Comments? Suggestions? Requests? Use the Paper and Pen Open Page!

Have requests?  Comments?  Suggestions?  Now you can post them here on the new Paper and Pen page.  To comment on the Pen and Paper page, go to that page (click on the Pen and Paper menu heading, below the picture of the studio at top), scroll down to the end of the Comments, and add yours.  Newest comments are always at the bottom.

You can, of course, also post relevant comments under any individual post./CL

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Joe Val Festival News: Del McCoury Coming, Lillys Honored

JOE-VAL-2016logoAlready scheduled for Sunday afternoon (February 14th) at the annual Joe Val Festival, The Traveling McCourys will become The Del McCoury Band!  Del of course was ‘snowed out’ last year (remember the snowstorm here that snowed in a lot of musicians and fans that Saturday night, and closed Logan Airport?).  And this year, just a few days ago on January 23rd, Del and the band had to cancel a concert at Sanders Theater in Cambridge (part of the Boston Celebrity Series) because of the blizzard that hit the Mid-Atlantic states.  That show was to have been a tribute to Woody Guthrie, featuring a program of his unfinished lyrics that Del had set to music.  I wouldn’t be surprised to hear some of those songs on Sunday at the Festival.

Del McCoury Band-MagnoliaFest

The Del McCoury Band (from the band’s website)


This will be the 31st annual Joe Val Bluegrass Festival, and the 14th* since it moved to the Sheraton in Framingham.  Having the Festival in my backyard is a great boon.  Each year fosters a wealth of impressions and memories, not just from the stunning lineup of acts on the Main Stage, but from the contacts and conversations in and about the environs of what becomes, on Presidents’ Day Weekend, The Bluegrass Hotel.

This year the hotel rooms sold out in one minute (!), when sales were opened on November 17th.  However, there are plenty of rooms in overflow hotels. See HERE.

Lilly Bros-Folkways cover

The other big news is that Everett and B, The Lilly Brothers, will be honored (posthumously) with the BBU’s Heritage Award.  It was Tex Logan who talked the Lillys into coming to Boston from West Virginia, and the 17 years they spent playing at the rowdy Hillbilly Ranch sparked a flame that led to the vibrant bluegrass scene we have in New England today.  Jim Rooney, whose association with the Lilly Brothers and Tex when they were The Confederate Mountaineers (see the posts on Tex HERE and HERE) says he will come in to Hillbilly at Harvard Saturday the 12th, to talk about the Lillys, and of course Don Stover.  It’s even possible that Everett Allen Lilly will come in, too; he is Everett Lilly’s son, and will be accepting the award for The Lilly Brothers Saturday at the Festival, about 5 PM.  Everett Allen and his daughter Ashley will perform with their band, The Songcatchers, Saturday evening as well.

Performers on the Main Stage this year will be an ensemble of returning JVF stars and local favorites, notably Michael Cleveland and Flamekeeper, The Spinney Brothers, The Gibson Brothers, Junior Sisk and Ramblers Choice (who also couldn’t make it last year, much to my disappointment), Jim Gaudet and the Railroad Boys (who played on the Hillbilly show last year), and (among many others) The Del McCoury Band.  For the complete, if still ‘tentative’ on the waiting-to-be-updated web page, see HERE.

And of course there is the usual potpourri of up-and-coming Showcase Stage bands, workshops, a Kids’ Academy, the Trade Show, and much else.  Go to the Joe Val Bluegrass Festival page on the BBU website, and there you’ll find much more information and you can buy tickets.  See you there! /CL

UPDATE: 14th?  or maybe the 13th?  Stan Zdonik tells me:

Indoor festival started in 2000.  We did 3 years at the Holiday Inn [Dedham].
Then we moved to Framingham in 2003.

That makes this year the 14th.  But Sheila Selby tells me that the Sheraton’s in-house package says it’s the 13th.  Since this is an empirical question, I expect someone will come up with the definitive answer.




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Hall of Fame Induction Show Sunday, January 31st

mcmaa new logoThe long-named and long-lived (since 1979) Massachusetts Country Music Awards Association has fallen upon hard times, failing to mount its traditional splashy Awards Show and its holiday jamborees this fall.  Although focused on South Shore bands and performers (where, after the ’70s, most of the local country action has been), the MCMAA’s Hall of Fame has spotlighted Massachusetts natives from all over the state, and beyond.  So it is good to hear that Ron Hill, the Chairman of the MCMAA Hall of Fame has taken it upon himself to keep the nominations, voting, and induction process going.

The Induction Ceremony and show is scheduled for January 31st:






Lots of music and dancing from 2:00pm to 6:00 pm
There is no food at the VFW so bring snacks and there is a McDonalds next door and Shaws is just around the corner.
Admission $10.00 50/50 raffle & DVDs for sale
The 2012 Hall of Fame show DVD with John Penny, Rex Trailer and Richie DuBois is available today and is truly a keepsake.


Inductees this year are:

Anne Marie Collins, Pete Grover, Ray (Carl Stuart) Shackt, and Chuck McDermott.
Hat tip to Gordy Brown for keeping us apprised of MCMAA Hall of Fame developments. /CL



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Laurie Lewis in Town January 16th

Screen Shot 2016-01-04 at 12.20.26 PM

That’s from Laurie Lewis’s website.  I looked because the Boston Bluegrass Union has been ambiguous about the name of the band.  Laurie’s regulars are The Right Hands.  Gerry Katz in his email promotion called this different aggregation, with typical whimsy, The Left Hands.  Whoever wrote the blurb on the BBU’s web page decided to play it safe and just advertise ‘Laurie Lewis and Friends’:

Screen Shot 2016-01-04 at 12.43.10 PM

The tiny photo looks like The Right Hands, but we’ll stick with Laurie Lewis and The Other Hands, who are three-fifths of the Righties, at any rate: long-time partner Tom Rozum, bassist Andrew Conklin, and Laurie herself.  The new two are fiddler Darol Anger, and banjo player Greg Liszt.

We can now go on to discuss the name of the location, once ‘The Museum of Our National Heritage’, then ‘The National Heritage Museum’, and now the unmemorable ‘Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library’ (and Laundromat?).  But instead, let me just remember that in my report on the Joe Val Festival last year, I mentioned Laurie’s set:

. . . Then there was a perfectly luminous set by Laurie Lewis and the Right Hands.  I confess that, while I’ve played Laurie’s music for many years, I have perhaps taken it for granted.  Maybe it’s that the records don’t quite do her justice.  There’s something about a live performance, even from the middle of the auditorium, that can bring an artist into focus.  It just seemed to be a special moment.  I saw Jim Rooney after Laurie’s set, and he clearly felt it, too: “That alone was worth the price of admission,” he said; there might have been a tear in his eye.


Laurie Lewis and Tom Rozum (Photo by Hali McGrath, used by permission)

I expect you’ll experience an equally luminous performance on the 16th.  It’ll be worth the trip.  Check out the details on the BBU website, where you can also buy tickets. /CL



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Tex Plays “Christmas Time’s A-Coming”

As a follow-up to the two posts on Tex Logan, HERE and HERE, this from Gordy Brown—

What better way to wish you a Merry Christmas. Tex performs his composition. He is an Inductee to our MCMAA [Massachusetts Country Music Awards Association] Hall of Fame and died this past year.

Christmas Time’s A-Coming – Tex Logan’s 85th Birthday
6 min – Uploaded by Fred Robbins

Tex with Bill Monroe
3 min – Uploaded by Tom Adler

Thanks Gordy!  /CL

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Off to Virginia—Pre-recorded Show on the 12th

We’re off to visit daughter Sarah and family, taking Amtrak Northeast Regional No. 93 Monday morning, and returning Tuesday the 15th on NER No. 174.  This time I decided to try Business Class, for the alleged greater legroom between seats (called ‘seat pitch’ in the trade—we have the Amtrak Guest Rewards Mastercard, so it just requires more points).  Some years ago I traveled overnight to Washington, DC on a Regional Business Class car, but it had a flat spot on the wheel under me, which made for a restless night, not to mention trying to sleep in a coach seat.  Memo to Amtrak: Bring back the sleepers on the NE Corridor!

