Archive for the ‘Hazel Dickens’ Tag

The IBMA and Hazel Dickens   1 comment

Earlier this month, Bluegrass Today featured a story that received-in my opinion-very little attention.

I was flabbergasted. After taking several deep breaths, and giving it a good week to digest, I responded over at Fervor Coulee Bluegrass. [Inserted here]

October 17, 2016

I know about three things.

One, I will never not tear up listening to “Me and John and Paul,” grammar be damned.

Two, The first time I heard The Osborne Brothers in concert, my life veered in a new and wonderful direction.

And Three, I have seldom been as upset by something in the bluegrass world as I was a couple weeks ago when I read, via a fine writer David Morris and Bluegrass Today, that Hazel Dickens has been ‘shut out’ of the IBMA Hall of Fame because of-it is suggested-one person.

In his article, Morris outlined some changes announced by the International Bluegrass Music Association for their Hall of Fame process. The IBMA has decided to name three folks annually, up from two, with the aim to allow more deserving legends into the Hall.

Which is not the part that is upsetting. Nope, that is a darned fine idea.

It is the other revelation that Morris makes that has had me upset for the past two weeks.

What Morris also revealed-citing unnamed but multiple sources-is that Hazel Dickens was not even listed on the past year’s ballot, and that her candidacy for the IBMA HofF was held up-apparently-by a single, influential member of the HofF committee who didn’t feel Dickens was worthy despite widespread support both while she was living and subsequent to her death in 2011. This same person, who has now been replaced, reportedly single-handedly created this past year’s ballot of HofF possibilities, leaving Dickens’ name off the list.

Holy what? says I!

I find it absolutely tragic that one unnamed person could apparently manipulate and sway a process so completely. All the other IBMA stuff that has caused concern over the past few years-and there has been a lot-may have been more impactful on the direction of the organization and on the involvement of potential members, but this issue gobsmacks me in a way the infighting and questionable practices never did.

I haven’t seen any denials of anything in David’s article, so I have to accept that he has the basics of the story accurate.

Like David Morris, I am hoping that this change in the HofF process changes my annual disappointment when Hazel Dickens’ name has been missing from the inductees. It may be much too late to give Dickens her flowers while living, it isn’t too late to correct what appears to have been a grievous wrong that has been perpetuated due to the feelings of a single influential member of the IBMA.

I do believe the unnamed person’s name should be known so that he or she can accept the well-deserved scorn of the bluegrass community as do the rest of us when we deserve it…and sometimes when we don’t!

Hazel Dickens belongs in the IBMA Hall of Fame. Maybe after all these years, her time has come.

 

It has been a few weeks, and I am still more than a little peeved at what apparently has occurred over the past while regarding the great bluegrass singer and songwriter Hazel Dickens and the doors to the IBMA Hallf of Fame remaining closed to her.

The fact that the comments posted regarding this story at Bluegrass Today excluded discussion of Dickens also seems odd.

Hopefully, in 2017, the IBMA oversight is corrected. [Edit: It was!]

BTW, my previous rant on this subject-Hazel Dickens and the IBMA-is posted here.

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Laurie Lewis & the Right Hands- The Hazel and Alice Sessions review   1 comment

untitledLaurie Lewis & the Right Hands The Hazel and Alice Sessions Spruce and Maple Music

I don’t remember exactly when I first heard Hazel Dickens. Odd that, because one can’t really listen to Hazel Dickens without knowing you’ve heard Hazel. Her voice is one that isn’t confused with anyone else’s; there is power in her words and melodies—they communicate to the listener the experiences, convictions, and insights of a powerfully strong woman, one who excelled within an industry dominated by men.

Dickens left her home in West Virginia while still a teen, moving to work in the factories and stores of Baltimore. She used her early experiences to inform the realism readily apparent in her songs, be it the emotional turmoil of leaving home (“Mama’s Hands,”) the longing of home from away (“West Virginia, My Home,”) and a sense of place that few writers could capture (“Hills of Home.”) Within “West Virginia, My Home” Hazel captures in ten syllables, seven straight-forward words what others have struggled to communicate in entire essays: “I can sure remember where I come from.”

