Thursday, February 26, 2015


In the previous post I neglected to mention that the song performed by Tim McGraw during the Academy Awards had been nominated in the "Best Song" category from the film, "I'll Be Me."  That is pretty darn exceptional for an artist in the throes of dementia, Mr. Glen Campbell.  Having now lived in portions of nine decades I find this quite inspiring. Here is more regarding that documentary:

The lights are still shining on “Rhinestone Cowboy” Glen Campbell in the new documentary “I’ll Be Me.” Get an inside look at what it was like as the Country Music Hall of Famer toured while battling Alzheimer’s…

After Glen Campbell disclosed in 2011 that he has Alzheimer’s disease, he didn’t retreat from public life. Instead, the country singer embarked on a 151-city tour that became his love letter to his fans.

“The amazing thing about Glen was that he was the first public figure to come and say, ‘I have Alzheimer’s, and I’m going to continue to show people that I can still live a full life and perform and be creative,’” says Trevor Albert, producer of “I’ll Be Me,” the recently released documentary that captured the tour.

What was intended to be a five-week tour turned into a 2-½-year journey for the filmmakers, who captured more than 1,400 hours of footage.

Monday, February 23, 2015


I watched a bit of the "Ocars" Sunday night.  There was quite a bit of social commentary from award winners, but an especially moving part for me was the song which Tim McGraw performed. We have known for sometime that Glen Campbell was suffering from dementia.  His wife had been telling audiences for several years that Glen might forget lyrics at times, but that it was not due to alcohol or drugs. He had experienced addiction  problems in earlier years. In accepting his growing loss of memory Glen had written a song for his family entitled "I'm Not Going To Miss You." McGraw's singing of this drew attention to the problem of dementia among our older population. I do not believe that senile dementia, in all it's forms including Alzheimer's, is a new disease of the elderly. We simply see more cases because modern medicine is allowing more of us to live longer and subsequently develop this condition of the elderly which has been around for generations.

Then on the Monday evening the PBS News Hour a segment was aired showing how music was helpful to people having dementia problems. Even though many could no longer function well enough to live at home and care for themselves they still retained their musical skills. A band had been formed for them to participate in and they sounded quite good. We have learned earlier that as we age it is important to exercise both our bodies and our brains. Learning new musical skills is beneficial for the latter, whether it means learning to play a new instrument or learning new tunes. I try to do both and believe it is definitely beneficial to my overall health. I hope you are doing the same.

The "Glen Campbell Good Time Hour" came into being around 1970 when the Smothers Brothers were removed from the air due to their very liberal social commentary during those more conservative years. Campbell had  direct impact on my family as my three year old son was one of his more ardent fans. He came to love the show and would sit on the floor as close to the console TV as he could get. That turned into a love of the guitar which has impacted his entire life. By the age of 12 he had organized his first garage band and he has continued to have bands all of his life whether living in Billings, Bozeman, Seattle, Austin TX or Nashville where he now resides. So Tim McGraw's rendition of Glen Campbell's final song had special meaning for me.   

Saturday, February 21, 2015


You can attend by viewing the performances from the comfort of your home..  To my knowledge this is a new concept for spreading the message of bluegrass and roots music. Here is the message I just received from Joe Lurgio:

The folks at Concert Window have scheduled the world's first online roots and bluegrass festival called the Bluegrass Roundup.   This will be the first ever multi-day bluegrass festival online, offering most of the concerts on a donation-based, pay-what-you-want basis. Over 50 different acts, from all across the US, are scheduled to perform back-to-back sets, festival style, using the Concert Window performance application. Please help spread the word about this unique event that can help alleviate anyones "cabin fever".  More info below, attached and here: Bluegrass Today article
Utilizing the web artists are able to broadcast from where ever they are in the world. Some performances will be coming to you from from concert stages, others from a performer’s home, or a motel room. All will be delivered to your digital devices, computer or TV set (depending on software and connections) in high definition video and sound. You can pick and choose the sets you’d like to watch, or plop down and watch them all, end to end.
The Bluegrass Roundup starts tonight and runs from February 20-28, starting each evening at 7:00 or 8:00 p.m. (EST) and running until 11:00 or 11:30. There will be traditional bluegrass from artists like Roland White, Mountain Faith, and Circa Blue; more contemporary grass from Jim Lauderdale, Sierra Hull, Lonely Heartstring Band, Railsplitters, Front Country, Town Mountain, and Barefoot Movement; and groundbreaking new sounds from Mr. Sun, Bryan Sutton, Mike Marshall & Caterina Lichtenberg, Jim Lauderdale and more.
There will also be instrumental workshops with Ned Luberecki (banjo), Lauren Rioux (fiddle), and Sierra Hull, Mike Compton and Casey Campbell (mandolin).  The week long event is perfect for listeners of all types of acoustic music. Fans of one group can log in for their favorites, and stay to experience other artists they may not be familiar with. Talent buyers and label representatives can also benefit as well from the convenient access to lot of new acts from the comfort of their home or office.
Concert Window’s Artist Relations Manager, Emma Beaton, herself a contemporary bluegrass artist, says that grass and roots are the perfect match for an online festival.
“A lot of people don’t think that bluegrass fits with new technology. But bluegrass artists have really embraced new technology, especially online. We’re very proud to be the first company to ever run an online bluegrass festival, welcoming these artists to the Concert Window Community and the online stage. We’re huge bluegrass fans and are excited to have folks doing shows online."
There will be a set from a Japanese bluegrass band, The Blueside of Lonesome, and from college programs like The Bethel University Bluegrass Band (under the leadership of Stephen Mougin) and The ETSU Bluegrass Pride Band (under the leadership of Daniel Boner).
70% of all monies raised is shared with the artists performing, and Concert Window can be viewed on any device that can connect to the Internet.  Most of the shows will be set to a donation only so viewers can decide when and how much to pay.  Many artists will be offering gifts for viewers who donate too. A full list of players and bands scheduled during Bluegrass Roundup can be found on the Concert Window site.
Spread the word!  
Joe Lurgio

