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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The 32nd Annual Joe Val Bluegrass Festival!

jvf-2017-logo-300x225From the Boston Bluegrass Union—

Join the Boston Bluegrass Union and celebrate the legacy of the late Joe Val with three big days of indoor bluegrass at the Sheraton Framingham Hotel.

We have a great lineup of national and regional talent, expanded workshops, Kid’s Academy, music vendors, and round-the-clock jamming. Our 2006 event won the coveted “Event of the Year” award from the International Bluegrass Music Association.

We will have another great group of bands this year for the Joe Val Festival, including:

Jerry Douglas Presents The Earls of Leicester (IBMA Entertainer of the Year!)
Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver
Blue Highway
The Grascals
Danny Paisley & The Southern Grass (IBMA Male Vocalist of the Year!)
becky-buller-band-show-poster-blank-232x300The Becky Buller Band (IBMA Female Vocalist of the Year!)
Frank Solivan and Dirty Kitchen (IBMA Instrumental Group of the Year!)
Joe Mullins and The Radio Ramblers
Jeff Scroggins & Colorado
The Lonely Heartstring Band
The Surly Gentlemen
Bill and the Belles
Bluegrass Gospel Project
Mile Twelve
Berklee All-stars
The Feinberg Brothers
The Korey Brodsky Band

When: February 17-19, 2017
Where: Sheraton Framingham – Framingham, MA

For Tickets, Schedules, and much more information:

(“Just seven little keystrokes,” says Cousin Stan)

UPDATE: Reuben Shetler, in a comment below, advises that the full Main-Stage and Showcase-Stage schedules are now on the website, and each band’s name links to a profile of the band.  Go HERE.

There is no better way to spend a cold February weekend than listening to pickers and singers in every nook and cranny of this entire hotel.  Just wander around for three days and take it all in, or settle down in the Main Stage or the Showcase Stage, and relish some great music, Country Music Bluegrass Style!  I’ll be there, and I hope to see all of you as well!  /CL

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Memorial Party for Vicki

[UPDATE: As most know, the snowstorm last Sunday caused most concerts to be cancelled.  Says Larry: “This event will be rescheduled on a Sunday in April with the hope of much better weather.”  I’ll update this post when I know more. /CL]
For those who didn’t know her, Vicki Benedict was John Lincoln Wright‘s wife of many years.  She was quiet and reserved, yet with a ready smile, and always supportive of Lincoln despite the hills and dales of his musical career, “The only job I’ve ever had,” as he said on the packaging to That Old Mill (1990).  I hope you’ll join Larry Flint and other former Sourmash Boys for this Sunday afternoon gathering, February 12th.  It’ll be fun, and a testament to a fine lady.  Here’s the notice Larry just sent:

When Vicki Benedict Wright passed away nearly one year ago,
she had made it clear that she did not want a public funeral
or memorial service, and we of course respected her wishes.
Because of this her friends were never able to assemble and
share their love of Vicki and honor her life.  So, we are having a

 “Memorial Party”


Victoria Benedict Wright

Sunday February 12 1-6 pm

You are invited to come get together with Vicki’s friends and
Share your memories of the Joy of Vicki’s life. We are sure
that Vicki would not be disappointed if some laughter was
involved, and that perhaps some adult beverages were
consumed in the process. Please pass the word on to
those friends who may not be on this mailing list.
Thank You.
Music will be provided by the 

Sour Mash Boys 


Special Guests


at Sally O’Brien’s

335 Somerville Ave

Union Sq Somerville



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HA’pennings: The Gibson Brothers Returning January 21st

Boston-area favorites The Gibson Brothers will be at the Boston Bluegrass Union‘s regular venue in Lexington on the 21st.  The BBU still calls it the National Heritage Museum, though it is now the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library, which is an impossible name to remember.

Eric and Leigh Gibson have performed live in Sumptuous Studio B at least twice, and should draw many fans to the Museum—get your tickets in advance!

Opening will be the Seth Sawyer Band from Vermont.  Details:

National Heritage Museum
(Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library)
33 Marrett Road, Lexington, MA
7:30pm (box office opens at 6:30pm)
$27 for Members
$29 for Non-Members

Click here to buy advance tickets
on-line via credit card.