She was long involved in expressing the struggles and lives of miners in any number of ways, not the least of which are her songs including “Black Lung,” “Coal Miner’s Grave,” and “They’ll Never Keep Us Down,” to name but three. She came to tell these songs in the most natural of ways, having had brothers and family working in the deep, dark mines of West Virginia.

Importantly, Dickens was part of the migration of mountain music to the eastern seaboard, one of thousands who moved from rural communities in search of work and bringing with them the music of their home counties. She championed the music, keeping it at the fore of not only her own life but communicating a relevancy with which the urban community could connect.

That she has written some of the finest bluegrass songs is without challenge. These songs have advanced the cause of women and the working poor in immeasurable ways, bringing strength and dignity to places and circumstances where such was often in short supply. Dickens never shied away from subject matter that some would avoid, be they the protagonists of “It’s Hard to Tell the Singer From the Song” and “Don’t Put Her Down, You Helped Put Her There,” the conditions of the mines (“Mannington Mine Disaster,”) or detailing the impact of miner organization in “The Yablonski Murder.”

So powerful is the Hazel Dickens catalogue that none of these essential songs found their way onto this collection from Laurie Lewis & the Right Hands. And, while they are noticeably absent, they are not missed.

Hazel Dickens left a legacy in song.

And Alice.

Alice Gerrard is one of the living legends of bluegrass music; combined with her decades of recording and performing old-time and folk music, Gerrard has a stout resume that is as varied and dynamic as any you can mention. When Gerrard has completed a song, it has truly been sung. I am so glad that she remains a formidable and important element within folk music. While Gerrard has an extensive resume as a recording artist within several different configurations, as a guardian of old-time music, as founder and past editor-in-chief of The Old-Time Herald, and as a touring musician, she has recorded as a ‘solo’ artist only intermittently.

1994’s beautiful Pieces of My Heart and 2004’s equally resonant Calling Me Home: Songs of Love and Loss appeared on the Copper Creek label. As on those recordings, Gerrard’s voice on her contemporary releases (Bittersweet, Follow Me Home) is pure and powerful: Gerrard’s voice is multi-dimensional, and as Lee Smith wrote two decades ago, she can sing anything: “holler, shout, belt it out, swing a little, croon a little, and then flat-out break your heart.

My appreciation for Alice Gerrard is as firm as my admiration of Hazel Dickens. Together, they were incredible.

Well-documented elsewhere, Hazel and Alice met and began singing at Washington, DC/Baltimore house parties, moving onto coffeehouse performances within a burgeoning bluegrass environment. Their collaborative recording output—four albums as a duo as well as a fifth as the Strange Creek Singers with Mike Seeger and Tracy Schwarz—was limited, but highly significant and exceedingly impressive.

One of their greatest admirers is Laurie Lewis. Like many of us, upon first hearing Dickens and Gerrard, Lewis realized that the hard side of bluegrass need not be the domain of men. Laurie Lewis is no newcomer to bluegrass music, having played almost every festival there is and having recorded excellent albums over the years, The Golden West and Laurie Lewis & Her Bluegrass Pals being just two. However, she has never narrowed her field and has recorded some of the finest folk-inspired music of the past three decades, among them her incredible collaborations with Tom Rozum The Oak and the Laurel and the under-heralded Guest House. Her wide-ranging tribute to Bill Monroe (Skippin’ and Flyin’) was one of 2011’s finest bluegrass albums, and possibly the strongest Monroe tribute released since the bluegrass master’s death.

Lewis has always been versatile, performing as a duo with Rozum or leading a full-fledged bluegrass band with equal effectiveness and charisma. As a musician, she is frequently called on to provide session fiddle and vocal performances and to augment an established group. In a one week period years back I saw her with Kathy Kallick- a frequent singing partner- in a Red Deer bluegrass setting and the next weekend filling in with Dave Alvin’s hard-hitting Guilty Women at Hardly Strictly.

She has at least one signature song, “Who Will Watch the Home Place?” Kate Long’s exceptional song awarded the IBMA’s Song of the Year award in 1994. She has also been awarded the same organization’s Female Vocalist of the Year award twice and has been nominated frequently.

Like Hazel & Alice, Laurie Lewis is bonafide.

