Saturday, November 22, 2014

Saturday, November 22nd...a great Bluegrass Day in Connecticut!

In case you've not heard, there are at least three terrific opportunities for you to see and hear some fine Bluegrass music this evening in Connecticut.  Try to get out and support at least one of these events, won't you?

The James King Band performed in Westminster, VT on November 21st.
(Photo courtesy of Candi Sawyer)

James King has long been considered one of the most emotional singers in Bluegrass music.  2014 has been a rough year for him, seemingly filled with a lot of health issues and personal issues.  James's singing is still pretty raw and REAL, though.  After playing a show in Vermont last night, James King will be performing at what is being billed as the LAST Bluegrass show at the Firebox restaurant (539 Broad Street, Hartford).  Since the Fall of 2008, Nick Novia has been a wonderful host and promoter of Bluegrass on Sundays at the Firebox, and while the last Sunday show at the Firebox happened last month, tonight's show featuring James King promises to be a super-emotional one.  Check it out tonight, if you can.  Showtime is 8:30PM, and Nick can be reached at 203-650-3492.  More show info is here.  

The Del McCoury Band at the 2014 IBMA Awards
Meanwhile, also in Hartford, the Del McCoury Band will be playing a show at Infinity Hall in Hartford (32 Front Street).  Showtime is 8PM.  Del is a bona fide Living Legend in the Bluegrass world, and was inducted into the Bluegrass Hall of Fame a few years ago.  Seeing him perform in Connecticut is a treat, so be sure to see this fine band if you get a chance this evening.  More info is here or call 1-866-666-6306.

If you prefer to listen to Bluegrass performed by some mighty fine Connecticut performers, there's a show tonight at the Killingly Grange featuring ShoreGrass, along with a set or two from host band, Nick Anderson & Shady Creek.  Showtime is 7PM.  The Killingly Grange is located at the intersection of Route 101 and Dog Hill Road in Killingly, and Nick can be reached at 860-564-1018.  More info is here.
ShoreGrass makes their Killingly debut tonight!

If all of those offerings aren't quite enough, in the not-strictly-Bluegrass-but-still-very-wonderful category, there will be music from Amy Gallatin & Stillwaters tonight at the Sounding Board Coffeehouse in West Hartford (held at the Universalist Church on 433 Fern Street).  Showtime is 8PM, and more information can be found here.  
Amy Gallatin with Roger Williams - Andover, CT - August 2014

Get out and support these live performances, won't you?  Choosing just one might be difficult, but please make an effort to do it, if at all possible...

Have fun!


Sunday, November 16, 2014

"Bluegrass Cafe" playlist - 11/16/2014

Sunday's Bluegrass Cafe featured selections from a couple of different vinyl LPs, a birthday tribute to Country Music Hall of Famer -- and tremendous songwriter -- Whisperin' Bill Anderson (who celebrated birthday #77 on November 1st), and a bit of music from newer recordings.

On my way out the door to Storrs, I grabbed a couple of LPs from the house that I'd not heard and/or played in a while.  Those old records worked their way into our playlist on Sunday afternoon, and I must say, I probably could have played that whole Osborne Brothers & Red Allen LP.  Such harmonies!  Other vinyl selections came from the short-lived 1980s band, Summer Wages; guitar duo Orrin Star & Gary Mehalickand a not-as-well-remembered-as-they-should-be brother duo, the Sauceman Brothers.  

Into the mixture of older songs, we also included a good portion of newer Bluegrass from recordings by Missy Werner, NightFlyer, the Spinney Brothers, Hot Rize, Laurie Lewis & Kathy Kallick, the Earls Of Leicester, the Lonesome River Band, Bob Dick, Flatt Lonesome, Tommy Brown & the County Line Grass, Junior Sisk & Ramblers Choice, the Crowe Brothers, and the Larry Stephenson Band.  There was brand-spanking new music from a fine new recording by banjo picker, Russ Carson -- "Avenue Of The Giants" on Patuxent Music.

Be sure to join Jim in the Bluegrass Cafe next Sunday afternoon, won't you?

Have a great week!


SONG / PERFORMER / ALBUM / LABEL [Requests are RED; Bill Anderson-penned songs are BLUE]