So no Country Calendar announcements next week.  You can post them yourselves in the Comments field on the Country Calendar page on this blog, however; see the menu above.

Remember the John Lincoln Wright Memorial Christmas Party Sunday the 13th; see the post below.

And remember to vote for the Ameripolitan Rewards.  See HERE.

Back on the air on the 19th, for the Hillbilly at Harvard Country Christmas Extravaganza: “Four hours of the very best and the very worst of country Christmas music.”  Well, not really the worst; unfortunately major country artists invariably release woefully overproduced pop music for Christmas, which won’t be high on the list.  In our case “the worst” are mainly the silliest.

And Rhonda Vincent has a new Christmas album out, which I just got in the mail.  Four of the songs are Rhonda-penned originals, too.  You know this one won’t be overproduced!/CLRhonda-Christmas Time

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HA’ppenings: John Lincoln Wright Memorial Christmas Show December 13th

From Larry Flint—

Here we are again into December, with Friday December 4 marking the 5 year anniversary of the passing of someone that we all knew and loved, John Lincoln Wright

In John’s honor we are planning another Memorial 
Christmas Show to commemorate his many Christmas 
shows in many venues, most notably the Kirkland Cafe, R.I.P.


 Please tell all your friends and fellow JLW Fans, and 

come help us celebrate John Lincoln’s Life at the

JLW Memorial Sour Mash Christmas


Sunday December 13 2-6 pm
hosted by 

Larry Flint and the

Road Scholars

Chuck Parrish Guitar   Kathy Burkly Drums

Matt Leavenworth Fiddle  Larry Flint Bass

with many former 
Sour Mashers 
Special Guests
Sally O’Brien’s
335 Somerville Ave
Union Sq Somerville

NOTE: I won’t be live on the air on the 12th, so you’ll have to remember this on your own.  Think about whether “Sour Mashers” should be two words or one.  Plan on asking Larry—that way you’ll remember. /CL

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Vote Now for the Ameripolitan Awards!

Voting on the Ameripolitan website, HERE, has been oAmeripolitan-awards-300x265pen since Thanksgiving Day. You can also download smart-phone apps that let you listen to nominee music and vote for your favorites.  And of course you can vote for me/HAH, if you care to.  You can check out the stations and shows all the others host, too; go to the 2016 Nominees page and scroll down.  The artists’ websites are also available by clicking on their names.

Whether or not I win, it would be cool to get a lot of response from Hillbilly at Harvard listeners.  Unfortunately, there isn’t much time to get hold of some of the music and play it on the air—voting closes the day after Christmas (26Dec)!  So take an hour or two in an evening, check out the nominees, and vote. /CL


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HA’ppenings: Notorious Duo Coming to HAH


Eden MacAdam Somer and Larry Unger,

Eden MacAdam Somer and Larry Unger perform as a duo (or sometimes with additional artists as a trio or quartet), styling themselves ‘Notorious’, though as far as I know they have committed no misdeeds—unless appearing on Hillbilly at Harvard this Saturday (the 28th) qualifies. Tune in, and you’ll find out.

Eden and Larry are terrific musicians, playing a wide variety of songs from various traditions, with a measure of original tunes thrown in.  Larry’s expert guitar (and frailing banjo) complements Eden’s lyrical fiddling and lucid, affecting singing.  For Saturday they’ll keep it (American) country enough for HAH, which should be easy enough for folks that can do a number like “My Baby Likes to Honky-Tonk” (written by Larry), not to mention the Conway Twitty/Floyd Cramer-penned hit, “Last Date” (both on the new album).

manyalandcdfrontThey’ll be in about 11:30 AM, and they’ll be plugging their upcoming concert at Club Passim (47 Palmer St., Harvard Square), on Sunday, 29Nov, at 8:00 PM, billed as a release party for their new CD, Through Many a Land (where the name ‘Notorious’ is mysteriously absent). /CL

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HAH Nominated for ‘Ameripolitan’ Award

AmeripolitanLogoA young organization in Austin, Texas, the Ameripolitan Music Awards, now in its third year, is endeavoring to distinguish the growing rennaisance of traditional country music from the pop ‘bro-country’ on the big radio stations, on the one hand, and from the vague category of ‘Americana’ music on the other.