I’m told that Laurie Lewis has, with others, led the charge to have Hazel and Alice inducted into the IBMA Hall of Fame. Unfortunately, that induction hasn’t yet happened. One wonders, why?

I’ve been told there is a faction who believes Alison Krauss must be the first female artist/bandleader elected to the Hall. Fair perhaps, but dang short-sighted. Hazel and Alice definitely deserve a place among the heroes of the music, and one could make a convincing argument that Lewis herself also deserves consideration for inclusion in bluegrass music’s most hallowed hall.

These powerful bluegrass forces come together on Laurie Lewis & the Right Hand’s The Hazel and Alice Sessions, surely one of the most eagerly anticipated releases of this year.

No disappointment here.

With songs drawn from 1965’s Who’s That Knocking through to Gerrard’s 2002 masterpiece Calling Me Home, a full half of the songs are from the Pioneering Women of Bluegrass anthology (a collection of their 1965 and 1973 recordings,) with a spattering culled from two ‘70s Rounder albums and an additional Dickens’ release.

The album kicks off with the energy of “Cowboy Jim,” a song Dickens wrote for the first album based around a scattered lyric partially remembered by her father. The album continues on, exploring the many shades of love, devotion, loss, faith, and heartbreak one would expect from a classic bluegrass set. “James Alley Blues,” one of the few songs here not written by either Dickens or Gerrard, contains a couple brilliant lines of insight including, “Could have a much better time if men weren’t so hard to please;” joined by vocal guest Aoife O’Donovan, Lewis retains the acapella arrangement to most excellent effect.

Tom Rozum is not only one of bluegrass’ most secure mandolinists, but he is a fine vocalist. He is featured taking a couple leads, doing justice to “Who’s That Knocking?” This decision confirms the gender-neutrality of the finest music, songs that reveal themselves no matter who is taking the lead and conveying the story. He also fair nails “I Hear a Sweet Voice Calling,” a tipping of the collective hat to Mr. Monroe.

Hazel Dickens is quoted once saying, “My relationship was always with the words and the story.” The songs Lewis has chosen give truth to the statement. Perhaps Dickens’ greatest achievement, is there a finer song capturing the truth that is the “Working Girl Blues?” Lewis’ rendition is stellar, mournful yet spirited with Lewis’ fiddle conveying equal parts pride and misery. That Gerrard offers up the harmony here makes the experience that much more fulfilling; not surprisingly, it is this song that best captures the spirit of the original recordings. The further treat here is a previously unheard third verse that Dickens once recited to Lewis.

Chad Manning contribute fiddle to a few tunes including “You’ll Get No More of Me,” one of those songs that Dickens might have been referencing in the previous quote; the liner notes don’t make it apparent, but this one must be sung by Patrick Sauber,  the Right Hands’ banjo man. “Pretty Bird,” previously released on a Linda Ronstadt compilation a couple years back, comes from sessions for a Rounder Dickens’ tribute album that never emerged.

The Right Hands are Rozum (mandolin, mandola, and guitar) as well as Sauber (banjo and lead guitar on a single track) and Andrew Conklin (bass.) Fiddler Natiana Hargreaves is on five tracks, with Dobro from Mike Witcher on three, including “Working Girl Blues” and Gerrard’s “Mama’s Gonna Stay.”

The album’s vocal showpiece is “Let That Liar Alone,” a song featured on the 1975 Rounder album Hazel Dickens and Alice Gerrard. With Rozum driving the bus, this four-part vocal gospel song will leave listeners mesmerized; Harley Eblem drops in some bass vocals that are impressive. Avoid the devil, folks.

Laurie Lewis places Hazel Dickens with the bluegrass vocal big-three: Bill Monroe, Carter Stanley, and Lester Flatt. Alice Gerrard is a fearsome master of vocal folk, old-time, and bluegrass. The Hazel and Alice Sessions is not only a worthy tribute to a key bluegrass partnership, but an entertaining and formable collection of music. It’s early of course, but doubtless a strong contender for bluegrass album of the year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hazel Dickens to be remembered at the Grammys on Sunday   Leave a comment

This just in from Ken Irwin, one of the founders of Rounder Records: “We have been told that Hazel Dickens will be included in the In Memoriam segment on the Grammys on Sunday. The Grammys have been in contact asking for a photograph to be used.”

