, Oak Leaf Festival was Virginia just like all of these music parks resident, Bill Clifton. during this era, showcased folks According to a parasuch as Patsy Cline, Ralph Stanley, graph in Wikipedia and George Jones all on the same (the on-line encyclopebill. This was about to change with dia) Bill Clifton was the urban folk revival of the late born William Marburg 1950’s. This re-discovered string in Riderwood MD. He music now being called bluegrass was bitten by the counwas catching on. Historical evitry music bug at an dence indicates there was at least early age, and in 1949 while still one all bluegrass day prior to the in college formed the Dixie Moun1961 event staged as the Oak Leaf tain Boys musical group. Because Festival; however, its promoters of family opposition to his musidid not organize it as a festival cal activates, he assumed the stage event. name of Bill Clifton. By 1952, he and his group made their recordBooks that document the history ing debut and signed with Blue of country music all credit the Oak Ridge Records. They soon began Leaf Park event in Luray, VA as the playing traditional bluegrass and

before long started appearing on the Wheeling Jamboree radio barn dance show on AM station WWVA. After a stint in the Marine Corp during the mid 1950’s, Clifton returned to the music scene and did several self promoting recording sessions. It was on July 4th in 1961 that he promoted a one-day festival in Luray, VA that featured only bluegrass performers. This festival featured the biggest acts of the day in bluegrass music including Bill Monroe, the Stanley Brothers, Jim & Jesse, Mac Wiseman and the Country Gentlemen. Clifton moved to England in 1963 and toured all over Europe playing in local folk clubs. In 1967, he did a three-year tour in the Peace Corps. He still played music and recorded both in Europe and in the United States. In the 1970s, he signed with County Records and formed the First Generation band. Clifton and his family returned to the United States in 1978. In 1980, he began recording for his own label, Elf Records. He resides today in Mendota, VA. In 2008, Bill Clifton was inducted into the International Bluegrass Music Association's Hall of Fame; and in 2011, he was recognized by the Governor of Virginia for his contribution to the state’s musical heritage. After this first bluegrass festival, the number of festivals of this type quickly grew. They have become so popular that today thousands of bluegrass events are held around the World annually. It is quite significant that we can trace

it all back to that day in 1961 when Bill Clifton promoted a music festival in what is now an overgrown pasture field on Oak Leaf Road in Luray, VA.

History Returns Home

This summer, the Shenandoah Music Trail is bringing the first 50continued on page 6

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years of the bluegrass festival fullcircle. On July 2 through 4, 2011, the first annual Oak Leaf Bluegrass & Mountain Music Festival will take place. It will celebrate the original bluegrass festival's 50th anniversary. The Oak Leaf Bluegrass & Mountain Music Festival will be hosted by Luray Caverns at the Luray Valley Museum. This three day celebration will include some of today's great bluegrass talent along with some of the musicians from that original 1961 festival. At the same time that Governor McDonald issued those certificates, he officially recognized the Oak Leaf Bluegrass & Mountain Music Festival as the official festival celebrating the 50th anniversary of this important moment in the Virginia Commonwealth’s rich heritage of bluegrass music. The Oak Leaf Bluegrass & Mountain Music Festival will be the largest single music festival event of its kind to be held in the Shenandoah Valley. For more information and tickets visit www.shenandoahmusictrail.com and follow the festival link or call 540-209-3540

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Bluegrass Trivia

Bluegrass Loses Veteran Promoter By Ralph Berrier, Jr. [This story originally appeared in the Roanoke Times]

Sterling Belcher

Yes, There Is A Blue Grass Blue Grass is an unincorporated community on VA 642 at its junction with VA 640 in Highland County, Virginia, United States. Blue Grass lies along the South Branch Potomac River. It was previously known as Crabbottom and Hulls Store before the Board on Geographic Names officially decided upon Blue Grass in 1950. (Source - Wikipedia)

. . . and Blue Grass Bluegrass is not really blue - it's green - but in the spring, bluegrass produces bluish-purple buds that, when seen in large fields, give a rich blue cast to the grass. Early pioneers found bluegrass growing on Kentucky's rich limestone soil and traders began asking for the seed of the 'blue grass from Kentucky.' The name stuck, and today Kentucky is known as the Bluegrass State. (A Blog post)

ran a bluegrass festival for 30 years before he got up the nerve to sing on the stage. As cancer whittled away his body, Belcher sang "The Little Log Cabin in the Lane" last May during Festival in the Pines, the three-day bluegrass event Belcher founded and operated at his tree-rimmed campground in Rocky Mount. After he finished the song, he told the crowd he hoped to see them next year, but that he didn't know what plans the Lord had for him. "You ain't going nowhere, Sterling!" some in the crowd hollered at him. "You're too ornery!" His health only worsened, however, and Belcher died recently at age 71 after battling prostate cancer and strokes for much of the past

four years. The family had already decided to cancel this year's festival because of Belcher's declining health. Festival in the Pines was famous for its low-key, down-home vibe. Located at Belcher's Tripple Creek Music Campground, the first festival was a homecoming for local bluegrass band the Lost and Found in 1981. Over the years, bluegrass luminaries such as Alison Krauss, Ralph Stanley, Jimmy Martin, Rhonda Vincent, the Bluegrass Cardinals and the Lewis Family played the festival. Many regional favorites such as James King, Junior Sisk and Belcher's son-in-law, Larry Stephenson, also performed. According to his daughter, Dreama Stephenson, who helped


him plan and promote some of the later events, the festivals were rarely profitable, but were rich in music and memories. "It didn't matter how much money he lost," Stephenson said, "it was a dream of his to do it. He'd sacrifice year after year. It about drove my mother crazy." Belcher worked for DuPont in Martinsville for 31 years, a job that allowed him to finance his festivals. He also farmed and raised beef cattle. The events were mostly family friendly affairs, although Stephenson recalled one show when an inebriated fan caused a commotion near the stage while his unbuttoned shirt nearly fell off his torso in front of the crowd. Stephenson said she still can see her father talking quietly to the man, all while buttoning his shirt for him. The drunk left without causing a further stir. In addition to his daughter, survivors include his wife, Pat Dillon

Belcher, and his son, Stacy Belcher.

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Belcher won several awards for his contributions to bluegrass, which included recognitions from the Virginia Folk Music Association and East Coast Bluegrass Association. He was even presented a key to the town of Rocky Mount in 2005 in recognition of his festival's 25th anniversary. The Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music of America nominated him as promoter of the year three times, including this year, but he never won. This year's winners will be announced this weekend in Nashville, Tenn. "I had hoped to pick him up and take him down there," Stephenson said. "He really wanted to win it. That'll probably be the case, now that he's gone "

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[Editors note; Sadly, Sterling did not win the award this past February. See full results below.]

