“America’s Old Time Country Music Hall of Fame was established in 1976,” says Bob Everhart, the Director of the National Traditional Country Music Association, who was there when it started.  “We’ve been doing this for 36 years now.  Doing it from the middle of a cornfield in the middle of Iowa, perhaps the most rural of all the states.  Country music came from the country.  Today, that has little meaning in the music world.  Country music today is whatever you want to make of it, EXCEPT in Iowa, where we still practice the elements that prove that country muisic came from ‘rural’ America.  The festival we produce is an all-acoustic event produced and promoted by the Pioneer Ag Expo.”  To be part of the celebration, the participants must be ‘country’ or as Everhart says, ‘rural.’  “We don’t care who or why people are involoved in country music, but our celebration is the ‘roots’ of country music.”

     Everhart isn’t far off when he says the group is a direct connect to ‘rural’ music.  This year’s first announcement regarding inductees into America’s Old Time Country Music Hall of Fame, is Tut Taylor, from Wilkesboro, North Carolina.  87 year old Taylor will make the trek to Iowa to kick off the 36th National Old Time Country-Bluegrass and Folk Festival and Pioneer Exposition of Arts, Crafts, and Rural American Lifestyle.  According to Taylor, “It’s a mouthful, but it sure says what this event is all about.”

     Tut Taylor is one of the pioneers of flat-picking the resonator guitar.  According to Taylor, “It didn’t take me long to realize, playing with a flatpick, that I couldn’t play what the big boys played with fingerpicks.  So, I had to come up with tunes that I could play with a flatpick.  I have to pick three times as fast because they have three picks and I only have one.”  In order to keep up, he remarked, “I developed what I call double-clutching.  It’s a faster way of picking.”

     Over the years, Tut Taylor has racked up some pretty incredible accomplishments.  He recorded with Glen Campbell, Clarence and Roland White, the Dixie Gentlemen, Doc Watosn, Jerry Douglas, Brother Oswald, and more, but his favorites were John Hartford,  Norman Blake, and Vassar Clements.  It was this group that catapulted him into the national limelight.  They took this refreshing tough ‘new’ sound combined with traditional music on the road.  Many observed that this group revolutionized bluegrass music.

     According to Everhart, “I was very awarwe of Tut Taylor’s deviant way of playing the resonator guitar, however we have a chap from the great prairie lands of Nebraska, who plays the same way.  Roger Kenaston has been playing similar to Tut Taylor for a very long time.   We’re going to bring these two players together on opening day of our 36th festival this year, on August 29th.”

     The festival goes for seven days, ending late on Septembver 4th.  The promoters utilize ten sound stages to accomodate over 650 participating pickers, singers, players, and performers.  Everhart says, “Last year we still didn’t have enough stage time for the many performers of what we now call ‘rural’ music.  We go from 9am to midnight every day for seven days, and it’s still not enough.  It also creates havoc with our budget, because we simply can’t pay everyone that comes to play.  What has happened here in Iowa, is a sort of oasis, a once a year gathering, where pickers and players get together for a full week to swap licks, memories and affection, and it’s not just super good local and regional players.  Last year the Grand Ole Opry super-star Whisperin’ Bill Anderson was inducted into the Hall of Fame, and he sat on a stool with just him and a guitar, and enthralled his first audience of 1,000, before he moved to another building and enthralled another 1,000.  Perhaps the highlight of this entire proceeding was the presence of one of Amrica’s most prestigious and successful artists of all times.  Patti Page who recorded the ‘Tennessee Waltz’ and ‘How Much Is That Doggie in The Window’ absolutely thrilled our down home audience.  She said, “I had a wonderful time, maybe Bob Everhart is on the right track with ‘rural’ music.  Another guest at the 2010 festival was Johnny Cash’s daughter, Cindy Cash.  One of her comments was, “This event does not allow illicit drugs or liquor.  No wonder so many families come here.  I’m glad Bob Everhart is recognizing that Johnny Cash had four daughters before he married June Carter.  We appreciate being part of the overall picture of country music.”

     “We’re just beginning to announce the Hall of Famne inductees for this year,” said Everhart, “we’ll probably have 30 from all levels.  Local, statewide, regional, national, and international, are the areas we pick from.  We have a large contingency of ‘rural’ players coming from Australia this year.  The only way into the Hall of Fame is to be nominated by someone already in the Hall of Fame.  Pretty difficult to ‘buy’ your way in, you have to actually be involved with ‘rural’ music.  Can you imagine it, Patti Page nominated Loretta Lynn.  The wonder of this particular event, and the people who populuate it never cease to amaze me.”