  • Katy Hill / Del McCoury Band / RockyGrass / Blue Planet
  • When Someone Wants To Leave / Seldom Scene / Bluegrass The World's Greatest Show / Sugar Hill
  • Diamond Joe / Joe Val & the New England Bluegrass Boys / Bluegrass Mountain Style / Rounder
  • Wait 'Til The Clouds Roll By / White Mountain Bluegrass / Oh So Many Years / R Own
  • Summertime Is Past And Gone / Bill Monroe & His Blue Grass Boys / Bill Monroe & His Blue Grass Boys, 1946-1949 / JSP Records
  • If Lonely Was The Wind / Lynn Morris Band / The Lynn Morris Band / Rounder
  • Colder And Colder / Lost & Found / Across The Blue Ridge Mountains / Rebel
  • Banjo In The Hollow / The Dillards / There Is A Time / Vanguard
  • Baby Girl / Stanley Brothers / Selected Cuts, 1955-1956 / JSP Records
  • Are You Coming Back To Me / Bill Harrell with Mac Wiseman / Bill Harrell & Friends / Rebel
  • Rocky Top / Osborne Brothers / Time-Life's Treasury Of Bluegrass / Time Life [recorded November 16, 1967]
  • Wild Mountain Honey / Osborne Brothers & Red Allen / The Osborne Brothers & Red Allen / Collector's Classic
  • No Honey No / Osborne Brothers & Red Allen / The Osborne Brothers & Red Allen / Collector's Classic
  • Is This My Destiny / Osborne Brothers & Red Allen / The Osborne Brothers & Red Allen / Collector's Classic
  • Roll Muddy River / The Grascals / Long List Of Heartaches / Rounder
  • Big Spike Hammer / Bluegrass Album Band / The Bluegrass Compact Disc / Rounder
  • Dear Old Dixie / Lester Flatt & Earl Scruggs / The Essential Earl Scruggs / Columbia
  • What Are They Doing In Heaven Today / Lilly Brothers / Bluegrass Early Cuts, 1947-1953 / JSP Records
  • Amnesia / Del McCoury Band / The Streets Of Baltimore / McCoury Music
  • We Missed You / Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver / The Hard Game Of Love / Sugar Hill
  • Get A Little Dirt On Your Hands / Tony Holt & the Wildwood Valley Boys / Lost Highways & Treasured Memories / Old Homestead
  • The Lord Knows I'm Drinking / Wildfire / Where Roads Divide / Pinecastle
  • Once A Day / Pike Brothers & the Pine Hill Ranchers / The Pike Brothers & the Pine Hill Ranchers / Rebel
  • Slippin' Away / Bob Paisley & the Southern Grass / Live In Holland / Strictly Country
  • I Don't Love You Anymore / Johnson Mountain Boys / Requests / Rounder
  • Some Kind Of War / Joe Mullins & the Radio Ramblers / They're Playing My Song / Rebel
  • Rough Edges / Missy Werner / Turn This Heart Around / Self-Produced
  • Lonesome Wind / NightFlyer / Rail, River & Road / Kang Records
  • Thank God For The Highways / Spinney Brothers / Tried & True / Mountain Fever Records
  • Western Skies / Hot Rize / When I'm Free / Ten In Hand Records
  • My Old Kentucky Home / Laurie Lewis & Kathy Kallick / Laurie & Kathy Sing The Songs Of Vern & Ray / Spruce & Maple Music
  • Some Old Day / Earls Of Leicester / The Earls Of Leicester / Rounder
  • Her Love Won't Turn On A Dime / Lonesome River Band / Turn On A Dime / Mountain Home
  • New York Chimes / Russ Carson / Avenue Of The Giants / Patuxent Music
  • Talkin' To The Wall / James King / Three Chords And The Truth / Rounder
  • Appleland Breakdown / Bob Dick / Life's Highway / Appleland Records
  • Fort Worth Jailhouse / Tommy Brown & the County Line Grass / Leaving This Town / Randm Records
  • Deep River / Orrin Star & Gary Mehalick / Premium Blend / Flying Fish
  • Never Let Me Go / Flatt Lonesome / Too / Mountain Home
  • Honky-Tonked To Death / Junior Sisk & Ramblers Choice / Trouble Follows Me / Rebel
  • I'll Be No Stranger There / Sauceman Brothers / The Early Days Of Bluegrass, Volume 7 / Rounder
  • Over On The Other Side / Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper / On Down The Line / Compass Records
  • My Soul's Been Satisfied / Summer Wages / Summer Wages / Rebel
  • Where Will You Be? / Crowe Brothers / Forty Years Old / Mountain Fever Records
  • God Loves His Children / Lester Flatt & Earl Scruggs / The Complete Mercury Recordings / Mercury
  • Let Me Rest At The End Of My Journey / Russ Carson / Avenue Of The Giants / Patuxent Music
  • It's Hard To Stumble (When You're Down On Your Knees) / Lou Reid & Carolina / Sounds Like Heaven To Me / Rural Rhythm
  • Joy Of Revelation / McCoury Brothers / The McCoury Brothers / Rounder
  • Born Again / Larry Stephenson Band / Pull Your Savior In / Whysper Dream
  • The Lighthouse / Gibson Brothers / Bona Fide / Sugar Hill

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Playlist - 11/9/2014

Hi Folks,

We at Bluegrass Cafe have received a treasure trove of new recordings, and we showcased some of those on this show with emphasis on the traditional releases as if to demonstrate bluegrass can be traditional and still grow.

A featured new release was a CD from Tommy Brown and the County Line Grass that is getting national distribution (and a fine CD it is!)  We also heard new music from Phil LeadbetterMonroeville, Darin and Brooke Aldridge, Gold Heart, Becky Buller, Crowe Brothers, The Spinney Brothers, Missy Werner, Larry Sparks, Lonesome River Band, Marteka and William, Joe Mullins, Nu-Blu, Junior Sisk, Larry Stephenson, Doyle Lawson, Hot Rize, and The Earls of Leicester.  Whew!

We didn't cut back the classic and obscure bluegrass, either.  We had a rare 45 from The Dillard Brothers (Doug & Rodney before The Dillards), a new release from Patuxent Records of Red Allen, Frank Wakefield and The Kentuckians recorded for radio in 1963, Doc & Merle Watson, Dave Evans, Flatt & Scruggs, Delia Bell & Bill Grant, Carl Story, Rose Maddox, The Campbell TrioChestnut Grove Quartet, and more.

Traditional bluegrass is alive and well at Bluegrass Cafe.

Tune in next Sunday when Amy will make the banjos and fiddles ring.

