Sunday, April 27, 2014


YBA president Sharon Karlson has announced the line up for the Spring Showcase:

1.  Almeda and Friends
2.  Anything Goes
3.  Maverick String Stretchers
4.  Song Dog Serenade
5.  Bluegrass for Breakfast
6.  Bluegrass County Line
7.  Cold Frosty Morning
8.  Sure Enough String Band

Almeda Bradshaw will have Bonnie Zieske on bass and a multi-instrumentlist from Belgrade performing with her.  "Anything Goes" will be Sharon Karlson and friends. We know who the String Stretchers, Song Dog, BforB, and Cold Frosty are. That leaves "Bluegrass County Line" and the "Sure Enough String Band." An earlier e-mail listed NINE bands including Andrew Wilson, Archie Bott, and Karen Schlosser bands. Andrew Wilson's was said to be a family band. Apparently one of these three has been dropped and you can take your own guess as to who the remaining two are and who is playing with them. We will all find out on Friday, May 9, 2014/ 

Saturday, April 26, 2014


Perusing the latest edition of  David Crisp's Billings Outpost  Insider Calendar I noted that Ted Ness and the Rusty Nails will be performing on Sunday, April 27th 9 PM at the Railyard.  That is probably a good venue for these dudes who play some progressive bluegrass. but in a very hard rocking style. Also the Old Time Fiddlers will have afternoon dance music going in Fromberg at the Tomahawk on Saturday and the Shrine on Sunday. The Outpost is a free source of news you can't get elsewhere (except on Ed Kemmick's Last Best  News online).  They both need contributions so consider sending them a shekel or two now and then. Thanks David and Ed.


It has been announced that the popular annual "Alive After Five" concert series in Billings will commence on June 5th at the Fieldhouse Cafe with the Missoula based "Lil' Smokies" bluegrass band performing. You can view a video performance by them at  beginning Saturday, April 26, 2014. It is from the Peacock Radio Sessions at Northwest String Summit 2013.The Lil' Smokies performing "Mending The Fence".Matt Cornette: banjo, Cameron Wilson: mandolin, Pete Barrett: guitar and vocals, Andy Dunnigan: dobro, Scott Parker: bass and vocals, and Jesse Brown: fiddle. Rogers Note: It is a bit unusual to hear a dobro player kick off a number AND sing the lead vocals, but these guys make it work and they are performing in a traditional bluegrass format.  This is a free event and worth attending. Food and beer will be available on site as it will be at the remainder of the events through the summer. This is the only one featuring bluegrass however so keep the June 5th date in mind. 

Friday, April 25, 2014


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Tune in this Monday evening as we play a song from our upcoming EP!  Have a Twitter account?  Include official twitter handles@sleepymanbanjo and @jimmykimmel in your tweets.
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We are so excited to announce the release of our new EP 'By My Side' on 6.24.14, featuring our first ever vocal tracks.  Pre-order your CD or Limited Edition Vinyl Record today

Thanks for supporting Sleepy Man. You all are the best!
Tommy, Robbie & Jonny

Monday, April 21, 2014


I watched Austin City Limits early this AM on PBS to view the music of Civil War followed by the Punch Brothers. I believe a married duo makes up Civil War and they show that great vocal harmonies can produce crowd pleasing music from two chord tunes. They sure don't do songs about the 1860's in America, but he is from Alabama and I am guessing that she comes from north of the Mason-Dixon line and that is where their name comes from. They opened the show and then the progressive bluegrass band The Punch Brothers came on like absolute gangbusters!  They started with an extremely percussive rhythmic sound featuring a vocal by Chris Thile.  Other band members include Gabe Witcher on fiddle, Chris Eldridge, guitar, Paul Kowert, bass, and Noam Pikelny's banjo. (I have recently been enjoying a CD entitled Noam Pikelny plays Bill Monroe/Kenny Baker, accompanied by a band of bluegrass all-stars.)  There are many excellent mandolin pickers today, but Chris Thile may be the most talented of all.  He said he became fascinated with the mandolin at the age of two and began playing when only five years old. My experience, and those of others, has been that a parent cannot impose any activity on a child with guaranteed success, but if the child really expresses an interest in an instrument, or anything else for that matter,  they have a much greater chance of doing very well. Chris Thile is an example of this as are other prodigies from Ricky Skaggs and Michael Cleveland to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Felix Mendelssohn. The Punch Brothers have toured this area before and if they return you should consider catching their show.  You won't be disappointed.


