Hello folks! As 2015 comes to an end I've realized that this year has been a busy one! Funny enough, in my head I thought this year was going to be a lighter one after having released an album (Prospect Hill) last year, but I realized that not only did I launch a second record (What Got Over) but I played some monumental gigs this time around.
The year started off with a bang with my appearance as a guest on the Boston Children’s Chorus’ Martin Luther King, Jr. Tribute Concert. Many thanks to choir director Anthony Trecek-King and all the folks over at The Boston Conservatory. I sang “Going Down The Road Feeling Bad,” “I Shall Not Be Moved,” and Bob Dylan’s classic “Only A Pawn In Their Game” acapella for the folks protesting out on the streets of Boston.
It blew my mind that later that same month I would be working with the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra celebrating the songs of Stephen Foster. I sang the classic “The Old Folks At Home” and then I ripped on the banjo and bones for “Ring, Ring De Banjo.” It was a pleasure to share the stage with my old friends Joe Henry, Aoife O’ Donovan and Over The Rhine as well as the elegant Rosanne Cash and the Comet Bluegrass All-Stars. We did the big performance in the Music Hall and then the All-Stars had me back at their home venue, The Comet, for a wonderful night of jamming. I received the “American Originals” CD of the Pops performance in the mail a few months ago and it sounds great! Pick up a copy for the holidays! Thanks to the staff of the Cincinnati Pops and, of course, the enigmatic John Morris Russell at the helm! Here's a link to the album.
Finally, in January I finished up with a performance at UNC-Chapel Hill alongside author Barry Mazor whose latest book, Ralph Peer and the Making of Popular Roots Music, has received extraordinary acclaim this year. And it should! It is an essential resource for anyone interested in understanding HOW and most importantly WHY the classic recordings of American Vernacular Music are still the foundation of all popular music we know and love now! Ralph Peer’s story is out of this world. It was a pleasure to be able to pull out several Ralph Peer published songs for the performance including the Jimmie Rodgers classic "My Little Lady," which was written by Jimmie and his sister-in-law Elise McWilliams.
Speaking of Jimmie Rodgers, I had a series of wonderful experiences this year in conjunction with Jimmie. After performing with Barry Mazor at UNC-Chapel Hill, he asked me if I would like to be one of the narrators of the audiobook version of the Ralph Peer Story. Of course I jumped at the chance and got to contribute along with my old friends Marty Stuart and Ketch Secor (of Old Crow Medicine Show) in telling this fantastic story. The book is available on CD and Kindle. Another great holiday gift!
I ran into Ketch several times this year opening for Old Crown Medicine Show on tour. As many of you know, Old Crow Medicine Show is now a Grammy-Award winning string band thanks to their newest album, Remedy, receiving the award this year. The Grammy win coincided with the Crows’ newest music video release for a track from that album, “Brushy Mountain Conjugal Trailer,” which featured myself and my trio members Brain Farrow and Dante Pope.
During one of the Old Crow tours in Jackson, MS this summer, I was left in a bind. I couldn’t make it out to the next show in Shreveport, LA. It just wasn’t feasible. So I was left with a long drive back from Mississippi with nothing to do. I looked up landmarks along the way and found we were passing through Meridian, MS, and the Jimmie Rodgers Museum. We made our way over and were pleasantly surprised by this quaint yet beautiful museum dedicated to the Father of Country Music. I played several songs over there including “My Little Lady.” It was great to play in the museum where they had a section dedicated to Jimmie’s co-writer and sister-in-law Elise McWilliams. Looking over at the plaque of Marty Stuart there and Barry’s books in the gift shop it felt like a little reunion of all of our combined efforts to pay tribute to Jimmie Rodgers and his advocate, Ralph Peer.
Here's a video of me singing "Waiting For A Train" at the Jimmie Rodgers Museum!
My year has been a year for tributes including the “Lead Belly at 125” tribute at The Kennedy Center in April, which featured Robert Plant, Alison Krauss, Lucinda Williams, and more. I have written on Lead Belly and the concert here and here so I won’t go into it right now but nevertheless it was a life changing experience. I am so proud to be able to be counted among the people honoring our nation’s history in this way!
While there were several tributes to people who have been long gone, it was an honor to get a group of musicians from the Music Maker Relief Foundation up to the legendary Newport Folk Festival. There are several videos that show the brilliance of this performance (also check out my write-up here). Congrats to the Music Maker Family and the wonderful performers Boo Hanks, The Como Mamas, Ironing Board Sam, Little Joe Burton and the Music Maker Revue.
Without writing on and on as folks have to get to the holidays, which by the way haven’t come soon enough, I’d like to thank The Knoxville Friends of the Library, The Steel Wheels, The Earl Scruggs Center, Folk Alliance International, The Great Hudson River Revival, The Caramoor Center for the Arts, Museum of Fine Arts Boston, the Woodsongs Radio Hour, Muddy Roots Festival, Music City Roots, Pickathon, WOMEX, The International Conference For The Blues, Suzanne Savell, Squirrel Butter, Voice of America, Rik Palieri, the Payomet Performing Arts Center in Cape Cod and Mike McCormick of Whistling Swan Productions in Alaska for all of the wonderful memories and wonderful shows!
Of course I’d also like to thank the team. Tim Duffy, Cornelius Lewis, Margot Pien, Brad Womack, Brian Farrow, Tarek Mohammed, Dante Pope, Mike Johnson and Jon Bumgarner for all of your hard work this year!
In conclusion, I had a vision at the beginning of this year. It was that 2015 would be a vinyl revolution! I’ve kept it low key because I wanted to see it play out. Though vinyl is not going to be the main way people buy music EVER, to see that vinyl presses are being pushed to the limits to keep up with the demand is a true indication of the changes in the industry. I wonder what next year will bring.
Folks, it’s been a pleasure again! We’ll see you all down the line!
Dom Flemons, The American Songster
Dec, 17, 2015
PS: Make sure to pick up the free download of What Got Over on the special page I’ve made for the website. It includes the notes and the audio and a full diagram of the PROSPECT HILL OMNIBUS! Also, stay tuned for a forthcoming post about my shows with the wonderful Martin Simpson this year!
Here I am ending the year with some hot chicken at Hattie B's in Nashville:
"Flemons leaves no stone unturned and beckons us along with him on the hunt" - No Depression on my Record Store Day EP "What Got Over." Learn more about the EP and hear about my current vinyl obsessions in the article over here! And don't forget - you can get your free download of "What Got Over," including the liner notes over here!