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December 2014

Scottish Philosopher, Thomas Carlyle, once said,

“No music no life, Know music know life.” That’s kind of the theme around here for us these days. When we’re not sitting around thinking of ways to promote music, we’re looking for ways to go hear it, or be around it in some way. And I’m inclined to think that those who really “know music,” whether a player or avid listener - have a better handle on living life. Yes I know, as long as there is breath, there is life; but people just lying around on the couch are breathing. However, I question the quality of life going on there. Having just experienced, again, the week long IBMA event, it’s a reminder just how much string based music is full of life! I overhead a comment in the hallway one afternoon that went something like this; “You know, I believe this kind of music is the only music where you get to feel like family - where artists and fans are interchangeable - and no one idolizes anyone. Everyone just enjoys everyone else.” I can’t think of any better way to put it. To know this kind of music, in many way, is to know life. See you out there!

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Americana Rhythm is published six times a year. All corresponCONTRIBUTORS dence should be sent to PO Box 45, Bridgewater VA, 22812 or Ed Tutwiler email to greg@americanarhythm.com. Copies of Americana Wayne Erbsen Rhythm are made available free at various pick up locations within Donna Ulisse the publication’s region. Subscriptions are available inside the United Don and Martha DePoy States (only) for $16 US currency made payable by check or money Andrew McKnight order sent to, Subscriptions at PO Box 45, Bridgewater, VA, 22812. Donna Marie Miller Foreig n su bscrip tion req u ests shou l d b e sen t to greg@americanarhythm.com. Copyright 2014. All rights reserved. DISTRIBUTION Reproduction of any content, artwork or photographs is strictly Ed Tutwiler prohibited without permission of the publisher or original owner. All Zebra Media advertising material subject to approval. Associated Dist. PUBLISHER/EDITOR IN CHIEF Downtown Books Greg E. Tutwiler The Purple Fiddle Associate Editor Floyd Country Store Ed Tutwiler Shen. Valley Farmers Mkt. MARKETING & PROMOTION Heritage Farmers Mkt. Mark Barreres (GrassRootsNetworking.com) ... many more! ADVERTISING Letters, Comments, Suggestions Business office 540-433-0360 greg@americanarhythm.com advertising@americanarhythm.com www.americanarhythm.com

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December 2014

By Edward Tutwiler

Making Records The Old Fashioned Way Many times we have had the

Peer immediately joined OKeh, as an A&R (artist and repertory) specialist, and in that same year directed Mamie Smith’s recording of Crazy Blues. It is important to know this fact because this was the first blues recording that targeted the African-American market, and it was very successful. Since Peer was an important part of this successful achievement, it fore-shadowed his future. The OKeh label used the Smith success to cultivate the African-American market, which soon became known as the Race music market (this was not a term they used as an honor). The label achieved prominence with this genre of music and soon was recording many well-known African-American musical artists who became exclusive to the label. (The label designated an entire series of releases known as the 8000 series to this music genre. This 8000 series is now highly prized among collectors because so many well known blues and jazz artists are represented, and many of those artists made so few recordings.)

honor of learning a bit of history associated with Americana stringmusic’s past and then passing along the story to you readers. More than one of those stories concerned itself with some facet of the most influential and paradigm shifting event to occur in old-time string music history—that being the Bristol recording sessions, which occurred in 1927 in Bristol, TN/VA. No single event had more to do with promoting the popularity and changing forever the old Scot-Irish, Celtic-influenced Appalachian Mountain music. The success of these recordings and the national popularity they received thrust upon the new radio-listening public the sounds of the Carter Family, and Jimmy Rogers—just to name the more famous artists who recorded at those sessions. One could make the leap and claim that most of the stories that we’ve told you have at least a tenuousImage credit connection to this watershed event.https:// trueblueridge.files.wordpress.com Just last issue, we introduced to you a new museum in Bristol that niture then). Peer spent his teen is devoted to memorializing this years working part-time in his event; and of a soon to be released father’s furniture store as a stocktribute recording that honors those room employee and very soon beby-gone artists with new renditions came responsible for ordering new of the original performances by record playing machines and phoboth current stars and up and comnograph records. During his high ing artists. The part of this historic school years, Peer also spent his event that most writers and fans summers working at the Kansas do not focus upon is the part about who was the driver of this famous City offices of the Columbia Phonograph Company. Upon graduatrain, and that is the story that we plan to tell you this time. Some tion, Peer joined Columbia as a full-time employee and eventually weeks back, I was at this fine new museum, which I mentioned above, and immersed myself in the exhibits. It was here that I learned that without Ralph Sylvester Peer there would have been no Bristol sessions. This is the story of that man—Ralph S. Peer.

received a transfer to the company’s Chicago headquarters. After a tour as a U.S. Merchant Marine, Peer returned to his job at Columbia in 1919. Soon thereafter, Peer’s boss resigned from Columbia; joined the General Phonograph Company; and in 1920, offered Peer a job as recording director at that company’s newly created OKeh label, which was headquartered in New York.

It Began In A Furniture Store

Ralph Peer was born May 22, 1892 in Independence, MO. He was the son of a furniture retailer whose furniture business also sold phonographs and gramophones (this was not uncommon as the phonograph players were ornate pieces of fur-

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Recorded Sessions

The success of these recordings encouraged officials at OKeh to start recording sessions in locations where folks were actually performing the music. This technique became known as remote, location, or field recording. Peer became an innovator of field recording using equipment designed by OKeh engineers; and he took this remoterecording equipment to Atlanta, GA where he set up in hotel rooms,


December 2014

ballrooms, and empty warehouses to record regional music. He followed this cutting-edge venture by supervising the first commercial recording session in New Orleans, LA. This session captured jazz, blues and gospel music as performed by local musicians. From here, Peer and his crew toured the country seeking fresh sounds to record and market. This was not a quaint experiment. These expeditions were well planned and well equipped with reliable equipment and trained staff.

talent scout in the rural parts of the South. Stoneman made some successful recordings for Peer plus became his advisor and guide into the world of old-time country music players. Peer had an ear for recognizing talent and the mind to grasp the marketing value of particular genres of music. Just as he had done with the Black musicians and singers, Peer quickly realized that this country or Hillbilly (another term that was not an honor) sound was another untapped market.

Folks started to seek him out. One such person was a harmonica player named William Henry Whittier. He made some demonstration recordings for Peer. While not one of the greatest talents, Peer saw possibilities in this raw country-style of music; and about this same time period, produced the first true country music record with the recording of a musician named Fiddlin’ John Carson. This record met with success and enjoyed good sales numbers. Not long after, Peer was contacted by a talented and articulate rural Virginia musician named Ernest V. “Pop” Stoneman. Peer recognized Stoneman’s musical talent and also his value as a

In the mid 192 0’s, Columbia Records purchased the Okeh label, and Peer soon left the company to go into business for himself as an independent music producer. He formed a business alliance with the Victor Talking Machine Company. His arrangement with Victor allowed Peer to select the artists and material and supervise the recording sessions. The alliance also included the provision that Peer’s publishing firm would retain ownership of the copyrights to the recorded material, and that Peer was to receive his compensation from the royalties that resulted from the copyright ownership. Victor and Peer agreed that Peer would only

was later able to negotiate an agreement that granted him a small percentage of the royalties Victor received for every record sold and every song that was played on the radio, which Peer supposedly shared with the recording artists.)

