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2018 Joe Val Festival: IIIrd Tyme Out, David Davis, and more!

JVF2018Just a few miles west on Route 9 from our home on the river in Saxonville, at the junction with the Mass Pike, is the hotel our kids used to call ‘The Castle’, the Sheraton in Framingham.  And fortunately for me, every Presidents’ Day Weekend in February, the Castle is taken over by hordes of pickers and singers from all over the country, drawn by the music and camaraderie of The Joe Val Bluegrass Festival.

The rooms at the hotel are in such demand that when they go on sale in early November, they sell out in three minutes.  But there are other hotels nearby, and of course it’s easy to get to from anywhere in the region.  This year marks the 33rd anniversary of the Festival, sponsored by the Boston Bluegrass Union, in honor of Joe Val and his all-too-brief celebrity as the most exciting singer of bluegrass-style country music ever to come out of New England.  From the BBU:

Some of the bands that will be coming for Joe Val in 2018 include Hot Rize, The Gibson Brothers, Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out, Special Consensus, David Davis & the Warrior River Boys, Terry Baucom & The Dukes of Drive, Eddie & Martha Adcock, Town Mountain, the Po’ Ramblin’ Boys, Too Blue, Foghorn String Band, Red Wine, Mile Twelve, and The Reunion Band!

Join the Boston Bluegrass Union and celebrate the legacy of the late Joe Val with three big days of indoor bluegrass at the Sheraton Framingham Hotel.

We have a great lineup of national and regional talent, expanded workshops, Kid’s Academy, music vendors, and round-the-clock jamming. Our 2006 event won the coveted “Event of the Year” award from the International Bluegrass Music Association.

The BBU web page with all the stage schedules is HERE.  And HERE‘s all the ticket information.

I’m especially looking forward to seeing some favorites that I’ve missed in the last few years, like Russell Moore and IIIrd Time Out, and David Davis and the Warrior River Boys.  Here’s David Davis and the WRB with “The Milwaukee Blues”:

See you there too! /CL

[Edited 1Feb18 for better wording.]




Becky Buller Live on January 20th!

Becky Buller-TweenEarthAndSky_smThat’s right, fiddler and singer Becky Buller and her hot-pickin’ band will be at the former National Heritage Museum (now the unmemorably-named Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library) this Saturday, January 20th, sponsored of course by the Boston Bluegrass Union.  Here’s their announcement:

If you’re a fan of acoustic music, particularly bluegrass, and you haven’t heard of fiddler Becky Buller, there’s a good chance you’ve heard some of her songs. Becky’s compositions have been recorded by Ricky Skaggs(“Music To My Ears”), Rhonda Vincent (“Fishers of Men”), Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver (“Be Living”), Josh Williams (“You Love Me Today”), and Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out (“Cottontown”, “My Angeline”, “Rest My Weary Feet”).

Becky Buller took home three IBMA awards in 2015: Emerging Artist Of The Year, Songwriter Of The Year, and Recorded Event Of The Year for the song “Southern Flavor”.   SPBGMA chose Becky as a 2016 Songwriter Of The Year nominee.  The IAMA chose Becky’s song “Nothin’ To You” as 1st Runner Up for their 2016 Country/Bluegrass Song Of The Year.

Then in 2016 Becky Buller was named both IBMA Fiddle Player of the Year and IBMA Female Vocalist the Year!

When Becky tours she is backed by The Becky Buller Band  –  Daniel Boner (guitar), Nate Lee(mandolin), Daniel Hardin (bass), and Ned Luberecki (banjo).

And yes, I’m happy to announce that Becky and at least some of the band will be squeezing into WHRB’s Studio BC, for a surprise visit to Hillbilly at Harvard, between 11:00 AM and 12:00 noon tomorrow!

I saw The Becky Buller Band (click for her website) at the Joe Val Festival last year, and was mightily impressed. Originally from St. James, Minnesota, she is an ebullient lady and bandleader, and a genuine triple threat musician, as fiddler, singer, and songwriter.  You’ll get a great taste of all three at the show Saturday evening.  She’ll have her terrific 2014 album, ‘Tween Earth and Sky for sale, too.

Opening for the Becky Buller Band will be long-time Boston stalwarts, True Life Bluegrass:

Founded in 1985 (at the first Joe Val Day), True Life Bluegrass has been dedicated to traditional bluegrass and gospel, with emphasis on lots of straight-ahead picking and excellent harmony singing.  The band consists of Boston-based bluegrass veterans such as Steve Watt (banjo & mandolin), Ellen Hays (guitar), Eric Levenson (bass), Tony Watt (mandolin & guitar), Michael Bean (Dobro), and Laura Orshaw (fiddle).


National Heritage Museum
(Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library)
33 Marrett Road, Lexington, MA
7:30pm (box office opens at 6:30pm)
$27 for Members
$29 for Non-Members

For advance tickets to BBU Events, click HERE

PS For more on The Becky Buller Band (and photos!) see HERE.  /CL

UPDATE 26Jan18: Hope you all got a chance to hear Becky and three bandmates (minus Dwayne Anderson and bass, not named above, who stayed back at the hotel for fear of our small studio—though as it turned out, I moved my CD/record cart out, and he has a skinny bass, so we could have fit him in) in Studio BC, all on one mic.  People tell me it sounded mighty good, and I certainly had a fine time squeezing out of the way during songs, and bantering with Becky, Professor Dan, Ned and Nate (‘the human adverb’, as Becky calls him—’Nate Lee’, get it?).

