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Only Bluegrass

Country Prose
by Charlie Hansen

Lonesome River BandWe just have a couple of things to write about this month and they both pertain to bluegrass festivals and bluegrass music in general.

First of all we attended the second annual Summerside Bluegrass and Acoustic Music Festival in early November and the festival is becoming a drawing card in Summerside at that time of year. Many of the attendees are from off Island and the organizers deserve a large pat on the back for bringing this festival back to prominence. This festival is where you go to meet friends as well as listen to music although there was a full weekend of music to listen to. All the groups, local, regional and international did very well over the weekend, and, if you haven’t been there, next year’s festival is on November 6, 7 and 8, 2015.

The next thing I would like to talk about will have you longing for summer although winter has not yet begun. The thing that I’m referring to is The 30th Annual PEI Bluegrass and Old Time Music Festival. I know that it’s a bit early to talk about this but the tickets are already available and the organization is well under way.

This year’s festival features one of the most enduring bluegrass bands of all time, The Lonesome River Band. These guys have made bluegrass their life’s work and have been at the top of the heap since their first CD in 1991. This group has been winning IBMA awards since 1992 and have amassed individually and as a group 49 awards in various IBMA categories. The Members are, Sammy Shelor, Brandon Rickman, Mike Hartgrove, Barry Reid and Randy Jones

The 30th annual also features The Clay Hess band. Clay has been a member of Ricky Skaggs’ Kentucky Thunder band where he won a Grammy award for the Soldier of The Cross CD back a few years ago and also played guitar in the Sierra Hull Band. Clay has also toured with Mark Newton Band and Mountain Heart. The Clay Hess band members are Clay Hess, Brennan Hess (Clay’s son), Irl Hees, Zach Gilmer and Nick Keen. Clay is a dyed-in-the-wool bluegrasser but also has influences from outside the genre.

The third US band on the bill this year is Ned Crisp and Bottomline out of Ashland Kentucky. Ned and his band have been considered a regional outfit but have recently decided to spread their wings. Their new CD, Taking The Back Roads Home, is produced by Don Rigsby. Bottomline have been awarded Bluegrass Group of the Year Award 2014 by the International Music and Entertainment Assoc. The Members are Ned Crisp, Jared Doss, Bryan Ross, Don Rambo and Tyler Robertson.

For advance tickets contact Shirley Jay at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or phone 902-566-2641—great stocking stuffers.

Until next time don’t forget to support live country and bluegrass music and listen to Bluegrass Island on CFCY 95.1 in Charlottetown and on the web at

Home to the Country

Country Prose
by Charlie Hansen

Jeannie CameronWell here we are again deeply into fall and all the summer hub bub is over and done with for another year. There are a couple of things I’d like to talk about this month. Well actually one is a thing and the other is a person.

First the person.

The first item on the agenda this month is a young lady from up Summerside way by the name of Jeannie Cameron. Jeannie is a veteran of the Toronto music scene having been a singer in a band known as Highground. Jeannie’s career got its start through a chance meeting with Jim White who was a drummer in an established band. Jeannie was singing at a local fair and Jim liked what he heard and asked her to join the band. Another chance meeting with Canadian country music legend, Terry Sumsion was the shot in the arm that the band needed to put them on the path to a good career. For about seven years they acted as Terry’s opening act as well as opening for other headliners in all the “A” list clubs in the Ontario area.

All this came to an end when Jeannie, a single mom with two boys heavily involved in sports, decided to spend her time nurturing their careers. Jeannie moved her boys back home to PEI in 2002 and spent the next ten years running to sports facilities all across the Island. A couple of years ago, with her boys grown, Jeannie decided to get back into the music business in a smaller scale than before and started doing ceilidhs, small shows, etc.

Yet another chance meeting would produce Jeannie’s involvement in a CD project with Tim Archer which will include a number of other Island artists.

Jeannie has also embarked on her own solo project that will be completed next summer. Jeannie embodies the old adage that you can’t deny great talent. She has a great voice and I look forward to hearing much more from Jeannie in the future.

And now for the thing.

Music PEI, with the assistance of The 2014 fund has produced a CD project that features twelve years of PEI music award winners. This is quite an eclectic compilation and bears testament to the fact that the music industry has matured and diversified over the last twelve years.

This CD runs the gauntlet from bluegrass to rock to folk and back around again. The CD contains 35 songs and is a great listen. If you’d like to have one they are available at Back Alley Music. Drop by and see the folks there and they’ll make sure you leave with a copy.