Million Dollar Records

receive a token salary (some sources say $1.00 a year) from Victor as payment for his services to the company. Victor would profit well from the market and sale of the records that Peer produced. (Peer

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It should be noted that, not so coincidently, Ralph Peer was the first record company representative to encourage recording artists under his control to write their own original songs and avoid recording any material that was already copyrighted by someone else—thus allowing Peer to keep the copyright royalties for himself and publish this material through his own publishing firm—understand that this was a legal business action and sanctioned by the 1909 U.S. Copyright Act. While this arrangement may seem harsh, do understand that Ralph Peer was first and foremost a business man who had a gift for making money. He had the foresight to recognize music trends and the ability to give the consumer a product that the consumer liked and wanted, and he was nothing more. He was nether a lover of the music nor a social worker looking to raise the living standards of the continued

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musicians and singers that he encountered; nevertheless, he certainly was neither a predator nor a fraud who prayed on the weak and clueless. His was merely operating a business at which he was exceedingly good. It certainly helped that he was also the innovator of a new business plan and thus plowing rich new-ground. Reportedly, Peer was making approximately a million dollars a year at a time the average American family earned $700 per year, and he was paying artists such as Ernest V. Stoneman $3,000 to $4,000 per year, which Stoneman considered a kingly sum. A.P Carter was not disappointed in his gains either as he reported that he was able to return to his home area and purchase a prized 70 acre farm—a dream fulfilled that would have never been possible had Ralph Peer not came into his life.

On The Road

By the late 1920’s, with his successful business plan firmly in place, Peer took his field recording effort on the road in earnest. By this time, audio engineers had made major technical advances in the recording of audio sounds—the most important of which was the electric microphone—this device alone gave field recording a quantum leap in quality. Melding the advances in technology, the growing skills of a well-trained field recording team, and Peer’s uncanny ability to recognize talent and new trends; the market was set to explode. By the later part of the 1920’s, Peer and his team had traveled to all the major Eastern cities, and recorded any talented artists he could recruit. He advertised his arrival in a town in the local newspapers and agreed to pay each artist $25 per selection while securing copyright protection (and ownership) for any original songs that they recorded. This, of course, brings us to the part of the Ralph Peer story of which we are most familiar. Upon Stoneman’s assurance that much talented material lay untapped in

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Southwest VA, and backed by Stoneman’s recent stardom (at least by the Hillbilly music standards of that day, he was famous to like-minded folks), Peer agreed to set up shop in the railroad town of Bristol VA/TN. After the usual newspaper ads failed to generate the interest he was expecting, Peer had the newspaper run a profile of Ernest V. “Pop” Stoneman that included the information that he had been paid $3,600 in royalty checks in the previous year and that he was being paid $100 a day to record new music in Bristol. That publicity had the desired effect, and soon Peer was awash with auditions. The Bristol recording sessions ran late into the night. The final result was the documentation of 76 songs by 19 different performers. Not to forget the discovery of as least two eventual nationally famous acts—that being the Carter Family and Jimmie Rodgers. Of course, Peer was quick to grasp the potential of these talented folks and ultimately managed their careers and carefully selected what material they recorded.

Ralph Syvester Peer died in Hollywood, CA in January, 1960. He was 68 years old. At his death, his widow, Monique Iversen Peer (who by now was a 20-year partner in Peer’s ventures) became the president of the company. The company was by then known as Peer-Southern Organization and had international offices. Peer’s son, Ralph Peer II joined the firm in the late 1960s and became the company’s CEO in 1980. The company exists to this day under his leadership as an influential, successful international music publication company. Peer was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1984 and heralded as the Father of Country Music based upon those long ago Bristol sessions and the international success of those early talented country music artists he guided to stardom. The true Ralph Peer has faded into the mist of the past and has become a man of legend. We are now left with only our emotions and how we view historical actions. There are some who hold Peer a founder of multiple genres of music; and

Picking The Fruit

Ralph Peer, being the sharp business person that he had become, continued to pick this Race and Hillbilly music fruit throughout the 1920’s and early 30’s. Peer’s Southern Music Publishing Company continued to record jazz, blues, and country artists and also branched into popular music. By the 1930s, Peer’s publishing company had become very influential. Real success came with his introduction of Latin American music to the world. During and after World War II, Peer’s company published songs by very famous artists, musical groups, and big horn bands. His successes crossed all musical boundaries. By the mid 1950’s, Peer’s company had discovered early prototype rock and roll and produced many successful recordings by some of that genre’s more well known early artists.

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others who hold him a scoundrel who took advantage of poor undereducated talented folks of both the Black and the White race. I suspect there are elements of both views in this man’s story. The truth is cloudy at this point in time. I believe most folks wish Ralph Peer had been an altruist and true believer propagating a noble cause rather than be the hard, moneydriven, pragmatic visionary who was guided by business acclaim and not by passion for a cause. It is not for this humble writer and fan to decide

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Editor’s Note: The material that is available about Ralph Peer is vast, vague and contradictory. I referred to the following sources as I composed this piece and even these sources interpreted the same facts differently: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia; www.ralphpeer.com; www.bluegrasswest.com; www.allmusic.com; www.shnoops.com; and www.pbs.org. If you want to know more detail, it is out there but often clouded by the emotions of the writer of each piece that you read.


December 2014

One morning a few years back, I

woke up after having dreamed the most beautiful song I have ever heard in my life. The coolest part was that I was aware I was the one writing it in my dream. I wrestled with waking up so that I could write it down, but my dreaming self convinced me that the song was just too good to forget. The gullible, sleep deprived part of me believed it. When I fought my way out of the cobwebs of deep sleep, I tried to recall the song. I wracked my brain chasing this wispy memory of a masterpiece but it soared off into the wild blue. Have you ever had the same experience? These days I try to keep myself in a state of awareness. If a song tries to start forming in my sleep, I honor that formation. I drag myself out from under the covers and

turn on my voice recorder, whispering the lyric, and quietly humming the melody so as not to disturb my long suffering husband. I might even give into a midnight writing session by getting up and going into the office to hunt down my guitar. I have written quite a few tunes during these midnight hours. I find that when I am coming out of a sleep, before my mind starts cluttering up with the day, I am able to pluck beautiful ideas from the fog. I don’t have to force any story lines; they come to the surface of my thoughts so easily, like a waltz. I will usually write things in a more natural, honest way during these times because I am not getting in the way of my thinking. Even if it sounds like gibberish as I write them down, I go ahead and roll with it, knowing I

can always come back and edit later. That sleepy state of mind is a great friend to me. If I am not up to writing that early, I love to use the new day for meditation and journaling. Out of each of those things, I am warming up my creativity just as coffee warms up my bones. In my previous article, I talked about writing with images in mind. Now I would like to encourage you to set a writing schedule for yourself and experiment with discipline. Give yourself a 15 minute a day challenge and watch your imagination grow. My own habit is to be prayerful or meditative for a few minutes as I start my day so that I place myself in that illusive state of awareness. I do this so that I will recognize a song that wants to be

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born. I will then grab a cup of coffee and sit down to write. I use the exercise that I gave you to try in my last column, journaling about anything my eye might fall upon for about 10 minutes. With all this good writing energy revving up, I am feeding the poet within, preparing myself to write a song, and I have only spent about fifteen to twenty minutes getting there

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Donna Ulisse has been a two time nominee for IBMA Songwriter of the Year, a signed songwriter to Uncle Hadley Music (ASCAP) in Nashville, for 15 years, and has released seven bluegrass albums on the Hadley Music Group label. Her songs have been recorded by Claire Lynch, Nu-Blu, The Bankesters, Darin & Brooke Aldridge, Louise Mosrie, Diana Jones. One of her songs appeared on the 2014 Grammy winning album Streets of Baltimore by the Del McCoury Band. She has just published her first book The Songwriter In Me: Snapshots of My Creative Process, available on Amazon.com.

