Monday, January 19, 2015

Last week in Country Music

Fresh off their successful effort to prevent the demolition of a Nashville Studio that once recorded the likes of Elvis Presley, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, and a host of other country superstars, advocates want to now include all of the city's "Music Row" area in their preservation efforts.  The National Trust for Historic Preservation announced that it is placing Music Row on it's 'National Treasure' list of historically significant sites threatened by development.  The Washington DC based non-profit is joining the Music Industry Coalition, Mayor Karl Dean's office, the Nashville Convention and Visitors Center, as well as state and city historical preservation groups to draw attention to Music Row's cultural heritage.
Back in 1941, a young man in Iowa bought an acoustic guitar for $30, but forgot about it for 50 years.  Now it is worth over $25,000, a Gibson J-35 which the company began making in 1936 during the depression.  The young guy in 1941, whose name has not been released, bought it shortly before shipping off to fight in WWII in the Pacific.  He left the nearly mint-condition instrument at home, and put it away so his young children wouldn't damage it.  Those same children (now grandparents themselves) found the guitar when the were helping their father clean house in 2012.  They searched the Internet to find a shop that specialized in refurbishing vintage instruments, and found Folkway Music in Ontario, Canada, owned by Mark Stutman, who purchased the guitar for $25,000.  According to Stutman, "The guitar was introduced during the Depression.  They didn't get treated as something that was bought with an entire month's salary, and most of them were well used.  I certainly paid what needed to be paid for the guitar.  It's nice in this day and age to make these kinds of finds.  Most collectible things have been found already.  For all intents and purposes the guitar has been sold to us for $25,000, but we're still hammering out the paperwork.  Still, even if the deal falls through, its certain to fly off the shelf pretty quick."  Stutman said he didn't feel comfortable identifying the man or his family without their permission.
Bob Dylan is certainly not known for being the best vocalist in the world, but he is threatening to mumble and bumble his way through a new album of tunes made famous by Frank Sinatra.  Entitled "Shadows In The Night" Dylan cut 23 songs, with 10 of them making the final album.  The engineer behind the session, Al Schmitt who recorded the album at Capitol Record's historic Studio B, said, "Dylan picked some obscure Sinatra songs that are great songs.  People who have heard it broke down crying, listening to the record.  It's like nothing you've ever heard Dylan do."  Once the session was in play back, Dylan told Schmitt, "I never heard my voice sound this good before."
If you like old-time rag-time music, the Great Plains Ragtime Society meeting will take place on Sunday, January 25th at 2pm at Durham Booth Manor, 923 N 38th St. in Omaha.  It's even better if you 'play' rag-time.  Call Jim Boston at 402-556-3340 if you need more information.
The Bristol, Virginia, City Council has voted to give the Birthplace of Country Music Museum a break on its taxes.  The Council passed an ordinance giving the museum an exemption from real estate property taxes.  Councilman Jim Steele says it was a way of thanking the museum for all it has done to help the downtown business area and keep Bristol's downtown economy thriving.  "We are helping the museum all we can and downtown is thriving and we want it to keep thriving."
The museum dedicated to George Jones, in Nashville, will open almost two years to the day since his death, says his widow, Nancy.  The museum will open April 24th in downtown Nashville.  That weekend will also mark the launch of "White Lightning Moonshine" developed in a partnership between Jone's estate and Silver Trail Distillery.  "White Lightning" was Jone's first number one country hit in 1959.
Internet reception is not always the best here in California, sometimes it takes forever for anything to download, however Al Hixson one of our NTCMA folks, sent me  a most entertaining and interesting you-tube video of the Cheese Festival in Monroe, Wisconsin.  Some yodeling, which was great, but I was impressed with the 137 accordion players that showed up.  Pee Wee King was always one of my favorite accordion players, so if you're not busy, you might enjoy this.  And don't forget the incredible Las Vegas act Johnny Ray Gomez and his accordion will be at the Oak Tree Opry in Anita on May 29th, 7pm
Dolly Parton is teaming up with NBC as a producer of a slate of 2-hour movies.  Dolly says she wants it to be fun, inspirational with a family audience in mind.  The movies will apparently be based on the songs, stories, and inspiring life of Dolly herself.
A singer-songwriter, Corey Smith, a former social-studies teacher has made Rolling Stone Magazine, mostly for a song he wrote called "Fast Track."  He's pretty outspoken about the state of country music today....."For a guy like me (he's been playing for ten years), it's tough to be a critic because people automatically label me as a hater.  That I'm just jealous because I don't have a hit song on the radio or I've never won any awards.  That's not the case.  The reality is that country music has swung too far into this fake plastic place that is the antithesis of what country music is.  I've known this stuff first hand.  I've been out there slugging it for awhile and have had many artists, without naming names, tell me, "We're going to do it like you, the slow methodical way and earn one fan at a time." and then 3 months later they're on the top of the charts and they are everywhere....shortcuts?"
During his 30-year career as Director of Folklife for the Tennessee Arts Commission, Robert Cogsville always found time to carry a camera around with him.  Beginning in 1984, photography was his passion, and throughout his career he documented scores of craftsmen, artists, and musicians who keep Tennessee's folk traditions alive.  Some 22,000 photos including those of fiddler Clyde Davenport, and blues singer Jessie Mae Hemphill and a host of other old-time country artists.  January 16 through March 13, they will be on display, or at least 4,000 of them in the Tennessee Arts Commission Gallery in Nashville.  Sure would be interesting to look into.  My, how I wish Iowa would take more interest in the music the pioneers, settlers, and homesteaders played in our state.  I don't like the loneliness of being the only one trying to do anything about saving it.
Bob Everhart for Country Music News International Magazine
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