Well-deserved recognition, of course, and I now have two reasons to tune into the broadcast, the other being the appearance by Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band.

Posted 2012 February 11 by Donald Teplyske in Uncategorized

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Another fine Hazel Dickens tribute   Leave a comment

I’ve received email messages from near and far as we share our grief over Hazel’s passing, and our loss of our beloved Misty this week. Those of you on the BGRASS-L has already heard that (perhaps too quickly, but necessarily to help comfort our Mocha kitty) we’ve adopted a tortoise shell cat and have named her Hazel. The Bluegrass Blog has posted remembrances of Hazel from Tim Stafford at http://www.thebluegrassblog.com/tim-stafford-remembers-hazel-dickens/

A nice piece. Imagine my surprise when I did a Google search for Hazel images and my picture from Hardly Strictly popped up.

Thanks for visiting Fervor Coulee. Donald

Posted 2011 April 24 by Donald Teplyske in Uncategorized

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Hazel Dickens   Leave a comment

Frick. I was away all day and just read that Hazel Dickens has passed.

I have nothing. A horrible end to what has been a rough week here at Fervor Coulee.

http://www.thebluegrassblog.com/hazel-dickens-%e2%80%93-an-appreciation/

I wrote all I had to say about Hazel Dickens here a year ago: https://fervorcoulee.wordpress.com/2010/03/29/hazel-dickens-ibma-hall-of-fame-2010/

I felt like I knew her. Now that she’s gone, maybe the IBMA Hall of Fame will open their doors to her.

Damn.

Donald

Posted 2011 April 22 by Donald Teplyske in Uncategorized

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Hazel Dickens- IBMA Hall of Fame, 2010   2 comments

Why should Hazel Dickens be in the next set of inductees to the International Bluegrass Music Association Hall of Fame?

I don’t remember exactly when I first heard Hazel Dickens. Odd that, because one can’t really hear Hazel Dickens without knowing you’ve heard Hazel Dickens. Her voice is one that isn’t confused with anyone else’s; if you’ve listened to Hazel, you know Hazel! When I say I know Hazel, if feel that I truly do know her. That is the power of her words and melodies- they communicate to the listener the experiences, convictions, and insights of a powerfully strong woman, one who has excelled within an industry dominated by men.

But it seems to me that I’ve always known Hazel Dickens, although I realize full well I haven’t. Most likely, I first ran across Hazel Dickens on a Rounder compilation album, maybe Blue Ribbon Bluegrass but more likely Hand Picked: 25 Years of Rounder Bluegrass. I do know that when I first got to witness Hazel live at a Calgary Folk Music Festival around ‘bout 1998, I was well-familiar with the woman, her music legacy, her activism, and her place within the bluegrass and folk music canons.

Most obviously, I come to the game late. I wasn’t in the Baltimore area during the golden years, when Hazel and Alice joined in at living room pickin’ parties. Heck, I wasn’t even born then, so don’t hold that against me. I’m not from a part of the world where I may have found Hazel playing in a dingy club or coffee house or at a festival with Mike Seeger. I’ve been aware of Hazel to purchase only one of her albums as it was released, a very engaging collection she did in the late 90s with Carol Elizabeth Jones and Ginny Hawker, Heart of a Singer. But, this isn’t about me; this is about Hazel. There are better folks than me to champion Hazel Dickens for the IBMA Hall of Fame, something I’ve been doing for the better part of a decade. So, why haven’t they?

Maybe they have, and I just don’t know about it. It was only about this time last year that the idea that I should take my campaign – which truly has consisted of little more than a signature line on outgoing e-mails- to have Hazel elected to the Hall of Fame to the next level even occurred to me. It was only recently that I realized almost another year had gone by and I’ve done little to further advance Hazel’s cause. Here we are in the midst of 2010 and Hazel Dickens doesn’t appear to be any closer to the IBMA Hall of Fame than she has been for the past many years. I’m at a loss to explain why.