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Along

his picture and he said only if you sing me my song. So I did. No pressure, he was standing six inches away from us while I sang! It was a thrill to meet the man behind the song.

the Shenandoah Music Trail

By Don and Martha DePoy

We Finally Made It! This year, after many years of ca-

While working the convention floor, I would ask folks “Do you know where the first bluegrass festival was held?” I was very surprised that no one that I asked knew that the first bluegrass day was in Berryville, VA, on August 10, 1960. The first festival, pro-

joling from many friends and colleagues, Martha and I finally made it to IBMA’s World of Bluegrass (WOB) in Raleigh, North Carolina. One word sums up the experience: AMAZING! For five days we were immersed in a sea of string music, and had abounding opportunities to tell many other attendees about the Shenandoah Music Trail and how we work to bring together musicians and listeners. At our exhibit booth, we had displays and literature, not only about the Trail and beyond the music, but we also showcased the bounty of the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, and all it offers to visitors seeking an authentic Valley experience. For this issue, Martha and I independently share our IBMA experiences.

Martha’s Observations

This experience proved to be very enlightening. The Deering Banjo Company was close to our booth and I was delighted to meet owners Greg and Janet Deering. What a surprise I had when they took Don’s banjo back that they had given to him in 1995. Greg told Don, “Don’t worry, I will give it back.” After Greg put on a new head, strings and a few minor adjustments, it was Janet’s turn. She shined that banjo to perfection and told Don to bring it back to Mom and Pop to be cared for more often. Thanks to Greg and Janet. The banjo plays just like new. I also was able talk some great musicians like Tom Gray, former bass player for the Country Gentleman and Seldom Scene, who now plays with Martha and Eddie Adcock. I

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asked Tom about his experiences and he told me that, even though he is recognized as one of the best bass players of all time, he laughed and confided that he has been “fired” more than once for playing too many notes. That was encouraging for me as I have been playing straight ahead bass for some time now, and as someone once told me, “Your bass playing doesn’t get in the way”. Tom agreed that is some folk’s way of thinking and experiencing the bluegrass style of playing, less bass runs can be more enjoyable for some musicians.

Songwriters Everywhere

I met songwriter Donna Ulisse and heard Larry Stephenson sing her new song, “Having a Jesus Moment”. I also met Tim White who was promoting the PBS television series, Song of The Mountains. He asked me what songs I sing and among others I said, “Five Pounds of Possum”. You imagine my surprise when he told me that one Sunday morning he had written the song. I asked him if I could take

moted as a bluegrass festival was organized by Bill Clifton, July 4, 1961 in Luray, Virginia, and Carlton Haney put together the first multi-day bluegrass festival in Fincastle, Virginia, Labor Day Weekend, September 4, 5, 6, 1965. It’s amazing how far we have come in such a short period of time. There are now over 46 annual bluegrass festivals being held in the Shenandoah Valley and an equal number of bluegrass happenings including over 50 weekly music events. Don and I had a great time playing until the wee hours of the morning with folks in the California Bluegrass Association picking room. Dennis Cash (distant relative of Johnny) played “Carter Family Songs” with us from 11pm to 1:00am. We had a chance to play with our dear friends from Maine, Al Hawkes, and visited with his wife Barbara. They made the trip to NC as Al was being presented an award from IBMA for his contribution as a pioneer in bluegrass music. Al still works tirelessly to

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preserve Maine’s bluegrass music legacy. All in all, I had a blast, and am looking forward to 2015.

Another Perspective

Rather than focus on the professional touring acts that were part of the WOB, (which were amazing, by the way), I want to share a few thoughts about the informal jam sessions that filled every little nook and cranny of the conference hotel. The music was good and polished. The younger musicians were rehearsed and tended to clump together and play the songs at the same up tempo or faster. After a couple of hours of jamming, the songs began repeating, or the jam simply fell apart to perhaps reform a few hours later. It was apparent that there was little straying outside the group. Only a few younger folks would venture to join in a “hot” older-musician’s jam. Many of the older jammers were seasoned musicians playing straight-ahead bluegrass with some classic country ballads to slow the pace. Some of these jams stayed together for hours and never came close to exhausting the collective song lists. As one fiddler packed up, another stepped forward to fill the space, and so it was with the other instruments. Sometimes multiple instruments would split the breaks around the circle to the delight of the on-lookers.

Jamming With Legends

Martha and I had a chance to meet and jam with Bobby Hicks. Bobby Hicks is a Grammy Award winning bluegrass fiddler and a professional musician with more than fifty years of experience. He is indisputably one of the most influential fiddlers in bluegrass music. As we played for an enchanted audience, I couldn’t help but notice scores of younger musicians walking right by without so much as a glance. Here was the undisputed master of bluegrass fiddle, a living legend open and accessible to anyone wanting to take the time to be present. In my time playing and watching (about two hours) only one young girl there with here mother, who was about 12 years old, came forth to play a few tunes, much to Mr. Hicks delight. Why did none of the other younger musicians stop to listen, and perhaps learn?


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Slightly Concerned

I hesitate to conjecture and draw conclusions about the very different jams and the very different makeup of musicians; however, I did get a chance to pick with a few younger musicians and exchange

makes me sad.. I would hate to see the improv skills and the tune depth of master musicians lost in the quick-study pace of today’s younger musicians with total disregard to the bluegrass tradition

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a few notes. I was picking banjo with another banjoist and we decided to play a popular instrumental, Black Berry Blossom. He did a great job of picking the almost standard tablature version with little deviation as we swapped the lead back and forth. After we finished, he asked about the last break that I had taken as he had never heard it “played that way before.” I said it was all about the chord structure of the songs. I asked where he learned to play the banjo, and he said he was a college graduate of bluegrass studies. I said, “great, let’s go through the chords of the song.” To my utter amazement, he could not quickly come up with the chords, especially above the 12th fret. So we spent some time unpacking the chords. He indicated that he had never spent any time working with chords. (Surprise!) He was a proficient picker and knew a fair number of songs, but he had never been exposed to playing back-up or chord structures. I agree, he may be the exception but I fear this is not the case. I am concerned that the future of bluegrass as improvised “performing art” may be slipping in the mist of the past, and that

Don is an accomplished bluegrass musician with over fifty years of performing; holds a PhD specializing in American Music and Popular Culture; and teaches bluegrass instruments at Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, Virginia. Martha and Don host the Bluegrass Music Jam at the Elkton Community Center in Elkton, Virginia every Tuesday evening from 6 to 8:30 pm. It’s free and open to the public, and all levels of pickers and listeners are welcome. The Shenandoah Music Trail is sponsored in part by Virginia Tourism Corporation, Virginia Commission for the Arts, National Council for the Arts, and faithful sponsors and members. SMT is a Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, all volunteer 501c3 non-profit corporation. See more at: www.svmmma.org

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December 2014

Donna Hughes; 500 And Counting Trinity North Carolina native,

cludes 12 piano songs. This is not the first time Hughes has used a piano in her music; however, she is doing it differently with this effort. Donna explained it this way, “Tony Rice produced my album titled Gaining Wisdom, in 2007. He really encouraged me to play the piano on that record so I mixed it up pretty good. We put together this awesome album, which really did not fit comfortably into any one genre. Some of the traditionalists didn’t really embrace it well so, on the JD Crow album (2010), we did straight bluegrass.

