Wednesday, March 31, 2010

This Week's Guest Interview, CHARLIE CUSHMAN

Charlie Cushman joins me on Knee-Deep In Bluegrass to talk about his music and his musical heros. I hope you can join us on the radio!

Around age 4, Charlie became interested in the music he saw on local television. Saturday afternoons were his favorite times, due to the vast variety of Country music programs being broadcast on WSM-TV. These included The Ernest Tubb Show, The Wilburn Brothers Show, The Porter Wagoner Show, The Grand Ole Opry, and foremost, The Flatt and Scruggs Show.

The banjo picking of Earl Scruggs caught Charlie's ear, amidst all the electric guitars, fiddles and vocals of these incredible talents. Charlie had to have a banjo!

After months of persistent talk and dreams of having a banjo, his grandfather bought a used one with a repaired neck at the local music store. "My grandfather bought the banjo behind my grandmothers back, as money was tight, and Grandma didn't care for music in the first place," says Charlie.

The search for a teacher began, and soon Charlie was taking lessons every Saturday. His teacher played electric lead guitar for Webb Pierce, and occasionally for some other Nashville based acts, and knew only a couple of three finger style tunes on the banjo. He agreed to give the lessons, and after a few months, Charlie was showing him things he had learned at home, from his Earl Scruggs records. His "formal" lessons were over.

During the next 2 years, Charlie played the banjo in talent contests, at luncheons, and parties around his hometown. Most of his time was spent at the record player, learning sounds and tones from his favorite records, and applying them to the neck of the banjo. "When you have to find notes without visual clues, you develop an "ear" to distinguish where they are on the banjo neck," Charlie says. "This was vital to learning the tunes, developing left hand patterns, and forming technique."

Age 10 found Charlie playing over station WPHC in Waverly, Tennessee each Saturday night on the "Tennessee Valley Jamboree". This was a Country music radio/stage show, featuring some fine local talent from the middle and west Tennessee area. His dad would compete each week at the local drag strip, and his mom and dad would alternate driving him to the shows he played, as most parents of musical children so often do. " I owe so much to them," Charlie says.

His first paying job was at Shakeys’ Pizza Parlor on Riverside Drive in Clarksville. "I played the banjo with a flat pick along side an excellent Ragtime piano player. We had the words to all the old "saloon" songs projected upon the wall, so the patrons could sing along. My banjo had a DeArmond pick-up on the head, held on by rubber bands. Can you imagine that sound?!!"

In support of his interest in music, Charlie's parents started taking him to Bluegrass festivals. This is when he first began to understand what Bluegrass was all about. "I still love to participate in parking lot picking sessions and hear people play with so much enthusiasm". He also saw most of his musical heroes in person, and later became friends with many of them.

In early 1974, 14-year-old Charlie began playing the banjo six days each week on the Carl Tipton Show. The show was on WLAC-TV in Nashville, and was broadcast for over 25 years. The show featured Bluegrass and Country music in a down home format.

The show featured a wide variety of guest artists from Bill Monroe to Tennessee Ernie Ford, and many local talents. It was during this 5-year period of employment that Charlie learned guitar and upright bass. He was often called on, to back up the guest performers, and gained tremendous musical experience, along with making some life long friends. "Carl was a fine disc jockey, and a successful businessman. His family treated me as they would one of their own children, and I will remain forever grateful to them."

From 1979 till 1986, Charlie worked as a musician and business owner, in Nashville. He played the banjo with James Monroe and the Midnight Ramblers, Jimmy Martin and the Sunny Mountain Boys, Mel Tillis and the Statesiders, and also became a part of the Nashville session scene. Opryland, USA, then employed him, as a multi-instrumentalist from 1986 to mid 1990.

On September 20, 1990, his long time friend and fellow banjo picker, Mike Snider, hired Charlie. Charlie went to work with Mike as his bass player, and later switched to guitar after some personnel changes in the band. Mike became a member of the Grand Ole Opry in June of 1990. Charlie was employed by Mike Snider playing road dates and the Grand Ole Opry until September 1, 2004.

Charlie enjoys playing music with a variety of artists and friends. He is an in-demand session player on banjo and guitar and is available as a free-lance artist. He also enjoys working on Mastertone style banjos, and appreciating antiques. When he's not involved in music, he enjoys spending time with his family and friends. Charlie Cushman is a people and music enthusiast.