If you did not attend one of this bluegrass woman's concerts in Montana you missed a chance to hear some great music.  The Billings concert was opened by local group Songdog Serenade who accounted for themselves very well and did the Yellowstone Bluegrass Association proud.  They don't perform pure bluegrass as evidenced by a rock tune from Bob Dylan as well as Hannah King's singing and playing of a Bob Will's western swing tune, "Home in San Antone." Nevertheless, her fiddle playing is fitting of a MT fiddle champion and national contender for sure and adds a super dimension to the Songdogs. Western swing has been kept alive by Ray Benson of Asleep At The Wheel and includes many standards, "San Antonio Rose," "New Spanish Two Step," "Take Me Back To Tulsa," and "Faded Love" among others. The YBA's Trent Indreland provided the sound for this event and did his usual efficient job. I have known Trent for many years and he loves this "techie" stuff.  He attended MSU in the film and TV department and was always a good high fidelity stereo guy and has continued in ham radio and similar electronics endeavors. Now being retired from refinery work definitely helps.  He picks a pretty good mandolin, too. Bonnie Zieske was another YBA member assisting in this show. Thanks for your ticket taking help, Bonnie.

The concert was part of the Ruby Jewell Jamboree series promoted by Phyllis Erck. Phyllis is president of the MRBA centered in Missoula and her family owns a series of large motel operations including Ruby's Inn and also the Billings Hampton Inn. For more info on Phyllis go back to my earlier MRBA post and click on she and her band. This was the first time Billings was included in this series and I think she liked the turnout. At any rate she promised to bring another great bluegrass band back to Billings next year. We will hold you to that promise Phyllis and thanks for the Kathy Kallick show.  


Bluegrass music just oozes out of this great woman singer/song writer. From her opening numbers there was no doubt that this was to be a real bluegrass concert. I especially like her second choice, an old Bill Monroe tune entitled "The Rocky Road Blues." Wow! She has surrounded herself with a lineup of excellent pickers including her mando man of 17 years, Tom Bekeny. who can double on fiddle. She also has the fiery fiddle playing of Annie Stanicic, who can also play clawhammer banjo and Greg Booth on banjo and dobro. The bass work is handled by old pro, Cary Black.  I was extremely impressed with his work as he never seemed to play an open string, but was all over the fingerboard of that bass with fingers wide apart and noting all. That is the real way to play a bass.  I would encourage any readers to search the Kathy Kallick band and click on the biographies. I was blown away by that of Black. This man has played with an amazing array of different performers going all the way back to sax player Tex Benecke. Benecke was the lead singer of the Glen Miller orchestra in 1940. After Miller disappeared on a plane during WWII Tex went on to lead the band for several years after the war. Another older group was the Latin styling of Laurinda Almeida, a stalwart of the easy listening music of the 1970's. I still have vinyls of both these guys somewhere in my musical stash. Cary Black has played with many others in different genre including the Kingston Trio, Petula Clark, the Boys of the Lough (Scottish trad.), Kay Starr, Bing's brother Bob Crosby (and the Bobcats)  and now we were lucky enough to hear him with the Kathy Kallick band.  He alone was worth the price of a ticket to me.