Donna Hughes, made her first public performance in 1999 singing in church. Just 15 years later, Donna has written over 500 songs, and just released her sixth and seventh CD, simultaneously. And to top it off, this prolific songwriter says she’s almost got enough material to record another record. “I’ve always enjoyed music,” she told me. “It’s just in my blood. My mom teaches piano, and my grandfather had an honorary PhD in music. When I was growing up there were no cell phones or social media. When you got bored, you had to occupy your mind some other way. I would drive my Parents nuts by banging on the piano all the time. I was just basically trying to entertain myself.”

Hughes went on, “So for this new project, I wanted to go back to playing the piano. But to make sure that I didn’t alienate anyone, I did two different albums and released them at the same time.

Found A Purpose

Folks ask Donna (about the 21track bluegrass CD) to explain why she included so many songs on a single CD when there was enough material to divide into two CDs. She answers in this manner, “Because I’m a writer, I really want to get these songs out there. That is what is most important to me. I didn’t write all 21 this time although I did write 19 of them.” The two non-originals are: Tom Petty’s I love You; and Donna’s reworked version of I’ll Fly Away which she sang at her uncle’s funeral. “It’s the one piano track on the bluegrass record,” she admitted.

Donna played in the high school band and took piano lessons although she did not consider herself a success. “The teachers would get mad at me because I couldn’t learn to read music very well,” she said. “I was always playing by ear—I actually felt like a failure during those years. Really, all the way up until Allison Krauss recorded one of my songs. When that occurred, I finally thought, ‘there really must be a purpose for someone like myself.’” After high school, Donna started singing in local venues doing open mics and jams. “I finally begged my way into a band,” she recalled, “and got brave enough to start writing my own songs. I was worried about going around singing Dolly Parton and Allison Krauss songs and thinking I can’t possibly be doing these songs justice.” “I started writing songs to increase my confidence. You know, you can’t mess up a song if you’re the one who wrote it. I didn’t want to be accused of ruining anyone else’s songs,” she laughed. Recalling her high school days, “People make sheet music for a reason, but what happens if you can’t read it? Well, you just have to be the one who creates what goes on the sheet—how about that?” As it turned out, Donna discovered song writing to be very therapeutic and that she really enjoyed the process. By this time in her life, Donna has

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By Greg Tutwiler

My Own Label

written over 500 songs and has recorded somewhere in the neighborhood of 160—all available on iTunes.

My Five Minutes

In 2003, Donna included a song (the 20th number on a 21-track CD) titled My Poor Old Heart. Allison Krauss liked that song so well that she included it on what became her Grammy-winning album Lonely Runs Both Ways. “I found that very ironic,” Donna said. “She eventually sang it at the CMA awards one year, which was the coolest thing ever.” Hughes is now on a roll in the bluegrass music scene. In 2010, Donna released her next CD titled Hellos Goodbys and Butterflies, produced

by JD Crow. “Near the same time as I released this CD, my mom fell down the stairs and broke her arms,” she recalled. Donna took on the loving task of looking after her mom. Hughes continued, “I got real comfortable staying at home, not having to burn up the roads. But after a while I began to miss it so I started writing again.” After about a three year break to help her Mom recover and return to teaching piano and playing organ in church, Donna quickly found herself with another 50 songs in the finished tank and back in the studio. This time, instead of one record, she released two at the same time. The first CD titled From the Heart includes 21 bluegrass cuts; and the second CD titled, Fly, in-

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Donna decided to create her own label for this two-CD release project. She explained the need to do so this way, “With an established label, there are many hoops and red tape with which you must deal to get through the process. The record people have to approve the songs choices; determine the count total and the sequence placement of the songs on your CD; and then they choose a title for your CD. It just takes a long time. This time, I took great joy in sequencing, titling and approving all the songs for these two CDs—and I did it all, in just one day.” I have always been extremely grateful for my opportunity with the record labels but this time I just felt like I didn’t have that kind of time to wait because of the circumstances of this record. I felt like it was important to get this music out as quickly as pos-


December 2014

sible. The established label company would have never let me put 21 songs on one CD, or release two CDs at the same time. I didn’t want to ask permission to release my music. I believe that there are songs in this release that have the potential to be cut by major artists. I know there are pros and cons in doing it in this manner but the writer in me needed to do it my way this time. Following the label route could have taken as many as six years to get three CDs worth of material released to the public. I just didn’t want to wait that long. I already have almost enough material written for another CD now. If I had to wait that long, I’d be bored, bored, bored,” she laughed.

melody—completely finished. I called the song, When Pigs Fly. It just happens that way for me.” Hughes said, “when I conduct songwriting workshops, I tell people just keep writing as many songs as you can write.” Donna is a part-time gymnastics coach and she compares the song writing process with learning to be a great gymnast. “It really gives me a neat perspective. I’ve had extremely gifted students with a lot of skills that didn’t really go anywhere because they didn’t appreciate the hard work other athletes put into being good. Then there are other athletes who come into the gym who are very mediocre and have to work very hard to get that same skill level. These athletes don’t mind the process because they are already used to working hard; and they are also the ones who go the farthest. This is because they put in the many hours of practice reps needed,” she said.

“The joy comes from the process. Too many times we want the reward without all the work. The reward is great too, but the greater joy is the hunger for that next step, that next level of achievement.” “I just feel like this is what it’s going to take.”

Writer First

Hughes said, “I’m a writer first so I have to force myself to just write down an idea and walk away instead of sitting down and finishing the song immediately. I have to force myself to push this current material even though that’s the most logical thing to do. My attention needs to be focused upon pioneering a path for this current project and help it find its place in the world. But I would really just prefer to sit and write songs all day.” Donna says sometimes she wakes up in the middle of the night and must write an idea down before she forgets about it; and that sometimes the ideas come at the most unusual times. She told this story to illustrate her point, “Just the other day, we were eating dinner at a restaurant called the Flying Pig. The restaurant was busy, and the wait time was long. By the time we were finished with dinner, I had a song—both lyrics and

Donna recalled one student that had a really rough start. “She ended up at the top of her game by the time she was ready to go to college. By my count, this athlete had performed one particular thing more than 63,000 times over the course of her career. Some kids at the same level with more natural talent have done the same thing somewhere in the neighborhood of only 300 times. Success is all in the repetition and practice –the more you do something, the better you’ll get at it. Songwriting is no different. The joy comes from the process. Too many times we want the reward without all the work. The reward is great, but the greater joy is the hunger for that next step, that next level of achievement.” That attitude has paid off for Donna Hughes. Recently, her bluegrass CD landed at the number one spot in at least one indicator chart and in the top 20 on several others. And her quirky ditty titled, “Walmart Checkout Line” has received over 50 ,000 views on YouTube. Looks like Donna Hughes is back, and poised for a string of hit songs to boot

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www.AmericanaRhythm.com

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December 2014

Thanks to our partnership with ReverbNation (www.reverbnation.com) we are honored to give you a peak at a few of the nation’s hardest working indie artists. Each month we select one entry to showcase for you here. Enjoy! THIS MONTH’S FEATURE:

By Greg Tutwiler

Connor Christian & Southern Gothic Southern Rock all the way to Gypsy, and Honky Tonk influences,” He said. It features 18 songs on the CD with two additional digital extras. “It was a HUGE undertaking and the response was really gratifying. It came out #1 on the Billboard heatseekers chart and #17 on the nationwide Billboard country charts. At home in Atlanta, Creative Loafing readers named it the best local album, and press all over was incredibly kind. The video for our first single “Sheets Down” spent 4 weeks at #1 on CMT Pure’s 12 Pack Countdown for 23 straight weeks.”

FEATURE ARTISTS

LA born Connor Christian left home at 14 with a guitar and a backpack. His travels and musical journey took him through Pennsylvania, Florida, Georgia, South America and even Africa. Finally settling in Atlanta, GA in 1996, his music was as rich and diverse as his travels. “I was a military brat,” Connor recalled. “We moved from the US to Indonesia, Singapore, South Korea, and Belgium; all over the world, and the states. Things were so hectic and scary sometimes and my music went with me everywhere. It was a source of comfort. Although my view of what pop music was got kind of skewed by all the crazy places I was living, any chance I got, I got a guitar and some drums.” This life became the foundation for what is now know as, Conner Christian & Southern Gothic. What is that you may ask? “We don’t like to box ourselves in,” says Christian. “But we hear from fans all the time that our blend of sounds and influences is one of the things they love. When we get on a stage, it just clicks. It’s seamless. And based on the way people are reacting, it must be working.”

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“Yes, but what is it,” I asked Connor. “I prefer Y’allternative,” he laughed, “but you can call it southern rock, country, rock with redneck tendencies – take your pick.” Originality is important and Connor said that he always tries to make sure he’s a writer on all of their songs too. “Some times I write alone, some times with a partner or two. Jeff Spirko, my band’s musical director is my most frequent writing partner. Everything influences my writing – Things I see, things I’ve been through, things I just imagine, feelings, whether fleeting or things that stay with me over time,” he said.

Southern Gothic

In 2007 Connor recorded an album called A Southern Gothic. “It was a lot of sad

stories with a little glimmer of hope in there,” he said. “I read a lot of Tennessee Williams, Flannery O’Connor, Harper Lee, you know, Southern Gothic literature during high school and college. When we were coming up with the band’s name, we tried 450 other things, but CCSG just felt like it really embodied the music and it stuck.”

And the guys parlayed that success into their new live double album & DVD, Shuffle & Stomp. It includes songs from their CD, New Hometown, as well as their older albums, 90 Proof Lullabies, and A Southern Gothic, along with a few new ones. “People always say about our band, ‘You gotta hear them live.’ Well if you haven’t yet, here’s your chance,” Connor said. Grisham, Nadirah Shakoor and Tina Gullickson.

I asked Conner to tell me about a defining moment in his career. “There have been some big ones, for sure,” he said. “But the biggest one was probably playing to 34,000 people at Ribfest in Naperville IL, what a rush. If only we’d been the main attraction,” he mused.

New Hometown

The New Hometown CD was a big breakthrough for Connor and the band. “It runs the gamut from Bluegrass to

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For more information, see www.connorchristian.com.


It’s A Wrap

When a complicated plan unfolds

in a successful manner, it is a wonderful thing to behold. Such is the case with the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA). I remember a classic country song from sometime around the late 1940s. The title or tag phrase of that song was, “Just Lookin’ for a Home”. That phrase could have been lamented by the IBMA folks a few years ago. From humble beginnings in Owensboro, KY, through steady growth in scale and importance, the IBMA settled into the Nashville, TN home of its uptown brother, Country Music. As modern country music branched and morphed away from the common roots of the musicians that comprised IBMA, the IBMA folks found themselves becoming marginalized in their adopted hometown. Since the bluegrass music that the IBMA championed, had for a good period of time not matched the music championed by Nashville, IBMA officials reached a decision to find a new home.

December 2014

The fall of 2013 was the first time this new plan came together. Some AR folks were there for that initial event. There was no doubt that the IBMA officials wanted to be there, and the Raleigh city officials wanted them to be there as well. The idea of bluegrass music in a major NC city just needed a bit of time to catch on.

night—yes, all night if you were up for it. One could hear classic bluegrass, progressive new-grass, and string-band jam sessions both young and old. The artists were at their peak, and the good folks of Raleigh were turned on and tuned in. On Friday and Saturday the grand plaza that leads to the NC state capitol building was a massive, cost-free, festival—a gift from IBMA to the city; and the city thanked IBMA with adoration and recognition. The IBMA awards show was glamour times 2 complete with red carpet and artists on parade. (The privilege to be in attendance at a gala function such at this was magical for this old string-music story teller and fan.) Alas, lack of sleep and sensory overload caught up us more senior members, and we had to call it all to a close by late Friday night. Of course, there was a concern that the lack of banjo, fiddle, and mandolin sounds might cause withdrawal but we resisted another allnighter never the less.

Entertainer of the Year Balsam Range Vocal Group of the Year Balsam Range Instrumental Group of the Year Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen Male Vocalist of the Year Buddy Melton (Balsam Range) Female Vocalist of the Year Amanda Smith Emerging Artist of the Year Flatt Lonesome Album of the Year Noam Pikelny Plays Kenny Baker Plays Bill Monroe Song of the Year “Dear Sister” - Claire Lynch Hall of Fame Inductees The Original Seldom Scene, Neil Rosenberg

Fast forward up to several weeks ago. The AR folks rolled into Raleigh for the 2014 edition of the IBMA convention. WOW! What a difference a year had made! The string-music was non-stop from Tuesday night until Saturday

There is no doubt that the IBMA has found a new home, and the good folks of Raleigh have fallen in love with its new resident. It appears that both sides are planning to settle in together for a good long time

To see the rest of the winners; or to learn more about the IBMA; read an in-depth discussion about how the awards voting is carried out; view a list of past winners; and examine a host of other information, navigate your computer’s browser to: www.ibma.org.

By Edward Tutwiler

At about the same time, the city of Raleigh, NC was reinventing itself into a city with a thirst for the arts and the will to build modern facilities to support such a thirst. The rising stars in the bluegrass world had in recent years been hailing from the NC Mountains and Piedmont, Eastern TN, and Southwest VA, so it made a move to NC seem like a good idea to the IBMA folks and to the Raleigh folks as well.

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And The Winners Are:

Gospel Recording of the Year “Won’t It Be Wonderful There” Dailey & Vincent

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December 2014

The Dream Lives On

Song of the Mountains

By Greg Tutwiler

Marion, VA business-

man Charles Wassum took a business trip to New York city in 1928. Inspired, he returned home with a dream. He wanted to provide the citizens of his hometown with an elegant apartment building and a motion-picture theater. Although the town at the time had fewer than 4,000 residents, he set out to complete a building that would be “a monument to Marion’s future.” His first structure, the Royal Oak Apartments, was an impressive fourstory stone and brick building. Instead of building the theater though, he sold the property behind the apartments to Mr. Charles C. Lincoln, Sr. Mr. Lincoln, the owner of the town’s furniture factory, was also considered Marion’s wealthiest resident. He had a great interest in seeing a theater built as well, and construction soon began. Sadly, Lincoln died of pneumonia before he saw the finished structure, but his sons took over and completed the project.

