11 June 2015

The Lilly tradition - coming to Ireland!

The Lilly Brothers, Bea (1921-2005) and Everett (1924-2012) are among the most respected figures in bluegrass history; some of the reasons can be heard from their many recordings. Together with their fellow West Virginian, banjoist Don Stover, they were inducted into the Bluegrass Hall of Fame in 2002 as 'pioneers in bringing professionally performed southern Appalachian music to the upper northeastern region of the United States', often with the late Tex Logan playing fiddle.

A description of their long-running regular gig at the Hillbilly Ranch in Boston (written in 1965 by pioneer historian of the blues Sam Charters, who died recently) can be read in Thomas Goldsmith (ed.), The bluegrass reader (2004). In this account, one of Everett's sons, Everett jr, appears as a boy, playing bass with the band.

Dr Everett Alan Lilly of Mountain State University is now leader of the Songcatchers band. In the photo above, he and his daughter Ashley are standing with elbows on the upright guitar case. In the past few years it has become clear that Ashley, still only in her mid teens, is shaping up as a powerful and gifted vocalist - see these articles by Richard Thompson on Bluegrass Today, one from 2013 and especially this one from six weeks ago, on the release of the band's new CD, Baby blue eyes. She has previously sung on other recordings, including those of the Sleepy Man Banjo Boys.

Dr Lilly is now making plans for a visit to Ireland in summer 2016 by himself and Ashley, possibly accompanied by other members of the Songcatchers. Arrangements are flexible, including the date - July is contemplated. This combination of a major bluegrass family tradition with the emergence of a talented young singer should attract much attention; and anyone who would be interested in helping to make the visit into a tour should contact Dr Lilly by e-mail and/ or mobile phone (001-304-673-1389).

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