Sorry to be absent for so long. I had to deal with excess ad ware, then worries over Microsoft ending support for XP on my desktop and Heartbleed fears on my Android Tablet.  I hope I do not experience identity theft after changing several passwords, etc. and hope you don't either.  On my last post I fretted (actually fiddlers never FRET!), OK I fussed about the YBA Friday jam and a Jason Isbell concert on PBS.  I solved the problem by going down early to the Lincoln Center, performing my required number and slipping out to be home by 8 PM to watch Isbell, who will be a main act at the Red Ants Pants Festival in White Sulphur this summer.  In my opinion the Reds Ants folks will probably love this guy, but he sure ain't a bluegrasser. He is a very talented songwriter/singer though and I enjoyed his numbers, but his band is electric and performing some type of Indy music. (My son in Nashville writes similar music and I still do not get a lot of that Indy stuff. Won't admit to being an old fuddy-duddy even though I am one.)  As I noted earlier the closest to bluegrass in WSS will probably be Red Molly.

Friday, April 11, 2014


This is very short notice, but I just learned about it. Jason Isbell will be performing on Live from Lincoln Center at 8 PM tonight on MT PBS. If you are not attending the Lincoln Jam you may wish to tune in on this performance. He is listed as a headliner during the coming Red Ants Pants Festival in White Sulphur Springs. The notice from MT PBS states: "The Alabama songwriter creates a sound that stays true to his roots and cuts close to the bone." He must be very good to get a slot on Live From Lincoln Center! Searching his tour dates shows that he performs all over the world and about now is heading Down Under. Now my personal dilemma is whether to go down to the Lincoln jam or stay at home and catch this show.  Of course we could always find him on U-Tube as a last resort.

Sunday, April 6, 2014


If you have just read my last post on the Red Ants Pants Festival you have read that a 2014 headliner would be none other than Charlie Pride. Old Charlie has  had an amazing history dating from his birth in Mississippi to becoming a professional baseball player in Missoula and later moving to Helena, MT and then going on to a virtually improbable career as a nationally acclaimed country singer and member of the Grand Old Opry.

I will not bore you with my own personal "Charlie Pride" story  back then when I was a teacher-coach in Helena, MT. That was back when Charlie was just another wannebe on the streets of Helena. That was also back when I, as a young fellow, was pursuing all those gorgeous telephone employees of MTN Bell in Helena. (Never did catch one!)  But, prepare your selves, it will soon be forth coming. (Sorry to my buddies who have heard my old stories over and over again,  But what the hell, I have to listen to yours, too.)


Performers for the 2014 Red Ants Pants Festival have been announced.  There will be a lot of very good music, but I am afraid there will be little for true bluegrass fans.  The closest might be Red Molly, an all girl trio with guitar, electric bass and dobro  (or banjo) played by the third picker. This band is  from New York. I have found them listed as a new girl band along with the likes of Della Mae, a band which has become VERY  popular in bluegrass circles. I listened to a couple of their numbers on U-Tube.  Red Molly features beautiful vocal harmonies and you should probably expect them to be plugged in when they play at Red Ants. (As a very old guy any feminists reading this might please give me a pass when I say, "Red Molly  is easy on the eyes, too.")  Charley Pride, Brandi Carlile and Josh Ritter are the big names for the three-day festival in White Sulphur Springs, MT. Other performers are Jason Isbell, Ian Tyson, Corb Lund, James McMurtry, JD McPherson, The Black Lillies,  Holly Williams, Baskery, Matt Andersen, Jessie Veeder, Tom Catmull’s Radio Static and The Bus Driver Tour. Female performers are definitely featured in this event. That is because The festival benefits the Red Ants Pants Foundation, a nonprofit organization supporting women’s leadership, working family farms and ranches, and rural communities. I should also mention that several of the performers have current or former roots in the Montana/Wyoming/North Dakota region  especially the areas around Livingston and Yellowstone Park. 

The first festival had 6,000 attendees  and grew to more than 10,500 last year. This is the events fourth year.
The festival is July 24-27. A one-day pass is $50 in advance or $55 at the gate. A three-day weekend pass is $125 in advance or $140 at the gate. For more information visit or call 406-209-8135.