A Grand Opening

The Lincoln Theatre opened its doors on July 1, 1929, with nearly 1,000 folks gathered to see the film, “Close Harmony,” starring Buddy Rogers and Nancy Carroll. This was the first talking picture many of the people had ever seen. Hundreds were reported to have been turned away at the box office because the theater could not accommodate them. The Lincoln enjoyed 44 years of serving the town of Marion before being closed in December, 1973. An attempt to reopen in the mid-70s couldn’t sustain the operational costs and it was once again closed in August, 1977. “The latest idea to save the Lincoln came from a student project at Marion Senior High School,”

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The Lincoln Theatre is also nationally known for their heritage music brand, Song of the Mountains. This concert series features top performers and rising artists in bluegrass, old time, and Americana music. Song of the Mountains is a program at The Lincoln Theatre, and concerts are held at the first of the month. The tapings are edited for television and broadcast approximately nine months later. Kristin said that “the audiences love being at the live tapings to experience the behind the scenes feel that you don’t see on television.”

Theprogramiscurrentlyinits10

th

Kristin Untiedt-Barnett, current director of operations at the Lincoln Theater, told me. “A student, Ronnie Harrington, did research on the theatre and became so passionate about saving it that he convinced his teacher, Dianna Pennington, to help him start a campaign. They rallied community volunteers and were able to purchase the building for $20,000. They raised funds, they fixed the leaky roof, they cleaned, they painted, and they continue to volunteer for projects today.”

Return To Glory

In the 1990s the initiative finally got steam, and after raising more than $1.8 million, a regional firm was chosen to restore the dilapidated building. Hundreds of volunteers signed on to help in the extensive structural and decorative reconstruction. The Lincoln Theatre officially reopened on May 16, 2004. The Lincoln currently offers a diverse range of live music, theatre, and arts events. “In 2014, we are celebrating 10 years since the theatre’s reopening and we decided to make the most of that celebration with the largest schedule of events that the theatre has seen. We are offering musical performances ranging from the traditional blue-

grass and old time to jazz, blues, rock, classical, and more. This year we have also made a special effort to increase our outreach to young audiences with a new series call The Lincoln Listening Room.” These concerts feature young, local, and rising artists in an environment focused on listening. Many young bands have to get their start playing in bars and coffeehouses, where audiences are preocc upied with food, drink, and conversation. “We wanted to give these musicians an opportunity to play on a professional stage with great acoustics and an audience that is there solely for the music,” Kristin said. “We have been able to bring in some up and coming groups and have paired them with local acts for a great shared experience.” Performers scheduled for this season include The Black Lillies, David Wax Museum, and Wayne Graham Band.

www.AmericanaRhythm.com

season of tapings – season nine is on the air on public television stations now across America. “The show is a program of The Lincoln Theatre and has been around since just after the reopening of the theatre,” Kristin said. “Our host station is UNCTV out of Raleigh, North Carolina and the show is distributed to public television outlets through NETA.” Song Of The Mountains is featured on over 120 stations from Florida to Alaska, and the potential audience reach is over 100 million. The show is hosted by bluegrass broadcaster Tim White, who also serves as the Coordinator for the program. In 2014, Tim White received his

third IBMA nomination for Broadcaster of the Year from his work on Song of the Mountains. The show is known for showcasing outstanding talents such as Tom T. Hall, Doc Watson, Rhonda Vincent, and Ralph Stanley, and it has also brought national attention to rising stars in the industry such as the SteelDrivers

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December 2014

By Wayne Erbsen

I Ride An Old Paint I’ve always been a sucker for anything that has to do with cowboys. As a kid, one of my favorite songs to sing was “Home on the Range.” In fact, I tried to persuade my parents that we needed to move to a ranch in Wyoming, but they weren’t buying it. Instead, I contented myself with watching Western films like “Shane” (1953 ) on the big screen or “Gunsmoke,” “Bonanza,” “Have Gun Will Travel,” or “The Rifleman” on our little black and white TV at home. At night, I slept under a cowboy blanket. My favorite toy was my trusty plastic six-shooter, and my lunchbox had a vivid image of my hero, Hopalong Cassity, emblazoned on the side. Years later, when I started to play oldtime and bluegrass music, I noticed that many bluegrass recordings featured cowboy or Western songs. Bill Monroe’s first solo recording for RCA Victor on October 7, 1940 was

Chatam County Line

the Jimmy Rodgers composition “Muleskinner Blues.” In 1994, my interest in cowboy music was given a big boost when I had the good fortune to meet and become friends with Jim Bob Tinsley, who lived only an hour’s drive from my home in Asheville, North Carolina. Jim Bob had been a cowboy, and played guitar and sang harmony in Gene Autry’s band. Best of all, Jim Bob was a master researcher and scholar of cowboy music. As they say, he “wrote the book” on cowboy music with his “He Was Singing This Song,” and “For a Cowboy Has to Sing.” As if that wasn’t enough, Jim Bob had his own cowboy museum in Brevard, North Carolina, “The Jim Bob Museum.” Under Jim Bob’s tutelage, I became deeply immersed in cowboy music history and lore, and ended up writing two small books of traditional cowboy music, “Cowboy Songs, Jokes, Lingo ‘n Lore” and “Outlaw Ballads, Legends ‘n Lore.” I also recorded CDs to go with each book,

“Cowboy Songs of the Wild Frontier,” and “Authentic Outlaw Ballads.”

he wrote the song “smells of saddle leather.”

By spending a lot of time studying Jim Bob Tinsely’s extensive research materials, I learned some interesting history about the authentic cowboy song, “I Ride an Old Paint.” It was first printed in John Lomax’s 1910 book Terry and “Cowboy Songs and Other Frontier his Ballads.” Carl Sandburg learned it from Derring Margaret Larkin of Las Vegas, New Banjo. and included it in his 1927 Mexico, book, “The American Songbag.” Sandburg hit the nail on the head when

The word “hoolihan” is a term for bulldogging, which by 1900 became an established rodeo sport. A “hoolihan” also means a loop thrown clockwise to rope a horse. The word has also been used to describe someone who hells around town, or “paints the town red.”

We can only guess at the meaning of the words “I lead an old Dan” in the song. Of course, “Dan” could simply have been the name of a horse, but in some versions of Here is my arrangement in ¾ time. The tab works for a banjo or a guitar. the song, the cowboy is riding an I ride an old paint, and I lead an old Dan, old paint horse while leading his I’m off to Montana for to throw the hoolihan, mother, “an old dam.” “Firey” They feed in the coulees, they water in the draw, and “Snuffy” refer to wild or spirTheir tails are all matted, their backs are all raw. ited cattle. Ride around little dogies, ride around them slow, For the firey and the snuffy are a-rarin’ to go.

Wayne Erbsen has been deeply immersed in old-time and bluegrass music for fifty years. He has written over thirty instruction and songbooks and he I’m working in the fields, I’m working on the farm, claims to be able to teach anyAll I’ve got to show is a muscle in my arm, one to play a musical instrument. A blister on my toe and a callus on my hand, I’m going to Wyoming for to throw the hoolihan. Get in touch with Wayne for a free catalog from his company, Oh, when I die take my saddle from the wall, Put it on my pony and lead him from the stall Native Ground Books & Music, Tie my bones to his back, turn our faces to the west, or visit www.nativeground.com. And we’ll ride the prairies we love the best. Old Bill Jones had two daughters and a song, One went to Denver, and the other went wrong. His wife she died in a poolroom fight And he sings this song from morning till night.

www.AmericanaRhythm.com

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December 2014

Door-To-Door Honky Tonk Salesmen

lease, Live Tracks, on the fledgling Freedom label. The Derailers’ sweet Austin beginnings had launched a worldwide musical career. By Donna Marie Miller

Twenty years ago, The Derailers, a band influenced by Buck Owens and the Buckaroos, found a home on stage at the Broken Spoke, a refuge from touring 320 days a year. Hofeldt later co-wrote a song about it, entitled “Cold Beer, Hot Women and Cold Country Music.”

