Dr. Ralph Stanely’s Hill Of Home happens in Virginia on Memorial Day Weekend, and is one of the nation’s oldest Bluegrass festivals in the United States. In fact it’s one of the TOP 3 oldest festivals and next month it’s in it’s 47th annual festival.
There isn’t ever much advertising or sponsors that make a large hoo-ha about this festival, nor is there much social media about it. But it has withstood the test of time, and even now is still well sought after from folks in Tennessee and Kentucky. It’s only about a five hour ride from my area so you might possibly see me there one of these years!
Here is a map of the are and some local area hotels for your use, as I do this for every festival I cover. As most of you know I cover 175 festivals yearly, and I am always out researching and finding new hotel options for every festival I know about. I do a LOT of research for this portion of my website.
We have food and merchandise vendors, shower facilities, water and dump stations on the grounds. There is a free shuttle to the stage from the parking and camping areas.Please do not bring alcohol or coolers in to the main concert area. Pets are allowed in the campground but must stay on a leash. Pets are not allowed in the concert area.
Country Music has THREE staple pillars of it’s foundation or it’s backbone if you will. Those are in this order the songwriter, the producer, and the steel guitar in my opinion it takes those three to make a classic Country Music album. My point being Willie Nelson “Red Headed Stranger” and “Wanted The Outlaws” as two prime examples that had all three. Shooter will tell you rapidly “Wanted The Outlaws” was the first platinum selling Country Music album EVER and defied the sough it was initially given by Nashville in the 1970’s.
Local music as a whole contains such a plethora of well rounded steel guitarists and pickers waiting for you to discover them if you are willing to wade through the broken beer bottles and travel the worn out back alleys of America to find them. You have to look in the places most normal people wouldn’t, and you have to listen. You have to brave the heat and cold and discomfort of the fields and farms that spew forth these festivals, mostly you have to study and watch for them.
Crooked Smile festival in Indiana brought me to discover a young steel guitar player named David Mills who was playing steel guitar with Duane Mark. I’ll catch up with Mr. Duane in just two weeks here as I attend Moonrunners festival in Chicago. So when I began devising and planning this project Mr. David was one of my subjects as a result of seeing this performance, as I wanted to delve into the story of the song “Hobo Insane”. This article is going to get to the meat and potatoes of that story and also a little more of what makes this road warrior tick.
This man has played with the Barnyard Stompers, and many more local and touring bands.He has many tidbits of information to share with us and on a lazy Sunday afternoon I sat for a brief moment with him on the phone before he played a show.
How did you get started playing the steel guitar?
Honestly it was all just started accidentally, a buddy of mine who was older got me started in music at a young age actually I was guitar player for many years. He had one just sitting around for years and we chatted about it and one day just asked him to borrow it and it took off from there, and it was for my own fun around the house. I ended up doing one gig with it and everybody started hiring me for it, so it kind of turned into one big thing for me. It turned into being pretty much what I do.
With out giving away nay secrets or anything what makes up your sound, what do you use for your rig?
I play an old 1967 Emmons, push pull and my amplifier is built from a guy out in Frisco and it called Milkman amplifiers a lot of steel players will know who it is. I use his half and half amp it’s a new thing and I quite like it. And that’s about it I really don’t get into pedals or anything too much, it’s just steel and an amp.
So, you pretty much play straight steel?
Who influenced you more than anything?
All of the classic Country stuff my dad raised me on the all that he was a redneck deadhead that’s what I called him, so I grew up on all the old Country. Willie,Waylon,Merle you know all the classics, and I play with a lot of new writers to so I have a wide variety and range of influences. I listen to a lot of the new stuff to, and I know you just interviewed Brett and I got into them real heavy when I first started playing steel. I stole a bunch of licks off him, and Cody Jinks and all them.
Well I did Austin Tripp too. You know part of what started this is Chuck Mead put up something one day and I’m sure it wasn’t directed AT me BUT I used it to my advantage a negative criticism and it said if you’re going to write about Country Music in Nashville at least know about the steel guitar. And I thought you know what I need to learn more myself, I knew what C6 tuning was but I really don’t know a lot about the guitar itself. And there are so many of you underground players so talented that a lot of people don’t even know about.
Oh yeah, I mean a lot of people don’t even know what the instrument is and that’s a popular question I get at my gigs is people will come up and ask “What’s that you’re playing”? They heard it a million times they just never actually SEEN one, and don’t know WHAT it is. Almost every gig they ask me what it is or tell me I am a great keyboard player one of the two.