Society Honors 2010 Contributors SPBGMA handed out these awards to instrumentalists, vocalists, bands, writers, festivals and radio hosts for the year 2010. Many of the awards were segmented into traditional and contemporary categories. SPBGMA (Society For the Preservation Of Bluegrass Music) is one of two awards that honor those in the Bluegrass industry. (The other is the IBMA) · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · ·

Contemporary female vocalist: Rhonda Vincent Traditional female vocalist: Alecia Nugent Traditional male vocalist: James King Contemporary male vocalist: Jamie Daley Entertaining group: Nothin’ Fancy Gospel group contemporary: Dailey & Vincent Gospel group traditional: Paul William & Victory Trio Instrumental group: The Bluegrass Brothers Vocal group: Dailey & Vincent Entertainer: Rhonda Vincent Group: Grascals Banjo player: Aaron McDaris Mandolin player: Alan Bibey Fiddle player: Hunter Berry Guitar player: Josh Williams Dobro player: Tim Graves Bass player: Darin Vincent Album: Blue Side Of The Blue Ridge, Junior Sisk & Rambler’s Choice Song: Amanda Lynn, Lou Reid & Carolina Songwriter: Tom T. & Dixie Hall Radio station: WDVX Radio host: Brenda Lawson Festival promoter: Bertie Sullivan

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Spring 2011

Rattlesnakes, Fangs, Fiddles & Folkore By Wayne Erbsen

P

eople have always had a strange fascination with rattlesnakes. As one of America’s most poisonous snakes, they are both feared and hated, and yet their rattles are prized for their mythical and magical properties. While doing research for this article, I ran across an amazing number of stories, some true, some pure myth, about rattlesnakes or “rattlers,” as they are sometimes called. One old timer personally told me the following story as the gospel truth, but I have since found versions of it that were collected both in the Southern Appalachians, and in Western Europe. It seemed that a Civil War soldier’s boots were jinxed. He died not in battle, but contracted a mysterious disease and quickly passed away. When his son got old enough, he proudly wore his father ’s old boots, and he too contracted a strange illness and died. In fact, anyone who ever wore those boots soon came down with a

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mysterious illness and soon passed away. Finally, a mortician closely inspected the boots and found out why they were jinxed. Protruding up through the sole of one of the boots was the fang of a large rattlesnake which had died many years before, but his venom was still lethal. As I perused the literature of rattlesnakes, I found that rattlesnakes are thought to be a sure cure for a variety of ailments. One source said that rattlesnake “salt” was a sure cure for “hysteria, excessive wrath, mental illness, symptoms of insanity, uncontrollable tremors, phobias, delusions of grandeur, feelings of worthlessness, fantasies of persecution, and diabolical possession.” In Kentucky, a belt made of rattlesnake skin was said to cure rheumatism. If you were unlucky enough to have tuberculosis, a common cure was to cut off the head of a rattlesnake and put it in a bottle of rum, and drink it two or three times a day.

Not only have rattlesnakes been considered good for what ails you, but in Texas, they’ve been used to foretell the weather. If a dead snake is tossed in the air and lands on the ground with its back up, rain is on the way. On the other hand, if it lands with its belly up, dry weather will continue. If you’re being chased by witches, be sure to sew pieces of rattlesnake skin to your clothing, which is guaranteed to drive them away.

be red. Rattles were also used to prevent fits and convulsions. One Native American legend tells of an Indian who trained a band of rattlers to join him in song. By using their rattles, the snakes were able to carry four harmony parts - soprano, alto, tenor and bass.

Snakes And Indians

If you receive rattles from someone, no harm will come to you while that person is near you.

Rattlesnakes were an important part of Native American mythology and were commonly used for healing. In addition to the idea that the rattles would facilitate childbirth, there was the common belief that rattles would pacify teething children. They were placed in a bag and hung around the neck, or worn as a necklace. Sometimes a child was allowed to chew on them. One story claimed that for this to work, there must be at least three rattles, and the cord around the child’s neck must

Strong beliefs about the magical powers of rattlesnakes were widespread in 19th and early 20th century America.

If you kill a rattler, keep the rattles for a good luck charm. If you kill a rattler and rub the rattles on your eyes, you will always see a rattler before he sees you. Satan will come to your aid if you get a rattle off a graveyard rattlesnake and sew it with a piece of silver in a red flannel bag that you wear over your heart.


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If you display the rattle of a dead snake, it will keep other rattlers away and act as a charm against a rattlesnake bite. Stories and songs of snakes and children have always made hearts to throb and the eyes to moisten. A prime example of this is Bill Monroe’s composition “The Little Girl and The Dreadful Snake, or the fiddle tune “Rattlesnake Bit the Baby.”

A Girl And A Snake

Here’s a particularly heartwrenching variation of an ancient story of a little girl and a snake. There was once a little girl who befriended a snake. Every day she carried her lunch out in the yard to eat. Finally, the curiosity of her parents was aroused, and they followed her and watched her sit down to enjoy her bowl of bread and milk. All of a sudden, a huge rattlesnake slithered out from the grass and coiled beside her, to be fed bread and milk from her spoon. The horrified parents killed the snake but the heartbroken child, pining for her dead playmate, became disconsolate and soon died. Rattlesnakes also made great fodder for tall tales. One such tale is of a miner who kept a large rattler as a pet. One night a burglar snuck into the miner’s cabin to steal his gold. Wanting to protect his master’s booty, the rattler bound the burglar to a bedpost with its coils and hung its tail out the window to rattle for the police. Then there was a hunter who saved the life of a large rattler, which then became his constant companion. When the hunter accidentally fell on a train track just as the locomotive was about to run over him, the snake pulled the hunter’s red bandana out of his pocket and waved down the train. One farmer built a fence consisting of five hundred posts that he drove into the ground with a sledgehammer. When it warmed up, the posts proved to be rattlers who crawled off, dragging two miles of barbed wire behind them. And then there was the family in Texas with nine children. Only one of the nine had never been bitten by a rattler and that one child developed an inferiority complex.

Fiddle Snakes

Even though rattlesnakes and fiddles make strange bedfellows, there exists a great deal of lore and superstition about their sometimes bumpy relationship. Many Appalachian fiddlers have long believed that it was good luck to put a rattlesnake rattle inside their fiddle; the bigger the better. Perhaps it had to do with the fact that the fiddle has long been known as the “devil’s instrument.” Many fiddlers would have agreed with an old timer from Missouri who said that the rattles “keep the devil out.” Even for the superstitiousminded, not even the presence of a rattlesnake rattle was strong enough medicine to keep old Satan at bay. One Florida fiddler’s wife stubbornly refused to allow the fiddle inside the house because it would be like inviting the Devil for supper. Instead, he had to hang his fiddle on a wall of the barn where mud-daubers, wasps and mice would build their nests inside his fiddle. But if the farmer kept a rattlesnake rattle inside his fiddle, the scent would usually scare away all but the most persistent pests. Besides driving off pests, vermin, and the Devil himself, fiddlers have had far less sinister reasons for keeping a rattlesnake rattle inside their instruments. Many have suggested it gave the fiddle a sweeter tone, or that it gave them good luck. Bill Monroe, the legendary mandolin player, kept a large rattle inside his precious Lloyd Loar mandolin. I’ve also heard of a Brazilian guitarist who strongly believed that a rattle inside his guitar not only made it sound better, but it improved his singing too.