Thursday, February 19, 2015


"Song of the Mountains" on MT PBS on Monday February 16, 2015, featured the Fiddlin' Carson Peters band with host Tim White joining in on Banjo.  It was more than enjoyable.  As of that recording this young fellow was 9 years old and was really something, a genuine fiddle prodigy. I have heard other fiddling youngsters including Michael Cleveland, Luke Bulla, and Mark O'Connor. Carson Peters, at a comparable age,  easily fits right into that lineup. Over his young lifetime he has performed nationally with Ricky Skaggs and Rhonda Vincent. He has also appeared on the Jay Leno "Tonight Show." Both Skaggs and Mark O'Connor have praised his fiddle skills. Some of his past performances can be viewed on U-Tube going back to when he was only 4 years old. The best recent one was likely "9 year old fiddler wants to go pro." This is an excellent interview with this young fellow and his father. He really rips up "Ragtime Annie" and the "Orange Blossom Special" playing solo. But you might enjoy his band version of "Orange Blossom Special," even more. My personal prejudices include that a band has a hard time sounding like real bluegrass without a Scruggs style banjo and a FIDDLE!   What do you think about that?

Sunday, February 15, 2015


Many of us know of older guitar greats like Doc Watson, Dan Crary and Norman Blake, but how about the current generation of pickers including Bryan Sutton?  I just received this e-mail from Lisa Jacobi:

Artist2Artist with Lisa Jacobi

Sunday February 15 (tomorrow) at 6pm: Grammy winning music sensation Bryan Sutton joins me on stage at doors open prior to his show at the Red Clay Music Foundry in downtown Duluth, Georgia. Bryan is one of the most sought after acoustic guitarists on the planet. He entered the bluegrass world in 1995 as a member of Ricky Skaggs' Kentucky Thunder band, playing on two Grammy award winning records. After his tenure with Skaggs, Bryan went on to build a career as one of the studio guitarists in Nashville. His playing can be heard along side such names as Keith Urban, Dolly Parton, Taylor Swift, and Harry Connick Jr.. Always striving to keep his bluegrass roots strong, Bryan has released four solo projects and has toured around the world with artists like Bela Fleck and Chris Thile, and as a member of the legendary bluegrass band, Hot Rize. Bryan has been honored as a six time winner of the IBMA's Guitarist of the Year, and received a Grammy in 2007 for "Best Country Instrumental Performance" for his duet recording with Doc Watson. If you are in a reasonable driving distance to Duluth, Georgia, make your Sunday night a special one and come to the Bryan Sutton Band show. He's been on tour throughout the southeast and he and his band leave it all on the stage with pristine instrumental brilliancy and a love of audience engagement. Bryan and his band are beautiful entertainers. Get there at doors open and you'll be part of this intimate A2A interview. We'll open it up for a few questions from the audience. Here is a link to the show ticket area, and here is a link to Bryan Sutton's website <-- super music videos there.

Roger's Note: Don't forget to frequent U-Tube for great musical performances in bluegrass and other music genre. There are not many other venues for tuning in to free music especially at your own convenience.

Sunday, February 8, 2015


The post of an article from the Nashville Scene with a Tim O'Brien interview sheds much light on this subject. Will people continue to buy traditional CDs with traditional country topics or will those largely fade away as modern consumers go for mainly songs about current topics of interest?  I surely don't know. What do you think or more importantly where will you put your cash on the line now and in the future?