I well realize that a limited number of inductees can be made annually if the honor is to retain its pedigree and prestige. I also realize that the gentlemen who have been honored in recent years are all well-known and revered within the business. I’m sure they were well-deserving, although I may disagree with the inclusion of select inductees. What I don’t understand is how someone who has done so much within bluegrass can continue to be overlooked? Further, how is it that among the 50 or so members of the Bluegrass Hall of Fame, the only women elected have been as members of the Carter and Lewis families? I can’t think of a more worthy female bluegrass performer, musician, songwriter, and spirit to be the first to go into the IBMA Hall of Fame under her own name than Hazel Dickens.

Don’t tell me Hazel Dickens isn’t a bluegrass performer. While her music has straddled various genres, what Hazel has always come back to can only be labeled bluegrass. Hazel’s history in bluegrass has been well-documented in various places, not the least of which by Neil Rosenberg and especially Alice Gerrard in the liner notes for the 1996 reissue of Pioneering Women of Bluegrass. Within that same set, Hazel shares her recollections of the duos earliest days making bluegrass music. Information about Hazel is commonly known within most realms of the bluegrass world.

We know she left her home in West Virginia while still a teen, moving to work in the factories and stores of Baltimore. We know that she used her early experiences to provide the realism readily apparent in her songs, be it the emotional turmoil of leaving home (“Mama’s Hands”), the longing of home from away (“West Virginia, My Home”), and a sense of place that few writers could capture (“Hills of Home.”) Is there a finer song capturing the truth that is the “Working Girl Blues?” Within “West Virginia, My Home” Hazel captures in ten syllables, seven straight-forward words what others have struggled to communicate in entire essays: “I can sure remember where I come from.”

We know that she has long been involved in expressing the struggles and lives of miners in any number of ways, not the least of which are her songs including “Black Lung” “Coal Miner’s Grave,” and “They’ll Never Keep Us Down,” to name but three. She came to tell these songs in the most natural of ways, having had brothers and family working in the deep, dark mines of West Virginia.

Importantly, we know that she was part of the migration of mountain music to the eastern seaboard, one of thousands who moved from rural communities in search of work and bringing with them the music of their home counties. She championed the music, keeping it at the fore of not only her own life but communicating a relevancy with which the urban community could connect.

That she has written some of the finest bluegrass songs is without challenge. These songs have advanced the cause of women and the working poor in immeasurable ways, bringing strength and dignity to places and circumstances where such was often in short supply. Hazel has never shied away from subject matter that some would avoid, be they the protagonists of “It’s Hard to Tell the Singer From the Song” and “Don’t Put Her Down, You Helped Put Her There,” the conditions of the mines (“Mannington Mine Disaster,”) or detailing the impact of miner organization in “The Yablonski Murder.”

But Hazel has been able to reveal her softer side as successfully. In “You’ll Get No More of Me,” she sings:      

You wrecked my heart like a cruel winter storm

Bending my branches so low

Oh your wayward heart and your tortured soul

Leave no memory worthy to hold.

Okay, perhaps ‘softer’ is not the best word choice- how about vulnerable? But even then, she is no one’s patsy: no one is going to walk over her heart.

In what Tim Stafford has called ‘One of the best songs I’ve ever heard,” Hazel sings,

                    Just a few old memories going way back in time

                    Well I can hardly remember I don’t know why I’m crying

                    I can’t understand it well I’m surprised at myself

                    First thing tomorrow morning I’ll clean off that shelf. (“A Few Old Memories”)

She has spoken openly and honestly of the struggles she and hers have experienced. She knows there is no shame in saying she has been poor, has required assistance. Her thoughts on war are revealed in “Will Jesus Wash the Blood Stains from Your Hands.” She is unabashedly pro-labor, a position revealed not only in song but action. This activist aspect of Hazel is well documented in the film Hazel Dickens: It’s Hard to Tell the Singer from the Song and in the tours done with Anne Romaine. Also in that production, Laurie Lewis places Hazel with the bluegrass vocal big-three: Bill Monroe, Carter Stanley, and Lester Flatt.  

Hazel Dickens has left a legacy in song, one that has been compounded by her live presence. I’ve been fortunate to experience Hazel in concert on three occasions, and each time she has impressed me a little bit more.