BTW: If you are reading this blog on your computer or mobile device take notice of this.  You bluegrass fans should all be taking advantage of the U-Tube video performances by all the good bluegrass bands. That should help you decide when and what to continue to listen to and/or purchase. (That was for all my other ancient friends. You kids already know this and a lot more that I will likely never dig.)  

Saturday, April 5, 2014


A recent reading of the poster for the Kathy Kallick/Song Dog Serenade concert states that ticket prices are $16 advance or $18 night of concert.  Again there will be $2 discounts available to members of the MRBA, seniors, and veterans. I have just bought an advance ticket via PayPal. Let's all turn out to hear some great bluegrass music next Thursday and support our friends performing in Song Dog Serenade.


  • John Andrus shared this message from Dewaine Wakeman regarding bluegrass jams in Grand Forks, ND on Facebook.

    • Dewaine Wakeman Jams have been weekly for three years. They started out at Culver's in Grand Forks, ND, moved to Whitey's Cafe in East Grand Forks, MN, then moved to the Knights of Columbus Building (our current location). The first year we also had a show known as "Bluegrass Sunday" once a month for about 400 patrons in the Basement of the Parkwood Auditorium (near the hospital). We really don't have that place to host a larger Bluegrass show anymore, (provided the city doesn't build us something) plus the Bluegrass group that once was, splintered up into a Country group as well. Jams are smaller nowadays because of this, but there are still people that come out and a true to Bluegrass music as well. We used to get about 20 people at the jams, but now because of the 1/3 Country 2/3 Bluegrass rule we get around 5 to 7. The music is LOT better though, no white noise, better GROUP cooperation, and less egos to mess things up, and its all because people around here are serious about this kind of music. Thanks for your interest! Dewaine

    Reminder from Roger: John Andrus, who teaches Scrugg's style banjo will be the instructor at the International Peace Garden event again this year.  For more info on this blog click on older posts to find it or search it on your browser.  

Friday, April 4, 2014


In an earlier post I mentioned that the Douglas. WY, Contest and the MRBA's Spring Festival in Stevensville, MT, were taking place that second weekend in April. I neglected to also list the Bluegrass Association of North Dakota Annual Gathering would also be held on April 11 and 12 at the Hampton Inn and Suites at 2020 Schafer Street in Bismarck, ND.  This includes two nights of jamming, the annual meeting, a catered dinner, and a band scramble. There will also be a concert of ND's bluegrass bands at the Baptist Nursing Home and a silent auction of items for attendees to bid on. A jam contest to win Bill Monroe related bluegrass items sounds like fun, too. The election of new officers will also be held.

Bluegrass activity is definitely cranking up over this tri-state area as summer approaches. Whether a picker or a fan be sure to participate in some of these fun events.

Thursday, April 3, 2014


Exactly one week from this posting the Kathy Kallick Band will be performing on Thursday, April 9th, at the Hampton Inn, located at 5110 South Gate Drive in Billings, MT.  Local band, Song Dog Serenade, will open the show at 7 PM.  The YBA website lists the tickets at $22 for adults, but I noticed a poster at Evergreen IGA which included slightly lower costs. It also said $2 discounts would be available to members of the MRBA, seniors, and veterans.  (I belong to all of those categories.  Do you suppose I would get two bucks off for EACH of them. Ha! Fat chance, Rog.) The Kallick Band's tour will include performances in Missoula on April 7th and Great Falls on April 8th.  These are all part of the Ruby Jewel Concert Series.  Phyliss Erck is bringing several exceptional bluegrass bands to Montana as part of that series. I first heard Kathy Kallick's name as part of the all female group, "The Good Old Persons," with Laurie Lewis on fiddle about 20 years ago. I was a fan of Laurie's fiddling at that time. Kathy Kallick has gone on to accumulate an impressive resume as a picker, songwriter and vocalist. This should be a great show to attend. For more information on the concert series, Phyllis Erck  and the Kathy Kallick Band, click on  Thanks for everything you are doing to promote bluegrass in this semi-BG wilderness Phyllis.