     “Tut Taylor is going to be real busy too,” added Everhart.  “He’ll do a show on our main stage at which time we will induct him into America’s Old Time Country Music Hall of Fame.  But he won’t be done there, we have the Gisbosn Dobro people at this event, headed up by the widow of the “King of the Dobro” Tom Swatzell.  Bertha Swatzell has her own stage where all kinds of resonator guitar enthusiasts gather.  “We’ll have a wonderful time showing off Tut Taylor,” said Bertha, “and then he can do some workshops and show these young folks how to really play.  Yes, I’m talking about how to really play real ‘rural’ music.”

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     Well, Patsy Cline really isn’t coming to Iowa, she passed away in 1963 from a vile airplane crash that took some other gifted country music performers with her.  What we plan to do in Iowa this year, is induct Patsy Cline into America’s Old Time Country Music Hall of Fame.  To do this properly, we expect Patsy’s husband, Charlie Dick, and their daughter Julie, to be at the festival where this will happen.  Their’s is the opening salvo at a seven-day event that is now in it’s 36th year.  It all starts on August 29th, 2011, at the Plymouth County Fairgrounds in LeMars, Iowa.  There are ten stages and over 600 performers at this event, and the first big show on the main stage is this “Tribute to Patsy Cline.”

     Patsy’s contributions to country music have been enormous.  Her life has been a testament to the continuing success of what we now call ‘rural country music,’ far different than what is heard on radio these days.  Patsy was born Sept. 8, 1932 in Winchester, Virginia.  She had a kind of throat virus when she was just a girl, and doctors today indicate her rich vibrant contralto voice was a result of that childhood sickness.

     She did all the things a young person does when obsessed with music.  She learned everything by ‘ear’ and had perfect pitch.  Her first break came when she asked WINC disc-jockey Jimmy McCoy if he would let her sing on his live radio program.  He did, and she did, and the rest is history.  She eventually moved from that program to do one called “Town And Country” with co-performer Jimmy Dean.  She debuted on the Grand Ole Opry in 1956, and later went on the Ozark Jubilee.  She recorded “Walking After Midnight” reluctantly, and in 1957 appeared on the Arthur Godfrey show, singing that song, which helped her win the competition handily.  Godfrey was most responsible for making her a star.  She also met her future husband, Charlie Dick, in 1957.  After the birth of their daughter Julie, they moved to Nashville, where she signed with Decca Records, her first release being “I Fall To Pieces.”  She joined the Grand Ole Opry as a regular member in 1960, becoming one of their biggest stars.  In 1961, she and Charlie had a baby boy they named Randy.  After a serious automobile accident that same year, Patsy Cline devoted the rest of her life to Christianity.  She recorded Willie Nelson’s “Crazy” again reluctantly, not getting it at all on the first takes. She finally did it ‘her way’ and when she debuted it on the Grand Ole Opry, she got three standing ovations.  From then on she sky rocketed into the hearts of every person who love country and pop music, and her influence is still felt today.

     Appearing on the 7pm “Tribute to Patsy Cline” August 29th, will also be the man who ‘discovered’ her, Joltin’ Jim McCoy.  Jim was a country singer, songwriter, promoter, and disc jockey, and still owns the Troubadour Bar and Steakhouse in Berkeley Springs, West Virginia.  He remembers while on WINC, when Patsy joined him, she would say, “We’ll do this song in C, and she would start singing solo, and of course she would be in the key of C.  Jim recorded “That’s What Makes The World Go Round,” for Starday-King, and though he was never a super-star in country music, he was one of the most liked and admired country performers in eastern United States.  He was inducted into America’s Old Time Country Music Hall of Fame in 2006 in Missouri Valley, Iowa, and he and his wife still host a Patsy Cline Reunion Show at the Troubadour, on Labor Day Weekend.

     Also on the “Tribute” show in LeMars, Iowa, is Sandy Uttley, from Pennsylvania.  She recorded a tribute album at Jim McCoy’s Troubadour Recording Studio, with him producing.  She will receive the Rural Roots Music Commission’s “Country Tribute Album of the Year” award while at LeMars this year.  Jackie Shewey, the “Pride of the Prairie” is also scheduled to do the ‘Tribute’ show at LeMars.  One of the upper midwest’s most admired vocalists and performers, she does a comedy routine of Patsy Cline material, and a select number of Cline songs, which she has recorded.  Another Cline tribute performer is Elaine Peacock from South Dakota.  More will be added later, but it is encouraging to see so many take part in this wonderful opportunity to ‘remember’ one of the finest female vocalists in country music.

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