Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ category

Bluegrass Hall of Fame sees visitors from 11 countries

June 3, 2019

OWENSBORO, Ky. — By the time the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame & Museum in downtown Owensboro celebrated its six-month anniversary in April, it had seen approximately 20,000 visitors from 11 countries, 35 states and at least 470 ZIP codes.

And that was during the late fall, winter and early spring — not prime travel time.

With summer on the horizon, Chris Joslin, the Hall of Fame’s executive director, expects bigger numbers.

Carly Smith, the marketing director, said visitors have come from Great Britain, Japan, United States’ minor outlying territories, France, Netherlands, Australia, Canada, South Africa, Thailand, India, China and Germany.

Terry Woodward, the Hall of Fame’s board chairman, has worked, pushed and contributed money since 1985 to get a world-class bluegrass museum in Owensboro.

“We opened in October, which is not the best travel time,” he said. “I think it’s done extremely well.”

The Hall’s Woodward Theatre has hosted 21 concerts since October.

And several of those shows have been streamed on the Internet.

“The last I heard, the Rhonda Vincent show had been viewed 347,000 times,” Woodward said. “And 150,000 of those were the night of the show.”

He said, “We’ve had comments on the show from people in Russia, Thailand, Japan, New Zealand, Scotland and a lot more countries.”

Smith said, “Opening in the fall gave us time to focus on the Hall of Fame without ROMP coming up. ROMP is when most of the fans are in town. A lot of activities are planned during ROMP this year.”

She’s expecting about 27,500 fans at the bluegrass festival on June 26-29 — about the same as last year.

“During ROMP, Rhonda Vincent and Del McCoury will bring their tour buses to the museum,” Smith said. “They’ll come inside, pick a couple of songs and sign autographs for the fans. We’ll have some smaller bands playing in the lobby. We’re having a film festival too, with documentaries and some of our video oral history films.”

The Pickin’ Parlor at the entrance to the museum has walls lined with good instruments for people to take down and play.

“It is really getting a lot of use,” Joslin said. “It has become a source of real engagement for people. We have some really good musicians and some who just like to strum an instrument and listen to and watch others. We’re getting good crowds in there at the shows.”

He said, “We plan to launch the outdoor shows during the Owensboro Air Show in September when a lot of people are downtown. Starting in 2020, we plan three or four outdoor shows a year.”

The outdoor stage is on the river side of the museum, with a large grassy area for people to sit and listen to the music.

The Hall of Fame has seven full-time employees, he said, plus “two about three-quarter time and a host of part-time workers and volunteers.

“We have people from St. Louis, Louisville and Lexington who have come to several shows,” Joslin said. “We want to see more of that. People have to come to Owensboro intentionally. We have to give them a reason. That’s why we partner with O.Z. Tyler. The museums in town, even Holiday World, give people an incentive to come. To make the trip, they have to have more than one thing to do.”

And with regular concerts by top bands in Woodward Theatre, bluegrass fans have a reason to visit, he said.


RAY CARDWELL, “Stand On My Own,” Bonfire. 12 tracks

May 28, 2019

Ray Cardwell‘s roots are in bluegrass.

His music career began in the Missouri Ozarks in the late 1970s with the Cardwell Family Band.

In the ’80s, Cardwell worked in bluegrass, Americana, country, jazz, reggae, blues, musical theater, rock, Motown, choral and rockabilly groups.

And it shows.

He moved to Nashville in 1994 as a member of the bluegrass/gospel group New Tradition.

Then, Cardwell took time off to raise a family.

In 2016, he returned to Nashville and bluegrass with an album called “Tennessee Moon,” which was released in 2017.

Now, Cardwell’s second album, “Stand On My Own,” has hit the market.

He wrote nine of the 12 tracks.

“Stand On My Own” falls on the progressive side of bluegrass.

With electric guitars and drums among the instruments, the hard-driving sound is at least a cousin of rock.

Probably the most amazing track is “Change In My Life,” which features Cardwell singing four-part harmony with himself.

He sings lead, tenor, baritone and bass to create a great sound.

“Time to Drive” is a hard-driving song about a man hitting the highway in search of whatever his future holds.

The title track says it’s not that he doesn’t love her, but he needs time alone to learn to stand on his own.

“Sinners & Saints” says those who judge him are as guilty as him.

“Jump Bank Jane” is an uptempo instrumental.

“New Set of Problems” finds the singer tired of his old problems, tired of his job, tired of being broke, tired of his girlfriend and tired of his wife.

“Wedding Bells” is about a man listening to wedding bells ring for the woman he had hoped to marry someday.

“Love Each Other” is a song that says we have to learn to love each other.

Can’t find it in stores?



MERLE MONROE, “Back to the Country,” Pinecastle. 12 tracks.

May 13, 2019

Bluegrass and traditional county music have been drawing closer in recent years.

And that’s been bringing a lot of traditional country fans to bluegrass festivals.

Now, there’s a new band that takes its name from a country music icon and a bluegrass icon.

Merle Monroe says its name and sound are inspired by Merle Haggard and Bill Monroe.

Two of the songs — “Movin’ On” and “Hungry Eyes” — were written by Haggard.

The band was organized by Tim Raybon, formerly of The Raybon Brothers, and Daniel Grindstaff, who’s worked with such legends as Jesse McReynolds and the Osborne Brothers.

Raybon wrote six of the songs on the album.

The first single is Roger Miller‘s “This Town,” a blazing song about a man determined to get out of a town he finds boring and dying.

The title of the album is based on “Back Where It’s At,” a ballad about life being too fast and the singer’s desire to get back to the basics of life.

“Whippoorwill” is an uptempo song about a man missing a woman.

“Beautiful Kentucky” tells the story of a man who left home at 18 and can’t wait to get back there.

There are a couple of gospel numbers — “Beautiful City” and “He Will Roll You Over The Tide.”

“Singing Crazy (Like Patsy Cline)” finds a man wondering how love can be so blind.

“Dad” is a letter written to a father to tell him words his son can’t seem to say.

“I’ll Follow You” is a love song about a man who says he will do anything for the woman he loves.

“The Kindest Man” is about a man who wants to be like his grandfather, a sharecropper who helps everybody with everything he has.

Band members include Jayd Raines, Josh Doss and Derek Deakins.

A good album.

Look for it June 21 on

LARRY STEPHENSON BAND, “30,” Whysper Dream Music. 12 tracks

May 6, 2019

The Larry Stephenson Band is celebrating 30 years with its new album, appropriately titled “30.”

But Stephenson, who began playing mandolin at 5 and cut his first single at 11, has been around a lot longer.

When he graduated from high school in 1976, Stephenson joined his father in a popular regional band in Virginia, playing at The Wheeling Jamboree and other concerts and festivals.

In 1979, Stephenson joined Bill Harrell and The Virginians for 4 ½ years.

In 1983, he went to work with The Bluegrass Cardinals and stayed for 5 ½ years.

And in 1989, he formed his own band and hit the road.

This album is how bluegrass is supposed to sound with clear, sharp tenor singing and great harmony.

Three of the cuts — “Timber, I’m Falling In Love,” “Just When I Needed You Most” and “Sweet Little Miss Blue Eyes” — were on the band’s first album.

“Two Hearts on the Borderline” was on a 2000 album.

“Blue Memories” is a new song as is the album’s first single, “Two Ol’ Country Boys Like Us,” a duet with Ronnie Bowman, who co-wrote it with Stephenson.

Two songs — “Love Lifted Me” (not the gospel song) and “Tears” are from the Osborne Brothers catalog.

“Journey’s End,” co-written by Ernest Tubb, was recorded by the band 25 years ago.

Stephenson’s “I Was Bluegrass (When Bluegrass Wasn’t Cool)” is an uptempo tune about how bluegrass has gained in popularity since he was in high school.

“Darling Little Joe,” a song from the public domain, finds a dying child asking questions about what will happen with his family when he is dead.

Stephenson’s 9-year-old daughter, Whysper, provides a bonus track, singing a few lines from “County Boys” a capella.

A good album.

It’s available at


SCOTT SLAY, “The Rail,” Bonfire. 13 tracks.

April 29, 2019

“The Rail,” Scott Slay‘s new album which shares its name with the name of his band, is more Americana than bluegrass.

But there are elements of both — along with some folk, blues and country — in its 13 tracks.

Slay, a Florida native, heard Sam Bush perform when he was 5 and fell in love with progressive bluegrass.

Later, he worked in his father’s touring bluegrass band.

Now, he’s living in the Denver area with his own band and writing songs.

“The Rail” is sort of a singer-songwriter project.

Slay wrote or co-wrote all but one of the songs — “Green Valley.”

Musicians joining him on the album include Mike Munford, Andy Hall, Scott Vestal, Josh Shilling, Brandon Rickman, Sammy Shelor, Mark Schatz, Jim VanCleve, Aaron Ramsey, Steve Lazar, Dustin Benson among others.

“Battle of Grapevine” is a song about hate and fear and a battle where no blood is left to spill.

Apparently, it’s based on the 1888 Battle of Grapevine Creek between the Hatfields and McCoys.

“Remember Her” is about a woman who once made time stand still for him.

“Truth Came Out” is about a man who stretched the truth one too many times and lost the woman he loves.

“Moonshine Feel” says that corn doesn’t make money unless it’s in a jar.

Can’t find it in stores?


JIM AND LYNNA WOOLSEY, “Long Ago,” Bonfire. 10 tracks

April 15, 2019

Jim and Lynna Woolsey, Indiana singer-songwriters, have been making music together for four decades, dating back to their time in the 1970s with the Indiana-based Patoka Valley Boys.

Their new album, “Long Ago,” on the Bonfire label features two songs they wrote together — “Growing Up Takes Time,” which says there’s freedom in leaving behind childish ways, and “Without You,” a gospel song.

James Woolsey wrote or co-wrote with others the other eight tracks.

“Somewhere Between Californ and Caroline” tells the story of a rambler, who says when he dies you can bury him anywhere because he’s been everywhere.

The title track is nostalgia for childhood.

“Sugar Ridge Road” finds a man driving fast down a road filled with potholes so he can keep a date and sow some wild oats.

“Long Journey Home” is about what a man hopes to do before his time on Earth is over.

“Livin’ The Way It Used To Be” finds a woman wishing her life and love was the way it was in the past.

Musicians include Randy Kohrs, Mark Fain, Tim Crouch, Mike Sumner, Dave Foster, Clay Hees and Mike Curtis.

Can’t find it in stores?


NIGHTFLYER, “Flight,” Pinecastle. 12 tracks

April 9, 2019

Nightflyer, a southwestern Ohio-based band, has roots in traditional and gospel bluegrass.

And the roots show on the band’s new album, “Flight,” on the Pinecastle label.

“Satan’s Jewel Crown,” part of both the traditional and gospel bluegrass genres, was popularized by the Louvin Brothers in 1959 and again by Emmylou Harris in 1975.

Several of the songs, like “Satan’s Jewel Crown,” have their roots in country music.

That includes Hank Williams “A House of Gold” from the late 1940s; “Six Days on the Road,” a 1963 hit for Dave Dudley; “Guitar Man,” a 1967 hit for Jerry Reed; and “Send My Body Home on a Freight Train,” a 1986 song by Randy Travis.

“Ride” is an uptempo song about a couple who used to take rides in the country before life got so complicated. And the singer wishes they would do it again.

“Be Leaving” is about a man who has caught his woman cheating on him and is ready to leave.

“Lightning Rod” is the story of a man who falls for the wrong woman every time.

“Only God Knows My Name” is about a Confederate soldier who is killed at the end of the Civil War and now finds himself lying in an unmarked grave.

“Not Even Dying Can Stop Me Now” is uptempo gospel.

“The Old Rounder” is the story of a dying man, who is reassessing his life.

And “River Don’t Run Dry” finds a trucker heading home and planning to stay there.

Nightflyer is a five-piece band with five musicians who can all sing lead.

Good album.

Can’t find it in stores.