Who else do you play for, I know Duane Mark because that’s how we met. And I know the Barnyard Stompers,
I played a few shows with them before they recorded their album, but I mostly do the hired gun thing. I really bounce around a lot, there’s a guy in San Diego now he is in Nashville named Jake Loban, I played a little on his album. A lot of artists hire me when they come to the southern California area and I play with all of them on and off. Usually four or five different bands a week, I don’t have a set band out here because it’s a little different out here than everywhere else. There’s a few Country artists out here but they too always bounce around so the hired gun thing works for me well, and a lot of session work.
OK, one thing I’m more interested in more than anything is this..tell me about the Duane Mark “Homeless Dave” story and how he wrote Hobo Insane?
It’s not as exciting as it actually sound honestly (we both laughed) he actually wrote the song before he met me. I’m not exactly sure the entire story of how he wrote it I think it’s just from his travels and stuff. The way it came about where I BECAME a part of it was a random joke that got carried away through the years. The first tour we did together, it was two or three days in we were on the road and I was in the back of the van sleeping. It was mid winter and freezing I was all wrapped up in a blanket and my hair was ragged out everywhere, I had gloves on with holes in the fingers. I looked homeless and they took a picture as a joke and put it on Instagram and jokingly said “Oh We found this homeless guy on the side of the road and he had a pedal steel, and we’re going to give him a shot”. Well, people went CRAZY online over it all..half said “Oh you’re the nicest band ever”, and the other half said “Get him out of there he’s going to murder you”.
Even the people they told when Duane Mark said he was taking a steel guitarist on the road with him, they said “WHAT, it’s not the homeless guy that plays steel?” And they put up another post saying “We bought him a new shirt and he plays really good”. And they kind of ran with it after that and it all took off from there.
One of these days I’m going to write a book about my adventures, and that’s going to be in one of the chapters right there. Because people really did believe it one gal said “Oh Yeah he really is just a vagabond”.
Well, yeah and through the years he really added to it and then made up the story of how he picked me up on the side of the road and he got so many pats on the back for saving me.
If somebody younger that wanted to play steel guitar came to you for advice, what would you tell them?
Honestly I would tell them that’s it’s not as hard as it appears. Don’t ever really get frustrated and give up, I mean as far as I was concerned I was pretty much on the road a few months after I started playing the darn thing. You know now people learn all kinds of things by getting on Youtube, and back when I started I utilized YouTube and the internet. I learn a lot of things by playing with guys like Duane, and that comes in time, hell I’m still learning things every day now. The internet really made it easier for guys like me to progress so quickly.
Yeah Austin Tripp said he was playing for Luke Bryan within a year, and believe it or not pop country has a lot more steel guitar than people give it credit for.
Yeah it’s really tucked in there but it does exist.
As far as a left handed person like me, is there options for left handed steel?
I think I have seen a few models but they are few and FAR between. I have seen some out there but honestly I don’t think I could name any major players that were lefty.
I plan to get Mr. Andy Gibson soon, he lives close to me and I think people approach him wrong. He’s also really busy and I hate to bother him, and I don’t want to ask him any direct questions about personal things. It’ll be a manner that will be more comfortable answering what I ask him.
You know one time I was with a guy and I got to go to his house and once we got to talking I really got to see how talented he truly is. You know he also builds guitars and he shapes the wood and all that. You really don’t meet too many private guys that are truly luthiers. And the work that he does is absolutely amazing.
Folks this edition bring us to the great state of Minnesota where on May 26th-29th the Revival Music Festival will transpire. Where car camping is a new option, let’s delve into that in a moment here. This festival looks to be close to another that I feature so I spaced out their coverage to prevent confusion of brands. So folks THIS LINK bears some important information you need to read. The early bird special is a good deal, and this appears to be a reasonably priced festival. All of the rules are pretty much common scene that I post for EVERY festival! This is a rain or shine outdoor two stage festival located at Harmony Park Music Garden, and it has many amenities including:
Permanent shower building with filtered soft water
Large Rainbow playground
Filtered water bottle fill up station
Firewood and ice available for sale on site
Beer and liquor sales at Lucky’s Pub
Community fire ring area near Lucky’s Pub
Shaded wooded campsites
Stunning sunrises from “the point”
THURSDAY EARLY CAMPING: Gates Open 3pm on Thursday, May 25. – Must have a general admission and Friday pre-party ticket.
FRIDAY PRE-PARTY: Admission at 12pm on Friday, May 26.
GENERAL ADMISSION FESTIVAL TICKET: Admission 10am on Saturday, May 27.
HARMONY PARK CLOSES at 3pm on Monday, May 28.
ADMISSION: If you arrive early before admission time on any given day, you can come in and pay for the previous day’s ticket.
RE-ENTRY: After you have been admitted and have your wristband, you are welcome to leave and re-enter the event at any time.
