Saturday, July 28, 2012

Lucas Receives a Stelling Banjo

When Earl and I opened The Bluegrass Shack six years ago in New Athens, one of the things we wanted to do was to make a difference in the community and a difference in peoples' lives.  What we have found is that our customers want to make a difference, too!  We have had a gifting program in place for deserving students since we opened here, and it's not just us that does the gifting. 

It started with Emily.  Emily was just 13 years old at the time, and she comes from a family of seven children.  She had been participating in the beginning instructional jam sessions with the mandolin (and she was already incredible on the mandolin) when another student overheard her say she would love to learn the banjo.  Well, this particular student had a number of banjos that weren't being played at the time and came to me to see if he could give one to Emily.  We said, "Of course"!  Several years later, when Emily had proven herself to be diligent and deserving, she was gifted a Stelling banjo by the same person.  Emily is 17 years old now and plays with her family band, Charlie & the Girls, and also with The Chris Talley Trio.  She is truly amazing.

Here is a video of Emily on her first banjo after only ONE YEAR of play:

We have had a number of deserving students come through the door since that time.  Some receive free lessons, and others receive instruments.  We have given away at least 7 guitars, 4 banjos and I don't know how many fiddles at this point.

Most recently, Lucas was given a Stelling banjo by one of our customers.  Lucas comes from a family of 10 children.  His family has their own band called The Worthing10s Family Bluegrass Band.  This is actually Lucas' 2nd banjo that was given to him as well.  (Both by different people.)  Lucas is 14 years old right now and is also very diligent in his practice.  He teaches himself almost entirely at this point.  Here is a video of Lucas playing his Stelling banjo the day he received it:

What an honor to be able to gift deserving students with nice instruments that will last a lifetime.  We could not do it without the help of others, and we certainly appreciate your generosity, as do the receiving students.  Thank you!

The Burie Family's New CD

I received my copy of the Burie Family's new CD in the mail this week.  What a nice surprise!  This wonderful family band is just the children and a friend -- all 13 to 18 years of age.  They were recently voted Wisconsin's Gospel Group of the Year, and it is easy to see why!

This is not your typical, hard-driving bluegrass gospel CD.  With the exception of some well-done instrumentals, this is a thought-provoking, meditative CD.  Many of the songs were written by the band members themselves, which speaks volumes about where they are at in their young lives.  The girls' voices remind me somewhat of Alison Krauss, with clarity and diction that make it easy to understand every word. 

You'll hear some fine picking on this CD as well.  From the banjo to the fiddle to the guitar to the mandolin, every note is clear and precise.  Banjo player, Neil Greenwald, has written the title cut to the CD, which is an instrumental called Rhine River Breakdown.  Beautiful work!  Bass player, Joe Burie, does a fine job on the bass, an instrument that is too often taken for granted but provides the solid foundation for everyone else to work from.

My favorite song on this CD is "Kind Words," written by Bethany Burie.  In a world where freedom of speech, religion and tolerance are valued, this song rings out the reminder that what we say lasts a lifetime.  This song sums up the whole CD as well.  One entire panel of the 4-panel insert is acknowledgements and thank-yous. 

If you love gospel music, you will surely enjoy this CD.  It shares the gospel of Jesus Christ without preaching a single word.  It gives hope and inspires.

To order a copy of this CD, visit their website ordering page at

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Heat Doesn't Scare Away Crowd at Bellerive Park!

Last night was probably the hottest concert The Chris Talley Trio has ever played...and it wasn't just the music!  When we arrived at 5:30 p.m., the temperature outside was 106 degrees.  Thank goodness there was a nice breeze blowing from the river, up the banks, and through the pavillion!

This is a really neat venue to play for several reasons.  First off, it is a beautiful setting up over the banks of the Mississippi River.  You can watch barges and tugboats go up and down the river all day.  There are also plenty of birds nearby, even though the park itself is fairly small.  They have a great playground for kids, too!  The most unusual part of playing at Bellerive Park is that the crowd ends up sitting on three sides of you.  This makes setting up the sound system a challenge.  It also makes you wonder which direction you should face when you are playing!

The river was the lowest I've ever seen it.  The banks were exposed on the far side, and you could even see the hull of a sunken boat there.  The barges were staying centered in the channel, but were still doing lots of travelling.

The concert started at 7:00 p.m., and even though it was a scorcher, the crowd was one of the largest we've had at this venue since we started playing it 6-7 years ago.  We even had dancers!  And the crowd stayed to the very end, even after we took a 15 minute break.  What dedication!  They hooted, hollered, clapped, sang, danced, and offered many song requests.  It was really a wonderful feeling, especially when we were getting down to the end of the concert and we were simply worn out.

We want to thank all of our sponsors, the Carondelet Community Betterment Federation, Carolyn, Kelly and Leigh, and also all of YOU -- our fans!  We love playing for you and hope to see you again soon!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

July 2012 Bluegrass Shack Fiddle Contest Results

We completed another very successful fiddle contest today!  With a total of 32 contestants, we heard some fantastic fiddlin' today!  If you weren't able to make it today, mark your calendars for Saturday, October 27, 2012 when we do it again.  We had a standing room only crowd once the contest got underway.  Here's a shot of the audience before we ran out of chairs!

The 12 & Under age group was our largest division.  The competition was tough, and we had many first time contestants in this division as well.  I believe we had our youngest winner ever in this division today.  Seven-year old Audrey won 1st place with Dreamer's Waltz, Old Joe Clark and Cajun Fiddle.  This was the first time she has won 1st place in a competition.  She was closely followed by several others, though, so everyone will have to keep working hard!  The youngest fiddler in today's competition was 6-year old Jenna.  Her brother, Dustin, won the Most Entertaining in this age division.  I was so proud of every one of these contestants!