(Hour One)

Left-Handed Dreamer-Lou Reid & Carolina
Ghost Bound Train-Dale Ann Bradley
Rocky Road Blues-Bill Monroe & The Bluegrass Boys

(Bluegrass News)

Caney Fork River-Balsam Range
Bending The Strings-Bill Keith
Blue Railroad Train-Josh Williams with Tony Rice
Hereafter-Lonesome River Band

Red Clay Halo-Nashville Bluegrass Band
Blue Bonnet Lane-JD Crowe & The New South
Leader of the Band-Randy Howard with Don Rigsby
The Crow-Steve Martin

(Vintage Vault): MAC WISEMAN

I'll Remember You Love, In My Prayers / Freight Train

(Hour Two)

All Aboard-Del McCoury
Woman Dressed In Scarlett-IIIrd Tyme Out

(Knee-Deep Spotlight): THE CANA RAMBLERS
In The Garden / Things Things Things

Won't Be Coming Back-Infamous Stringdusters
Living The Right Life Now-Paul Williams & The Victory Trio
Lonesome Lesson Learned-Special Consensus
Rye Whiskey-Ronnie Bowman

(Concert Segment): SELDOM SCENE
City of New Orleans

Out On The Ocean-Sam Bush

THANKS for listening!~CB

Thursday, March 25, 2010

THE CANA RAMBLERS on Knee-Deep In Bluegrass

Will Jones and Laura Leigh Jones of The Cana Ramblers are my special guests this week on "Knee-Deep In Bluegrass". The Cana Ramblers have a new CD project available called 'No Expectations'. Below are the liner notes from the CD:

The Cana Ramblers bluegrass band has it all. High energy, great vocals, killer harmonies, hot instrumentals and an interesting variety of classic and original material featuring Will Jones on guitar and vocals; Laura Leigh Jones on mandolin and vocals; Ashley Jones on upright bass and vocals; Phillip Jones on guitar and vocals; Rick Allred on banjo and vocals.

With some irony, The Cana Ramblers’ 2009 release of No Expectations delivers the opposite of its title. The release of this CD comes with considerable expectations. Fans and professional insiders have been waiting for this release. Represented here are Lester and Earl, Hank and Merle, and Cash’s Last Ride. Here are brand new songs, good old songs and picking up a storm. Here are all the harmonies that bluegrass built and arrangements to hold you to the end.

The Cana Ramblers can be seen on Public Television on the acclaimed series Song of the Mountains. This band can be heard on Country and Bluegrass radio stations across the country and at their live shows. Visit their website at or friend them through social media online. (facebook etc.)

Please tune in to an affiliate near you...and enjoy the show! Thanks~CB

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Tim Stafford Joins Me On The Radio This Weekend

Tim Stafford of Blue Highway will be my interview guest on this week's Knee-Deep In Bluegrass. We will be talking about a variety of things, including: Blue Highway's 15th Anniversary and new Rounder Collection...The Tony Rice Biography that Tim has been working on for nearly a decade...and the new project he just completed with Steve Gulley of their original songs. Tim is a truly great ambassador for Bluegrass, having served on the Board of Directors for the International Bluegrass Music Association and so much more. He is one of my favorite songswriters, too. I hope you enjoy listening to the interview as much as I enjoyed recording it with Tim. Thanks for listening!~CB


(Hour One)

The Wolf Is At The Door-Junior Sisk & Ramblers Choice
Farm of Yesterday-Gibson Brothers
B-Natural-Herschel Sizemore

(Bluegrass News)

If It Hadn't Been For You-Lost & Found
Gone To Carolina-Special Consensus
I Shot The Sheriff-Grass Cats
Don't Let Her Get Away-Chris Warner

County Fool-Alan Bibey w/Del McCoury
Take A Moment and Live-Barry Scott & Second Wind
Handsome Molly-Thomas Wywrot
I Won't Be Calling For You-Lonesome River Band

Are You From Dixie / Amanda

(Hour Two)

I'll Still Write Your Name In The Sand-David Petersen & 1946
Hillbilly Goddess-Alecia Nugent w/JD Crowe