Put It In The Fiddle

In the early ‘eighties I asked legendary fiddler Tommy Jarrell why he put a rattlesnake rattle in his fiddle. He explained that when he was growing up in North Carolina, nobody had a case for their fiddle. Instead, they carried their instruments around in an old flour sack. At home they usually hung their fiddle on the wall where spiders liked to build their web inside the fiddle, hoping to trap a tasty treat. It was said that a rattle inside the fiddle would scare away spiders because of the snake scent of the rattle. When the fidcontinued on page 18

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Spring 2011

Album Of The Year In 2005 while working as co-pub-

lisher/managing editor of Singer & Musician Magazine, I got a chance to interview Mavis Staples, who was about to release her first solo record. The following is an excerpt from that article.

For more than 50 years, Gospel greats The Staples Singers wooed and thrilled audiences all across the country. And for the Staples family, “Pops” and his three daughters, Yvonne, Cleo, and Mavis, it was never a job. Life on the road was just plain fun. They loved what they did

and they believed that they had something to say to their audiences. And when Pops Staples became ill in 1997, he encouraged his daughters to “keep on singin’.” And for a few more years, they did. But it was stand out singer Mavis Staples, the youngest of the three, that eventually found herself standing alone on stage where they all had once performed. “It’s different. It’s kind of spooky. I still get nervous before I go on stage. My main thing is listening for and hearing the little sounds that I would hear from my family. Pops might say, ‘go ahead Mavis, take your time.’ And he’d do a little moan or something behind the music. I still listen for those even though they’re not there with me anymore. Pops wouldn’t want me to stop.”

How It All Started

The Staples Singers began out of Pop’s frustration over failed practice sessions with his male quartet group. “Pops was the only one in that group that was serious. He came back home one night after practice and pulled a little guitar out of the closet that he’d bought at the pawn shop and called us all in the living room. He sat us

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By Greg Tutwiler

down on the floor in a circle and began giving us our parts. My Aunt Katie walked in and said ‘what are you doin’ Pops?’ ‘I’m going to sing with my children,’ he said. And we never quit.” It wasn’t long before they had a hit record and “little” Mavis Staples was taking her place on center stage. “We made our first record, Uncloudy Day, when I was fourteen. It sold on the R&B charts so we went out on the road to promote it. People would be surprised that we were children. We were singing like older people. My voice was so heavy Pops would give me some bass parts to sing. I would sing real low ‘Well, Well, Well Oh, Lord They Tell Me Now …” The disc jockeys would say that was ‘little fifteen year old Mavis’ singing that song.” “People would say ‘that’s not a little girl.’ They would actually bet that I wasn’t this little skinny girl on that record. When we’d get to these places to sing, we knew that the people had been betting it wasn’t me, so when we got ready to sing that song, my brother Pervis would step up like he was going to sing that part, and you could here them say, ‘see I told you that wasn’t no little girl singing that part.’ As they were doing that, I would slide up to the mike and sing that part, and the place would go wild. We had so much doing that.” Mavis released her debut solo CD, Have A Little Faith, and garnered quite a bit of attention. Late last year (2010) she released her new CD, You Are Not Alone, on the heals of her Grammy nominated 2009 live album, Hope. She has many accolades to her credit including being a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award winner, and a National Heritage Fellowship Award recipient. Rolling Stone listed her as one of the 100 Greatest Singers of All Time, and VH1 named her one of the 100 Greatest Women of Rock and Roll. On February 13, 2011, the Grammy’s held it’s 53rd installment, and honored Mavis Staples with the Best Americana Album of 2010 for You Are Not Alone. It’s amazing what happens when you Have A Little Faith, and a little Hope

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The Song Book In our November/December is-

sue, Wayne Ebsen in his Behind The Song column wrote about the great country and bluegrass tear jerker songs. This subject caused a cascade of thoughts to occur in the mind of one of our readers. Some of the song titles about which Wayne wrote caused a bell of recognition to ring in her mind. She, being a seasoned musician with a deep respect for music and songs, has a collection of song books in her possession. She dug some of them out, and sure enough, she found the book that Wayne mentioned in his article, and she shared the book with us. Unbelievable, is the first reaction that I had when I saw this book, and I knew I needed to share a few words with you readers about what this book contained. The title is Heart Songs (Melodies of Days Gone By). It was published by The Chapple Publishing Company Ltd. Boston, MS for the World Syndicate Company, NY. The copyright date for the song book is 1909. (I’m sure it is long out of print and possibly our reader’s copy might be a museum piece.)

Spring 2011

By Edward Tutwiler

Pre-Song

According to the book’s foreword, “Heart Songs is a collection of music complied directly by 20,000 people, who not only sent in their favorite songs but in accompanying letters told how these songs had been interwoven with the stories of their lives.” Over a four year period the editors collected contributions from all over the US, Canada, and Mexico as well as some foreign contributions. After they pared down these contributions into a final song list, they had a product whose contents numbered in excess of 500 songs. The subjects of the contributions reflected the feelings, the occupations, and the homes of the contributors. There are in this song book: love songs, fighting songs, sad songs, happy songs, patriotic songs, songs about nature, and songs about man and God, and some songs that should best be forgotten forever. Here is how the editors of Heart Song described them, “Songs that have entertained thousands from childhood to the

grave and have voiced the pleasure and pain, the loving and longing, the despair and delight, the sorrow and resignation and the consolation of the plain people—who found in these an utterance for emotions which they felt but could not express. . ..” Of

the 500 plus titles in this book, not many were familiar to me but surprisingly some were thus demonstrating the timelessness of certain songs.

Times Were Different

The publication date for this song book was less that 50 years after

the War Between the States and certainly this horror of the generation before influenced the type of songs that was near and dear to the contributors of that time; however, there are song titles here that reflect the hopes and expectations of a people looking forward to a new era as well. Long before MP3 players and CDs, radio and TV, and canned sit on your butt and be passively entertained attitudes, people entertained themselves. They gathered together and played and sang songs to and for themselves. That is what we at Americana Rhythm want you to remember. We want you to remember that live music, often homegrown and local, can still exist. There is a world library full of song books such as Heart Songs out there for our discovery. Search out some of these old song books at flee markets and antique stores. Scan the titles and pick out songs that speak to you. Grab some friends and an instrument or two and make the past come alive. You’ll be richer for the experience.

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Thanks, Kay for sharing your song book with us

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Spring 2011

East Coast Piedmont Blues Written by UNC Asheville students enrolled in the Liberal Studies Introductory Colloquia, “The Art of the Blues” (Fall 2005) and “Jazz and Blues in American Culture” (Fall 2003) Supervised by Project Advisor: Bryan Sinclair.