Jim Beaver

Requests in blue

Artist / Song / Album / Label
  • The Dillard Brothers / Dougs Breakdown / 45 rpm single / K-Ark
  • Red Allen, Frank Wakefield and The Kentuckians / Deep Elum Blues / The WDON Recordings 1963 / Patuxent
  • Foggy Mountain Hilton / Bluegrass Music Has Ruined My Life / Show Me the Way to Go Home / Patuxent
  • Tommy Brown and the County Line Grass / Fort Worth Jailhouse / Leaving This Town / Randm
  • Dave Evans and River Bend / White House Blues / The Best of the Vetco Years / Rebel
  • Doc & Merle Watson / The Tragic Romance / Ballads from Deep Gap / Vanguard
  • Flatt and Scruggs and the Foggy Mountain Boys / The Martha White Theme / Flatt and Scruggs At Carnegie Hall / Koch
  • Flatt and Scruggs and the Foggy Mountain Boys / I Wonder Where You Are Tonight / Flatt and Scruggs At Carnegie Hall / Koch
  • Grass Routes / When You Come Back Down / Something New / Grass Routes
  • Grass Cats / Bluegrass Man / The Blues Are Back In Town / New Time
  • Phil Leadbetter / Just Joshin' / The Next Move / Pinecastle
  • Monroeville / Heartbreaking Machine / Can't Put Me Out / Monroeville 
  • The Lewis Family / Flyin' High / Flyin' High / Mountain Home
  • Darin and Brooke Aldridge (w. Sam Bush) / Get Up John  / Snapshots / Mountain Home
  • Delia Bell & Bill Grant / Silver Tongue and Gold Plated Lies / Dreaming / Rounder
  • Gold Heart / Ain't That Crazy / Places I've Been / Self-released
  • The Gillis Brothers / The Memory Of Your Smile / Best of The Gills Brothers / Hay Holler
  • Scott Brannon / The Thought Of Losing You / Faded Love And Winter Roses / Wango
  • Becky Buller / Southern Flavor / 'Tween Earth And Sky / Dark Shadow
  • Crowe Brothers / I've Got the Moon On My Side / Forty Years Old / Mountain Fever
  • The Goins Brothers / I Guess I'll Do Without / Still Goin' Strong / Hay Holler
  • The Spinney Brothers / Freightyard Down the Street / Tried & True / Mountain Fever
  • Missy Werner / The Heart You Break / Turn This Heart Around / Self-Produced
  • Red Allen, Frank Wakefield and The Kentuckians / Sombody Loves You Darling / The WDON Recordings 1963 / Patuxent
  • Larry Sparks with Curly Seckler / Dim Lights, Thick Smoke / Lonesome And Then Some... / Rebel
  • Lonesome River Band / Lila Mae / Turn On a Dime / Mountain Home
  • Tommy Brown and the County Line Grass / A Dark Road Is a Hard Road to Travel / Leaving This Town / Randm
  • Travers Chandler & Avery County / I Could Change My Mind / Pardon Me... / Mountain Fever
  • Dave Evans / Be Proud Of The Gray In Your Hair / Classic Bluegrass / Rebel
  • The Dillard Brothers / My Only Tru Love / 45 rpm single / K-Ark
  • Larry Efaw and the Bluegrass Mountaineers / Broken Heart and a Worried Mind / She Left Me Standing On a Mountain / Blue Circle
  • Marteka and William / Reuben / The Sounds Of A Tradition / Self-released
  • The Earls Of Leicester / Dig a Hole In the Meadow / The Earls of Leicester / New Rounder
  • Joe Mullins & the Radio Ramblers / Goin' Back to My Kentucky Country Home / Another Day From Life / Rebel
  • Turning Ground / Echo of the Steel / Cell Of Mine / Self-released
  • Nu-Blu / It's Not That Cold In Montana / All The Way / Rural Rhythm
  • ShoreGrass / The Letter / Going Home / Shaw Family
  • Red Smiley and the Bluegrass Cutups  / Dear Old Dixie (bed) / Burnin' Up The Strings / Rural Rhythm
  • Tater Tate With Red Smiley & The Bluegrass Cut-Ups / Black Eyed Susan (bed) / Burnin' Up The Strings / Rural Rhythm
  • Reno & Smiley / Natural Bridge Blues (bed) / Burnin' Up The Strings / Rural Rhythm
  • Hylo Brown / Banjo On the Mountain (bed) / Burnin' Up The Strings / Rural Rhythm
  • Shady Creek / The Old Home / The Old Home / Self-released
  • Junior Sisk & Ramblers Choice / Frost On The Bluegrass / Trouble Follows Me / Rebel
  • The South Carolina Broadcasters / East Virginia Blues / Short Time To Stay Here / Flaming Heart
  • Hot Rize / Doggone / When I'm Free / Ten In Hand
  • Larry Gillis and the Hard Driving Bluegrass Band / Down By The River / Swampgrass / Tinman
  • Seldom Scene / Little Georgia Rose / Long Time... Seldom Scene / Smithsonian Folkways
  • The Campbell Trio / Brush Arbor Meeting / We're Hooked On Bluegrass / Woodrich
  • Alex Leach / Willing To Try / Mountain Heartache / Self-released
  • Larry Stephenson Band / Will You Meet Me Over Yonder / Pull Your Savior In / Whysper Dream
  • Rose Maddox with the Vern Williams Band / Take Me In The Lifeboat / Beautiful Bouquet / Arhoolie
  • Unplugged Demos (Myrna Riquier) / In the Shadow of the Son / Momma's Flowers / Natchaug Music
  • Mickey Boles / Since I've Laid My Burdens Down / Let My Feet Go Runnin' / Self-released
  • Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver / Climbing Upward / Open Carefully Message Inside / Mountain Home
  • David Peterson / Are You Washed In the Blood ? / Simplicity / Self-released
  • Carl Story / Don't You Hear Jerusalem Moan? / Complete Atteiram Collection / Gusto
  • Chestnut Grove Quartet / Lord, Don't Leave Me Here / The Legendary Chestnut Grove Quartet / Rebel Records
  • Fred Etheridge with Nick Anderson & Mark Doyle / Walking In A Dream / Pickin' And Singin' / Self-released

Fill-in Playlist - 11/4/2014 - Basement Tapes from Ray Davis

Hi Folks.

I did a quick one-hour fill-in Tuesday evening and filled it with music from the famous "basement" of Ray Davis -- the legendary Baltimore and Washington DC bluegrass DJ who just retired last year (2013) after nearly 60 years in broadcasting.

