Archives for category: Robert’s Western World

Junior Sisk getting award as wife, Susan Sisk looks on.

Junior Sisk & Ramblers Choice Celebrate at IBMA’s World Of Bluegrass with Two Nominations and Appearances on SirisuXM, WAMU and WSM

Chesterfield, VA (September 21, 2012) — Virginia native, Junior Sisk was honored by his home-state and colleagues during a ceremony in Chesterfield, Virginia on Friday, September 14th. Sigrid Williams of the Virginia Folk Music Hall of Fame presented Sisk with a plaque during a performance by his band, Junior Sisk & Ramblers Choice, officially honoring Sisk as the 2012 Virginia Folk Music Hall of Fame Inductee. The Virginia Folk Music Association was formed in 1943 for the purpose of preserving the history of country, bluegrass and gospel music. In 1973, the “Hall of Fame” was established and since that time has inducted many well known musicians such as Roy Clark, The Statler Brothers, Jimmy Dean and bluegrass legends Jim & Jesse McReynolds.

photo credit – Anthony Ladd

 Also during the ceremony, Edwin Esten, Vice President of the Virginia Folk Music Association presented another plaque to Sisk on behalf of Virginia’s governor, Bob McDonnell, in recognition of Sisk’s dedication to preserving and fostering bluegrass music not only in Virginia, but world-wide as well. “I was deeply honored to be inducted into the Virginia Folk Music Hall of Fame and also to receive the plaque from Governor McDonnell,” stated Sisk. “I play traditional bluegrass music and never think about receiving any awards for it. But when you are recognized by your home-state for what you do, it sure does mean a lot.”

 The Hall of Fame induction is among several newsworthy items as of late for Sisk and Ramblers Choice. The band learned in August that they are nominees for this year’s International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) Awards in two categories; Album of the Year for their latest Rebel Records release, The Heart Of A Song and Song of the Year for “A Far Cry From Lester And Earl”. Junior Sisk & Ramblers Choice will spend next week in Nashville, Tennessee to attend the IBMA’s World of Bluegrass Conference and have several personal appearances lined up including radio interviews and performances in addition to attending the IBMA Awards at the historic Ryman Auditorium. Here’s a complete list of their appearances (all times are CST):

 Tuesday, September 25th

2:00pm SiriusXM Radio’s “Bluegrass Junction Live from IBMA” – Admission is free and open to the public. Guests should arrive at the Bridgestone Arena lobby no later than 1:30pm as seating is limited.)

3:30pm SiriusXM Studio Special – Private hour long performance to be aired at a later date on SirisXM’s Bluegrass Junction

7:00pm Martin Guitar’s Showcase at Robert’s Western World, 416B Broadway

10:00pm WAMU’s Bluegrass Country Showcase Nashville Convention Center Room 107

 Wednesday, September 26th

8:00am WSM 650AM “Coffee, Country and Cody” – http://www.wsmonline.com

6:30pm Mountain Music Entertainment/Rebel Records Showcase at Jack’s BBQ, 416 Broadway (Free Admission)

9:30pm Bluegrass on Broadway at Ernest Tubb Record Shop, 417 Broadway (Free Admission)

 Thursday, September, 27th

5:45pm IBMA Red Carpet Media Event

7:30pm IBMA Awards at the Ryman Auditorium

 Friday, September 28th

9:30pm California Bluegrass Association Showcase

11:00pm Fan Fest 

 Junior Sisk will be part of the Bluegrass talent that descends on Nashville next week at IBMA World of Bluegrass.

– Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN     thenashvillebridge@hotmail.com

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David Andersen photo-davidandersenmusic.com

While the Honky Tonks beckon tourists from all over the world, there are two ambassadors that get right at eye level and can play with skill, discuss and share the heritage of Nashville. That is David Andersen in the lobby of The Country Music Hall of Fame, whose recordings are available in the gift shop and “ Mandolin Mike” Slusser with his weathered mandolin usually somewhere near Gruhn Guitars down on Lower Broad.

Both are top quality musicians. Both tell the story of Nashville through their playing, their interaction and approachability.

“Mandolin Mike” Slusser photo- Brad Hardisty

The difference is Mike is no longer allowed to sell CD’s out of his guitar case when he plays. Never mind the fact that the bands that play in the Honky Tonks, who also play for tips, sell their CD’s at the foot of the stage in the same manner.

Slowly but surely, the true Street Musicians have almost disappeared.  

Just four years ago, prior to the recession, a musician could survive on tips while connecting with tourists, other local musicians and figure out how to make it in Nashville.

Townes Van Zandt once commented that he made more money playing for tips on Lower Broad than gigging around town.

J D Simo at Robert’s photo- Collings Guitars

In the last few years, J D Simo did some street gigging before landing a spot with the Don Kelley Band at Robert’s. J.D. has gained notoriety for some great guitar playing and is now seen in ads for Collings Guitars in guitar magazines.

Years ago, Lower Broad attracted tourists because that is where the hit songwriters and musicians hung out. Lower Broad has continued to develop as a tourist playground while the street ambassadors, The Nashville Street Musicians are dwindling and getting no support from City Hall.

The ability to make it as a street musician has been severely affected by The Contributor vendors (not to put down a unique effort), the economic downturn and the fact that more and more tourists and locals do not carry cash.

There has to be a way to support and develop a healthy community of street musicians.

It is possible to develop a hybrid vendor license similar to the system used in Memphis on Beale Street.

“Mandolin Mike” Slusser with tourists Andrew and Rachel Downs from Birmingham, AL – photo – Brad Hardisty

It could be quite simple either by utilizing the downtown ambassadors or a non-profit street musicians union that collects license fees either monthly or yearly for specific locations. The fee needs to be low, as an example maybe $75 per year since musicians earn about 1/3 of what they used to.