“Peg Leg” Howell By Mark Forster, UNC Asheville Student

Peg Leg Howell was born Joshua Barnes Howell on March 5, 1888 in Eatonton, Georgia. Howell was a self-taught guitarist who was said to have connected early country blues and the 12-bar styles. Over time, he learned to be skilled in finger picking and slide techniques. The nickname “Peg Leg” was acquired from an incident with a shotgun in 1916, where his brother-in-law allegedly shot his leg off. After this incident, he could not work on a farm anymore, so he packed his things and left for Atlanta, where he pursued a full-time music career. He started off playing on street corners for change. When this wasn’t enough, Howell started bootlegging liquor.

Interna ti

onal Fo lk

Allienc e

Confer ence

In 1925, he was sentenced to one year in prison because he was caught bootlegging. While serving his time, Peg Leg wrote the song “New Prison Blues.” Shortly after his release, he signed with the Columbia record label, and recorded “New Prison Blues.” For the next several months, Howell recorded every-

thing from ballads, such as “Skin Game Blues,” to dance numbers, such as “Beaver Slide Rag.” Howell even recorded some jazz, such as “New Jelly Roll Blues.” Although many of his earlier recordings were solo, Howell was later backed by “the Gang,” which included guitarist Henry Williams and fiddler Eddie Anthony.

Finally in 1929, Columbia decided to drop Howell from its record label. At this time, Peg Leg was forced to work the streets of Atlanta, while Williams was imprisoned. Anthony had died in 1934. Howell fell into a slump and disappeared from the blues scene. In 1952, diabetes had taken Howell’s other leg. In 1963, things started to change for the better. The Testament label took Peg Leg in and recorded his first new material in over 40 years. Peg Leg Howell died in Atlanta, Georgia in 1966

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“Influenced by ragtime, country string bands, traveling medicine shows, and popular song of the early 20th century, East Coast Piedmont Blues blended both black and white, rural and urban song elements in the diverse urban centers of the Southeast and mid-Atlantic region. In contrast, the Delta blues style of rural Mississippi is believed to have less of a white influence, as it was produced in a region with a higher concentration of African Americans. Although it drew from diverse elements of the region, East Coast Piedmont Blues is decidedly an African American art form. The Piedmont blues style may even reflect an earlier musical tradition than the blues that emerged from the Mississippi Delta.” http://toto.lib.unca.edu/sounds/piedmontblues/

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Spring 2011

Steel Drivin’ A New Sound

By Greg Tutwiler

The sound map of string music

is every changing. By some accounts, it’s one of the most popular genres’ of music today. Check out any college music scene, especially in the Southern region of the country, and you’ll find a large number of string based acts prevalent among the young listeners. While bluegrass music remains the foundation from which much of this newer music evolves, the newer breed of acoustic entertainers with their variations of grass roots music are making strong musical statements in today’s music scene across all age brackets. One such group leading the way, pioneering a new variation on the traditional bluegrass sound is the Steeldrivers from Nashville, TN. Their gritty, acoustic roots sound is flavored with bluegrass instrumentation and driven by a bluesy soul that’s captivating from the very first song. After wearing out copies of their two CDs, and catching a riveting live showcase set at this year’s Folk Alliance Conference in Memphis, I had to know more. Tammy Rogers (fiddle/ singer) spoke with me recently about the band and their beginnings.

Making The Call

Mike Henderson (mandolin/vocals) and Chris Stapleton (guitar/ lead vocals) had been writing songs together for four or five years. They had an idea that it would be fun to try out the songs with a group rather than let them sit around and go to waste. So Mike got on the phone; first to Tammy Rogers. Mike and Tammy had worked together in the mid90s on another project and he knew she had a bluegrass background. “I hadn’t really played any bluegrass in years besides playing on the occasional studio session,” Tammy said, “So I was kind of intrigued by the idea.” Next he called Richard Bailey (banjo) and his old college buddy Mike Fleming (bass/vocals). Everyone said the same thing – “yeah, that sounds fun – let’s give it a try.” “It was something that surprised us all,” Tammy recalled. “I had heard of Chris around town, and he was starting to get a lot of cuts as a songwriter, but I had not heard him sing. So, we got

14

together in this great room above Mike’s garage. When Chris started singing, my jaw hit the floor. I was shocked and amazed at this guy’s voice.” “We sat around and picked, and without even thinking about it I

started chiming in on some harmonies and again was so surprised that my voice would sound so full with his. It was all really kind of this cool, unusual happy accident. You know, you can’t really know whether people are go-

ing to blend until you get them into the room to see what happens. It was so much fun. And we decided to get together. I don’t think it was thought out too much more than that. We just had so much fun we kept doing it.”

Playing It Out

The gang would get together every week, or every other week and play. “Mike and Chris had this treasure trove of songs which was exciting, Tammy said. “It seemed like every time we got together

they’d pull out another two or three of them; each equally as good as the one before. Before we knew it, we had a whole set worth of original material. We had this realization that it was all good stuff and we didn’t have to keep pulling out the old stand-bys anymore. And that sort of became our deal. We decided to just play our own catalog of material and see how people responded.” Because everyone had been around the music scene in Nashville for so long, they really wanted to take their time to make sure the sound was what that wanted before playing out. “Mike and I had been around town enough, and Richard knew a tremendous amount of people, and Chris was obviously getting a lot of local attention, that we knew if we started playing in Nashville people would come out; just out of curiosity if no other reason. So we were all smart enough to know that when we did play out for real that we were ready,” she said. So the band scheduled a few of what they called “practice gigs” at a little VFW outside Nashville. The crowd wasn’t your standard Nashville crowd of course, but was a great way to sharpen their live performance before letting


Spring 2011

their friends in on the secret. The VFW folks were really fun and gracious,” Tammy remarked, “and are some of the folks that still come out and support us today.” The Steeldrivers started playing the famed Station Inn in Nashville, and word got out pretty quickly from there. Next up was a record deal with Rounder Records, and their first self titled CD in 2008 ended up getting a Grammy nomination. “So I was really nervous about making sure the follow up was not just a rehash the first record,” Tammy said. “I really wanted it to stand on its own merits, but I also wanted us to keep progressing musically.” In the fall of 2010 Reckless was re-

leased. “I feel really good about what we did with the second one too,” she said. “We ended up getting two Grammy nominations for that. So now I’m a nervous wreck about the next one,” she laughed, “and we haven’t even started on it yet.”

So Much Soul

There’s such a soulful energy within the group and their music. You can feel the depth and passion in the songwriting and their delivery. I asked Tammy to tell me about the feel of the band. “When you think about the individual members of the group, you know, Mike Henderson is a blues guy. He toured with the Bel Airs for years, and has his own blues act here in Nashville now. So that’s a very ingergral part of who he is. And Chris’s voice; he’s not your typical high lonesome bluegrass singer. He could sing anything from Southern Rock to R&B.”