As I stated earlier, I saw Hazel for the first time in (I think) 1998 when she and Alice made an appearance with what appeared to be a pick-up band featuring Ron Block. I tripped across their side-stage rehearsal minutes before their set, and I knew I was witnessing something powerful and special. The details are lost to time, but I recall sitting transfixed for almost an hour as the ladies held sway over a crowd comprised largely of folks who had known little to nothing of what they were going to  experience with these pioneering women of bluegrass.

I next saw Hazel at Wintergrass in 2003. She filled the First Baptist Church with a band led by Tim Stafford. Although the fidelity is dicey at best, my recording of that set is one of my most treasured. The power of her voice is never in dispute.

I most recently saw Hazel at Hardly Strictly this past October in San Francisco. Again, the hard-singing (Alison Krauss’ description) of Hazel came through loud and clear. What resonated this time was not just the power of the songs and the strength of the voice, but the humor of the woman. She was as vibrant on this appearance as she had been more than a decade earlier.

On each of these occasions, the players knew to stay out of her way and let Hazel do her thing. She sings. Whether a high tenor while harmonizing or singing lead, Hazel Dickens is a bluegrass singer without peer. Certainly other female singers have had more success in the bluegrass field. Hazel has never been awarded an IBMA award for her singing, but just ask those who have- Laurie Lewis, Lynn Morris, Alison Krauss, Dale Ann Bradley- and they’ll tell you that with Hazel what you get is the real deal. Some call it piercing, some call it raw. What I hear is controlled emotion within a style of singing that lacks pretension or commercial consideration.

All who have attempted the chore understand that leading a bluegrass band is a challenge. Hazel’s situation is a bit different in that she hasn’t employed a long-standing band to back her on extended tours or even regularly scheduled shows. Despite this, Hazel always has a tremendous band with her no matter where she appears. If one is judged by the company they keep, one has to realize the esteem in which Hazel is held when folks like Dudley Connell, Marshall Wilborn, David McLaughlin, Ronnie Simpkins, Richard Underwood, Jack Leiderman, and Barry Mitterhoff are eager to appear alongside Hazel. Not speaking for those gentlemen, I’d be shocked if any of them didn’t feel it was an honor to share a stage with Hazel.

I’m assured on good authority that in the past it was a challenge for anyone to hold a group of players together in a bluegrass collective, whether a continuing, professional outfit or a free-flowing band of regulars. Considering the world in which Hazel found herself in the mid- to late-50s, I imagine the difficulty was magnified for a female. Yet, Hazel (along with as well as independent of Alice Gerrard) managed this feat while playing in and around the Baltimore and Washington, D.C. area.

Through my limited travels and scattered writings, I’ve been fortunate to meet some of the finest ambassadors of our music- Dale Ann Bradley, Lynn Morris, Randy Graham, Rhonda Vincent, Greg Cahill, and David Davis, to mention but a few. I’ve also been privileged to speak with Hazel on a couple occasions, and I can attest that our music has no kinder or more natural ambassador. Her knowledge of the music is without limit and she is generous, giving of her time and spirit. Additionally, Hazel has been performing her bluegrass music to non-bluegrass audiences for a very long time. Whether at labor rallies, demonstrations promoting social justice, fundraisers, or at folk music festivals, Hazel has exposed our music to people who may never have before heard the music. And don’t overlook her appearance in feature films including Matewan and Songcatcher; I’m sure I’m not the only one who has squealed in surprise, “That’s Hazel!”

A member of the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame, inducted by Alison Krauss, Hazel Dickens has been honored by the IBMA in the past. She received the IBMA Award of Merit/Distinguished Achievement Award in 1993 and was recognized for the 1996 Song of the Year for Lynn Morris’ recording of “Mama’s Hands.” In 2001, Hazel was awarded a Heritage Fellowship by the National Endowment for the Arts.

Since I started down this road of formally advocating for Hazel’s inclusion in the Hall of Fame, I’ve become aware of a belief within some quarters that Hazel Dickens must only be elected to the Hall as part of Hazel & Alice. I had wondered if the Hazel & Alice vs Hazel situation may exist, and I don’t quite understand the position. Alice Gerrard, influential on Hazel, without doubt, and her partner for many years, has concentrated very ably on producing and advocating old-time sounds for the past thirty-plus years. When I think of bluegrass I don’t think of Alice, and I don’t mean that as any type of slight toward her. She just went down a different path than did Hazel.