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Mark Brine Stopping By Saturday the 31st

UPDATE 6Jan17: Had fun chatting with Mark about old times and new.  A couple of corrections: Mark is currently back in Maryland, to be closer to his grandchildren.  And his musical history goes back farther than the ’80s.  Looking forward to his next visit!  /CL

Mark Brine is an old friend of Hillbilly at Harvard.  He is a native Cantabrigian, has spent many years in Baltimore, and currently lives near Nashville.  He’s been visiting and singing his original songs and traditional country standards since at least the 1980s.  This week he’s in town and will be performing at Sally O’Brien’s in Union Square, Somerville, Tuesday January 3rd, at 7 PM with friends.  Which friends, we’re not sure, but Mark will tell us Saturday, when he visits the show on the 31st.  Tune in!


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Time for “The Montreal Express”!


Cold Turkey, on our driveway this morning.

(16Dec) Yep, it was 3º F on the river in Saxonville this morning.  Although the storm tomorrow is supposed to change from snow to rain and warmer temps during the day, I’ll try to remember to play “The Montreal Express”—see the post HERE for the history of this song.  And go HERE for the latest on our constantly-changing December schedule [Just updated 23Dec16].  /CL

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Hits & Misses 3

Continuing this occasional department.  Previous entries: H&M 1; H&M2

jamestown-revival• Jamestown Revival: The Education of a Wandering Man (2016, Republic/UMG) New

This is mostly rock-‘n’-roll.  But it also draws heavily on country.  The duo of Zach Chance and Jonathan Clay sound remarkably like The Everly Brothers, and this album treads in the same uneasy ground between country and pop-rock that the Everlys so successfully exploited.  Listen to “Journeyman”:

Could this get on pop or even country radio today?  I doubt it, but it’s getting on HAH—or some of it, anyway.  Besides “Journeyman,” “American Dream” (with a country-novelty feel); “I’ve Always Been Wild” (a Billy-Jo-Shaveresque anthem); “Back to Austin” (sounding like a modern Delmore Brothers tune); and “Done Me Wrong” (would be right at home on a David Allen Coe or John Anderson album from a couple of decades ago—only with better production); all making the cut.

I like the rockier cuts, too, even if they won’t make it onto HAH air; I love duet albums, and these two guys are one hot duet.  Sure they aren’t brothers named Phil and Don?

A country-enough HIT. Available HERE.  /CL

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Hits and Misses 2

Continuing this occasional department. . . (Number 1 is HERE.)

Chuck Cusimano: Cold in Colorado (Cusimusico Records, 2015) New
chuck-cusimano-cold-in-coloradoChuck Cusimano has a newer album out, which we’ll get to, but this one was new to me only a few months ago (thanks to Lorraine Simon, our Secret Agent in Texas—when she visits, that is).  Chuck is originally from Colorado, where his cowboy father had a “Western Swing Dance Band,” but this is Texas music, where country is more the king than in Nashville.  Chuck, who looks like a well-fed Grandpa Jones, is an amazingly talented songwriter, singer, and guitarist.  “Within this album,” he writes, “are small tributes to some of my Country Music Heros,” songs that fit the styles, respectively, of Merle Haggard (“I Surrender”), Mel Tillis (“She’s Guilty of Lovin’ a Fool”), Waylon Jennings (“Saving Grace”), Charley Pride (I Won’t Need It Anymore”), Ernest Tubb (Swingin’ Christmas”), and George Jones—and Chuck is surely right about “I Said Nothing,” which is a powerful statement that would have been a hit right now if ‘country’ radio were still playing country music, even without George to sing it.

“The other songs,” writes Chuck, “just fell out of my pen and landed on the paper.”  But they aren’t at all slight, ranging from the comical, swinging “Are You Gonna Miss Me When I’m Gone,” and the clever “I Won’t Need It Anymore,” which indeed would have fit Country Charlie Pride like a suit from Mr Nudie:

I took my clothes from the closet,
I took my tools from the garage;
I took my pillow, so I’d have something to hold.
I took my razor and my toothbrush, and then I closed the door.
I took everything except my heart—
I won’t need it anymore

to the poignant song called “Difference,” which you can hear:

A stone-country Hit.  Available from Chuck HERE.

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Program Notes for December

UPDATE 4B! (23Dec16): No, not another schedule change.  Had a pleasant half hour or so chatting with David Greely last Saturday (though I had to run out in the snow in my sandals to bring him to the correct door), and listening to his stories and great old Cajun fiddle tunes.  Check out his website HERE; he teaches Cajun fiddling and singing via Skype, too!