“You just have to take the parts you have and put them together and let everyone be themselves. When you do that, you get what you get.” And what came out for The Steeldrivers is this gritty, roots based sound with bluegrass overtones, and tons of soul. “It’s like a mountain acoustic blues band,” Tammy remarked. “I hate to even tell people sometimes that I’m in a bluegrass band because what immediately pops into their head is not what we sound like at all.” “On one hand I think it’s been really great for us because we’ve been accepted by a lot of different audiences. But on the other hand, I think sometimes that makes it difficult to figure out which direction we’re going in with this thing. I don’t even like to think categories though. It’s just cool music. You know, people that are really into music get it. Accept for maybe some rare cases, I don’t think we’ve alienated the bluegrass audience. We just fit in so many genres at one time. For the first CD, we were nominated for an Americana a wa r d, a c o upl e IBMA awards, and then the Grammys put us in the country category. So it’s like, hey, whatever you want to call it is fine with us.”

Changes And New Music

“We don’t really feel pressure right now to get a new CD out, but we are working on some new material,” Tammy said. “With Chris leaving the band about a year ago, we needed some time to readjust. Gary Nichols from Muscle Shaols, Alabama stepped in to the lead roll and we were like, this is going to be okay. However we wanted to take our time getting the right blend together and the right material. But we’re excited about where things are headed and looking forward to making a record with Gary. Last year was sort of quiet for us, but we have a really busy summer, so we’re excited about the new chapter for the Steeldrivers and getting back out there with our fans ”

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Spring 2011

Recording In The Packing Shed

By Ryan Babarsky

On beautiful VA Route 29, almost

pretty extensive renovations that are in the works: “These are exciting times for the studio. We are currently in the process of a major renovation to our recording space, adding more recording

exactly equidistant between Charlottesville and Lynchburg, lies a little stretch of road that makes up the tiny town of Lovingston, VA. The first building on Front Street (the main drag through town) is a large, red building commonly referred to as “The Packing Shed.” This historic structure, built in the 1920’s, was originally an apple packing shed. Now, The Packing Shed is home to Rapunzel’s Coffee and Books, Village Woodworkers, The Rapunzel’s Further Ado Foundation, and Packing Shed Records. Packing Shed Records is an intimate studio located on the top floor of The Packing Shed building, which is run by Gabriel Taylor. He and his father, Robert Taylor, came up with the idea for the studio and put in all the work to make the idea a reality. Gabriel also runs sound for Rapunzel’s, which is the ever-growing and increasingly popular Americana venue downstairs. Part of what

16

They also offer both analog and digital recording, as well as a steady supply of coffee from downstairs. The rates for studio-time at Packing Shed Records range from $200-$400 per day, and vary depending on how complicated a project is. By charging by the day instead of the hour, Gabriel strives to “provide an environment for musicians where the music, not the clock, is the ruling factor.” Packing Shed Records welcomes projects of all types, not just Americana acts. They have recorded “everything from spoken word poetry to death metal shed fests. All are welcome.”

The Label

Packing Shed Records offers is live recordings of performances in the venue.

The Studio

Packing Shed Records opened its doors in 2007 after Gabriel and his father Robert put in many hours of labor. The studio itself is small, but Gabriel is excited about some

rooms, post-production services, and a theater. We hope to have everything in place by this summer, so stay tuned.” The studio has a few of its own vintage instruments, ranging from guitars and pianos to a very unusual standup-banjo-bass!

Eventually, Gabriel hopes to offer record label services as well as studio services for the bands Packing Shed Records works with. However, for now, the studio renovations are on the front burner, while the label services stay on the back. Some day soon, bands could hope to be signed to the Packing Shed Records label. This is another way that Packing Shed Records hope to grow in order to provide bands with career-boosting options. continued on page 18


Spring 2011

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Spring 2011 continued from page 16

Ready to Record?

Packing Shed Records is gaining momentum as a recording studio, and has bands using it quite often. To inquire about Packing Shed’s recording services, send an email to Gabriel Taylor at packingshedrecords@hotmail.com. Also of note, Rapunzel’s hosts a songwriting competition once a year, and first prize is $200 and a 8-hours of studio time at Packing Shed. So, if money is an obstacle, that might be a great way to get a head-start. Whether you are interested in doing a major studio production, a minor studio production, or getting a live show recorded, Packing Shed Records provides a pleasant space in an historic Virginia town to help meet those needs. A great way to decide whether or not to record there would be to go see a show at Rapunzel’s and introduce yourself to Gabriel, who will most likely be sitting behind the sound board. For more information about Rapunzel’s or Packing Shed Records, or for directions and contact inf or mation, visit www.rapunzelscoffee.com

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Song continued from page 9

dler would play his fiddle, the rattle would move around, and tear up the web. Some old fiddlers have claimed that when they played their fiddles the rattles “sang along” with the tune, giving it sweeter tone. A North Carolina fiddler claimed that his grandfather told him that the fiddle used to be a woman’s instrument and that adding a rattle to the instrument made it more masculine. One of the more practical reasons some fiddlers carry a rattle inside their instrument is to help keep the moisture out of their fiddles. One myth that said a swimming rattler always held its rattle high to keep it dry, so that’s why some fiddlers thought it would keep their fiddles dry. In California, it was thought that a rattle tied to a banjo head will preserve the skin. Many southern fiddlers strongly believe that a rattlesnake rattle in their fiddles give them more mojo when they compete at a fiddler’s convention. Fiddler Martin Fox has said that he always shakes his

fiddle before getting on stage at a fiddle contest to wake up the rattle so it will release its magical mojo. Some years ago while in a recording session, the engineer complained about a strange sound coming out of my fiddle. We had to put the session on hold while we investigated. It turned out that the rattle inside my fiddle that was “singing along” as I played. After I removed the rattle, the rest of the session went smoothly, but who knows how much mojo was lost when the rattle was removed? Wayne Erbsen is a performing musician, teacher, author, publisher, recording artist and bluegrass radio host. He has recorded eighteen CDs and written twenty-eight songbooks and instruction books for banjo, fiddle, mandolin and guitar. His company is Native Ground Books & Music www.nativeground.com. Call or email for free catalog (828) 299-7031 banjo@nativeground.com

Find Your Dream Job at

www.CareFreeCareers.com

Advertise In Americana Rhythm

540.433.0360 Reach 1000’s


Spring 2011

19


Spring 2011

A Different Kind Of Builder

By Edward Tutwiler

Every since I started examining

says it, “I’m most known for my hammered dulcimers. I’ve built over 1500 dulcimers over the years and have a lot of well known players using my instruments.” Nevertheless, James Jones makes a variety of different string and percussive musical instruments including Appalachian Dulcimers, Celtic Harps, Irish Bouzoukis, Bowed Psalteries, Zithers, Slit Drums and Thumb Pianos. And if that variety is not broad enough, Mr. Jones also turns out some Guitars and Mandolins on occasion.

this eclectic world of Americana Music, I’ve been constantly amazed at the many levels of interest it presents. Further, I’m amazed at how it tugs one into its depths. In the past few years, I’ve gone on a quest for evermore details. This quest has included singers, songwriters, instrumentalists, teachers (of both instrument and voice), and builders of various musical instruments always trying to learn why they do what they do. It is truly an interesting journey. Recently this journey focused upon the instrument maker Mr. James Jones of Bedford, VA. Americana Rhythm has profiled instrument makers in the past but they usually have been makers of guitars, banjos, and fiddles; however, I’ve wondered about the folks who custom make the lesserknown folk instruments. Therefore, when someone mentioned James Jones–Musical Instruments to the editor, we recognized destiny calling.