“When you’re given an opportunity like that, you have to take advantage of it and just work your butt off -- and we did.”

Brian Hofeldt together with guitarist and then lead singer Tony Villanueva, formed the band that has since produced 10 albums on two different major record labels, as well as four independent ones. Villanueva left in 2003 to pursue other interests and since then, Hofeldt has fronted the band. The Derailers began working at the Broken Spoke in 1995, after leaving a substantial gig where they played every Wednesday at The Continental Club in Austin. “It was the Broken Spoke; it was legend because of all the people who have played here and it’s the most honest door in town. It’s always been the top place for a country band,” Hofeldt said. Hofeldt and Villanueva met in Portland, OR, a place some regard as Austin’s “sister city.” The Northwestern coastal town remains cold and rainy most of the year and lacks what Hofeldt deems to be the single most important ingredient to launching his band’s success in 1994. “One of the many interesting and unique aspects of Texas is the dance hall scene. The Broken Spoke being one of the main and greatest ones in the state of Texas, to me, it’s the greatest honky tonk in the known universe. That’s just my opinion, but I think a lot of people share it,” he said. Moving to Austin from Portland as a 26-year-old musician felt a lot like “going to trade school,” he said. “I came to Austin in 1992-1993, and it was just full of all these great guitar players and musicians. Rent was still cheap then and breakfast tacos were 79 cents. There was this university of 50,000 kids, half of whom were girls – more than half. It just seemed like

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“It’s good to count your blessings and to look back and be thankful for the good fortunes that presented themselves. I have to say though, that we really, really worked hard in addition,” he said.

New Beginnings heaven,” he said. “The weather was good and it was just fantastic.” Hofeldt said that his friend, Villanueva, first discovered Austin on his way traveling to Nashville; when he stopped here he just never left. “I probably saw Alvin (Crow and the Pleasant Valley Boys.) We went to a whole lot of places too that don’t even exist anymore, like Henry’s and The Black Cat.” Villanueva and Hofeldt formed a special bond as former bandleaders of their own separate bands, but they also played together in another band as sidemen before moving from Portland to Austin in 1991. “Both Tony and I had grandfathers who worked for the railroad,” he said. “So, we sort of wanted a railroad theme, but we also felt a little hubris and thought we’d help put country music back on the right track. We thought we’d ‘derail’ the status quo and do our own thing, which was essentially keeping closer to the roots of country music.”

Villanueva had been writing original music and the two of them began to write together for a new band. Hofeldt quit his job laying carpet. Villanueva quit his job working as a custodian at Motorola. They began a small painting company together called, ‘The Detailers’, to go along with the band name and did this between gigs while waiting for the band to take off. The band took Austin by storm. Hofeldt said that he realized at the time that his and Villanueva’s fortunes depended upon securing a future playing at the Broken Spoke. “He (owner James White) already knew of us; we had come in and had talked to him before and had asked him for gigs. I think (White’s youngest daughter,) Ginny White had been out to our ‘Train Wreck Wednesdays’ at the Continental Club and had told her daddy about that. She helped us to get in.” He said the three club owners visited one another’s clubs often in those days. Also fortuitously, another one of Wertheimer’s friends included John Kunz, owner of Waterloo Records, who became a partner in Watermelon Records, the Derailers’ first local re-

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In 1998 alone, the Derailers worked 320 gigs, often zigzagging across the United States and the globe. “That was sometimes two-aday shows – sometimes during the day at a record store or radio station, and later at a club. We did a lot of work that year. I would also say that in the surrounding years of 1997 and 1999 we worked around 275 days and in 1995 and 2000 we worked around 250. We really, really worked hard,” he said. He said he remembers otherwise passing through Austin, just another stop on their tours throughout the United States and all across the world. “At least we got to be in our own homes one night though, two maybe, and always back here at the Broken Spoke.”

Honky Tonk Salesmen “That’s just what you have to do. We were door-to-door honky tonk salesmen.” Burnout followed. The Derailers had signed with two major labels, including Sire Records, a division of Warner Brothers Records and then Sony Records and Lucky Dog to produce their albums. The consequences proved detrimental to their personal lives. He remembers feeling “a little bit of tension in the studio” as early as 1998 while working on the Derailers’ album, Full Western Dress, which included a cameo performance by Buck Owens


December 2014

himself. The band’s members felt overworked and torn between their musical careers and their personal lives, Hofeldt said.

bum and released it to stores in 2006. He said that year the Derailers found their “sweet spot” again with fans.

Not long after the release of the album, Villanueva fell ill and quit the music business. “Tony got real sick. He was in ICU with pneumonia. We had to do a week or two of gigs without him. It was scary. He didn’t look good and I didn’t know what was going to happen,” Hofeldt said. “He became a born again Christian and I think his priorities just changed completely. He wanted to focus on his family and then spreading the message, so he wasn’t really interested in music anymore. It wasn’t like it was an angry breakup or anything.” Hofeldt said meanwhile, he filed for divorce from his own marriage about that same time. He eventually divorced and married the love of his life, Tiffany Hofeldt, a professional photographer in Austin. The Derailers continued to tour and began planning a new album. Two years passed. In 2005 the Derailers recorded their hit Soldiers of Love al-

“We just had our heads down and were workin’ to make this thing continue. Soldiers of Love was our first record without Tony and we had a song on it that album called ‘Cold Beer, Hot Women, and Cool Country Music’ which we wrote about the Broken Spoke,” Hofeldt said. Cason came out to watch the Derailers at the Broken Spoke and befriended Hofeldt. Then after Buck Owens’ death March 26, 2006, the Derailers began work on a tribute album to him, entitled: Under the Influence of Buck, that included 13 of the country music star’s classic hits. They released the album in 2007.

Not A One Name Brand It helped that their fans associated the Derailers’ music to a band, instead of a single person or front man. Their music drew the attention of one patron, legendary songwriter James E. “Buzz” Cason, who had already written songs for The Beatles, Pearl Jam and U2. Cason co-authored his greatest hit, “Everlasting Love,” with Mac Gayden before 1967 when Robert Knight recorded the song.

Hofeldt said that he feels a fraternity of friendship among the photos of all the stars who have performed at the Broken Spoke in the last five decades. He said he shares that feeling with other regularly performing musicians who play at the Broken Spoke including Alvin Crow, Cornell Hurd, and Dale Watson.

Living My Dream He said he always imagined himself as a leader of a country band. His life

is great. “I’m living my dream. I feel very fortunate. Sometimes, I just focus on that. Like Carl Jung says, ‘We are always happiest when we are dreaming.’ We are dreaming about what we want to achieve or what our lives will be like in the future, that’s when we’re happiest. But those things happen to you and you pass them by and push them away because you’re always looking ahead,” Hofeldt said. Other original members of the Derailers include drummer and percussionist Scott Matthews and “Sweet” Basil McJagger, who plays piano and organs. Vic Gerard has returned to the band after a hiatus from raising a family; he originally performed as a Derailer in the 1990s. Occasionally, Mike Daily, will also sit in to play steel when he’s not performing with the Ace in the Hole band, now that George Strait has stopped touring

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Donna Marie Miller, Austin, TX, is a freelance writer, editor, photographer, and videographer/ editor. See more of her articles at www.DonnaMarieMillerBlog.com.