(Spotlight Guest): DON RIGSBY
Willow Garden-Lonesome River Band
One Prayer Away-Don Rigsby & Midnight Call
Leaning On The Son-Don Rigsby & Midnight Call

Heart Wrenching Lovesick Memories-Rhonda Vincent
Whispering Waters-Audie Blaylock
Steal Way & Pray-Jeff Parker
It's Only Over For You-McPeak Brothers

(Concert Segment): DARRELL SCOTT
I Still Miss Someone

Gonna Settle Down-Bluegrass Album Band

THANKS for listening!~CB

Monday, March 15, 2010



WILKESBORO, N.C. (March 15, 2010)—MerleFest 2010, presented by Lowe’s, is proud to announce the additions of Dierks Bentley featuring the Travelin’ McCourys and Joey + Rory to the lineup for Friday night, April 30. The award-winning country chart-topper Bentley will perform with the Travelin’ McCourys on the Watson Stage, and acclaimed husband-wife duo Joey + Rory will perform on the Cabin Stage.

“We look forward to welcoming Dierks and Joey + Rory to their first MerleFest performances,” said festival director Ted Hagaman, “and The Travelin’ McCourys have been a favorite here for several years. I am continually impressed with the great variety of talent that fills all of the MerleFest stages. There’s truly something here for all music fans.”

Fresh off the success of his acclaimed album Feel That Fire, Bentley has announced the summer release of the acoustic, roots-based Up On The Ridge. The album will feature Bentley working with some of the finest acoustic musicians in the world, including long-time collaborators the Del McCoury Band and a magical new musical partnership with Chris Thile and the Punch Brothers. The disc also features a number of vocal and instrumental contributions ranging from Alison Krauss and Miranda Lambert to Tim O’Brien and Sam Bush, among many others. The project found Bentley working with award-winning singer/songwriter/producer Jon Randall Stewart and world-class recording engineer Gary Paczosa

“I’ve played a lot of cool venues and festivals, but taking this new album to MerleFest is one of the things I’m looking forward to the most,” said Bentley. “I’ll definitely be out there in the crowd like everyone else soaking it all in.”

After selling 5 million copies of his first four studio albums, topping the charts with seven No. one hits including “Sideways,” “Free & Easy” and “What Was I Thinkin’?,” making countless national media appearances, taking home multiple CMA and ACM awards and racking up seven GRAMMY nominations, country star Dierks Bentley has spent the first months of 2010 in the studio working on multiple exciting projects for the upcoming year. The roaddog has headlined multiple arena tours and opened for some of country music’s biggest superstars, and is now heading full-force into his newly announced “Up On The Ridge” tour.

Joey+Rory, the husband-wife duo of Joey Martin and Rory Feek, are nominated for this year’s ACM Top Vocal Duo and Top New Vocal Duo. They are currently on tour with and serving as emcees for Grammy-winning Zac Brown Band’s Breaking Southern Ground Tour, which will take the stage on Thursday, April 29, at MerleFest. Their sophomore release, Album #2, will come out this spring. It was produced by Grammy®-winning Carl Jackson, who also produced their debut album.

Their debut single, "Cheater Cheater," was not only their first Top 30 hit at country radio, but it also became a nationwide Top 10 Dance Club hit. The single peaked at #3 on the iTunes Top Country Album Chart with over 400,000 downloads. Their debut album, The Life of a Song, debuted at #10 on the Billboard Country Albums Chart and remained on the charts for 50 weeks, selling 200,000 copies. Last year, they were nominated for ACM’s Top Vocal Duo, CMA Vocal Duo of the Year and CMT’s Nationwide Insurance On Your Side Award and toured coast-to-coast and overseas with an appearance at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival. They continue to be featured in a number of national TV commercials for

Tickets for MerleFest 2010 can be purchased on the web at or by calling 1-800-343-7857. Early Bird ticket prices have been extended to Tuesday, April 6, at 5:00 p.m. EDT. As always, there are no hidden fees or surcharges on MerleFest tickets.

MerleFest 2010, presented by Lowe’s, will celebrate its 23rd year from April 29 – May 2, 2010 on the campus of Wilkes Community College. Over 100 acts will perform on 15 stages during the course of the event. A complete list of confirmed performers is available at MerleFest was founded in 1988 in memory of Eddy Merle Watson as a fundraiser for Wilkes Community College and a celebration of “traditional plus” music.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Home Preparations--Whew!

