Wednesday, August 27, 2014


A new recording with an all-star group by likely the best voice out of the progressive bluegrass scene has just been announced.

Compass Records Group
Out Now - John Cowan's Sixty. Available at Compass Records.
Also available at Amazon.comAlso available at iTunes.
Also available at your local record store
SIXTY, produced by fellow Doobie Brother John McFee, showcases John Cowan’s iconic voice and finds him paired with an incredible array of special guests including Leon Russell, Alison Krauss, Rodney Crowell, Bernie Leadon, Sam Bush, Chris Hillman, Huey Lewis, Bonnie Bramlett, Ray Benson and many more.

Friday, August 22, 2014


The Yellowstone Bluegrass Association has announced an effort to help relative beginners learn to play bluegrass music. It will be on  September 7th at the Catholic church in Billings Heights. Several good musicians are scheduled as instructors and the attendees will have an hour to learn two new tunes and then perform them before an audience. It sounds like a good idea, but similar efforts have not resulted in much success in the past. One example was a few years ago in dedicating the beginning of each Friday night Lincoln jam to one or two simple tunes for novices. That was a good idea, but my criticism was a decision to give them printed lyrics with chord changes. Then instead of really LEARNING the tune people just put them in 3 ring binders and opened them on music stands. No one ever learned to really JAM that way. There are no music stands around a campfire. Later an attempt was made to introduce bluegrass music in the local schools. Only the Catholic schools allowed them in and then they did not really produce any new pickers to the local jams. Regarding this new effort one aspect that I can't figure out is why they want to charge the attendees a fee of $10.  Why? Perhaps they want them to feel the instruction would really be valuable and worth the money. On the other hand it may simply discourage some from attending. Only time will tell. Let us all hope that this is a successful endeavor in spite of my personal reservations.


I was blown away this morning perusing Facebook and came across a new video announcing that Hot Rize, after a 24 year hiatus,  was issuing a new CD in September entitled, "Blue Is Fallen."  There they were, Tim O'Brien, Nick Forster, Peter Wernick and the rest sounding just like the Hot Rize of old. It apparently is a benefit for those hit by the devastating flooding in Colorado where these guys live or spend much of their time. The name "HOT RIZE" was obviously taken from the old B&W TV show of Flatt and Scruggs sponsored by Martha White Flour. The announcer would always say, "Martha White's got hot rise!" I always thought that Hot Rize grew out of the earlier band, "Country Cooking," but I could be wrong on that. After all I have always been into good food including that of the south and bluegrass country. Anyway I have both of those bands early efforts on vinyl which was the only medium readily available back in those days. Be sure to check out their new release. It is a good one.


No bands have signed up to play tomorrow, August 23rd, at the Blue Cat in Huntley, MT. This may mean that Saturday morning breakfast and bluegrass is gone once again in the Billings area. This is in stark contrast to the old Prairie Winds Cafe in Molt where bands were signed up for a year in advance. Most Billings area bands gave it a good try and apparently decided it was not a very good experience. We need to thank Wayne Long and Spur of the Moment and the management of the Blue Cat for giving it a good try. Apparently it is now back to the drawing board for bands needing a place to play.  The real concern is that if existing bands have few outlets for their talents they may simply decide to disband. Playing a couple times a year is hardly worth their efforts. As one who encouraged the development of bluegrass music in Billings more than 20 years ago, and also the formation of local bands. I can say that the breakup of existing bands would be a real shame.

Thursday, August 21, 2014


Can you believe that singing sensation, mandolin picking, blonde bluegrass bombshell, Rhonda Vincent, originally looked like this! Face it guys. Those ladies really know how to wind us around their little fingers.  
This is from Bluegrass Life's Facebook page.  There is lots of good bluegrass info on Facebook. You should check it out.  

