march 2009

Bob Wills, In His Own Words: Rare Interview Discovered

No sooner had word come that a trove of unknown Hank Williams recordings had been found and were being readied for release by Time-Life Records (see Billy Altman's review in last month's issue) than did the news break of the discovery of a previously unknown audio interview with the King of Western Swing, Bob Wills. Wills fan Gary Frietag, a musician himself (based in Florida), sent word of the interview via e-mail to Dwight Adair, who launched and lives in Austin, TX. Apparently the interview, recorded on reel-to-reel tape, was conducted by Frietag's musician friend Ray Riggs in a hotel in Fresno, CA, in either 1949 or 1950, when Wills was in town for a show with his Texas Playboys. Nearly 36 minutes in duration, the interview finds Wills discussing some of the high points of his career, including how he came to find a home for his band at the now-fabled Cain's Academy in Tulsa. The audio quality is good, all things considered, and though Wills sounds a bit rheumy, his voice and speech are clearly audible, with a minimum of distortion evident.

"I asked Bob if anyone had ever recorded him telling his life story and he said, "No," no one had ever asked him before," Riggs says in a press release announcing the tape's release. "And he agreed to let me to bring my tape recorder to a hotel room later that night. I still can't believe he was kind enough to let me record him. I can remember it like it was yesterday."

"I knew there were thousands of Bob Wills fans all over the world that would want to listen to the recording and would be as excited as I am about the find," Adair says in the release. "The recording is of Bob Wills telling his life story, in his own words, of how his career developed. It's about half an hour long and it is certainly Bob Wills's voice, answering questions asked by Ray Riggs and elaborating about his feelings for the music he created."

This fascinating document, a must for Wills fans and historians, is available only at It can be ordered as a CD for $7.99 (plus S&H), or as an mp3 download for $5.99.


Play Mandolin with Ronnie McCoury!

Bluegrass Academy Added To DelFest Schedule

Ever wanted to play mandolin with Ronnie McCoury? Banjo with Rob McCoury? The folks at McCoury Music are making it happen, by adding a Bluegrass Academy to the program for DelFest 2009, at the Allegany County Fairground in Cumberland, MD, May 18-21. DelFest proper, now in its second year, is taking place May 22-24 at the same site.

The 2009 DelFest Academy will consist of a friendly, encouraging and intensive three-day learning experience Ronnie McCoury (mandolin), Rob McCoury (banjo), Jason Carter (fiddle), Alan Bartram (bass), the Steep Canyon Rangers, and Ronnie Bowman. As members of the Del McCoury Band, Rob, Ronnie, Alan and Jason have won IBMA's Entertainer of the Year award nine times. The Steep Canyon Rangers have won the IBMA's Emerging Artist of the Year Award. Ronnie Bowman's bluegrass and songwriting credentials would fill up a notebook from his stint with the Lonesome River Band, leading his own band and writing two #1 country radio hits.

The Academy will offer two levels of instruction: Level 1 (novice to intermediate) and Level 2 (intermediate to advanced) for guitar, banjo, fiddle, mandolin and bass. A Meet & Greet for students and instructors will kick off the academic week. A Q&A session with the Del McCoury Band and a wrap party on Thursday night will also take place. For a nominal fee, each student may bring a guest to all extracurricular "after-class" functions.

In intimate classes led these world-class bluegrass professionals, students will receive instruction targeted to their individual needs, with plenty of opportunity for one-on-one interaction with their instructors. The overall direction of each class will ultimately be determined by the students' goals and needs. Students may expect to learn how to lead jams and receive tips on practicing, technique, and accompaniment, and benefit from direct interaction with instructors who can help them achieve their musical objectives. If there is enough interest, the Academy may also add some elective classes on singing and songwriting.

A very limited number of spots are available for the 2009 DelFest Academy. Ample tent and RV camping is available onsite and lodging is plentiful nearby. The area also offers many additional recreational options, including swimming, fishing, hiking and biking.

This year's DelFest lineup is nothing short of awesome. In additin to the Del McCoury Band playing all three days, artists appearing include the Travelin' McCourys, Old Crow Medicine Show, Sam Bush, Peter Rowan and The Free Mexican Air Force, J.D. Crowe and The New South, Tim O'Brien, Ollabelle, The Infamous Stringdusters, Dan Paisely & Southern Grass, Ronnie Bowman and the Committee, and others.

For tickets and complete DelFest and DelFest Academy information and registration, visit

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