Jim Beaver

Artist / Song / Disk / Label

  • Gillis Brothers / Train 45 / Freight Train Special Volume Two - Songs of America's Railroads / Wango
  • The Stanley Brothers / How Mt. Girls Can Love; Comedy w/ Uncle Henry; Mountain Dew; On Top Of Old Smokey; Comedy w/Uncle Henry; Little Birdie / Radio Series Volume Six / Wango
  • Warrior River Boys / Blue Ridge Mt. Blues; The World Is Waiting For The Sunrise; Tomorrow You'll Be Gone; Blues Stay Away From Me / Radio Series Volume Six / Wango
  • Danny Paisley & the Southern Grass / Sweet Potato Rag; Darlin' Nellie Across The Sea; I'm Comin' Back (But I Don't Know When); Gotta' Travel On / Radio Series Volume Six / Wango
  • Gillis Brothers / Fire On The Strings; It's Never Too Late; Old Jackson Prison; Don't Cheat In Our Home Town / Radio Series Volume Six / Wango

Sunday, November 02, 2014

WHUS "Bluegrass Cafe" playlist - 11/2/2014

A UConn Men's Hockey game took away 2/3 of our Bluegrass Cafe program today, but we tried to make the best of the situation.

Hazel & Mac McGee -- Pioneers of Bluegrass

We opened with a few songs from White Mountain Bluegrass featuring the wonderful, strong voice of Hazel McGee.  Hazel -- recognized as a "Pioneer of Bluegrass" with her husband, Mac, by the International Bluegrass Music Museum -- passed away this past Monday, October 27th after battling cancer for the last several years.  Rest in peace, Hazel...

Two chances to see Del & the boys in CT this month!
The great Del McCoury Band is playing not one but TWO shows in Connecticut later on this month -- November 21st at Infinity Hall in Norfolk and November 22nd at Infinity Hall in Hartford.  Over the next couple of weeks, both Jim and Susan Forbes Hansen will have tickets to give away to the DMB show in Hartford on November 22nd.  When will they give 'em away -- and on which program?  Who knows?   That's another reason for you to always be listening to WHUS, right?  You betcha!  Today, we gave away a pair of tickets to this show to a lucky listener.  Hooray!

There's actually a good bit of live, big-name Bluegrass to be heard in Connecticut (and close by) over the next few weeks.  In addition to the two DMB shows mentioned above, here are some of the other highlights:

  • November 9th -- Spinney Brothers at Country Corner Coffee House, South Hadley MA.  Showtime is 2PM.  More info:  413-467-9394
  • November 15th -- Ralph Stanley & the Clinch Mountain Boys at Unitarian Society Hall, Hamden CT (GuitarTownCT Productions).  Showtime is 8PM.  More info:  203-430-6020
  • November 22nd - James King at Firebox Restaurant, Hartford.  Showtime is unknown, but further information is coming...
  • December 5th - Gibson Brothers Trio (Eric & Leigh Gibson with Mike Barber on bass) at Spaceland Ballroom, Hamden CT (GuitarTownCT Productions).  Showtime is 8PM.  More info:  203-430-6020
Be sure to join Jim for next Sunday's Bluegrass Cafe -- which we are hopeful will be three hours long and minus any sports preemptions.

Enjoy the week!


  • Del McCoury Band / Katy Hill / RockyGrass / Blue Planet
  • White Mountain Bluegrass / I Thought I Heard You Calling My Name / Aragon Mill / Strictly Country
  • White Mountain Bluegrass / Oh So Many Years / Oh So Many Years / Self-Produced
  • White Mountain Bluegrass / I Love God's Way Of Living / Aragon Mill / Strictly Country
  • Del McCoury & the Dixie Pals / Eli Renfro / Classic Bluegrass / Rebel
  • White House / Country Side Of Heaven (Where The Bluegrass Music Flows) / White House / Pinecastle
  • Hot Rize / Sky Rider / When I'm Free / Ten In Hand Records
  • Lonesome River Band / A Whole Lot Of Nothing / Turn On A Dime / Mountain Home
  • Earls Of Leicester / I'll Go Stepping Too / The Earls Of Leicester / Rounder
  • Del McCoury / I Feel The Blues Moving In / High, Lonesome And Blue / Rounder
  • Ralph Stanley & the Clinch Mountain Boys / I Hear A Choo Choo Coming / Live! At McClure / Rebel
  • Spinney Brothers / My Music Comes From Bill / Tried & True / Mountain Fever Records
  • Gibson Brothers / Gone Home / Iron & Diamonds / Sugar Hill
  • Laurie Lewis & Kathy Kallick / Happy I'll Be / Laurie & Kathy Sing The Songs Of Vern & Ray / Spruce & Maple Music
  • Jim Eanes / Let Him Lead You / Let Him Lead You / Rebel
  • Country Gentlemen / It's Just Like Heaven / The Sugar Hill Collection / Sugar Hill
  • Johnson Mountain Boys / Black Mountain Blues / Requests / Rounder

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Rest in peace, Hazel McGee...

Hazel & Mac McGee performing with White Mountain Bluegrass
at the 2011 Jenny Brook Bluegrass Festival.
On Monday, we learned that Hazel McGee of White Mountain Bluegrass passed after a lengthy battle with cancer.  Along with her husband of nearly 60 years, Mac, Hazel was a founding member of White Mountain Bluegrass (or, WMB) -- one of the most-loved Bluegrass bands in the Northeast.  A person only needed to watch one set of music performed by WMB to know that Hazel was calling all the shots -- in the best way possible.  This was a lady who knew how to sing, and she surely knew how to keep all of her band members (including her husband, Mac, and their oldest son, Herman) in line.  Hazel respected the audiences who would come to see WMB -- for instance, she'd insist that the band members always dress neatly on the stage -- and the audiences loved her right back.  Hazel and Mac have both been recognized as "Pioneers Of Bluegrass" at the International Bluegrass Music Museum in Owensboro, Kentucky, and were honored by the Boston Bluegrass Union a few years ago, as well.  