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The Breakdown

Mr. Jones has been building custom musical instruments since 1978 in his Bedford, VA woodworking shop. During that time, he has developed designs for ten different acoustic instruments. His signature piece is the hammered dulcimer, and that is what he is known for. Here’s how he

The Appalachian Dulcimer you are familiar with as we’ve profiled it here in AR in the past but you might like a quick definition of the others instruments in his inventory: A Celtic Harp is a nylon-strung harp that is adapted from a traditional folk harp design. The Irish Bouzoukis is also know as an octave mandolin and is played in the same manner.

A Bowed Psaltery is a hand-held, triangular shaped, melody instrument that is played with a bow. It is a fully chromatic instrument, which is set up like a piano with white notes to the right and sharps and flats to the left. A Zither is a stringed instrument also called a lap harp or plucked psaltery. The Slit Drum is an African and Central American influenced wooden box drum that is struck with ball-ended dowel sticks. A Thumb Piano is small hollow African influenced boxed instrument sized about 6 by 9 by 2 inches. This box is equipped with various lengths of spring steel leafs that produce tones when the player plucks down on them. We wondered what the muse was that drove such an eclectic mix of instruments. Here is how Jones explains it, “I started building instruments as a vehicle to stay in touch with my background in music, work with my hands, and to allow me economic independence. I started with the hammered dulcimer because I was intrigued by the instrument and it


Spring 2011

looked like something I could handle. To diversify my experience and continue to be challenged, I decided to build other instruments. I am still most known for my hammered dulcimers but enjoy getting a break while making a bouzouki or harp.�

Journey To The Tune

The paths that artists take to arrive at their creative pinnacle are many and varied. Nevertheless, one might assume a maker of stringed musical instruments, which are often associated with the mountains of the south-eastern United States, would have some roots there about. In the case of Mr. Jones, one would not be accurate in that assumption. James Jones grew up in both rural Oregon and in a small college town in the Midwestern, where his father was a music professor and mother an English teacher. While his early interests would naturally include classical music due to parental influence (and he did play the violin as a youth) Jones aspired to become a wildlife conservationist and graduated from collage with a degree in biology. He says his interests started to change as a result of taking

some art classes. In his youth, Jones was a good basketball player but a stent in the army put everything on hold including a possible career as a professional basketball player. After his military duties, Jones went to graduate school at Murray State University in Kentucky, focusing on sculpture a n d printmaking. He worked in that field a bit and then went to Europe to play b a sk e t b a l l professionally and coach for the next several years. Even so, Jones found time while there to set up a studio in his apartment and do some printmaking and collage work. After returning to the US, James did a tour with VISTA in Massachusetts and ultimately earned a MFA at Massachusetts College of Art with a major in media studies and printmaking. It was during this course of study, Jones, by now

in is mid-30s, was exposed to woodworking, At the time, his sister was playing a lot of fiddle music and encouraged him to pick that instrument back up after an 18 year break. This renewed interest in the fiddle resulted in an interest in folk music and the learning of a lot of fiddle tunes. James began to wonder if he could

merge his abstract artistic ideas into a concrete form. He decided that making musical instruments combined lots of artistic and woodworking elements and dovetailed nicely with his musical background. He then decided that he could combine the idea to build musical instruments with the desire to become self-em-

ployed and that decision led him to build his first hammered dulcimer.

Hammer And A Chord

We asked Mr. Jones how he got started building the hammered dulcimer and he told us that he consulted Sam Rizzetta’s material on constructing the hammered dulcimer that he (Rizzetta) published for the Smithsonian. James said that he also read material put together by Howie Mitchell that gave him insights into his experiments with the design of hammered dulcimers. James was exposed to the playing of Sandy Davis (Davis was teaching and performing on the hammered dulcimer in the Boston area during the period Jones lived there). Here is how he summed up the process, “When I got started there were a lot less examples of instruments. The renaissance was just getting started. In New England, I was able to see instruments built by Fred Montaque and eventually made a visit to see Sam in WVA. From those early influences I begin to develop a 12/ 11 dulcimer and a basic design. I am for the most part self-taught although I did take some workcontinued on page 23

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March/April Spring 20112010

APRIL Mountain Strings and Art Festival April 1 - 2, 2011 Bath Co., VA www.alleghenymountainradio/ mountainstringsmain.html Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival April 21 - 24, 2011 Silk Hope, NC www.shakorihills.org Mr B’s Bluegrass Festival April 28 - 30, 2011 Ladysmith VA www.mrbspark.com Augusta Lions Bluegrass Show April 24th, 2009 Staunton, VA Merlefest April 28 - May 1, 2011 Wilkesboro, NC www.merlefest.com

MAY Pops PopsOf Virginia Festival Heart Stoneman Stoneman May 7, 2011 Farmville, VA www.heartofvirginia.org

Magic In The Mountain May 7, 2011 Clifton Forge, VA www.cliftonforgemainstreet.org Menokin Music Festival May 7, 2011 Warsaw, VA www.menokinbluegrass.com Doyle Lawson Bluegrass Festival May 5 - 7, 2011 Denton, NC www.dentonbluegrass.com Jomeokee Music Festival May 14 - 15, 2011 Pinnacle, NC www.FootHillsHayride.com

Central VA Family Bluegrass May 19 - 21, 2011 Amelia, VA www.ameliafamilycampground.com

Virginia Blues & Jazz Festival June 10, 2011 Warm Springs, VA www.garthnewel.org

Ohio River Valley Folk Fest May 20 - 22, 2011 Madison, IN www.OhioRiverValleyFolkFest.com

Galax Leaf And String Festival June 10 - 11, 2011 Galax, VA www.galaxfestival.com

Hills Of Home Bluegrass Festival May 26 - 28, 2011 Coeburn, VA www.drralphstanley.com

Maury River Fiddler’s Convention June 17 - 18th, 2010 Buena Vista VA www.mauryriverfiddlers.com

Gathering In The Gap May 28, 2011 Big Stone Gap, VA www.gatheringinthegapmusicfestival.com

Wayne C. Henderson Music Festival June 18, 2011 Mouth Of Wilson, VA www.waynehenderson.org

Memorial Day Goapel Sing May 28 - 29, 2011 Stuart, VA

Bluegrass In The Blue Ridge Week June 19 - 25, 2011 Mars Hill, NC www.mhc.edu/bluegrass

Fiddlers Grove Festival May 27 - 29, 2011 Union Grove, NC www.fiddlersgrove.com DelFest May 26 - 29, 2011 Cumberland, MD www.delfest.com

