The Lure of Cripple Creek

I discovered yet another link in the connection between bluegrass and angling. Ok so I know it isn’t exactly fly fishing, but it is angling right? And no it’s not the banjo minnow. Its the lure of Cripple Creek.

The company apparently makes makes spoon lures shaped like the family of bluegrass instruments. The funny thing is, that since fish are supposedly attracted to the shine and movement of the metal spoon type lure more than it’s outline, it probably doesn’t matter what the shape or silhouette of the lure is. So these will probably work pretty well if you are into that sort of thing. They certainly are designed to catch the fisherman more than the fish, but then again most all flies and lures are that way in some sense. Keep on picking and casting.

Fundraiser a Success, raises $20,000

I was fortunate to be able to attend the fund raiser on Sunday for my friend Dale Vanderpool and fellow bluegrasser Gerald Evans. The turnout was amazing. There were 800 people already through the door when I arrived and more streamed in as the show went on. By the end of the Grascals set it was standing room only, a real testament to dedication and support within Bluegrass community. The music was, as you might expect, exceptional, with plenty of interplay between bands. I was thrilled to see that Dale felt well enough to play with Don Rigsby and he sounded as good as ever.

The official press release is below.

A little snowy weather and a busy Holiday season did not hinder the success of a special Appreciation Concert this past weekend, benefiting fiddler and songwriter Gerald Evans, Jr. and banjo player Dale Vanderpool. Both are fighting cancer.

Sunday, bluegrass fans from the Ohio and Kentucky area packed the Roberts Convention Centre in Wilmington, Ohio. With an all-star lineup of bands and special guests, nearly $20,000 was raised. Special thanks to all of the following performers and contributors:

Lost and Found, Joe Mullins and the Radio Ramblers, Blue and Lonesome, Melvin Goins and Windy Mountain, Don Rigsby and Midnight Call, the Grascals, the Wildwood Valley Boys, J.D. Crowe and the New South, the Larry Stephenson Band, Sonny Osborne, Mark Rader, Larry Cordle, Dwayne Sparks, Darrell Adkins and the staff of the Musicians Against Childhood Cancer Bluegrass Classic, the staff and volunteers of the Southern Ohio Indoor Music Festival and WBZI Radio.

Many other members of the national Bluegrass community sent donations as well.

It was truly a special day for two talented gentlemen who remain in our thoughts and prayers this Christmas season.

Joe Mullins would like to sincerely thank all contributors for their support and generosity.

Yours truly on mando with Dale Vanderpool and Friends earlier this year in Goodale Park

The Ballad of Stringbean and Estelle

David 'Stringbean' AkemanI’ve been digging the new Sam Bush album Circles Around Me. One song that really struck me is the ballad of String Bean and Estelle. I sort of knew the story of String Bean being murdered and all that but the details never made it down the chain of command. Folk lore has a way of clouding itself in a veil of mystery. Interestingly the Ballad of String Bean and Estelle tells the story very clearly and enunciates some interesting aspects, albeit in a poetic and songwriter’s sort of way. So it gets a big thumbs up from me. Check it out at the link below.

Wikipedia tells the story like this, really interesting.

A modest and unassuming person, Akeman enjoyed the simple life of hunting and fishing. Accustomed to hard times during the Great Depression of the 1930s, Akeman and his wife, Estelle, lived frugally in a tiny cabin near Ridgetop, Tennessee—their only indulgence, a Cadillac automobile. Depression-era bank failures also inspired Akeman, like many others of his generation, to not trust banks with their money. It was general gossip around Nashville that Akeman usually kept significant amounts of cash on hand, despite his not being terribly wealthy by entertainment industry standards.

On a Saturday night in November 1973, the Akemans returned home after performing a show at the Grand Ole Opry, and were shot dead upon their arrival. Thieves had lain in wait for hours. The Akemans’ bodies were discovered the following morning by neighbor and fellow performer Grandpa Jones (Louis Marshall Jones).