While researching a bit more background information on White Mountain Bluegrass for this past Sunday's radio show, I came across a nice article that was written by a long-time WMB admirer, Robert Fraker, several years ago.  Originally, this piece was likely published in the old "Bluegrass Guide" published by Candi Sawyer, but it can now be found on the White Mountain Bluegrass website.  Even though the article is a few years old, it's still well-worth your time to read.  Hazel was a true treasure, and she will be -- and already is -- greatly missed...

The Heart and Soul


White Mountain Bluegrass

By:  Robert Fraker

It’s Sunday morning at the Thomas Point Beach bluegrass festival, one of the most difficult days of the year to get up at a reasonable hour.  But get up I do, pull on some sweats, grab a cup of coffee, stumble bleary-eyed and half-awake from my campsite to the stage area and settle down into someone else’s lawn chair.  It’s something I’ve done every Sunday morning of the many years I’ve been coming here, because soon White Mountain will begin their gospel set, and for the time they’re on stage, I’ll be in heaven – bluegrass heaven that is, listening to some of the best straight-up, old time singing and picking to be heard today.
For over thirty years now Mac and Hazel McGee and the band have been performing their distinctive brand of traditional bluegrass throughout the Northeast, in Florida and in the Mid-Atlantic states, and in Europe as well.  Based in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Mac & Hazel are part of the tradition of transplanted Southerners like the Lilly Brothers and Don Stover, who brought an early awareness of bluegrass to the area’s country audiences, establishing a particularly keen regional enthusiasm for the music that continues to this day.  Hazel’s father died when she was five, and soon after, her family moved from Tennessee to join relatives living in Phoenix, NY, a small town in the Syracuse area. Her mother Ginny Cote, whose grandmother was a cousin of A.P. Carter, sang in a country band with her uncles, and when she was older, Hazel joined in from time to time.  Mac had come up from Georgia to join his brother in Boston, and they eventually moved to Phoenix for work.  Mac knew of Ginny and her band and one day showed up on her doorstep with a guitar badly in need of tuning.  Ginny invited him in and helped him tune his guitar and Mac began hanging out with the family.  Mac and Hazel started dating, going to the country music shows in the area, and singing together.  They formed a country band, with a lap steel and electric guitars, and performed the hits of the day, the classic songs of the 50′s greats, Hank Williams, Web Pierce, Lefty Frizell, Kitty Wells and Red Foley.  Bluegrass wasn’t in their minds.  Mac claims to have disliked it then.  “I thought it was the worst stuff in the world, if Bill Monroe came on the radio, I’d turn it off!”  Hazel adds, “Well, we were doing some songs at the time that were bluegrass, but we didn’t know it.”
Mac and Hazel married in 1957, when Mac was finished with military service in the Marines.  The following year they moved to Portsmouth, where Mac began his life-long career as an independent trucker, hauling gasoline.  The two continued playing old-time country informally with friends, occasionally performing in public.  But the move to Portsmouth ended up being a musical move to bluegrass for the couple as well.  The town’s proximity to Pease Air Force Base and the Kittery Navy Yard just to the north in Maine provided a source of bluegrass musicians from other parts of the country, servicemen homesick for the music and eager to play.  “They’d come into the local music store and ask around who was picking,” Mac remembers.  As a result, in the late 60′s Mac and Hazel met Roger Greene, a mandolin picker stationed at Pease, whom Mac credits as “a big influence in turning us on to bluegrass…   A nice guy, he taught us a lot.”  Pease AFB would later introduce them to mandolin builder, John Paganoni, a long-time friend and member of the band while he was stationed there.
Bluegrass was gaining momentum in the Northeast, and the McGees were definitely among the converted.  “Something abut bluegrass, just gets under your skin…” says Mac, describing a phenomenon that the music’s fans know all too well.  White Mountain Bluegrass was formed in 1970, with Mac and Hazel, Joe Pomerleau on fiddle, Jeff Lind on bass, Bob Frost on banjo and Sam Garris on mandolin.  Like so many others, the band started with friends playing informally, then as things started to come together and requests to perform began coming in, a band was born.  They played the usual round of pubs, pizza parlors and coffee houses.  At the time, the two main venues for the music were Jarvis’ Restaurant at the Portsmouth bus depot, and the Stone Church in New Market.  As time went on, the band’s reputation gained wider attention.  “A lot of people came to see us…  Don Stover, Joe Val, Bea Lilly,”  Mac recalls.  The era of festivals was developing and White Mountain were regulars at those started by Jimmy Cox and Fred Pike.  They performed at the very first festival at Thomas Point and have been at every one since.
It was Joe Val who recommended White Mountain to the Dutch country promoter Rienk Janssen for his ‘Strictly Country’ series of European tours.  Making the overseas journey a remarkable six times, White Mountain Bluegrass has played in Holland, Germany, France, Belgium, Switzerland, Denmark and Sweden, performances sampled in the band’s Aragon Mill:  Live in Holland CD.  Mac and Hazel recall the trips fondly:  “You can’t believe the warm reception you get, how they treat you like royalty….And they’d listen, every show you could hear a pin drop.”  Current mandolin player Jackie Greenwood adds “Holland is like home for White Mountain.  Everywhere you go the people request their songs, you can see them singing along with every word…”
Over the years the band has made seven recording projects, and see numerous personnel changes, numbering some of the finest pickers from Canada and the Northeast.  Of the many fine musicians, three deserve special mention for their longevity and contribution to the defining the classic White Mountain sound.  Mac and Hazel’s oldest son Herman McGee joined the band in the mid-70′s, with a powerful banjo attack and a distinctive cross-pick lead guitar style.  He is also a fine baritone singer, helping to create the band’s beautiful trios, and the band’s chief sound man.  Dobro player Roger Williams is recognized as one of the virtuosos of the instrument, his forceful and lyrical solos a key element in the band’s drive, and his low-range lead and harmony singing a crucial vocal contribution.  And last, the late and greatly missed Bill Sage, whose spirited, bluesy fiddling and wild antics on stage keeps the audiences alternately amazed and amused.  Mac and Hazel met Bill when he was playing with Don Stover.  An offer from Bill to fill in on fiddle when needed turned into a 12 year membership in the band.
How to account for a band that has lasted for over a quarter of a century?  “I think it’s because it’s just me and Hazel singing,” says Mac.  “We do all of the singing, whoever plays the instruments just fits in to our style.”  While other band members do sing occasional leads and harmony, Mac is essentially right.  His and Hazel’s singing is at the core of the White Mountain experience.  Their combined voices are what bluegrass soul is all about.  Mac has an airy weariness and a tinge of sadness to his voice that give to bluegrass songs, with their stories of heartbreak and lost homes and family, the ring of truth and experience that inspired them.  It is perfectly matched with Hazel’s soaring bluegrass tenor, a powerhouse of a voice that cuts like the best in the business, effortless and unadorned.  Both voices deliver with directness and honesty, both have a similar approach to singing.  When asked about their own vocal heroes, Mac mentioned Hank Williams right off.  “But I never tried to sing like anybody,” he continued, “You gotta sing with feeling, that’s all.”  Hazel agreed.  “You just open up your mouth and let it come out.”
In the end, though, what keeps a band going over thirty years is dedication, the year in – year out rising to the challenge of balancing music with work and raising a family.  “There was one year we were off only two weekends.  Sometimes I’d get home from playing and get in the truck and take off,” remembers Mac.  A good sense of humor is important, too, and there is no band that has more fun on stage.  Sets are informal and relaxed, with a joke or two, and often with surprise songs or performers.  Mac and Hazel are quick to agree that the greatest reward for their years of performing are the many friends they have made, both on stage and off, on both sides of the Atlantic.  And most satisfying, Hazel stresses, has been the participation of their sons Keith and Herman.  “It’s meant so much to us over the years.”  A question about the future of the band gets an answer that is both expected and reassuring.  Mac thinks a moment and replies, “I guess we’re going to be in as long as we can, it’s in our blood.  We’ll keep on it even if it’s just Hazel and me.”  Lucky for us, I think to myself.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