And yes, tomorrow is Christmas Eve, and time for the Hillbilly at Harvard Christmas Jamboree.  You don’t want to miss a minute!  /CL

UPDATE 4A! (16Dec16): Just to keep life interesting, the forecast now calls for 3–5″ of snow tomorrow morning, changing to freezing rain and then rain in the afternoon.  Could be a mess keeping me at home, or no big deal.  We’ll assume the latter for now. . . /CL

UPDATE 4! (15Dec16): Yet another update!  Are we having fun yet?  I’m getting better, and the head-cold isn’t, which is a good thing.  The dog’s eye is no better, which is not good.  We took him to a doggie eye specialist, who diagnosed a non-infective ulceration in the left eye, and performed a keratotomy, which has a good record of treating this problem.  This means we’re staying home, managing Ali’s Elizabethan Collar and eye drops, and not traveling to Virginia.  Oh well.

So, to get to the point, the show this Saturday will be a regular one, with maybe a little Christmas sprinkled in, and Saturday the 24th will host our Christmas Extravaganza (come to think of it, that’s when it was originally scheduled, before all the updates!).

There, that’s settled!  Except I don’t know if we’ll see David Greely or not.  Don’t look to hard at that electron—you never know where it’ll end up.  Just for fun, I’ll make this one green. /CL

UPDATE 3! (9Dec16): Well, I’ve come down with a cold, and while I’m still coming in tomorrow, I warned off David Greely, who has important performing obligations, and so I expect he’ll listen.  Maybe we’ll see him on. . .

December 17th, which will not be pre-recorded, as we’re still dealing with Ali’s eye infection (another story), but may well be our annual Christmas Extravaganza—because we’re still hoping to get to Virginia, which would make the 24th a pre-recorded show.

All clear?  This is a lesson in not forecasting.  As Tommy Duncan sang, “Time Changes Everything” (From the film, Blazing the Western Trail):

That ought to make up for some of the confusion!  /CL

UPDDATE 2 (4Dec16): December 3rd is over and done; had a good time with Victor and then Ruth; hope you all heard.  Corrections below. To summarize:

David Greely will be coming in next Saturday, the 10th.

December 17th may or may not be pre-recorded.

December 24th will or will not occur.  It all depends on Ali—and on events in VA (where grandson Sam just had an emergency appendectomy!) /CL

UPDATE!  CHANGE OF PLANS!  Our dog Ali has an eye infection that will likely require us to postpone our trip to Virginia.  So the schedule below for the 10th, 17th, and 24th will change.  Stay tuned!  /CL

Events (and a non-event) for the next four Saturdays:

December 3rd, c. 10 AM: Victor Evdokimoff is coming by to talk about his experiences playing with The Lilly Brothers at the Hillbilly Ranch, and his recent article, “Hillbilly Ranch Memories, with The Lilly Brothers” in Bluegrass Unlimited (November).

ruthrappaportDecember 3rd, c. 11 AM: Ruth Rappaport, formerly of The Poodles, has been playing traditional old-timey music in and about the region for many years.  She has a new CD out, and a CD-release party at The Burren in Davis Square (247 Elm St, Somerville) on Friday, December 9th; we’ll play a couple of tunes from the CD and catch up.  More about Ruth HERE.

December 10th: Pre-recorded show!  I’ll be out of town, visiting daughter Sarah and family in Powhatan, Virginia.  Taking Amtrak Northeast Corridor Train no. 93 on Tuesday the 6th; if you’re on that train, come by and say hello!
Maybe the 17th?  We’ll see how the dog does.

December 17th 10th: Cajun fiddler David Greely, who is starring in “The Christmas Revels 2016 – An Acadian-Cajun Celebration of the Winter Solstice” (17 performances at Sanders Theatre at Harvard, beginning December 9th) will be visiting, sometime after 10 AM.  I’m hoping he’ll bring his fiddle and play a few tunes for us—maybe a Christmas tune?  For information about this year’s Revels, go HERE,  and for David’s website, HERE.

December 24th: The Hillbilly at Harvard Christmas Extravaganza [or. . . maybe not—see UPDATE 3, above]: (almost) four hours of the very best, and the very worst, of country Christmas music.  Actually, not the worst, as we eschew the lushly over-produced standards from major artists that the labels burdened us with; but the silliest, to be sure.  Surely you remember “Everett the Evergreen”?


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Hits and Misses

Launching an irregular department of New and/or NTM (new-to-me), or RTI (’round-to-it) records; ’NTM’ can be items that might be old, but I’ve just discovered; RTI might be records I’ve been playing for a while, or for ages, or something just recovered in one of my fitful episodes of filing.

• Norah Jones: Day Breaks (Blue Note Records) New
norah-jones-day-breaksA few months ago I was surprised to get a Norah Jones single from Blue Note, which of course is a jazz label.  Norah is not a country singer, though she has recorded country songs.  The single featured a song Norah wrote, called “Carry On,” and it had a country feel (despite a jazz arrangement and an almost countrypolitan chorus); I played it on the show.