I was notified a month ago that I was nominated in the ‘DJ’ category.  You can see the list of all artist and other nominees HERE. Here’s the notice I got from Silvia Neal:

Congratulations! “Cousin” Lynn Joiner has been nominated for the 2016 Ameripolitan Music Awards in the DJ category. Please let me know by  Friday, October 16th if you would like to be on the 2016 ballot, and if so, if you plan on attending the awards show on Tuesday, February 16th 2016 at The Paramount Theater in Austin TX.

So I said, “Sure” to accept the nomination.  I’m not sure about going to Austin yet, but it’s a possibility.  Is it warm there in February?

The Ameripolitan Music Awards (I don’t want to use ‘AMA’, which signifies the ‘American Medical Association’ to me—how about AMerA?) is not a membership organization—yet; Sylvia indicated that it could become one.  Could it grow into a professional support organization, like the IBMA is for bluegrass?  I have no idea.  It’s new to me.

Since there are no members, the voting will draw on the Internet. If you’d like to vote for me, or any other nominees, you can do so on the website, starting 26Nov, or via a smartphone app, starting now.  Here’s the press release:

(Austin, TX) – Available now for both iOS and Android devices, a new interactive voting app ‘Ameripolitan 2016’, launched by the Ameripolitan Music Awards, offers fans early voting access and the opportunity to learn more about their favorite nominees before placing their vote for the 2016 winners. Designed by Ballot Blaster with voting in mind, fans can watch and listen to 30 second sample videos and mp3s for each nominee, hear a message from Ameripolitan founder Dale Watson, place their vote and more. 

Voting by app available now and online voting to begin Thursday, November 26, 2015 with all voting to conclude, December 26, 2015. Winners will be announced live at Austin’s historic Paramount Theatre during the 3rd Annual Ameripolitan Music Awards on Tuesday, February 16, 2016, at 8 p.m., with music legend and past Ameripolitan winner Ray Benson as host

Fans may vote in the following categories: Honky Tonk – Female, Male, Group; Western Swing – Female, Male, Group; Rockabilly – Female, Male, Group; Outlaw – Female, Male, Group; Ameripolitan DJ; Ameripolitan Venue; Ameripolitan Festival; and Ameripolitan Musician. A full list of nominees can be found here.

“We love the irony of using a modern app for a genre of music with historic roots,” says Dale Watson, founder of the Ameripolitan Awards.  “There’s a practicality to it, but the most exciting aspect is offering voters fresh, exciting content. It’s not just voting – it’s an experience. Users can learn more about each nominee, discover new music and explore artists they might not otherwise know. Our friend Richard at Ballot Blaster worked hard with us to create something new for Ameripolitan fans.”

Designed by Ballot Blaster, ‘Ameripolitan 2016’ is available now for purchase ($1.99) with a portion of the proceeds benefiting the Fender Music Foundation, which aims to keep music education alive and available in our nation’s schools and communities. The app is available globally; in English only. Fans may also vote online beginning November 26th without purchasing the app at Only one vote per valid email address.

Tickets to the 3rd Annual Ameripolitan Awards are available at For updates and breaking news, please visit as well as the Ameripolitan Awards social networks on TWITTER and FACEBOOK.

You may wonder why you don’t recognize many of the nominees.  The answer is that previous winners are not eligible for two years afterward (look at the winners from 2014 and 2015).  Says Sylvia Neal:

We came up with this rule so that nominees who had a large following (such as Asleep at the Wheel) would not win every year and we could expose more groups who are great and maybe had not had a lot of exposure.

I suggested she tell the artist nominees we’d play their CDs on HAH if they send them.

‘Ameripolitan’ is a puzzling term.  It was invented by Dale Watson, and is described in the booklet of his latest CD, Call Me Insane. call-me-insane-dale-watsonThe explanation on the Ameripolitan website is pretty much the same as Dale’s (not in front of me as I write):

Ameripolitan Music is a new music Genre with prominent roots influence. It is broken into four related subcategories: Honky Tonk, Western Swing, Rockabilly and Outlaw. Artists and bands can fall into one or more of these categories.  Musical and lyrical creativity is critical but to be considered Ameripolitan music, it must retain some of these traditional elements as well. . .

