It's no secret that I am now and have always been a huge admirer of the Johnson Mountain Boys. Growing up in eastern CT, I recall seeing them perform many times, especially every February at the Chestnut Lodge in Colchester in shows sponsored by the now-defunct Connecticut Friends of Bluegrass. I fully believe that my exposure to this band and their music and showmanship paved the way for my introduction to Bluegrass and later, Bluegrass radio. Without getting overly sentimental here, this band and all of its members mean an awful lot to me, and I believe that there are still lots and lots of folks in CT and New England who are big fans of the Johnson Mountain Boys. Even though the band has been broken up for more than a decade, I still try to play at least one tune from JMB on the air every week, and I'm pretty comfortable in saying that Jim shares my high opinion of these guys.
(By the way, the photo at the top of this page was taken at one of those JMB shows at the Chestnut Lodge, circa 1984. From left to right, it's David McLaughlin, Richard Underwood, Dudley Connell, Larry Robbins, and Eddie Stubbs. Longtime BGers from New England will notice #1 Bluegrass Fan Alice Waters right on the front row, too -- naturally).
Just yesterday, I read a post on the very fine Bluegrass Blog about the JMB mandolin player, David McLaughlin. In addition to JMB, David has performed with Josh Crowe in the duo known as Crowe & McLaughlin, as one of the first members of the Lynn Morris Band, and with Linda & David Lay in Springfield Exit (among other groups). In 2006, David experienced almost total hearing loss, but was able to restore a good portion of his hearing by using some powerful hearing aids. I recall seeing David perform with Lynn Morris at the 2007 Jenny Brook Bluegrass Festival, and he was using the hearing aids then. According to the BG Blog post, recently, David has found a device called the Oticon Dual which (when paired with an Oticon Streamer) has allowed him to hear nearly as well as he did before 2006. This device is currently "on loan," but can be purchased by David for $7,000. To help raise funds for David to purchase this device, his good friend and fellow musician, Claire Lynch, has established a benefit fund, and folks are encouraged to contribute whatever they can. So far, they've raised just over $2,000, but every penny helps. If you'd like to contribute, please note that donations can be made via PayPal using the email address McLaughlinFund@gmail.com, or send a check payable to David McLaughlin Benefit Fund to: