Tuesday, January 17, 2012



     LeMars, Iowa.....Bob Everhart, the President of the National Old Time Country & Bluegrass Music Association, has released the name of the bluegrass band that will represent Kentucky at their annual festival in Iowa this year.  "We've been a 501(c)3 non-profit group, promoting old-time acoustic music since 1976," Everhart said.  "and with Bill Monroe getting his first 'paid' gig in Iowa, we want to keep his music alive here, much like it was when he and his brother Charley came to Iowa in 1934.  This was actually their first radio show, their first paid gig, and their first real exposure in the upper Midwest.  They were instantly popular on KFNF radio in Shenandoah, where Bill met his future wife. His son James Monroe came to us several years ago when we inducted Bill Monroe into America's Old Time Country & Bluegrass Hall of Fame.  He brought with him the suit Mr. Monroe wore on his very last performance on the Grand Ole Opry.  We are really glad to have this in the Pioneer Music Museum, as well as an early mandolin similar to the first one Mr. Monroe played.  After the Monroe Brothers left Iowa, they returned to Kentucky, where they began to record for Bluebird Records.  We also have some of those recordings in our museum.  The rest of the story is history."
     Everhart's wife, Sheila, is also on the NTCMA Board of Directors.  "We have been promoting and presenting the early music of the Monroe Brothers ever since we started our festival 37 years ago," she said.  "We had Eddie Pennington from Princeton, Kentucky, with us last year, perhaps one of the most gifted acoustic guitarists we've ever heard.  We celebrated Bill Monroe's 100th birthday last year, but now we're celebrating his 101st birthday.  One of the new offerings at our festival will be a stage devoted to bluegrass jamming.  We already have ten stages accommodating the many performers that come to this event, over 650 of them.  Picture Bill Anderson, Jim Ed Brown, Patti Page, and Ralph Stanley all gathered here for induction into our Hall of Fame.  This year appears no differently, and the bluegrass band selected from Kentucky really plays the early Monroe style of music, direct from the hills.  They are called Hurley Ridge, and hail from Lexington."
     Bob Everhart was quick to point out, "We are really looking forward to having an 11th stage devoted to jamming this year.  This is so important to anyone who plays bluegrass music or mountain music, or even early traditional country and folk music.  So, we'll have five two-hour sessions every day, done in five different styles.  A regular circle jam, a Texas style jam, a Guitar Pull jam, and a single performer style jam, and a 'toast & jam' style.  All in all, it should be a delightful opportunity for any picker, singer, or player of acoustic music to join in."
     "Hurley Ridge," Sheila added, is one of those groups that blend brother-sister abilities into the mountain music they play.  Originally from the hills of Jackson County, they say they were so far back in the hills it was hard to even find musical instruments, let alone be able to play them in their ealy years.  Kent Hurley is the banjo picker (as well as the French Harp), does vocals and writes songs and does his own radio show 'Gravel Road'; sister Amy plays upright acoustic bass, does vocals, and admits she was inspired by Southern Gospel groups; brother Glenn plays mandolin (much in the early Bill Monroe style), does vocals and was inspired by Seldom Scene. Filling out the group is Paul Eldridge on acoustic guitar, who was originally influenced by the Everly Brothers.  This is pretty amazing to us as festival promoters, since Eddie Pennington, the guitarist who was with us last year, was influenced by the Everly Brothers father, Ike.  And don't you know it, not only did Bill Monroe get his start in the music business in Shenandoah, Iowa, so did Ike Everly and his two sons Don and Phil Everly, on another radio station in Shenandoah, KMA radio."
     Bob Everhart was quick to add, "Hurley Ridge has received a lot of inspirational attention from a number of sources.  Red Barn Radio said, "From traditional bluegrass and bluegrass gospel, to original tunes, this band brings soulful harmonies and sweet sounds to listeners ears."  Bluegrass Unlimited magazine also made an interesting comment, "The music of Hurley Ridge contains a certain charm that should appeal to anyone familiar with the music of this band."  And, Gracie Muldoon of World Wide Bluegrass, had this to say. "Gosh, it's great to hear Hurley Ridge after so much slickness in the industry.  I like real people and real back home music.  Bluegrass is like a home-made quilt, lots of warmth here.  Steady pickin' complements the authentic mountain voices and are the way to go for a classic bluegrass sound."  Everhart also added, "This is exactly what we were looking for to represent the sound of Bill and Charley Monroe when they came to Iowa.  Among our ten stages is a stage devoted to bluegrass music, so we hope more bluegrass groups will come be with us the entire week we function.  We'd like a bluegrass band from every state to be with us.  August 27-September 2 is seven days of incredible acoustic music no matter what your standing is, where you live, or how well you play.  Please visit us at www.ntcma.net for the full story.

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