Originally, all of this music was created as string band music to be played for a dancing and drinking crowd. It is important to understand this music, by nature, is participatory. The band and the audience experience this music together, physically and emotionally. It might be said, to truly be Ameripolitan music, it must be music couples can dance to.

I must admit to one reservation.  If you are old enough to remember the Nashville marketing term from the ’60s, ‘Countrypolitan’, you may have one too—that was invented to push ‘sweetened’ (i.e. over-produced) country music (moving away from the ‘Country-and-Western’ category that was considered too hicky) onto urban pop audiences.  That’s not what Dale Watson and his peers play, or aspire to.

A better name, in my opinion, would be ‘Honky-Tonk’ music (maybe ‘Honkytonkin’?).  That’s one of the AMA’s four categories, but really, it encompasses them all—doesn’t it?

 Anyway, this is a quibble, and should not detract from the noble aims of the Ameripolitan Music Awards. And it would be kinda cool to get a new country award to go with last year’s bluegrass one! /CL


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“Beautiful Star of Bethlehem”: The Composer’s Grandson Writes

Almost two years ago I posted an article about the history of a hymn we have plStanleys-Hymps from the Crossayed on the Hillbilly at Harvard Christmas Extravangaza for years and years: The Stanley Brothers‘ recording on King Records of “Beautiful Star of Bethlehem”; that post is HERE.  The credits on the King label listed the song as ‘Traditional’, so I was curious whether there was any information about the composer.  With Sheila Selby’s able help, we found that the song was written by dairy farmer, musician, and gospel songwriter, R. Fisher Boyce in 1938.

On some sheet music and recordings the composer is identified as Adger M. Pace.  It turns out Mr. Pace was the Music Editor for the James D. Vaughan Publishing Company, which paid R. Fisher Boyce for the rights to “Beautiful Star,” and not a penny thereafter.  This was a not-uncommon practice in those days; it probably had something to do with Mr. Pace accumulating a catalogue of perhaps a thousand songs in his name.

Somewhat to my surprise, this post has proven to be the most viewed of any in our little blog, I assume because of the popularity of “Beautiful Star of Bethlehem,” recorded by artists like Emmylou Harris and The Judds in recent decades, and because detective stories like these have an inherent appeal to some of us.  But not until yesterday had I heard anything from someone actually connected to R. Fisher Boyce.

That’s when I checked my HAH email before heading to Cambridge for the show, and was delighted to see this comment submitted by the composer’s grandson!

Hi, My name is David Boyce, son of Franklin and Dean Boyce, and grandson of Robert Fisher Boyce. Thank you so much for the interest you have shown in this song. Oddly enough, daddy said PaPa never intended for the song to be known as a Christmas song. He just wanted to write a song praising his Lord.

The story I was often told is that Pace would only publish the song if he received partial credit for it. I guess that’s how he got credit for writing over a thousand songs. PaPa didn’t really care about the credit, he just wanted to share the song with the rest of the world. I have heard two stories: one is that he received $25 dollars for the rights and the other is he received $30. Not much by today’s standards but during the Great Depression when roughly 20% of the people were unemployed and others making a dollar a day, it must have seemed like a real blessing.

I was a little boy when he passed away. I remember seeing a large box full of manuscripts of songs and poems he wrote. Oh how I wish I could look through that box today to see what else he may have written. Once again, thanks for the great write up and your interest.

God bless,

MAJ David Boyce

TN Army National Guard

Thank you, Major Boyce, for the wonderful letter, and for adding a personal element to the story of the song that has touched so many.  Of course, we have to wonder what might have happened to that “large box full of manuscripts and songs and poems” that your grandfather wrote.  Is there more to be learned?

As a bonus (wasn’t available two years ago), here are The Stanley Brothers with George Shuffler singing “Beautiful Star of Bethlehem.”

It’s available on CD from King, as I posted HERE.


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