A police investigation into the double homicide resulted in the conviction of cousins John A. Brown and Marvin Douglas Brown, both of whom were 23 years old at the time of the murders. At trial, it was revealed that the two had ransacked the cabin and then killed Stringbean. Estelle shrieked when she saw Stringbean hit with the bullets. A few moments later, after begging for her life, she was gunned down as well. The Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals described the scene, “Upon their return, Mr. Akeman spotted the intruders in his home and evidently offered some resistance. One of the Brown cousins fatally shot Mr. Akeman, then pursued, shot and killed Mrs. Akeman. At their trial, each defendant blamed the other for the homicides.”[1]

The thieves left with nothing more than a chain saw and some guns. In 1996, 23 years after their murders, $20,000 in cash was discovered behind a brick in the chimney of the Akemans’ home. The paper money had rotted to such an extent that it was not usable. (the United States Consumer Price Index indicates that the purchasing power of $20,000 in 1973 would be equivalent to the purchasing power of some $98,565 in 2008.)

Marvin Douglas Brown fought his convictions in the Tennessee appellate courts. On September 28, 1982, the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the trial judge’s order denying a new trial.[2] Marvin Brown ultimately granted an exclusive interview to Larry Brinton of the Nashville Banner. In the interview, he admitted his participation in the burglary and murders, but contended that John Brown fired the fatal shots.

Marvin Brown died of natural causes on January 8, 2003, at the Brushy Mountain Prison, in Petros, Tennessee. He is buried in the prison cemetery. John A. Brown remains incarcerated in a Tennessee Special Needs Facility. In July 2008, the Tennessee Parole Board deferred parole for 36 months. He is next eligible for parole in July of 2011. The A&E cable television network profiled the case on a 2003 episode of its City Confidential series.

David and Estelle Akeman are buried in Forest Lawn Memorial Gardens in Goodlettsville, Tennessee. During the run of Hee Haw, after Stringbean’s death, the scarecrow was left as a memorial.

1952 Vincent Black Lightning – the novel?

Vincent Black Lightning the novel, seriously?

Vincent Black Lightning the novel, seriously?

Ok, so we think it might be a bit of stretch but according to the Bluegrass blog everyone’s favorite Richard Thompson song is now a novel. Thats right, Vincent Black Lightning 1952 – the novel, you know a book-like thing filled with words, how twentieth century right?

Now, I will be the first to admidt that not only has my band played the Del Mccoury version more than once, I even penned a song called Red Molly’s Ride to function as a sequel to the story . I’ll let you imagine the details but it involved Red Molly triumphantly riding off into the sunset on young James’ prized bike. However it never made into my band’s repertoire, in fact I was bit embarrassed to even bring it up at practice, for fear of being thrown out of the band and made to play Spinal Tap’s mandolin break for stonehendge as penance. (Oh – how they danced)

As cheesy and low brow as I should like to think of it, I might have to read it. After all Black Lightnings are cool motorcycles and the story is fairly compelling. Although sometimes I think the beauty of folk tales such as this, is their unyielding simplicity and complete lack of detail. After all, if we were forced to work out all the logistical details of a shotgun-wounded dying man reaching his lover to hand over the keys, I think some of the romance would be lost. Sometimes the spaces and holes left by simple poetry is more beautiful that the overflowing minutia of a novel.

“Shotgun blast hit his chest, left nothing in side, come down, Red Molly to his dying bed side.”

It doesn’t get much better than that.

And for the record Rob McCoury’s shotgun sound effect during that line was a direct quote from Sonny Osborne…

AKUS at The White House


AKUS Live on the Road

Via the

Alison Krauss & Union Station will be in Washington, DC today (7/21) to help the Obamas celebrate American country music, and demonstrate the music to middle and high school students.

There will be a workshop from 2:00-3:00 p.m. at The White House where 120 music students from all over the US will learn more about bluegrass and country music from Alison and her band, along with country superstar Brad Paisley. Songwriting as well as instrumental and vocal performance will be covered, and there will be a song performed from student and professional songwriters who collaborated through the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum’s Words and Music program.

Then at 7:30 p.m. (EDT), there will be a concert in the State Room, emceed by Grand Ole Opry announcer Eddie Stubbs, and including remarks from the President. It will be broadcast live online via The White House streaming video site.

This event will be hosted by Michelle Obama in her role as First Lady, and presented in association with The Country Music Association, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, produced by the Grand Ole Opry and Great American Country Television. One imagines that a TV special may be forthcoming?

We will have more details about this afternoon and evening’s goings on after the fact.