One thing (besides Bluegrass and Radio) that has been keeping me extremely busy, is getting the house ready to go on the market. Terry and I will soon celebrate our Wedding Anniversary (a post about that next week). Since we got married, we have been splitting our time between two homes; Elkin, NC and Monroe, NC. Because of our careers, we travel a lot under normal circumstances. Couple that with having two places to keep up and an hour and forty minute commute between the two homes and it sometimes gets a little overwhelming. So Terry, Molly, Hunter and I have decided to combine the two households (eliminating a lot of clutter in process that we all have accumulated over the years) We are purchasing a house in Monroe, where Terry was born and raised. I like that area a lot and it is much closer to my work at the John Boy & Billy Studios in Charlotte. There is a good school system there (which is important, because Molly will be a Senior next year and Hunter will be entering Middle School). The oldest, Houston, is a student at UNC-Charlotte and has an apartment there. So an added plus is being closer to him all the time, as well.

Getting ready to sell a house is a LOT of work. I have found myself tuning in to television shows like "Sell This House", "Clean House" and a variety of programs on the Do-It-Yourself Network! These are helpful...and so are purchases like Magic Erasers, Old English Wood Oil, Paint, etc., etc. Everyone is pitching in and doing their part and it is actually going pretty smoothly, so far.

Hopefully within the next few days, the house will be listed and some lucky family will find their way to this quite neighborhood in Surry County, close the park and schools, where the site of deer, squirrels, rabbits and birds is a common occurrence. ~CB

KNEE-DEEP Playlist

(Hour One)

Drivin' My Life Away-Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top Xpress
Look Down That Lonesome Road-Tim O'Brien
That's Just Me-David Parmley

(Bluegrass News)

Sad Old Train-Seldom Scene
Big, Big Heartaches-Grasstowne
Me & My Old Banjo-Larry Stephenson w/Sonny Osborne & Ronnie Reno
Ramblers Blues-Kenny & Amanda Smith Band

Dream of Me-Josh Williams
It Always Rains When I'm Lonesome-3 Fox Drive
It's Been So Long-Randy Lohrs
Bed of Roses-Dailey & Vincent

Goin' Up / No Mother or Dad

(Hour Two)

Sweet Appalachia-Del McCoury Band
Snow Bird-Missy Werner

Hills of Mexico-Ricky Skaggs w/Bruce Hornsby
Church Street Blues-Bryan Sutton
One Prayer Away-Don Rigsby & Midnight Call
White Horse Breakdown-Aaron Williams

Let Old Mother Nature Have Her Way-Barry Berrier
Look For Me, I'll Be There-John Bowman
I Don't Believe You've Met My Baby-Jerry Douglas w/Alison Krauss
Going Home-Larry Sparks

(Concert Segment) - MOUNTAIN HEART
Road That Never Ends / God & Everybody

Them Blues-Lonesome River Band

THANKS for listening!~CB

Thursday, March 4, 2010

KNEE-DEEP Playlist

(Hour One)

A Broken Heart Keeps Beatin'-Adam Steffey
The Old Crossroad-Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder
Corn-Darin & Brooke Aldridge

(Bluegrass News)

Amanda Lynn-Lou Reid & Carolina
Over My Head-Dale Ann Bradley
Girl From The Canyon-Keith Whitley
Don't Believe-Cherryholmes

Redwood Hill-Country Gentlemen
Over In The Gloryland-Darren Beachley
Crooked Man-Chris Stuart & Backcountry
Try To Be-Newfound Road

(Vintage Vault) OSBORNE BROTHERS - 1971
Tomorrow Never Comes / Shelly's Winter Love

(Hour Two)

I Thought That She Loved Me-Steep Canyon Rangers
One Way Track-Boone Creek

Down In Caroline-Balsam Range
Rawhide-Bill Monroe & The Bluegrass Boys
Midwestern Town-Ronnie Bowman
My Angeline-Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out

Here Comes That Feeling Again-Brandon Rickman
Feeling Blue-Grascals
My Florida Sunshine-Claire Lynch
West Virginia Ground-Dwight McCall

(Concert) SHAWN CAMP

Sis Draper / Ain't No Way of Knowing

Katie's Winter Love-BlueRidge

THANKS for listening!~CB