The whole album finally arrived a couple of weeks ago.  It contains mostly songs written or co-written by Norah.  Her singing is lovely, as usual; most of the songs are languid, loungy, quiet.  It makes pleasant listening, but—it’s not country.  Besides “Carry On,” I might try Neil Young’s “Dont Be Denied,” and maybe one or two others, but that’s it for HAH.  Color me disappointed: a Miss, but not for Norah Jones fans.

• Becky Warren: War Surplus (no label) New
beckywarren-warsurplus-cover-small-300x274Every time I hear this it gets more country.  The album’s being marketed as Americana, but if you want “three chords and the truth,” here  it is.  The album is not light, though there is an undercurrent of cynical humor (“Three thousand miles from a decent beer”).  It’s 12 songs that are snapshots of a relationship between a rough girl named June (“Call Me Sometime”) and a infantryman named Scott, who cames home from Iraq shell-shocked (now called ‘PTSD’) and finds it all falling apart (“Anything That Lasts”):

Heaven help me, I don’t know what’s wrong/
I went away and came back gone.

I can’t play that one, the last song on the album, because it uses the four-letter s-word, so you’ll have to buy the album to hear it.  And you should.  The writing is brilliant, the singing is compelling, and you’ll experience a lot you haven’t thought about, or maybe buried somewhere.   A definite Hit.  Available HERE.

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Here’s the Met Opry Schedule for 2016-7

whrb_logoThe Metropolitan Opera broadcast season begins December 3rd.  There are only four Saturdays (including the first one) with an earlier start (12:30 PM).  So HAH will be mostly curtailed by only about 15 minutes for David Elliott‘s Prelude to the Met.  Fans of grand opera (as it used to be called) should also remember to tune in to David’s enthralling Post-Met Vocal Program at the end of each broadcast from Lincoln Center.

December 3
12:30 —> Hillbilly at Harvard ends c. 12:15

December 10
L’AMOUR DE LOIN (Saariaho) — New Production/Met Premiere
1:00 —> Hillbilly at Harvard ends c. 12:45

December 17
SALOME (R. Strauss)
1:00 —> Hillbilly at Harvard ends c. 12:45

December 24
HANSEL AND GRETEL (Humperdinck) — in English — Performance from January 1, 2008
1:00 —> Hillbilly at Harvard ends c. 12:45

December 31
L’ITALIANA IN ALGERI (Rossini) — Performance from Fall 2016
1:00 —> Hillbilly at Harvard ends c. 12:45

January 7
1:00 —> Hillbilly at Harvard ends c. 12:45

January 14
LA BOHÈME (Puccini)
1:00 —> Hillbilly at Harvard ends c. 12:45

January 21
ROMÉO ET JULIETTE (Gounod) — New Production
1:00 —> Hillbilly at Harvard ends c. 12:45

January 28
1:00 —> Hillbilly at Harvard ends c. 12:45

February 4
1:00 —> Hillbilly at Harvard ends c. 12:45

February 11
CARMEN (Bizet)
1:00 —> Hillbilly at Harvard ends c. 12:45

February 18
I PURITANI (Bellini)
1:00 —> Hillbilly at Harvard ends c. 12:45

February 25
RUSALKA (Dvořák) — New Production
1:00 —> Hillbilly at Harvard ends c. 12:45

March 4
WERTHER (Massenet)
1:00 —> Hillbilly at Harvard ends c. 12:45

March 11
1:00 —> Hillbilly at Harvard ends c. 12:45

March 18
GUILLAUME TELL (Rossini) — New Production — Performance from Fall 2016
1:00 —> Hillbilly at Harvard ends c. 12:45

March 25
1:00 —> Hillbilly at Harvard ends c. 12:45

April 1
FIDELIO (Beethoven)
1:00 —> Hillbilly at Harvard ends c. 12:45

April 8
TRISTAN UND ISOLDE (Wagner) — New Production — Performance from October 8, 2016
1:00 —> Hillbilly at Harvard ends c. 12:45

April 15
AIDA (Verdi)
12:30 —> Hillbilly at Harvard ends c. 12:15

April 22
EUGENE ONEGIN (Tchaikovsky)
1:00 —> Hillbilly at Harvard ends c. 12:45

April 29
1:00 —> Hillbilly at Harvard ends c. 12:45

May 6
12:30 —> Hillbilly at Harvard ends c. 12:15

May 13
DER ROSENKAVALIER (R. Strauss) — New Production
12:30 —> Hillbilly at Harvard ends c. 12:15

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