Until next time don’t forget to support live country and bluegrass music and listen to Bluegrass Island every Sunday at 9 pm on CFCY FM 95.1 in Charlottetown and on the web at

Back to Normal

Country Prose
by Charlie Hansen

The Island Railroad Line - Carolyn CameronThe Island Railroad LineThe summer has come and gone for this year and many great entertainment experiences were available to islanders and tourists alike. There was more entertainment on PEI this summer than ever before and we all hope that that plants a seed in the minds of those that hold the purse strings on PEI, that maybe this is a good thing and will be continued, perhaps on a smaller scale, in years to come.

After all the excitement of the summer has died down I have a very special recording project to report on by the name of The Island Railroad Line. This is a collection of original material by an accidental song writer.

After many years in the music business across North America and many years of retirement from music Carolyn Cameron is back in music in a very different way than before.

Carolyn criss crossed North America in the 70s with her group “The Coachmen” appearing with such artists as Bill Anderson, Faron Young, Ian and Sylvia, Dick Nolan and Chef Adams and was a member of The Sweet Daddy Siki Show for a number of years traveling extensively with the “sweet” man.

Carolyn made her home in Ontario for twenty seven years until she decided to return home to PEI.

The re-emergence of her musical career began by accident with the purchase of a guitar while vacationing in Florida. From this purchase came jams with friends and finally the first song writing experience called “Golden Years” mainly telling the story of her love for friends and the casual music experience.

The flaw in this incident came when she decided to record that song. On and on it went until she had written and recorded a full CD of twelve of her own songs. This CD reflects on family and personal experiences over the years that have left a mark both good and bad.

“Bible Story” a reflection of life with her father, “Dad’s Old Hammer” the story of her father building a home and a life for his family, “Life In A Scrapbook” a look back on old family memories told in pictures, and “A Yellow Rose” a grandmother story are only some of the great songs on this CD.

This is a well -written piece of work and I’m sure it would make a great addition to your Island-written and recorded music library. Not one song on this CD is a filler and they all stand on their own very well. If you’d like to have a copy of this CD Carolyn would be delighted to hear from you. You can contact her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. You won’t be sorry that you did.

Don’t forget to get ready for the Music PEI awards as well as ECMA. They’re both sneaking up on us.

More Good News

Country Prose
by Charlie Hansen

Follow Your Dream - Cathy JackmanThis month I’d like to take some time to tell you about a new CD that was produced at Roy MacCaull’s studio in Ellerslie. This CD is by western ceilidh stalwart Cathy Jackman.

Cathy has been playing ceilidhs, benefits and variety concerts in western PEI for a number of years and has finally decided to release a new CD called Follow Your Dreams.

The CD contains eleven tracks of which Cathy has written five. The favourite track on this CD as far as local acceptance is a song that Cathy wrote called I’ve Been Everywhere (PEI Style). This is a variation of the Geoffrey Mack written and Hank Snow recorded song rewritten to suit PEI. Beside the I’ve Been Everywhere song Cathy has also written four others mainly based on personal experience and family ties. The song Daddies aren’t Forever is a tribute to her late father. Other songs that she has written on the CD are, the title track, Follow Your Dreams, Gear Jammin’ Trucker, and I’ll Love You ‘til My Dying Day.”

The CD also has everything from Newfoundland songs to George Jones to The Carter Family tunes. Some of these songs are Longliners Coming In, Picture In A Frame,Will The Circle Be Unbroken, Blanket On The Ground, If I Needed You and A Lady Like Mom. Cathy does a fine job on vocals with a strong and clear voice that has developed from years of singing for the love of it.

All in all this is a fine CD with great instrumentation and harmony vocals, as usual, by Roy MacCaull. Roy is an icon in music on PEI and is still very active in his studio in Ellerslie.

If you’d like a copy of this CD you can contact Cathy at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or drop by one of her ceilidhs and pick one up. While you’re there you can also have a chat with Cathy.

I had a chance to attend the Red Clay Bluegrass Festival in mid August. This festival has experienced some growing pains over a number of years but it seems to be in an upswing lately. Although the weather wasn’t great the crowd was good and appreciative. Chris Jones and the Nightdrivers were this year’s feature band and did a fine job as usual. This is very laid back bluegrass or as I’ve heard some emcees in the south describe it “intelligent bluegrass.”

The Maritime and local bands all were in top form for the occasion which is the final summer bluegrass festival of the season.

Alan Jefferies and Slim Pickens are an amazingly talented group of performers and are a force to be reckoned with in bluegrass.

It’s great to see young people involved in bluegrass and Next Generation just get better with each outing. All in all a fitting end to the bluegrass season.

Until next time don’t forget to support live country and bluegrass music and listen to Bluegrass Island every Sunday evening at 9:00 on CFCY FM 95.1 in Charlottetown or on the web at

Listening to Sisters

Country Prose
by Charlie Hansen

The MacDonald SistersThis month I’d like to talk about a couple of things. Number one is a new CD released recently and number two is a bluegrass festival being held later on in August.