Throwback Thursday! Rhonda Vincent, Suzanne Cox, and Alison Kraussback in the late 1980s. Lots of talent and beauty in one picture!‪#‎BluegrassLife‬

Monday, August 18, 2014


Bill Calovis from Columbus says he understands that no Forest Service reservations will be needed for the September campout. That is probably true as even if that area required them in the summer there are many fewer tourists driving the Beartooth highway in the Fall. My biggest caveat now is to remind campers that it will occur at the end of September. Those nights can be really chilly around Red Lodge so all should be prepared. That especially applies to any tent campers. At  least any winds there will be much milder than Livingston always is. It should be a great event and all should plan to attend, at least for a day, if not all three.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014


Edd Tremblay is introducing the 1st Annual.......Red Lodge Musicians Rendezvous.....scheduled for Sept 26th--28th, at  Park Side Campground.....on HWY 212 South of Red Lodge.  This is in the National Forest area, and is on your way to the Beartooth Hwy.  It will be a dry camp, but restrooms are there.  28 camp sites are available.  This is basically the last...Hoo-rah.....for the summer.  So write this on your calendar and make plans to attend.  The campground is close to town if you need anything.
     If you have any questions you can contact Edd at 406-446-1490, or e-mail him at:

ROGER'S NOTE: I hope this will be well attended as it is a great idea. Edd Tremblay is a Yellowstone Bluegrass Association board member who lives in Red Lodge. He is a very fine musician and excellent picker of bluegrass tunes and other musical genre as well. At this time I do not know if pickers need to reserve one of these campsites with the Forest Service or whether they will all be first come first served. Any additional information will be published on this blog. 

Sunday, August 10, 2014


"Wild Hands," an Americana, bluegrass and rock band from Minot, ND, are playing two gigs in their home state and then heading on tour into Minnesota. The following is from their Facebook page:

Wild Hands on the road! We take off next week to play some shows, so hopefully the planets will align and you will all not be busy and can come see us play!

August 12th - Laughing Sun Brewing - Bismarck, North Dakota -

August 13th - The
 - The Aquarium - Fargo, North Dakota - w/ Living Room & Mr.Meaner

Photo: Wild Hands on the road! We take off next week to play some shows, so hopefully the planets will align and you will all not be busy and can come see us play!

August 12th - Laughing Sun Brewing - Bismarck, North Dakota -

August 13th - The Aquarium - Fargo, North Dakota - w/ Living Room & Mr.Meaner

August 14th - The Red Herring Lounge - Duluth, Minnesota - Watching JAWS on an outdoor screen and karaoke - We play at Midnight!

August 15th - Hymie's Vintage Records - Minneapolis, MN

August 16th - Palmer's Bar - Minneapolis, MN - Opening for Chemistry Set, and The Bourbones

More exciting awesome stuff to come too. We got some big news too...

Saturday, August 9, 2014


This is from the "Milk Drive Band's" Facebook page:

Having a blast here with the RU Camp at Blue Waters Bluegrass Festival!

Rogers's Note: The band members are playing with the kids. This was from a festival in Medical Lake WA. Those eastern Washington bluegrass folks do it up right! 


I knew I had heard that term before Ricky Skaggs wrote his book.  The late William Eaton of Stillwater County was an avid horseman. He once crossbred a Tennessee Walking Horse with an American Saddle Horse (if I remember correctly) and named his new breed the "Kentucky Traveler."

Thursday, August 7, 2014


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Kentucky Traveler Now Available in Paperback 
At Bookstores Everywhere
At Skaggs Family Records
Click HERE to Purchase
“[Skaggs’] career has been a matter of following a God-given calling.…He tells the stories of the first half of his life and of the rest, too, with natural enthusiasm, innate good nature, and an unflagging, positive Christian spirit.” —Booklist (starred review)
When six-year-old Ricky Skaggs was called up onstage to play mandolin with bluegrass master Bill Monroe near his small hometown of Cordell, Kentucky, a storied life in music began.  With Monroe as a mentor, Ricky joined the Clinch Mountain Boys and became a professional musician at age fifteen.  And when Skaggs moved into the world of mainstream country music he became a legend and a household name.
Kentucky Traveler tells the intimate stories of a career built on passion, drive, and faith in God.  Sharing tales of his influences, and fondly recalling the instruments that have shaped his sound over the years and the friendships that have shaped his life, Skaggs paints a unique insider look at the evolution of bluegrass.
To view the prologue and first chapter, click HERE.
Skaggs Family Records
329 Rockland Road | Hendersonville, TN 37075
615-264-8877 | fax 615-264-8899
email: |

Tuesday, August 5, 2014


These young fellows have a great U-Tube video. It is worth checking out. Click on the site listed below: 

"When we see kids with this much talent, we have so much hope for the future of bluegrass music! Check out Moore Brothers Band, an official Bluegrass Ramble Showcase act at World of Bluegrass!"