Hazel, on the other hand, has stayed solidly within the bluegrass fold. My suggestion and my efforts are to have Hazel Dickens elected to the Hall of Fame as an individual, in part because of the work she did as a ‘pioneering woman of bluegrass’ with Alice Gerrard. Hazel and Alice- esentially- were a duo for only a portion of Hazel’s long and distinguished career in bluegrass, recording four albums over the course of a decade. And don’t forget the very excellent Stranger Creek Singers album. Since then Hazel has recorded three additional and brilliant albums, with another slated for release shortly.

I don’t expect this little rambling piece to sway the bluegrass community. I do hope it will cause some discussion when the IBMA Hall of Fame nominating committee next meets. After more than 50 years as a leading light in bluegrass, we all know what Hazel Dickens means to the music; if we don’t, it is shame on us. As she approaches her 75th birthday, it is time for the professional bluegrass community to do what they have too frequently neglected to do- bring flowers while the pioneers are living.

Nominate and then elect Hazel Dickens to the International Bluegrass Music Association Hall of Fame this year.

Fairly Random Links for today   Leave a comment

As we all are, I’ve been quite busy these last weeks. What with watching (too much) Olympic action- after vowing not to watch any, but come on- how can you not watch more skicross or snowboard cross once you see it- and trying to keep up with my real job and life, writing sometimes has to take a back seat. Compound this with things I stumble across on the Internet when doing research, and I’m surprised I accomplish anything anywhere. Below are a few sites I’ve discovered the past few weeks- I have no interest in any of them and do not advocate their content beyond the fact that I found them interesting. Don’t blame me for the time you spend visiting them. Best, Donald.

http://1000awesomethings.com/about/ What it says.

http://www.outinthestorm.com/ Alberta singer-songwriter Ruth Purves Smith’s site with music and video.

http://redneckerson.blogspot.com/ One of my favourite places for out of print and often obscure country recordings.

http://tinyurl.com/y8wcab3 My newest favourite album- Strange Creek Singers, featuring Hazel Dickens, and somehow I had never heard of it before last week. On eMusic and YouTube.

http://www.blueberrybluegrass.com/ Once upon a time my favourite bluegrass festival. It is still great, but has went a bit ‘big’ for my tastes- whatever that means- but their lineup is usually pretty good. This coming July’s festival lineup will be tough to beat.

http://www.countrystandardtime.com/countrymusic.asp I usually find something of interest here.

http://www.carrienewcomer.com/ Not a new discovery by any means, but I’ve been delving into her back catalogue and am liking everything I hear. Her new album is fabulous.

http://redbeetrecords.com/ For all things East Nashville, Eric Brace, and Peter Cooper.

http://www.archive.org/details/audio I’ve recommended this site before. Legit live recordings approved by the artists. You will spend hours here if you allow.

http://www.jennywhiteley.com/home/index.php Her new album is quite good and “Cold Kisses” is one of those songs that screams “You won’t hear anything better this week.” Really.

http://www.killbeatmusic.com/ For those of us in the business- okay, I’m not in the business, but whatever- Ken is one of the best promoters of independent and mostly Canadian talent. You can get lost here listening and viewing.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6OjDalPzTz4 James Reams is one of my favourite bluegrass singers and people. There are several Barnstormer clips on YouTube.

http://www.oldmanluedecke.ca/ His new album (coming late March) is a huge step forward. Much of this is due to the presence of Tim O’Brien, never a bad idea, but also due to OML’s development as a songwriter, singer, and performer. Covers Willie P. Bennett’s “Caney Fork River.”

http://btxmp3index.freeforums.org/index.php The Springsteen mp3 archive. O my gosh. If he wanted it down, I’m sure it would be. An amazing resource. I can’t get enough of the late 2009 shows.

and finally http://record-fiend.blogspot.com/search?q=Africa A website that I found while doing some searches after reading the 2003 Oxford American music issue last week. This album is one I can’t stop listening to.