First let’s talk about The MacDonald Sisters who have just released a new CD called The Journey. The CD is made up of twelve songs all written by Marie, the first song being written when she was fifteen years old. Marie put aside the song writer’s craft for many years until her three children were grown but in the winter of 2012 she was inspired to write songs for this CD. Many of the songs are reflections on life and about how many diverse influences converge to mold a person into what they are.

The MacDonald Sisters, Marie and Doris grew up in a large musical family in Bangor, PEI. Music was always a large part of their life and was an ever present influence on their upbringing. They always took great joy in singing with their seven brothers and sisters around the old home place. These family sing-a-longs molded a musical future for Marie and Doris.

The sisters are regular performers at ceilidhs and benefits across the Island and can be heard singing Bluegrass, Country and Gospel favourites. They are renowned for their tight sibling harmonies and their ability to entertain audiences young and old. The MacDonald Sisters will be launching their CD on August 2 at the Murray River Hall at 7 pm, featuring lots of great local talent.

If you’d like to have a copy of this CD give Marie a call at 218-2591 or catch up to the sisters at one of their appearances across the province. They’d be happy to have a chat.

Next on the agenda is the Red Clay Bluegrass festival in Tignish happening August 16–18 at the Heritage Grounds in Tignish. This year’s festival features Chris Jones and The Night Drivers, A New Shade Of Blue, Alan Jeffries and Slim Pickin’s, Janet McGarry and Wildwood, SK Bluegrass, Two+Three, Blue Persuasion and Next Generation.

The festival has shown a resurgence in the last couple of years and this year’s festival looks like it will be one of the best.

Chris Jones is a sought after singer songwriter and guitarist and host of XM Radio’s True grass. Chris has been in the bluegrass business for many years and has had great success in all facets of the business. Chris and his band appeared at the PEI Bluegrass and Old Time Music Festival about fourteen years ago.

Other members of Chris’ band are Ned Luberecki (also an XM Radio host on Derailed) on banjo, Jon Weisberger, a great songwriter, radio personality and 2012 IBMA songwriter of the year on bass and Mark Stoffel a media teacher and recording engineer on mandolin. All in all a great lineup.

Shake and Howdy

Country Prose
by Charlie Hansen

James KingThis month I want to talk about a couple of Bluegrass festivals happening on the Island in July.

First of all the PEI Bluegrass and Old Time Music Festival is happening on July 4, 5 and 6 at the festival grounds in Rollo Bay. This year’s festival features Audie Blaylock and Redline from Indiana, Shannon Slaughter and County Clare from Alabama, and Art Stevenson and High Water from Wisconsin.

As well as these great US bands we have , representing the Maritimes: The Bluegrass Diamonds, Blue Tie Affair, A New Shade Of Blue and Simply Blue. PEI is also well represented with Janet McGarry and Wildwood,

Two Plus Three, SK Bluegrass, Blue Persuasion, Blue Zone, Just Grass, Bluegrass Revival and Joe Casey and Westwind. You can listen to or participate in the open mic on Wednesday and Thursday evenings.

On August 11, 12 and 13 the Evangeline Bluegrass and Traditional Music festival is happening in Abram Village featuring “the bluegrass story teller,” James King from Virginia.

James has been a stalwart in the field of bluegrass music for many years and is much in demand on the US circuit. James released his first CD in 1988 and from there was picked up by Rounder Records, for which he still records. James performes country and traditional bluegrass and puts his heart into everything that he sings. James also serve a stint with the super group Longview.

The Tebworth Brothers from Ontario are making their second appearance at Abram Village and although young in age they are long in talent and have a wonderful family friendly stage show. The brothers are Wyatt, 11 and Marshall 9. Wyatt has been playing mandolin for about 6 years and Marshall has been playing fiddle since 2010. They are much in demand on the Ontario circuit and have made a couple of trips to the east coast as well.

As well as the James King and the Tebworth Brothers Evangeline also features Eight Wheel Drive from Nova Scotia, Back Roads and Monroe and The Bluegrass Diamonds from New Brunswick as well as all the local favourites.

The PEI festivals take a bit of a break for a few weeks and later in August we'll be back with more info on The Red Clay Festival in Tignish August 15, 16 and 17. Make sure to mark your calendars.

Until next time don’t forget to support live country and bluegrass music and listen to Bluegrass Island every Sunday evening at 9:00PM on CFCY 95.1 FM in Charlottetown and on the web at

Bluegrass and Old Time

Country Prose
by Charlie Hansen

Audie BlaylockIt’s bluegrass festival time again on PEI and the first festival out of the chute is actually a campout known as the St. Louis Bluegrass Campout. This campout takes place on June 25, 26 and 27 on the grounds of the St. Louis Community Center. Local and regional bands are featured each year and there’s lots of jammin’ and friendly folks. This campout has grown in popularity each year and is a hit with everyone that attends because of the relaxed friendly atmosphere.