JUNE Graves Mountain Festival June 2 - 4, 2011 Syria, VA www.gravesmountain.com Blue Ridge Old Time Music Week June 5 - 11, 2011 Mars Hill, NC www.mhc.edu/oldtime Clinch Mountain Music Festival June 10 - 12, 2011 Gate City, VA www.clinchfest.net

List Festival Event Here info@AmericanaRhythm.com

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Music In The Mountains Festival June 22 - 25, 2011 Summersville, WV www.aandabluegrass.com Grayson Co. Fiddlers Convention June 24 - 26, 2011 Elk Creek, VA http://www.ecvfd.net/home/graysoncounty-fiddler-s-convention Rockahock Bluegrass Festival June 16 - 18, 2011 Rockahock, VA www.rockahockbluegrass.com Virginia Mountain Music Festival June 17 - 18, 2011 Tazwell, VA www.sw.edu/VMMF.htm Bluegrass In Sedalia June 23 - 25, 2011 Sedalia, VA www.sedaliacenter.org


Spring 2011

continued from page 21 shops on the fundamentals of woodworking early in my career.“ Elsewhere on his web site Jones is quoted as saying he took six months to design and build his first model; and after Sandy Davis helped him tinker that one to life, he immediately started another build and has never looked back. We wondered if he started with a pattern to begin with. Here is how he answered, “No one builds in a vacuum. I started like other seminal builders with the 12/11 (twelve treble courses and 11 bass courses) and quickly added the 15/14 hammered dulcimer. I built on those early influences and over the last 30 years have developed a whole range of models. This range of instruments caters to the changing needs of players: larger more chromatic instruments to accommodate the more challenging music now being tackled by players and smaller more compact instruments designed to be more portable without sacrificing chromaticism and range. I now offer 12 different models. That evolution continues.“ Jones works with his customers to customize instruments but also

builds to inventory. Here is how he puts it, “I work closely with most customers to individualize their design through their choice of size, woods, and ultimately their sound-hole design. Economically, it always makes sense to build groups of instruments so I usually build extra to have instruments that can be had off the shelf. I do enjoy working with customers to personalize their instruments.” Working alone in his shop James Jones builds between 50-60 hammered dulcimers a year along with hundreds of octave zithers, bowed psalteries, assorted thumb pianos, slit drums, Appalachian dulcimers, harps and the occasional Irish Bouzouki or guitar.

Where The Home’s At

How did a man of letters and international experience wind up in the hills of Virginia building musical instruments you might wonder? He said, “That is a long story. My wife and I met in the Boston area. I had already begun building in a cooperative wood shop in Somerville, MA, and she had started pursuing weaving. We both decided to move to a more affordable area in the country. My wife loves to grow things, and we had friends in the area (the

Bedford, VA area). For years we lived and worked out of a rented farmhouse. My first shop was an upstairs bedroom with my power tools on the porch. I eventually graduated to a converted trailer. After eight years, we purchased a house, and I constructed my present shop.” (This present shop is a 2,000 square-foot building located 10 miles north of Bedford, VA at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains, almost within sight of the Blue Ridge Parkway.) James had a health scare a year or so ago that caused him to take a break for a while. He summed that up this way, “I stopped work for nearly 6 months as I contracted a rare disease called Vasculitis. It was a rough period but I’m nearly fully recovered and now work full time even though I just turned 65.” With that comment, we wondered what a typical day in the shop was like. Jones replied, “I generally put in a full day of work starting about 9:30 and working until 5. Since my shop is about 200 feet from the house, I always end up going over to apply finish or do little things over the weekend but have the flexibility to take time off as desired; one of the perks of being self-employed.”

Building musical instruments is certainly an avocation not a vocation so we asked James to sum up for us his feeling about his avocation. “Building instruments has given me great satisfaction over the years. Like any occupation it has its pleasures and tedium. Ultimately the joy of seeing and hearing individuals using and playing my instruments makes it all worthwhile. I love the control over my life it affords and enjoy the challenges instrument building continues to offer.” To learn more about Mr. Jones, his hammered dulcimers, and his selection of other unusal instruments, point your computer’s browser to www.jamesjonesinstruments.com. You can send him an email to this address: james@jamesjonesinstruments.com and the snail mail address of James’ shop is: 1384 Coltons Mill Rd Bedford, VA 24523 Phone: 540 586-6319 Visits to his shop and showroom are by appointment only

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Spring 2011

The Electric Co.

The Hay Ride Trio

Truckers Tracks

Scott Christopher Murray

Ocean City, MD is home base for The Electric Co. which formed in 2008. Solo-artist Nate Clendenen, John Sybert (bass player/vocalist), Sonny Martin (drummer), and Ryan Jackson (lead guitar/vocals) make up the heart and soul of this rootsy Americana act.

Berkeley Springs, WV is home to a fascinating 50’s era styled group called The Hayride Trio. Dave Moore, Mike Colyer and Strawback Slim, bring 60 plus years of combined experience to

Truckers Tracks is the brainchild of singer/musician Doug Jones from Nashville, TN. It was born out of a request by film maker Mark Bush from Jamestown, New Mexico who films and makes DVDs of Show Trucks and over-the-road Big Rigs. “He was looking for music to put with his North American Show Truck DVDs,” Doug said, so we (he and his artist friends” compiled songs that had stories about trucking and life on the highway.”

Scott Christopher Murray is an accomplished singer/songwriter and a veteran of the acoustic music scene. Raised in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, Scott grew up absorbing its rich story-telling tradition and Appalachian music legacy.

The Mid-Atlantic music scene reflects many unique sub-levels all sharing a common thread. And the Electric Co.’s music unfolds in much the same way. There are nuances of Reggae, Folk, Rock, Blues, Bluegrass and

at times, even some Jazz licks. This directly correlates to the rural town/beach resort split personality of the Delmarva Peninsula. Whiskey Tonight, the freshmen effort from the band, reflects this dichotomy in convincing fashion with songs like the Reggae injected “9 Miles” to the in-yourface Rock of “Isabel,” to the Rockabilly swagger of “See You in My Dreams.” With something for fans of all genres, true music enthusiasts will be approving of the earnestness in which they are all played. Keep your eyes on The Electric Co. This quartet is poised to put their brightest stamp yet on careers that already possess accolades too great and many to mention. Contact: permalot@hotmail.com http://www.facebook.com/#!/ TheElectricCoMusic

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the stage, and are considered by many to be “one of the areas greatest show bands.” Their music has been called “a period piece”; taking their audience back to a simpler time in life when music was raw, fresh, honest and simple. It’s something very old, but very fresh and exciting, specializing in circa 1950 hill-billly music. The guys dress in period clothing while performing around one vintage microphone as they reproduce the music that gave birth to rock n’ roll. Best described as Honky Tonk and Rockabilly music, the Hay Ride Trio belts out familiar favorites by icons like Webb Pierce and George Jones just to name a few. And to add a unique twist, the show is interspersed with brief history lessons as well as humor and a lively stage show. If vintage 50s tunes are your style, then the Hay Ride Trio will surely leave your rock-a-billy pallet satisfied. Contact: hayridetrio@gmail.com www.wildharerecords.com

Find out how your band and/or CD can be the next Americana Music Profile! www.AmericanaMusicProfiles.com

Doug started playing as a teenager, listening to all the great classic rock bands like Led Zepplin, Cream, CCR, and the Alman Brothers. In his words, he’s “an independent musician that is working hard to make a name for myself in this crazy business, and I love to write songs that move and groove people.” Some of the artists on the Truckers Tracks compilations are actual Big Rig drivers working everyday hauling goods across America, and they’ve collaborated with Alex Deborgorski of the hit show Ice Road Truckers on the third installment of the series.

