January 28, 2021 Trivia Contest

This Contest is Closed
The winner is Todd Evans


Bands with Something in Common

What do the following well-received bluegrass bands of somewhat recent memory have in common? By well-received I mean they got plenty of airplay on SiriusXM Bluegrass Junction satellite radio, or received awards from the IBMA.

King Wilkie
The Roys
Flatt Lonesome
The Lynn Morris Band
The Boxcars
Carolina Blue

The answer is, in spite of their burgeoning success, they all went “PFFFFT” in the bluegrass world. Just disappeared. For various reasons, they either broke up or chose to leave the bluegrass world as their careers were doing well. (Lynn Morris Band broke up because she had a stroke, sadly.)

Additional Bowden Comments

Yes Todd, that’s the bottom line. I’ll just add that all of these groups were “riding high”, getting lots of awards and good press and radio play and notoriety. Then they went “PFFFFTT!!!” and just disappeared. No long slow decline, just…gone.

King Wilkie’s second album was a complete abandonment of bluegrass for some kind of personal “Coastal Carolina” music they wanted to make. I don’t know if the flop of the recording killed them or what. I saw them at Joe Val festival where their mandolin player’s voice was very reminiscent of Joe Val. They got a GREAT reception!!! Then, gone!

Cherryholmes was named Entertainer of the Year, and then the kids “came of age” and left the family unit and Pfffftt they were gone. One of the boys Skip, plays in a hot bluegrass band today.

The Roys were a brother/sister “bluegrass” duet from Massachusetts that no one had ever heard of, then all of a sudden they were all over Sirius/XM Bluegrass Junction. Heavy rotation. Basically they had hired some studio guns to back them up. And then they were gone.

Flatt Lonesome was a family band that achieved Entertainer of the Year. Their sound was heavy on female harmonies. Very high pitched, “swoopy” and precise. A couple of marriages and the band disappeared.

Lynn Morris was the saddest case. Repeat IBMA Female Vocalist of the Year. Poor Lynn had a stroke during some elective surgery, and that stole her musical power. I saw a band reunion and although she was very game and brave after her partial recovery, she didn’t seem able to actually play the guitar, and her voice, although on pitch, was just a whisper.

The Boxcars had a couple of extremely well-received albums and lots of bookings. For whatever reason, they had the “traditional” band break up where almost all of them ended up in a variety of other bluegrass bands.

Carolina Blue is the most recent bust up. They were getting lots of notice and Sirius/XM Bluegrass Junction play as new traditionalists. After years of work they had settled into a great set of sidemen and women. For whatever reason, one of the two band originators wanted to go a different direction. The surviving founder intended to press on using the band name, but the founder who was leaving suggested their would be legal action if anyone tried to use the band name without his involvement. The young lady fiddler quickly found a new gig. We’ll have to see what happens to the rest of them.

The biggest case of course was the Johnson Mt. Boys. As hard as they worked, and as well as they received, it finally dawned on them they just weren’t making enough money to be comfortable living that way. So they dissolved, to the everlasting disappointment of their fans. Like in all the band listed above. Their fans were disappointed.

Finally, I write all my comments from the viewpoint of a fan and observer of the music. I don’t know any of them personally and have asked none of them about the circumstances of their shutdowns.

Dick Bowden

Dick Bowden recently retired after a 45 year career in the paper industry, and moved from Connecticut to Big Indian NY (Ulster County) where he ekes out a precarious existence as a groundskeeper. Dick has been performing bluegrass music on banjo and guitar since 1966 in his home state of Maine, throughout New England, and internationally with The Case Brothers - Martin & Gibson. He has performed for HVBA with the Old Time Bluegrass Singers, and also sent in a squadron of Dick Bowden's Flying Circus. Most recently Dick has played Dobro (tm) with the Tennessee Mafia Jug Band. Dick has written many articles for Bluegrass Unlimited, Bluegrass Today, MoonShiner (the Japanese bluegrass magazine) and HVBA.

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