We had two other youth divisions and also an open and a senior division.  I was very proud to be on stage with my husband, Earl, who fiddled his way to 3rd place in the Open Division.  He was quite surprised.  We have blind panel judging, so none of the judges know who is performing.  We also had two first time contest players in the open division: Brad & Kevin.  They both did remarkably well!  It is tough to get up there no matter what your age, but I think it is harder for adults than it is for children.  Congratulations to everyone for a job well done!

Here are the contest results:

Junior III - 12 & Under
1st - Audrey Neel
2nd - Patrick Garner
3rd - Nolan Neumeyer
4th - Alex Rausch
5th - Lindsey Martin
Youngest - Jenna Ahlers
Most Entertaining - Dustin Ahlers

Junior II - 13 to 15 Years Old
1st - Rosemary Hall
2nd - Emma Neumeyer
3rd - Justin Heinen
4th - Caroline Stewart
Most Entertaining - Emma Neumeyer

Junior I - 16 to 18 Years Old
1st - Angela Winkeler
2nd - Aubrie Spinka
Most Entertaining - Aubrie Spinka

1st - Chelsea Bergmann
1st - Zane Prosser (Senior)
2nd - Ann White
2nd - Fred Pringle (Senior)
3rd - Earl Armstrong
4th - Charlie Hall
5th - Dennis Huebner
Most Entertaining - Ann White
Oldest - Zane Prosser

Many thanks to our judges and scorekeeper, Iggie Tiemann, Marc Renard and Carla Steinkoetter.  We couldn't have a contest with you! 

Special thanks to Dual Generation for taking care of all the food and beverages.  That is always a big help!  Thanks to Earl for taking all the pictures, and to Dennis for his help at the door and with cleanup.  Zachery was our light fixture guy, replacing a few burned out bulbs before we even got started.  Liz and Carla helped with the raffles and registration.  Many of you helped with cleanup -- I'm sure I don't even know everyone who helped us out today, but it is much appreciated.  Also many thanks to you, the audience, for coming to cheer everyone on and support us!  We hope to see you again soon!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Crazy Horse Campground / Bluegrass Festival

The Chris Talley Trio played at the bluegrass festival at Crazy Horse Campground last night, and we sure did have fun!  The campground is really beautiful.  It's in the middle of Jacksonville, IL in the country.  There is a lake that folks can swim in, and lots of big trees all around for shade.  Probably one of the best things about the campground is the store that's there.  It is big, air-conditioned, has beautiful bathroom facilities, a cafe, and a great setup for jamming indoors or out!

The stage area was the back porch of the store.  When we got there at 6:00 p.m., people already had their lawnchairs setup ready to listen even though the concert didn't start until 7:00 p.m.  It was ironic that on the way up there, we were all talking about when we played at the Red Clay festival in Village of Tignish (Prince Edward Island, Canada).  When we got to Crazy Horse, the first person to come up and talk to me was Terry who is from PEI!  We met him at the Red Clay festival seven years ago when we played there.  Several of my students came to Crazy Horse, and we also saw quite a few people from the Springfield, IL festival.  It never ceases to amaze me how bluegrass pickers and fans become like families over the years.  It's really a wonderful feeling.

The Chris Talley Trio played first for a very receptive audience.  I noticed a number of folks singing along with many of our songs.  Even though the temperature was still in the 90's, several kids were in full swing dancing along with the music.  We played for about an hour, then gave the stage up to three other bands.

If you are looking for a new festival to start attending, I would recommend this one!  It has everything you could want in a campground.  Maybe next time we'll see you there!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Chris Talley Trio Plays this Weekend!

This is a great weekend to catch The Chris Talley Trio!  On Friday night, July 20, they will be opening the bluegrass festival at Crazy Horse Campgrounds in Jacksonville, IL.  Concert starts at 7:00 p.m. with other bands to follow.  You can get more information on the festival, including directions and a flyer, by clicking HERE.

Saturday is the New Athens Homecoming Parade and you are invited to join us!  We have a float all ready for the parade and you can play/ride on the float with us, or you can camp out in our parking lot and watch everything.  The Bluegrass Shack store is at the beginning of the parade route, so it's a great place to be!  The Chris Talley Trio will be leading the songs, which will all be traditional bluegrass tunes.  At the end of the parade route, the float will go to the homecoming area, which is at 406 Chester Street.  We will play there for about 20 minutes before returning to The Bluegrass Shack.  Parade lineup is at 5:00 p.m. and the parade starts at 6:00 p.m. 

Sunday is the 9th Annual Bluegrass Shack Fiddle Contest.  Check out my other blog entry for a flyer and all the details.

Monday, The Chris Talley Trio will be playing at Bellerive Park in St. Louis, MO from 7:00 - 9:00 p.m.  Bellerive Park was voted #1 Picnic Park by the Riverfront Times.  You can listen to the trio and watch the barges float down the river at the same time.  Be sure to bring your lawn chair.  This is a FREE concert.  For more information on Bellerive Park, click HERE.

If you need more information or have questions about any of these events, be sure to send us an e-mail or give us a call.  We hope you can join us for at least one of these events this weekend!

9th Annual Bluegrass Shack Fiddle Contest

Don't miss out on the 9th Annual Bluegrass Shack Fiddle Contest to be held on Sunday, July 22, 2012.  It will be held at the New Athens Community Hall located at 406 Chester Street.  Registration opens at noon and the contest starts at 1:00 p.m.  There are five different contest divisions, 25 trophies, and more than $500 in prize money to be awarded.  All juniors receive a medal regardless of placement. 

For rules and more details, click the flyer below:

If you still have questions, give us a call or send us an e-mail!  We hope to see you there!