Live & Recorded Sound Services BeARcade Music Production Port Republic, VA Located in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley

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December 2014

Music From The National Scene

Music From Your Neighbors

welcome to the latest edi-

tion of SPINS! Hot from the trails of the IBMA expereince, we have a passel of great new grass, and grass fed morsels for you to feast on. How can these guys keep making such great music? Wow! Grab your iPad or Smart Phone and dial up some of these fine folks. We bet you love them all - we do! And they’re just in time for Christmas stocking stuffers too. www.AmericanaRhythm.com. Uncle Woody, The Spin Doctor

Crow Brothers Forty Years Old

Breaking Grass Just As Strong

The Earls Of Lester The Earls Of Lester

Larry Stephenson Pull Your Savior In

www.breakinggrass.com Up and coming Mississippi bluegrass quintet, Breaking Grass has been gaining a lot of attention - and their latest, Just As Strong, could be their breakout CD. XM hit, “Raining In Virginia” is lead cut. It just gets better from there

www.concordmusicgroup.com

www.larrystephensonband.com

Junior Sisk And Ramblers Choice Trouble Follows Me

It’s a tribute to the legendary Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs - featuring the likes of Jerry Douglas, Shawn Camp, Tim O’Brian, Barry Bales, etc. Everything about the project is fun - if you like Flatt & Scruggs, this is must!

Traditional grass is alive and well for sure with Larry Stephenson and his band and fans of bluegrass gospel will especially be interested in the latest from these Virginia boys, Pull Your Savior In. Love those rich harminies

Southwest Virginia native Junior Sisk is another traditionalist, and considered by many to be “one of the leading standard bearers.” His latest is a fine example of why he’s considered tops

Driven You’ll Be Lonely I’ll Be Gone

Donna Hughes From The Heart

Joe Mullins & The Radio Ramblers Another Day From Life

Phil Leadbetter The Next Move

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www.crowbrothers.com Josh and Wayne Crow are entering their 40th year in the music business - thus the CD title, Forty Years Old. The SPBGMA and IBMA nominated duo bring a real authenticity to their music. It’s traditional with hints of country and folk spread around

www.drivenbluegrass.com Featuring that new progressive, grass ladened sound, these newcomers are quickly making a name for themselves. Dubbed “Bluegrass without mercy,” you’ll want to check our Driven for sure. Great sound

The Roys The View

The Spinney Brothers Tried & True

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www.donnahughes.com Back from a near four year hiatus, prolific songwriter

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two unique CDs at the same time. One featuring piano, and this one, 21 tracks of grassin’ good stuff. 19 original, two covers. Good stuff

www.unclephilonline.com Down, not out; a 2012 cancer diagnosis for the former IBMA Dobro player of the year has not stopped Phil Leadbetter. His latest project is a “bucket list” of folks that he has always wanted to play with. It’s well worth the listen

Trinity River Band On A Morning Like This

Nu-Blu All The Way

Lonesome River Band Turn On A Dime www.lonesomeriverband.com The Lonesome River Band has been a staple in the bluegrass music scene for more than 30 years - one of the long standing institutions. Their new release, “Turn On A Dime,” is fresh and classic at the same time. Sammy Shelor and company bring it again

Donna Hughes (see cover story) released not one, but

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www.theroysonline.com

www.spinneybrothers.com

www.larrysparks.com

www.nu-blu.com

2014 multi-nominated IBMA awards artist the Spinny Brothers bring their latest offering to the table - Tried & True. This Canadian group debuted in 1992 and have been gaining fans ever since. This latest will win you over

Callahan, FL is home for this young troup of progressive grassers lead by mesmerizing lead singer and Mandolinist, Sarah Harris, a 2013 IBMA Momen tum Award Nominee. If you’re looking for a new holiday CD - this is it

Silver City, NC’s Nu-Blu’s latest features the attention getting hit, “Jesus and Jones,” accompianied by Sam Moore (Sam & Dave). That song, and the rest of the CD are well worth the spin. Tenacity and hard work have paid off

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

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www.radioramblers.com Joe Mullins has become a staple on the bluegrass festival scene over the years. And his latest project, Another Day From Life, continues his legacy of fine traditionally tinged Ramblers style grass. It’s a great collection for sure

Brother/Sister team, The Roys have parlayed their sibling relationship into an impressive bluegrass career. Their latest, The View, adds a new layer to their classic/ progressive sound. Another to add to your list for sure

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www.juniorsisk.us

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December 2014

OCTOBER Blue Ridge Folk Life Festival October 25 , 2014 Ferrum, VA www.blueridgeinstitute.org

NOVEMBER Southern Ohio Music Festival November 7 - 8, 2014 Wilmington, OH www.somusicfest.com Wayne Taylor’s Bluegrass Fest. November 8 - 9, 2014 Maiden, NC

Email festival listings to info@americanarhythm.com Folk Alliance International February 18 - 22, 2015 Kansas City, MI www.folk.org Neuse River Music Fest February 20 - 21, 2015 Kinston, NC www.neuserivermusicfest.com Bluegrass First Class February 20 - 22 , 2015 Ashville, NC www.bluegrassfirstclass.com

www.waynetaylorandappaloosa.com

DECEMBER Christmas In The Smokies December 12 - 14, 2014 Pigeon Forge, TN www.bluegrasschristmasinsmokies.com

JANUARY 2015 SPBGMA Bluegrass Awards January 9 - 11, 2015 Jefferson City, MO www.spbgma.com Winter Village Bluegrass Festival January 23 - 25, 2015 Ithaca, NY www.wintervillagebluegrass.com

FEBRUARY 2015

Richmond Bluegrass Jam February 21 , 2015 Richmond, VA www.rvabluegrassjam.com DC Bluegrass February 27 - 28 , 2015 Tysons Corner, VA www.dcbluegrassfest.org Gardner Winter Music Festival February 27 - 28 , 2015 Morgantown, WV www.gwmf.org South Carolina Guitar Show February 28 - March 1, 2015 Spartanburg, SC www.bee3vintage.com

ASU Old Time Fiddlers Conv. February 6 - 7, 2015 Boone, NC fiddle.apstate.edu

Makes A Great Christmas Gift! Looking for a neat Christmas gift? Put a Subscription of AR under their tree ... Mail with your check or money order for only $16 payable to Americana Rhythm, and send this to PO Box 45, Bridgewater, VA 22812. PLEASE PRINT CLEARLY! We’ll make sure a Christmas Card goes to the subscriber in your honor, even if it’s after Christmas!

NAME: (subscriber, and name on the card)

MAILING ADDRESS:

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Happy Holidays!

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Americana Rhythm Music Magazine Issue #54  

Our December release featuring Bluegrass songwriter Donna Hughes; Marion, VA's Lincoln Theater, IBMA coverage, A chat with Honky Tonk's Dera...

Americana Rhythm Music Magazine Issue #54  

Our December release featuring Bluegrass songwriter Donna Hughes; Marion, VA's Lincoln Theater, IBMA coverage, A chat with Honky Tonk's Dera...

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