Scott moved to Nashville in the early 1990's. While there, he shared the stage with Willie Nelson, Lyle Lovett, Shelby Lynn, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Kathy Mattea and others. Before leaving Nashville and returning home to Virginia, Scott wrote and produced the songs on his second album, "Short Stories." Two of these songs were selected by Virginia-based DCD Records in 1998 to appear on a compilation of Shenandoah artists. Shortly after the release of this compilation, "In the Shadow of the Blue Ridge," the Canadian Games Commission and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation accepted one song for consideration for the 1999 Pan American Games. The song, "Manitoba," was written by Canadian Dean Salyn and sung by Scott Christopher Murray.

“Volume three has been especially exciting for me for several reasons,” Doug said. “I was able to have real truckers on the disc to show how much real talent is out there on the road every day delivering the goods; and that they can deliver the goods in front of a microphone as well.”

In 1999, DCD Records released "Short Stories". Since that time, Scott has opened for 10,000 Maniacs, Dave Mason and David Wilcox. He has received two awards from ASCAP for song writing and performance. In 2000 "Short Stories" was Grammy nominated for Best Contemporary Folk Album of the year.

Contact: songjones@comcast.net www.TruckersTracks.com

Contact: scm111@gmail.com www.scottchristophermurray.com


Spring 2011

This is ...

Over 2000 attended this year’s

annual event that draws together music industry professionals from throughout the world to share ideas, network, and celebrate traditional music and dance. It is an event of celebration, education, and entertainment.

The Hill B

end e rs

a-Rao rasad

Tom P

The Fair well Drifters

Vicki G e

nfan

Wheels The Steel

... Just a sampling of the 100s of acts we had a chance to preview . Watch for them at your favorite venue this spring and summer!

Jerry’s Bluegrass Corner

WeCanPublishYourBook.com

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Spring 2011

Music From The National Scene

Music From Your Neighbors As mo re a nd more peopl e di sco ver AR Ma ga zi ne, mo re a nd more groups and labels are getting in touch with us - Here are some of our favorite picks! Some tell me this is their favorite page - cool! I know the artists like to hear that. We give you a web link as often as possible so you can listen and decide for yourself. Try iTunes too. If you discover something you like - tell them AR Magazine sent you! CD Submission: Americana Rhythm Magazine, PO Box 45, Bridgewater, VA 22812.

Josh Williams Down Home www.joshwilliamsmusic.com Josh Williams launches his solo career on solid ground. A membe r of Rho nd a’s “Rage” from ‘03 to ‘07 SPBGMA Guitar Performer of the year from ‘05 to ‘10 IBMA’s in ‘08 and ‘09. Yeah, he’s that good

Blue Moon Rising Strange New World www.bluemoonrisingband.com The third CD from East Tennessee’s Blue Moon Rising, Strange New World is yet another corner stone of the expanding real estate of bluegrass music. Contemporary in delivery, the traditional undertones make this a solid set

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Valerie Smith Blame It On The Bluegrass www.valeriesmithonline.com An other Te nn ess ee ga l, Valerie Smith has a “first,” withBlame It On The Bluegrass. It’s the first CD to be recorded at the International Bluegrass Music Museum. Another great add to your grass collection.

Larry Sparks Almost Home www.larrysparks.com Larry Sparks has been leaving his mark on bluegrass music for 42 years. His style, while true to the roots, is all Sparks. His latest CD is a strong reminder that without these pioneers, there would be a huge musical void

The Expedition Show The Expedition Show www.theexpeditionshow.com Formally known as Williams & Clark Expedition, the band underwent some personal changes, changed their name, and vola’. Watch for the Expedition Show at your favorite festival, you’ll be impressed

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www.charliesizemoreband.com At age 17, Charlie had big shoes to fill when he took over lead vocals for Keith Whitley in Ralph Stanley’s Clinch Mountain Boys. After 9 1/2 years, Charlie went on his own - and his new CD reminds us; he’s still got it

Sierra Hull Daybreak www.sierrahull.com Let this young lady be an inspiration to us all. At just 16, Sierra Hull could be heir apparent to the queen of bluegrass thrown. What an amazing amount of talent pouring from such a young soul. She sets the mark

Tommy Shaw The Great Divide www.tommyshaw.com Anyone 30 and older will associate Tommy Shaw with ... Styx - right? No “Mr. Roboto” here. Shaw’s new CD is ... Grass! Yep! But Tommy’s roots have always been deep seeded in the hills flavor. And you know what? This is good

Emma Hill and Her Gentlemen Callers Meet Me At The Moon www.EmmaHillmusic.com Authentically Americana flavored, Alaskan native Emma Hill’s new CD, Meet Me At The Moon, is a delightful mixture of lite country, folk, roots, and soul. Her “honeyed” voice brings it all together just

Ralph Stanley A Mother’s Prayer www.ralphstanley.com The senior statesman of bluegrass does it again. True to his roots of “mountain gospel,” this new collection of spiritual pieces from one of the few remaining pioneers of bluegrass is classic and timeless. Thanks Ralph!

Steve Martin

Edgar Loudermilk Roads Traveled www.mountainfever.com

The Roys Lonesome Whistle www.theroysonline.com

Edgar Loudermilk has a terrific musical background including Rhonda Vincent, Ma rty Ra yb on , Ru ss ell Mo ore, a nd Carolin a Crossfire. As a solo artist, his record stands - this new CD is one to watch for sure

Two-time Inspirational Country Music Duo of the year, The Roys ease into the newgrass flavor with their new CD Lonesome Whistle. From the first cut, “Coal Minin’s Man,” all the way through, it’s solid music. Good stuff guys

Darin & Brooke Aldridge Darin & Brooke Aldridge www.darinandbrookealdridge.com

These newlyweds are a fabulous addition to the emerging freshman class of future bluegrass statesmen. Their harmonies are seamless. Darin’s dad (Ben Aldridge/ Seldom Scene) ought be proud

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(w/ The Steep Canyon Rangers)

Rare Bird Alert www.stevemartin.com No one took Steve Martin seriously, until he won a Grammy. (Thanks in part to the Steep Canyon Rangers) Well, he’s back - and it’s still pretty darn good - and you get an updated “King Tut”

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Charlie Sizemore Heartache Looking For A Home

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You can send new Americana CD releases for consideration to PO Box 45, Brodgewater, VA, 22812

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Spring 2011

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Americana Rhythm Music Magazine Issue #33