We have had a sample or two, and now I am ready for the full serving of ... SPRING! You know, clear skies with an occasional spring shower, flowers blooming (some have already threatened to do so last month), birds singing their spring song. Grass getting green and growing, the sound of lawnmowers from the neighbors' yard and if you're lucky, the sound of some jamming from somewhere nearby. Or is that just in your head in anticipation of coming bluegrass events and festivals. BRING IT ON.
As you know, I feature traditional (real) country on the second Sunday of the month for an hour on my radio show (Sunday Bluegrass, WFPK, 91.9 FM, 8-11 p.m.). I recently purchased a book titled The Billboard Book of Top 40 Country Hits, Country Music's Hottest Records 1944 to Present. ("Present" was 1996 when the book was published.) It is, to me, an excellent reference book on the subject. Some surprises and some indications about the music business. Perhaps not what you may be thinking. The book is very well thought out and put together.
The biggest part or section deals with the artists, in alphabetical order. The listings give the earliest of the dates charted in the top 40, the position, the highest ranking achieved on any of the charts, and the number of weeks at the #1 or #2 spot. Also the number of weeks from any of the charts which a single remained in the top 40. Information is also given concerning best sellers, DJ play and juke box play.
There are a number of specialized charts of this information. One I find very interesting is the TOP 100 SINGLES 1944-1996. (Maybe here would be a good spot to pause a minute in your reading and decide which record and artist occupies the #1 spot on this break-out. I will tell you this: Elvis is included in these charts, as are a few of the Johnny-come-lately big hats, smoke-and-mirror, guitar-smashing "crock stars." The answer can be found somewhere farther down in this column. You've got to read it all to find the answer.)
Lots of new things have been showing up in the mailbox. One pretty good example is a DJ sampler from Pine Castle. It is a sampler of a four-CD box set of Jim & Jesse. To quote from the notes with the CD and box set liner notes, "This boxed set celebrates the musical triumphs that Jim & Jesse achieved under their own direction. With a few exceptions, this collection highlights the first eight Jim & Jesse releases that appeared on Old Dominion (their own label) during the 1970s." For all Jim & Jesse fans, this should be quite an addition to your collection. (By the way, they are coming to Shepherdsville.)
Some more good new stuff is from Sugar Hill. DOYLE LAWSON & QUICKSILVER. The CDs - there are two of them - are releases of earlier albums and all contain really good stuff. First one is Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, The Original Band. It has Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver and Quicksilver Rides Again. Songs include "Shady Grove,""I'd Rather Die Young,""On and On,""Happy On My Way," plus "Mis'ry River,""Georgia Girl,""Till the Rivers All Run Dry,""Rocking On the Waves," and more. Twenty-two on this first CD.
No. 2 - Once and For Always/The News Is Out. "A Lover of the Lord,""Speak Softly You're Talking to My Heart,""Come Back to Me in My Dreams," plus "Sweetheart You Done Me Wrong,""A Vision of Jesus Up On the Blue Ridge,""The Grass That I'm Playing Is Really Blue," and more, for another total of 22.
Pick these up from Doyle when you see them at SHEPHERDSVILLE.
OK, let's look at upcoming schedules for the area and others.
• Shepherdsville Music Place: March 5, Sand Mountain Boys; March 12, The Sunnysiders; March 19, Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver and Bluegrass 101; March 26, Blue Tradition/Blue Hollow Band. Thursday, April 1 (this is not an April Fool, I repeat, NOT an April Fool), The Lewis Family and Jim & Jesse. This is a do-not-miss show.
• Music Ranch USA, West Point: The Saturday night country shows continue. March 6, Train Show, Terry Vincent of Louisville and Linda Hunt of Vine Grove; March 13, St. Patrick's Show, Gentry Cousins and Jamie Moody; March 20, Verland Hatmaker in Elvis Show, Johnny Polinsky; March 27, Adam Davis, Beth Omera Harris. Variety shows each Sunday, 1:30 p.m.
• Conover Hall, Franklin, Ohio: March 13, Lost & Found, Blue Ridge, Vince Combs & Shade Tree Grass.
• The Hoosier Fiddling association meets the first Saturday of each month at Pekin Community Center, Pekin, Ind.
• Denton Farm Park, Denton, N.C.: May 7-9, The Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver's Bluegrass Music Festival. A few of the featured acts include DL&Q of course, IIIRD Tyme Out, Osborne Bros., J.D. Crowe & New South, Lewis Family, Randall Hylton, Goins Bros. and Jeanette Williams.
Speaking - or writing - of some of the above, recent information I have received from Earl Phillips (Lewis Family) and Doyle Lawson: There are videos in the works to look forward to. You have seen the TV ads for the traditional country artists sitting around, telling wonderful stories and singing some familiar songs. Well, the same sort of thing has taken place in two other settings. One was a Bill Gaither special taped in Asheville, N.C. with such folks as DL&Q, Lewis Family, Jeff & Sheri Easter, plus many more. The second was taped in Nashville with Mac Wiseman. This will be a bluegrass-oriented video including Mac, The Lewis Family and Doyle. At this time I don't know who else is in it.
Now you have found the answer to the earlier question. (Forgotten it? Go back to the top of the column.) Entered the chart in 1950, 44 weeks on the chart, 44 weeks in top 40, 44 weeks in top 10, 21 weeks at #1: "I'm Moving On" by the other Hank - Hank Snow. Didja get it? You may be surprised at many of the others. We'll include more from time to time.
Any questions? Call me on Sunday nights at 502-574-1753, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or write me at WFPK or Louisville Music News.
Keep reading, keep listening and keep planning that bluegrass festival(s) for the season.