"Bluegrass Cafe" playlist - 10/26/2014

On Sunday afternoon, the playlist included selections that were classic, new, Autumn-ish, and ghostly.  

Wayne & Josh Crowe showcasing
at IBMA 2014 --
Mountain Fever Records showcase.
Our new selections this week included a couple of brand-new recordings both from the Crowe Brothers as well as Jimmy Gaudreau & Moondi Klein.  Other 2014 recordings were included, too, from the likes of Missy Werner, the Spinney Brothers, Marteka & William Lake, Joe Mullins & the Radio Ramblers, Mac Wiseman, Flatt Lonesome, Laurie Lewis & Kathy Kallick, Hot RizeJunior Sisk & Ramblers Choice, and the Earls of Leicester.  

The new recording from 89-year-old Mac Wiseman is called "Songs From My Mother's Hand."  As our show was airing, this music legend was being introduced as one of the newest members of the Country Music Hall of Fame.  "Songs From My Mother's Hand" is just that -- songs recently recorded by Mac Wiseman with lyrics that had been carefully noted in several notebooks when first heard by Ruth Wiseman on the radio in the 1930s and 1940s.  Mrs. Wiseman's son kept these notebooks for 70+ years, and chose the songs he wanted to record for this latest project.  Amazing...and worth a listen.  Check out this interview with Mac Wiseman on a recent NPR broadcast:

Halloween is coming up in just a few days, too, and since there is absolutely no shortage of ghost-related Bluegrass songs, we put together several of 'em in anticipation of Halloween.  Those songs came from the likes of the Hillmen, David Parmley, the Dillards, the Larry Stephenson Band, Front Range, the Steep Canyon Rangers, the Country Gentlemen, and the Seldom Scene.  Happy Halloween, everyone!

Jim will join you next Sunday afternoon for the next edition of Bluegrass Cafe.  Be sure to join him, won't you?

Enjoy the week!