Too bad we did not all start at their ages. 


Last week I did my duty and voted on the nominations ballots for this fall IBMA World of Bluegrass. Voters had to vote for exactly five, no more no less, in the various categories. You have a time limit to do this or you will be "timed out" and have to log in another time. That can be a bit of a pain, but nonetheless I did my duty as a good professional member of the IBMA. Then two days later I get an e-mail from them saying they fu'd up and left one dobro player off the ballot and I would have to vote again. I thought BS! I am not going through that again. The IBMA has gone through a lot of changes in recent years. A long time CEO resigned and was replaced. It was located in Nashville and now some of it's staff works out of HAWAII! The question remains is there any reason why any local BG picker would want to belong to the IBMA? My feeling is simply NO! Don't waste your money. Just support your local BG group and leave it at that. Years ago I taught history classes in MT high schools. Kids learned about the formation of trade guilds in the middle ages which eventually evolved into the unions of today. Not necessarily a labor union, but that is what the IBMA exists for, a trade association for bands and musicians to connect with each other and with promoters of BG events. That means the PROFESSIONAL bluegrass bands who are in it for the dollars not just the local play for fun bands. I seriously doubt that I will continue my IBMA membership next year.


For the first time in years I missed the annual "Fiddlers Picnic" in Livingston last weekend. It was started more than three decades ago by "Doc Allison" and has been continued by Dave and Candy Payne. There are fiddles there for sure, but even more bluegrass and country picking goes on. Having spent too much time in the sun years ago, before sunscreen, I am now experiencing "Mohs Surgery" to remove basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas, aka skin cancer. Three weeks ago the surgeon at the Billings Clinic had to cut out about 1/3 of my lower lip to remove all the cancer cells. The healing  has been progressing as well as can be expected and it will look just fine when finally healed. Now I am thinking about whether I will be able to go to Columbus for the annual "Musician's Rendezvous" honoring it's founder and my old friend, the late Aaron Strange. Even if I can't stay and play I would like to drive over to listen and take some photos. AND y'all stay out of the sun as much as possible and wear protective hats, clothing, and sunscreen when you cannot.
BTW, that may be one reason I have not been blogging much recently.


FACEBOOK is an interesting social media site.  I wasn't at all interested in it, but my kids wanted me to get aboard.  For a couple of years I did absolutely nothing with it. Eventually I received enough e-mail regarding my songwriter/musician son in Nashville that I began checking in more often. My page lists bluegrass among my interests so I get lots of BG stuff. Several months ago I was asked to "like" Willow Lee on FB. I knew nothing about Willow Lee, but thought this may be a BG singer and I should check "her" out. It turns out that it is a barely teen banjo girl named Willow Osborne and her much older brother Lee Marcus. They have intermediate skills musically, but are very enthusiastic about bluegrass. Their family has another site called "Bluegrass Life."  If you have a FB account you may want to click onto "BG Life." It has lots of info and trivia related to BG music and performers. On another front, those on Facebook who make multiple posts daily need to be aware that anyone who has "friended" you will automatically receive ALL of these posts. Before you assume that they will all agree with any highly opinionated and/or controversial, political or religious beliefs of yours reconsider before posting them. I recently UNfriended an actual bluegrass friend as I was tired of plowing through all her political and religious posts. I had become fatigued of clicking through pages and pages which I did not agree with or was simply not interested in. Now they are gone and I am enjoying postings from my family and other friends once again. Sorry about that, but it needed saying.