The musician or group would receive a license that could be worn like a badge with a strap like a trade show or be displayed in the guitar or instrument case and be assigned to a specific spot like Beale Street in Memphis. A committee could get the spots cleared with the approval of local businesses where they would not be blocking any doors or foot traffic.

There could also be a few spots for weekenders that would need to stop in and get a weekend license and claim the spot.

This would stop random musicians from showing up and creating a nuisance without understanding local ordinances.  Musicians would also need to audition to show some sort of musical viability that honors the traditions of Nashville or shows strong performance, songwriting or playing ability.

I feel this could actually help to build on a great Nashville tradition without throwing musicians into the same category as panhandlers and vagrants.

My 1936 Gibson Electric Hawaiian, Soldano cabinet and Custom handmade early Samamp 45 watt all tube head made in Birmingham, Alabama by Sam Timberlake.

When I first came to Nashville, I got out on the block for fun, usually playing in front of Lawrence Record Shop, because, I wanted the experience and it was a way to develop chops and make a little money. One of my personal high points was when Little Jimmy Dickens stood and watched me play my 1936 Gibson Electric Hawaiian (that I purchased at Gruhn Guitars in 2007)through a little Roland Street amp and after about ten minutes, threw a $20 bill in the case and said, smiling,”Keep it up.”

Tristan Dunn at Cash Wall, sometime street musician, sit in with local bands. photo – Brad Hardisty

Their needs to be an advocate for the street musicians, true musicians that bring music up close and can discuss what it is all about with tourists and locals. It could be a benefit to downtown Nashville in the Lower Broad Entertainment District.

While Homeless Photographers and Writers are able to develop talents and abilities through The Contributor, homeless musicians and true troubadours are made to feel unwelcome and have all but disappeared.

Somebody start the discussion! We need to make it possible for musicians to be safe and able to ply their trade, making tips, selling CD’s, photos and buttons (making available, not verbally asking to buy) in the Lower Broad District. It can be tough surviving as a musician even with talent and ability.

It would be simple to kick out random wanderers if we had a vendor’s badge system and there were assigned areas along the route. Police would not have to make it rough for everybody, only those operating outside the guidelines.

 – Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN     thenashvillebridge@hotmail.com

Town Mountain on Mainstage

On the second night of World of Bluegrass, the boundaries were being stretched from groups influenced by Bluegrass music growing up, but, showing hardly a hint of a Bluegrass foundation to neo-modern traditionalists Town Mountain, the future of Bluegrass lies in a cross section of those that would hold high the Monroe flame at this celebration of the 100th Anniversary of his birth to seeing if Pat Benatar can go well with a side of Mandolin.

The Farewell Drifters

The Farewell Drifters, with a fairly current Americana meets Pop Music took the stage, with two releases debuting in the top 10 of the Billboard Bluegrass charts, Zach Bevill and the crew were a push forward with varied influences. The fact that they have progressed this far shows that a younger generation is carrying acoustic music across the universe.

Nu-Blu backstage

Nu-Blu, featuring the beautiful voice of Carolyn Routh, premiered a great video for a strong number, “Other Woman’s Blues,” before playing live to the full house. The real strength of Nu-Blu is their songwriting, even though they finished the set with Dolly’s “Jolene” and a Pat Benatar rave-up of “Shadows of the Night,” they have some interesting stories of their own to tell.

Crystal Shipley, Joe Zauner and Jed Clark

If there was a particular theme, it seemed to be that just about any acoustic music was welcome. Even in the after hours, showcases, which featured the Gypsy Jazz / Old time Texas style swing of Casey Driscoll, Taylor Baker and Brennen Ernst playing “Blue Skies”, was really a bridge to the Americana Conference and Folk Alliance.

Backstage with Randy Kohrs

Jim Lauderdale had one of the strongest sets, playing songs from Reason and Rhyme, with Producer and Dobro shredder, Randy Kohrs and a hot band hitting all the right spots. Jim is a neo-traditionalist chameleon that works in tall bluegrass and with Grateful Dead songwriters in the same breath. Jim has such a volume of output; he wears me out just thinking about it.

Jim Lauderdale with WSM 650 staff

Town Mountain was a fitting finish, with great musicianship and a strong nod to Bluegrass.  They were drawing in the lines and at the same time fresh faced.

Rodney & Beverly Dillard

Rodney Dillard of the generational Dillards (The Darlings, Andy Griffith Show) was taking a breather this year while his band was all about mixing it up.

Casey Driscoll, Taylor Baker and Brennen Ernst Showcase

The jams go late into the night. Some of the impromptu meet ups are what makes this fun. You could catch anybody from Crystal Shipley (The Dixie Bee-Liners), Joe Zauner on banjo and Jed Clark (The Roys) on guitar, just hanging on a cluster of couches talking instruments to see what happens.

Harry Fontana at Robert's

After hours, one could hang and catch the late night showcases or go grab a bite to eat down on Lower Broad in a couple of minutes at Robert’s listening to the three piece straight up Rock and Roll of Harry Fontana on “Rockabilly Boogie.”

Martin McDaniel at The Stage

A couple more doors down and the soulful country of Southern Alabama’s Martin McDaniel, with some of the most fluid guitar lines in town was at The Stage. Martin has been building a local audience ever since he arrived a few years ago, doing it the hard way, honky tonks and opening sets.

WAMU's Bluegrass Country Showcase

Music City; where music never sleeps.  

– Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN     thenashvillebridge@hotmail.com