The Becky Buller Band put on quite a show for the BBU and audience at the Museum Saturday night, too. Becky and band are not (yet) household names, and many told me that hearing them on the radio encouraged them to come out and see her live.  They were all delighted.  Becky closed out the show with a stunning encore version of her own gospel song, ‘I Serve a God (Who Can raise the Dead)’.  It was really quite something, especially at the end of a night of energetic performance.  I don’t have a video of it but here they are (with a different singer on the left) at the AFBA Bluegrass Festival in Windgap, PA, back in August 6th of last year:


Rare Stanley Brothers Radio Transcription—You Can Help Save It!

Yesterday, this note arrived from audio engineer Frank Cunningham:

Hi Lynn, your listeners might find this interesting:

Photo copyright © The Birthplace of Country Music Museum.

Bristol, VA/Tenn. (January 10, 2018) – A rare transcription disc containing a live broadcast performance of The Stanley Brothers and the Clinch Mountain Boys on the former WCYB Radio Farm and Fun Time show has been listed among the Virginia Association of Museums (VAM) Top 10 Endangered Artifacts. Over time, the degradation of the fragile, lacquer disc recording has made it unplayable and its content unaccessible. A public vote will determine if the rare recording can be restored through grant funds from VAM, so the museum is asking for your help in securing enough votes to help them win $5,000 to preserve this valuable piece of American music history.

Frank continues:
Anyone who wants to vote, and one vote per day per device is permitted, may do so until January 24th, through this link:

I am not a disinterested party here because if the disk wins the vote, it is likely that I would do the digitization using the IRENE system at Northeast Document Conservation Center in Andover. It cannot be “restored” but IRENE can play it optically.
I’ve seen photos of the disk. Both sides are partially delaminated, but it ain’t hopeless yet. Most of the grooves are intact and the biggest loose chunks can be pushed back into line closely enough that the rest can be done in software. There are 9 tracks altogether on two sides, the longest being ~3min. Only the music was recorded—this is not an “air-check” of the whole show.

(& Hoppy New Year)


Today is the 17th, so there is just one week until the 24th.  So go HERE and vote by typing in your email address; you’ll get a confirmation email, with a link that will record your vote.
Ralph and Carter Stanley, when they were first starting out in the late 1940s, got a coveted slot to perform live on WCYB’s mid-day ‘Farm and Fun Time’ program.  It had a great deal to do with their success, enabling them to get bookings in the towns where WCYB’s Bristol-based signal reached.
Rebel Records released an album of two complete 1949 Stanley Brothers ‘The Farm and Fun Time’ shows called Stanley Brothers on WCYB Bristol in 1988, so we do have some documentation of that period.  The image above shows four tracks on the currently unplayable transcription are not on that album.  I’ll update when I hear about the other side.
The transcription disc is at The Birthplace of Country Music Museum in Bristol.  Their page about the transcription is HERE. You can cast your vote on that page as well.  /CL
UPDATE 18Jan: Here are closeups of the two labels.  Doesn’t look like any of these are on the Rebel album.  Note on S2 someone has noted ‘Trio’, ‘Quartet’, ‘pee wee’ (that would be Pee Wee Lambert, who played mandolin and often sang Monroe-style leads):
2017.4.1 Side A label - from donor_sm

From the Birthplace of Country Music Museum collection
Donated by Glen Harlow via Dean Casey
Photo by Glen Harlow

2017.4.1 Side B label - from donor_sm

From the Birthplace of Country Music Museum collection
Donated by Glen Harlow via Dean Casey
Photo by Glen Harlow

UPDATE 11Feb18: Steve Bartlett on the Paper and Pen page reports:

Re: The voting for a grant to restore the Stanley Brothers Radio transcription . This item received the most votes and a $5,000 grant for the project.

We’re Having a White Christmas!

And a houseful of kids, with Daughter Sarah visiting with her family (three boys) from Virginia, and Number Two Son Nathan and his crew (two boys, three girls) staying here while the house they bought in Dedham is undergoing remedial renovation.  Here some of the kids are looking at the snowbirds under the feeder:


The older ones ventured out in the storm, which is tapering off as I write:


Merry Christmas to all.  Hope you enjoyed the 2017 edition of the Hillbilly at Harvard Christmas Extravaganza Saturday morning, which of course we closed with The Stanley Brothers singing “Beautiful Star of Bethlehem.”  That was the impetus a few years ago for the blog post on the history of the song, our most-visited post to date.  So in recognition of the song’s enduring popularity, here’s Rhonda Vincent:

Ruth Rappaport & Ben Wetherbee at the Burren, Friday 15Dec17, 7-9 PM!

If you were listening this past Saturday (the 9th), you’d have heard Ruth Rappaport and son Ben Wetherbee tearin’ up Studio BC with some fine fiddle tunes and songs.  It was a lot of fun, and since they were nice enough to come down and entertain this weary DJ, I thought I should give them a little more billing here on the blog.  Here’s the info from the Country Callendar page:

Ruth Rappaport and Ben Wetherbee will be playing a show at The Burren’s back room on Friday, December 15, from 7:00-9:00 p.m. Raucous old-time fiddling and heartfelt songs by a mother-and-son duo. 247 Elm Street, Davis Square, Somerville. For more info. call (617) 776-6896 or go to

Here they are from YouTube, playing the Lee Highway Blues:

Go by and tell ’em you heard them on Hillbilly at Harvard! /CL