  • Del McCoury Band / Katy Hill / RockyGrass / Blue Planet
  • Bill Monroe & His Blue Grass Boys / When The Golden Leaves Begin To Fall / Bill Monroe & His Blue Grass Boys, 1950-1951 / JSP Records
  • Dan Paisley & the Southern Grass / Leaves Musn't Fall [sic] / The Tradition Continues / Brandywine
  • Stanley Brothers / The Fields Have Turned Brown / Select Sides, 1949-1953 / JSP Records
  • J.D. Crowe & the New South / Old Home Place / Bluegrass Class Of 1990 / Rounder
  • Noam Pikelny / Monroe's Hornpipe / Noam Pikelny Plays Kenny Baker Plays Bill Monroe / Compass Records
  • Missy Werner / Rocks In The River / Turn This Heart Around / Self-Produced
  • Gibson Brothers / What A Ways We've Come / Red Letter Day / Sugar Hill
  • Nashville Bluegrass Band / Old Devil's Dream / Bluegrass Class Of 1990 / Rounder
  • White Mountain Bluegrass / Stranger In My Home / Aragon Mill / Strictly Country
  • White Mountain Bluegrass / You Ain't Woman Enough To Take My Man / Aragon Mill / Strictly Country
  • Spinney Brothers / The Whole World Must Be Knowin' / Tried & True / Compass Records
  • Marty Raybon & Full Circle / The Big Burnsville Jail / The Back Forty / Rural Rhythm
  • Marteka & William / Sally Ann / The Sounds Of A Tradition / Self-Produced
  • Lonesome Pine Fiddlers / Windy Mountain / Windy Mountain / Bear Family
  • Bill Harrell / The L & N Don't Stop Here Anymore / Raised By The Railroad Line / Rebel
  • Joe Mullins & the Radio Ramblers / Goin' Back To My Kentucky Country Home / Another Day From Life / Rebel [Joe Mullins birthday - 10/27/1965]
  • Eddie & Martha Adcock with Tom Gray & Friends / Amelia Earhart's Last Flight / Many A Mile / Patuxent Music [Martha Adcock birthday - 10/29/1949]
  • Fred Pike, Bill Rawlings & the Twin River Boys / Hickory Hollow / Authentic Bluegrass Folk Music / Osage [Fred Pike birthday - 10/27/1932]
  • Osborne Brothers / Fastest Grass Alive / Once More, Volumes 1 & 2 / Sugar Hill [Sonny Osborne birthday - 10/29/1937]
  • Crowe Brothers / I've Got The Moon On My Side / Forty Years Old / Mountain Fever Records
  • Crowe Brothers / Send Me The Pillow / Forty Years Old / Mountain Fever Records
  • The Hillmen / Brown Mountain Light / The Hillmen / Sugar Hill
  • David Parmley / The Silver Ghost / Southern Heritage / Rebel
  • The Dillards / Polly Vaughn / There Is A Time / Vanguard
  • Larry Stephenson Band / Clinch Mountain Mystery / Clinch Mountain Mystery / Pinecastle
  • Front Range / The Lantern / Ramblin' On My Mind / Sugar Hill
  • Steep Canyon Rangers / The Ghost Of Norma Jean / One Dime At A Time / Rebel
  • Country Gentlemen / Bringing Mary Home / The Early Rebel Recordings, 1962-1971 / Rebel
  • Seldom Scene / I've Come To Take You Home / Like We Used To Be / Sugar Hill
  • Mac Wiseman with Sierra Hull / You're A Flower Blooming In The Wildwood / Songs From My Mother's Hand / Wrinkled Records
  • Mac Wiseman / When I Get The Money Made / Early Dot Recordings, Volume 3 / County
  • Johnson Mountain Boys / Let's Part The Best Of Friends / Favorites / Rounder
  • James King / Blue Blue Day / Three Chords And The Truth / Rounder
  • Flatt Lonesome / Letters Have No Arms / Too / Mountain Home
  • Laurie Lewis & Kathy Kallick / Oh! Susanna / Laurie & Kathy Sing The Songs Of Vern & Ray / Spruce & Maple Music
  • Amy Gallatin & Stillwaters / You're For Me / Phoenix / Happy Appy Records
  • Jimmy Gaudreau & Moondi Klein / Where The Soul Of Man Never Dies / If I Had A Boat / Rebel
  • Hot Rize / I Am The Road / When I'm Free / Ten In Hand Records
  • Hazel Dickens & Alice Gerrard / Won't You Come And Sing For Me? / Pioneering Women Of Bluegrass / Smithsonian Folkways
  • Junior Sisk & Ramblers Choice / Jesus Walked Upon The Water / Trouble Follows Me / Rebel
  • Earls Of Leicester / Who Will Sing For Me / The Earls Of Leicester / Rounder
  • Volume Five / You Better Wake Up / Children Of The Mountain / Mountain Fever Records
  • Lester Flatt & Earl Scruggs / So Happy I'll Be / Selected Songs, 1948-1950 / JSP Records
  • White Mountain Bluegrass / Church At The Foot Of The Hill / Aragon Mill / Strictly Country
  • Country Gentlemen / Heavenward Bound / The Early Rebel Recordings, 1962-1971 / Rebel
  • Johnson Mountain Boys / Black Mountain Blues / Requests / Rounder

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Playlist - 10/19/2014

Hi Folks.

The show began with popular WV teen sibling duo Marteka & William channeling some Earl & Lester.  The reaction we received from playing these two on an earlier fill-in show was remarkable and I expect we will hear much more from them in the near future.

There was a tribute set to Songwriter Hall of Fame member Paul Craft who just died October 18, the day before this show.  The set also served to salute the Seldom Scene who not only kick-started Craft's songwriting career, but also whose original members were just inducted into the IBMA Hall of Fame.

New music, some of which was obtained while I was in Raleigh with the IBMA, included songs from the Lonesome River Band, Hot Rize, Larry Sparks, Junior Sisk, The Earls Of Leicester, Joe Mullins, Nu-Blu, Turning Ground, Wayne Taylor, Darin & Brooke Aldridge, The Spinney Brothers, and Crowe, Lawson and Williams.

One of my favorite things to do is share some of the rare music in my collection with the Bluegrass Cafe audience, and for this show it was a stack of 45 RPM singles that I scooped off the top of a "new" batch I have acquired.

The Heritage Corner featured The Campbell Trio, Jack Cooke, The Sloas Brothers, Frank Necessary and The Stone Mountain Boys, Morris Herbert and The Twin County Boys, Bill Box and The Dixie Drifters, The Dillards, The Chestnut Grove Quartet, Jimmie Williams & Red Ellis, Reno & Harrell, Carl Story, and Ralph Stanley, and more.

Tune in next Sunday when Amy will make the banjos and fiddles ring.