Join us on Memorial weekend at the Legendary Harmony Park Music Garden for Revival Music Festival. REVIVAL is an intimate, diverse musical affair, with its primary focus on improvisational funky grooves, jam sessions, string pickers and epic storytellers of all types! It is our intention to create a peaceful playful energy that inspires individuals to share their magic. By limiting the size of these gatherings we allow the subtle spirits of “Home” to come out and dance with us. Its enough of a treat just to be “Home”… that we get to be in celebration with so much talent and kind family is indeed a blessing…
HERE is a complete list of local area hotels for those of you like me that do not camp and stay indoors for the event.
So last year I got up at 4AM and stood in line to get what would end up being my number ONE album of 2017 Billy Don Burns a Night In Room 8READ ABOUT IT HERE. Well this year I left at 8 AM and found what I wanted and still had fun, like every year my buddy Shooter Jennings and his label Black Country Rock or BCR released TWO albums you can only find in stores for today’s festivities.
The weather prohibited outdoors live music so there were sets inside the store and I’ll be bringing you the set from my good friend Dean Collier AKA Captain Deen and although it’s not Country, I am pretty sure many of you will indeed enjoy his local music in this unique style here. I had fun today and wore myself out pretty hardcore from running around record hunting.
I first went down to Mellow Matts in Bowling Green to buy my first round of new ones I was telling you about from Shooter Jennings and they are Shooter Jennings and Waymore’s Outlaws LIVE, and the Waylon Forever reissue. I also bought some used albums and other things. This is from BCR Facebook page:
Waylon Jennings – Waylon Forever – BCR042:
Waylon Forever consists of Waylon Jennings’ recordings that took place in the 1990s, and later rediscovered and reworked by his son, Shooter Jennings. Shooter joined forces with producer Dave Cobb, and reworked the songs to bring us Waylon Forever in 2008. Shooter used his backing band, the .357’s, to recreate these works and revision them into country/rock versions of some well-known and unheard tracks. Now, Black Country Rock will be releasing the production on a limited number of clear orange vinyl, and for a limited time for Record Store Day 2017.
Shooter Jennings & Waymore’s Outlaws Live – BCR043:
Black Country Rock is happy to announce the ONLY live recordings of one of the most sought after tours of its time. Shooter Jennings has paired up with Waylon Jennings’ original recording and touring band, Waymore’s Outlaws, on what has been an unforgettable round of live shows. This will be available for a limited time on clear vinyl for Record Store Day 2017.
I wanted to point out this LIVE album was recorded in one of my favorite venues the V Club in Huntington West Virginia and also the Grey Eagle in Asheville North Carolina. That gas station food across the street in that place called Sheetz was GREAT FOOD for a quick mart type place. And Mr. Don Duncan that runs the door and merch out there is a VERY nice man, that crew is VERY kind to my website when we go up there.
TRACK LISTING FOR LIVE ALBUM:
Are You Ready For The Country
Good Ol’ Boys
Don’t Wait Up (I’m Playing Possum)
Manifesto No. 1
The Song Is Still Slipping Away
Can You Come Over?
I’m Left, You’re Right, She’s Gone
Gone To Carolina
4rth Of July/Good Time Charlie (for Jon)
TRACK LISTING FOR WAYLON FOREVER:
Jack Of Diamonds
I Ain’t Livin Long Like This
Are You Ready For The Country
Lonesome On’ry And Mean
I Found The Body
Then I took a quick detour to go to The Great Escape where I bought a bunch of used albums at great prices and ran into Miss Mary Sparr, and caught up with her. She manages my 2016 Artist Of The Year Colter Wall who is busy on the road with Cody Jinks and others.
I’ll be featuring his new self titled album VERY SOON and also I’ll be featuring his set at the Tumbleweed Festival in July in Kansas City.
Then I ventured back to Mellow Matts for some Heavy Metal with my friend Captain Deen from Bowling Green Kentucky. He’s doing a pretty unique type of metal with his bass guitar and I’ll feature some videos here and here was his setlist today:
She’s The Devil
Parasites And Pesticides
Me And The Raven
If Happy Was A Drug
Well folks I covered this festival last year and it was the first time I encountered them, but this is the fifth annual Charm City Bluegrass Festival in the Charm City of Baltimore where many of my music friends are from. You can buy tickets for this one day multiple stage outdoor festival on that link.
This article has videos and maps as well as the full schedule included within my website. Many of you know and are familiar with how I work things and my 175 festivals I cover yearly. I have covered many of the sets from these fine Bluegrass bands on other occasions and festivals all over America.
This website strives very hard to include all of your favorite local, Americana, Bluegrass, Red Dirt bands and more!
I have researched local area hotels HERE and since this only a one day festival there isn’t any camping information like I usually have for you folks.