The grandaddy of all bluegrass and old time music festivals on PEI is the PEI Bluegrass and Old Time Music Festival. This festival is celebrating it’s 29th year of operation and has gotten bigger and better each year.

This year’s festival features Audie Blaylock & Redline from Tennessee, Shannon Slaughter & County Clare from Alabama and Art Stevenson & High Water from Wisconsin as well as our local and regional bands.

Audie Blaylock is a veteran of the bluegrass wars and has played in many groups through the years, most notably a nine year tenure with Jimmy Martin. Audie’s website says: Award-winning vocalist and guitarist, Audie Blaylock is certainly one of the hottest Bluegrass artists today. Along with his band Redline, they are celebrating a load of #1 singles from numerous albums on the Rural Rhythm Records label, and thrilling audiences with their incredible musicianship, impeccable harmony and highly entertaining stage shows.

Shannon Slaughter & County Clare come to us from Alabama and bring many years of experience in the bluegrass world. Shannon’s website says: County Clare mixes fresh, original material that is written primarily by Slaughter (winner of the prestigious 2012 Chris Austin Songwriting Contest at MerleFest) with time-honored traditional bluegrass and country favorites. County Clare is comprised by an immensely talented core group of musicians and singers who believe in keeping a foot in the past and an eye on the future.

Art Stevenson and High Water is Wisconsin’s best-known bluegrass show, and has been in demand throughout the Midwest festival circuit since 1993. Art’s website says: High Water’s repertoire is taken from many sources: the bluegrass classics of Bill Monroe and the Stanley Brothers, early country music, mountain songs, and new material. Their blend of traditional bluegrass numbers, originals, contemporary songs, and instrumentals satisfies a wide range of music lovers.

Along with these fine US bands we also feature The Bluegrass Diamonds, back for their twentieth year, Blue Tie Affair, a fine band form Nova Scotia, A New Shade Of Blue, perhaps one of the most enduring groups in Maritime bluegrass history, and Simply Blue, a young and energetic group from New Brunswick.

Local groups will be prominently featured as well as open mic, workshops, a songwriters circle and concessions.

We'll talk about more festivals happening in July in our next column.

Obligatory Trips

Country Prose
by Charlie Hansen

County Clare BandThere were lots of things happening in Zephyrhills area this month. First of all we took a trip up to Sunshine Raceway in Richland to watch the trot breds on a pleasant Sunday afternoon. It’s a lot of fun to watch these little horses strut their stuff on a 5/16 mile track. Most of the horses are owned by northerners that relocate to Florida for the winter and bring their “hobby” horses with them.

Next we took the obligatory trip to PEI Day at Fort DeSoto to see who we could see from home. Again a lovely Florida day. Lots of people gathered to have their picnics under the palms and listen to music played by I sland folks that winter in Florida. JP Gaudet, again, was emcee for the event and always does a great job keeping things moving.

Finally we took a trip up to Inglis to attend The Withlacoochee River Bluegrass Festival. This festival has been in existence for many years and at one time featured the top names in Bluegrass music. Due to family health problems the festival was forced to take a five year hiatus but has been reactivated in recent years and is beginning to build into a fine festival once again.

The acts were mostly local or people from the area that are higher up the bluegrass food chain and appreciate an opportunity to return home to the stage where it all began for them. The groups featured at this festival were Pasture Prime, Wry Whiskey, Xtremegrass, The Scott and Amanda Anderson Band, The Trinity River Band as well as Shannon and Heather Slaughter and County Clare. The County Clare Band was the one that we wanted to see because they are going to be at The PEI Bluegrass and Old Time Music Festival in July. They played a good solid set of mostly originals written by Shannon. Shannon and Heather have great individual vocals and harmony and all in all are a very good contemporary bluegrass band.

The band that stole the show for me was The Trinity River Band. This band is from Callahan Florida and were formerly known as The Harris Family. All members of the group are from one family and they are all extremely talented. Sarah, who does the bulk of the lead vocals has a brilliant voice and is a very good mandolin player. I would predict that she will have a long and successful career in bluegrass. She is charming on the stage and, I would say, has one of the best female voices in bluegrass. She was nominated as female vocalist of the year at 2013 IBMA. The rest of the band, dad Mike, mom Lisa, brother Josh and sister Brianna are all very talented multi instrumentalists.

Until next time don’t forget to support live country and bluegrass music and listen to Buegrass Island on CFCY 95.1 FM in Charlottetown and at

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