Jim Beaver

Paul Craft remembrance in red

Artist / Song / Album / Label
  • Marteka and William / Reuben / The Sounds Of A Tradition / Self-released
  • Lonesome River Band / Her Love Won't Turn On a Dime / Turn On a Dime / Mountain Home
  • Travers Chandler & Avery County / Stumblin Stones / Pardon Me... / Mountain Fever
  • Hot Rize / Glory In The Meeting House / When I'm Free / Ten In Hand
  • The Campbell Trio / Put My Little Shoes Away / We're Hooked On Bluegrass / Woodrich
  • Larry Efaw and the Bluegrass Mountaineers / Let the Whole World Talk / She Left Me Standing On a Mountain / Blue Circle
  • Dave Evans / Be Proud Of The Gray In Your Hair / Classic Bluegrass / Rebel
  • Larry Sparks / Loving You Too Well (w. Ralph Stanley) / Lonesome And Then Some / Rebel
  • The Spinney Brothers / Gonna Catch a Train (Leavin' You Behind) / Tried & True / Mountain Fever
  • Ralph Stanley & Ralph Stanley II / I've Still Got 99 / Side By Side / Rebel
  • The Seldom Scene / Raised By The Railroad Line / Act One / Rebel
  • The Seldom Scene / Keep Me From Blowing Away / Act Two / Rebel
  • The Seldom Scene / Through The Bottom Of The Glass (feat. Linda Ronstadt) / Old Train / Rebel
  • Charlie Sizemore / Nothing Happening Every Minute / Back Home / Rebel
  • The Osborne Brothers / Fastest Grass Alive / Once More, Vol. 1 & 2 / Sugar Hill
  • Turning Ground / Ohio River / Cell Of Mine / Self-released
  • Junior Sisk & Rambler's Choice / Honky-Tonked to Death / Trouble Follows Me / Rebel
  • Jack Cooke / I've Always Been A Rambler / Sittin' On Top Of The World / Pinecastle
  • The Earl Brothers / Hey Hey / Outlaw Hillbilly / Big Hen
  • The Earls Of Leicester / Dig a Hole In the Meadow / The Earls of Leicester / New Rounder
  • Marteka and William / John Henry / The Sounds Of A Tradition / Self-released
  • Marteka and William / Head Over Heels / The Sounds Of A Tradition / Self-released
  • Joe Mullins & the Radio Ramblers / Eat, Drink and Be Merry / Another Day From Life / Rebel
  • The Karl Shiflett & Big Country Show / My West Virginia Girl / Collectors Series Volume One / KSBC Music
  • Nu-Blu / That's What Makes the Bluegrass Blue / All The Way / Rural Rhythm
  • Mickey Boles / Music Politics / Single / Self-released
  • The Lilly Brothers & Don Stover / Bring Back My Blue Eyed Boy / Early Recordings / Rebel
  • Alex Leach / Heart Specialist / Mountain Heartache / Self-released
  • Darin & Brooke Aldridge / Get Up John / single /
  • The Sloas Brothers / Hillbilly Fiddler / 45 RPM Single / REM
  • Frank Necessary and the Stone Mountain Boys / Highway Of Love / 45 RPM Single / Jaylyn
  • Morris Herbert and the Twin County Boys / It's Just The Chance (You've Waited For) / 45 RPM Single / Blue Jay
  • Morris Herbert and the Twin County Boys / 'Cause I Don't Care / 45 RPM Single / Blue Jay
  • Bill Box And The Dixie Drifters / Georgia-Alabama / 45 RPM Single / Rich-R-Tone
  • The Dillards / Liberty / Live!!! Almost!!! / Elektra
  • Boys From Carolina / Another Lonesome Morning / County Line / Self-released
  • The Dillards / Dixie Breakdown / Live!!! Almost!!! / Elektra
  • Longview / Windy Mountain / High Lonesome / Rounder
  • Scotty Stoneman (bed) / Scotty's Hoedown / The Lost Masters / Old Homestead
  • Scotty Stoneman (bed) / Eighth Of January / The Lost Masters / Old Homestead
  • Scotty Stoneman (bed) / Scotty's Breakdown / The Lost Masters / Old Homestead
  • Scotty Stoneman (bed) / Ida Red / The Lost Masters / Old Homestead
  • Keith Whitley and Ricky Skaggs / Don't Cheat In Our Hometown / Second Generation / Rebel
  • Crowe, Lawson & Williams / My Walking Shoes / Standing Tall And Tough / Mountain Home
  • The Johnson Mountain Boys / Making Up Stories / Favorites / Rounder
  • Wayne Taylor / Sing WIth Me / Movin' On / Raincoe Music
  • Doug McKelway / Big Sciota / The Patuxent Banjo Project / Patuxent
  • Larry Gillis and the Hard Driving Bluegrass Band / Whippoorwill's Cry / Swampgrass / Tinman
  • Chestnut Grove Quartet / O What A Glad Day / The Legendary Chestnut Grove Quartet / Rebel
  • Jimmie Williams and Red Ellis / There Ain’t No Grave Gonna Hold My Body Down / 45 RPM EP / Starday
  • Don Reno & Bill Harrell / Campin' In Canaan's Land / 33-1/3 RPM EP / Wango
  • The Stanley Brothers / Someone's Last Day / 33-1/3 RPM EP / Wango
  • Mickey Boles / That Mountain Is Me / Let My Feet Go Runnin' / Self-released
  • Larry Stephenson / Great Speckled Bird / Pull Your Savior In / Compass
  • The Cooke Duet / Swing Down That Chariot / The Best Of The Cooke Duet / CRFRC
  • Carl Story / Mighty Close To Heaven / Complete Atteiram Collection / Gusto
  • Ralph Stanley and The Clinch Mountain Boys / Jesse James Prayed / Poor Rambler / King Canopy
  • Fred Etheridge with Nick Anderson & Mark Doyle / Walking In A Dream / Pickin' And Singin' / Self-released