Also congratulations to Scott and Paddy Moore. Song Dog is rubbing shoulders with the big time bluegrass bands now.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014


Anniversary of the Wilderness Act – A Missoula Celebration!! 
hilary_heading_back_from_gladiatorWe are a collaborative of nonprofits and community members putting on this event Saturday, September 20th 2014, in McCormick Park.
We are looking for a Montana bluegrass band to play for the afternoon. We have some money for a band but would greatly appreciate any discounts.
We are still working out exact times. We will advertise your participation through web, radio, and print outlets.
        If you and your band are interested or have any questions, please email me.
            Thank You, Emily Struss at
ROGER'S NOTE: This sounds like a great event.  Some local pickers may disagree with me, but I am a big fan of our MT-WY-ID wilderness areas.  Let us leave this beautiful part of the United States a place which our future generations will be able to enjoy as much as we have. 

Enjoy a night with “Unstable Table”…at Millers Crossing, Helena MT

4/24/2014 at 7:00
acoustic music by
Unstable Table, a local Helena traditional bluegrass group.
Location; Millers Crossing in Helena Montana

 Music, Food, Liquor, Wine, and Beer Daily Beer Special Miller’s Crossing features a craft brewed special every day

52 S Park Ave, Helena, Mt 59601
(406) 442-3290
 ROGER'S NOTE: Bluegrass is alive and well in Helena as well as many other cities in this region.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014


Speaking of dates the MRBA Spring Festival near Stevensville will be held that same week end as the Douglas competitions in Wyoming.  Also only a little over a month from this posting the YBA will host it's Spring Showcase at the Yellowstone Boys and Girls Ranch chapel between Billings and Laurel on May 9, 2014.  Eight bands are selected on a first come basis and have likely been chosen by now.  Many of us are looking forward to hearing which of these groups will be performing. Good luck to all of them and we will see you at the Ranch on May 9th. 


The High Plains Old Time Music Festival is a two-day competition with the largest variety of categories in the region.  Some of the categories include: fiddle, vocal, banjo, piano, variety and guitar.  Preliminaries are on Saturday and the finals are on Sunday.  Over $3,000 will be offered in cash and prizes!   The location is at Eastern WY College in Douglas, WY.  Events start at 9:00 am both days.  There is also a Saturday Night Showcase of Talent with a Strut Your Stuff and Band Scramble categories and live entertainment that night.  This festival is enjoyed by competitors and spectators alike because of the great music, friendly atmosphere and family feel. For more information, please call Jamie at 307-358-5622. Mark your calendars! The dates for High Plains in 2014 are April 12 and 13! Those are less than two weeks away from today's date.

I believe the idea for the competitions in Douglas was first patterned after the National Flatpicking Championships in Kansas. Those grew spectacularly over the years. Now a bit of history. Some 20 odd years ago the man who wanted to start a bluegrass club in Billings, Robert Massey, took a trip to Douglas and entered the competition.  Bob had impressed me and others with his Scruggs Style rolls on his banjo and he also led our early jams with his nice Martin guitar.  An older fellow from Wyoming, whose name I don't recall, had turned up at one of the Columbus jams with his mandolin.  He later had Bob, a minister, perform his marriage to his fiancee. Bob didn't own a mandolin back then, but borrowed his and entered that category  at the Douglas festival. To Robert's surprise he won first place.  I believe that was when  Bob Massey decided that mandolin was THE instrument for him and I know he still owns and plays one down in Georgia. BTW, he has had health problems in recent months and I am sure he would appreciate prayers and good wishes. You could offer these on his Facebook page. We all wish you the very best Rev. Robert. May God be with you always.