From the IBMA and the Nashville Scene:

Bluegrass virtuoso Tim O'Brien is taking his career one song at a time 


Just about anyone can tell you it's a tough proposition to make a food-on-the-table kind of living music these days. Of course, there's plenty of brave talk about new business models, but since much of it comes from callow pundits with more rhetorical vehemence than actual experience, it's understandable that folks down in the trenches tend to let it all slide by as one undifferentiated, unhelpful mass. That's understandable, but maybe not so smart, as the latest news— and music — from bluegrass luminary Tim O'Brien suggests.
A Grammy-winning roots music polyglot who's assiduously built a sustaining community of fans through a dizzying array of projects over the past couple of decades, O'Brien's proven himself constitutionally incapable of turning off his creative spigot. But facing a year devoted almost exclusively to a reunited, re-energized Hot Rize — the influential Colorado bluegrass quartet that launched his career back in the '80s — he wanted a way to "keep the stuff coming," he tells the Scene. "I can't really tour on my own this year, but you need to put records out, so that people remember what you're doing, so they have something to talk about, something to write about."
So he unleashed a digital-only singles series under the quintessentially O'Brien-esque title of Short Order Sessions. "It's a singles world, they say now," he muses with a not-quite-rueful laugh. "And I'm excited about the idea of not being tied to a set of songs. There are so many fine jam sessions at the house, and it's really hard to capture those intimate moments with a plan, but I'm going to try. And I've got other things, too, like odds and ends from different compilations that maybe my fans [have] never heard.
He says the straw that broke the camel's back was a tune called "Brush My Teeth With Coca-Cola," penned as part of an unreleased set of songs centered around the Elk River chemical spill last year in Charleston, W. Va. "Where are you going to put that song?" he asks rhetorically. "Where does it belong? Well, it should come out on some kind of day that's significant with the spill, so people can play it on their radios, they can talk about it, and remember that this happened." And so, on Jan. 9, the anniversary of the spill, the Short Order Sessions was born. "It's a topical song," O'Brien goes on, "and now that we have the wherewithal to put something out right away, it might be like the old days in some ways — write the song about something that's just happened and get it out there."
O'Brien's already got the next song in the series ready to go. It's a lurching, groove-heavy take on Michael Hurley's "Ditty Boy Twang" that features cello and bass from youngsters Nat Smith and Samson Grisman playing alongside O'Brien's uninhibited mandolin. O'Brien, a realist, knows the series won't make him a living, but he hopes it will at least make him a piece of one, and an enjoyable piece at that.
"I'm going to do this anyway," he says with another laugh, "I'm going to make these songs, and think about interesting things, so why not let other people hear them? Levon Helm said one time while he was in The Band, 'Maybe this is going to fall by the wayside, but I'll probably always have a bite to eat somewhere, and a couch somewhere to sleep on.' Thank God it hasn't got to that yet, but I'm bracing for it."

Saturday, February 7, 2015


This is the name of the band playing the Owl Cafe on February 28, 2015. This name perplexed me greatly and when I "googled" it became even more perplexing! Back Porch Productions is a limited liability corporation which is involved in big festivals all over the U.S. and especially in the South. It turns out that the group playing on the 28th is actually our old friends from Laurel who made up 3/4 of the original "Ramblin' Laurels" group: Benny Lewis, Dave Fischer and Joe Russell. The fourth member Mike Rolinson died a couple of years ago. While Fischer was working long hours full time Ben, Mike and Joe continued as a trio. Then I played fiddle with them for sometime and about the time I left they picked up Wade Steinmetz on banjo and Kenny Brandt on high vocals and dobro.  Ben and Joe decided to "retire" and Terry Indreland came on as vocalist and guitar with Laura Steinmetz on bass. Later Trent Indreland joined in on low vocals and mandolin. While the Prairie Winds Cafe in Molt was still open they changed their name to "Bluegrass for Breakfast" and violin store owner and Scottish fiddler, Janney Kirk, joined the band. When the Steinmetz's broke up Wade moved on to "Cold Frosty."  Brandt had departed earlier. More recently another name change resulted in "Canyon Creek." So if any readers wondered who that group was you now have the full story on that.

I knew that Lewis and Russell were retired and they began jamming again  when Dave Fischer also retired. After the Owl performances began I urged them to sign up for a gig as the hometown band and also to use their old name, but as the "ORIGINAL Ramblin' Laurels."  It seems they didn't want any confusion and while picking on Dave's back porch they decided that would be a good name. It could have been Back Porch Pickers, but the term "Production" was stuck in one's memory and they decided to use that. With no harm, no foul, the big corporation will probably never hear of the Laurel guys and not give them a cease and desist or be sued order. I'm wishing them good luck and good picking and singing on their first public gig in many years.  Let's get out and give them support on February 28th.