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Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

Another Evening of Gospel Music

img_2037 The Kiski Unity Free Methodist Church has been having country gospel events. I have been playing lead guitar with the gospel band of Paul Eckenrode and the Country Gospel band since last spring. There is no practice, but somehow the music falls together. Pastor Paul Eckenrode sings most of the lead vocals and provides comedy  to make for an enjoyable and spiritual evening. Pastor Walt Marr accompanies the band on drums and he always comes dressed as someone from history. This past Sunday evening he came dressed as Abraham Lincoln. Walt took  a few moments to recite Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. Lincoln gave his famous address at Gettysburg on November 19th, 1863.    img_2040

Don and Sherry Townsend  play guitar and piano. Their grand-daughter, Rachel sings great! Phyllis S. plays the keyboards.  Davey Whitmire usually plays the bass guitar and vocals. Joe Wagner often plays the mandolin and I play the lead guitar. Joe and Davey couldn’t make this Sunday’s event due to prior commitments. (The two play in another gospel band called In Transition.) A guest mandolin player stopped by last Sunday.

The church is 99% filled to capacity for these gospel music events currently. WOW! The words to most songs are displayed overhead and anybody may sing along as they desire. Most do! Next event will be the first Sunday of December. A Christmas candle-light special is being planned for December 18th.

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Weekend Of Music

 

Old friend, Davy Whitmire and myself acting up!

Old friend, Davy Whitmire and myself acting up!

I do not wish to play full time in a band anymore. I went through that stage a long time ago. Granted, I miss the level of professionalism a band can obtain with sincere practice, but the free-lancing style can be fun, too.

Danna Vernon; Ron Stiffler; Rick Staugh and me

Danna Vernon; Ron Stiffler; Rick Staugh and me

That is what I do today. I have played recently as much as five times in a week for nursing homes, and or churches. That is a little more than I care to do, and playing that often isn’t the norm.

Last Saturday, August , I drifted south near New Alexandria, Pennsylvania, to see if I could get any playtime at the Hill Lake Jamboree. I ended up playing with some friends in a put together band. This group played traditional country music, some western swing, and gospel music.

Look how serious!

Look how serious!

We all had a great time. The music seemed to flow rather well. Musicians were: Danna Vernon on vocals; Dick Vernon on steel guitar; Rick Staugh on rhythm guitar and vocals; Ron Stiffler on bass guitar and vocals, and myself on lead guitar.

 

Dick Vernon

Dick Vernon

Sunday evening, August 7, I played at the Kiski Unity Free Methodist Church between West Leechburg, and Vandergrift, Pennsylvania. Here, I played lead guitar for Paul Eckenrode and the Country Gospel Band.

Paul Eckenrode and Walt Marr

Paul Eckenrode and Walt Marr

I felt good as the test song was ran through. The band members really played tight, especially when there was no practice. I received the list of songs a few minutes before we started. Most songs, however, I had heard before.

This audience really enjoyed themselves. They were singing along, and clapping enthusiastically. This made me feel good. The entire band did “very” well!

 

My mother, Ruth identifying as a man!!!!

My mother, Ruth identifying as a man!!!!

Band members were: Pastor Paul Eckenrode on rhythm guitar and most lead vocals; Pastor Walt Marr on drums; Morgan Reese, and Joe Wagner on mandolins; Davy Whitmire on bass guitar; Don Townsend on guitar; Sherry Townsend on piano; their granddaughter Rachel sang harmony; Pastor John P.

Jim Watt, owner of Hill Lake Jamboree

Jim Watt, owner of Hill Lake Jamboree

on harmonica, and myself on lead guitar.

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No Rhyme Or Reason

LARRY RR CROPPED ORIGINAL with words  Those reading that heading are, probably, thinking what is he up to now. The answer is simple. The words, No Rhyme Or Reason, is the title of my latest CD.

The title came about as I searched for songs  while I was planning for the CD. Some were songs I just randomly found while searching. Some of the songs I had never heard before. As you can see the songs came about because of No Rhyme Or Reason!

I slowly chose songs over a period of time. Most are  of the traditional country sound. My voice is limited in range, so I tried to use songs I felt I could handle.

Do not even ask how many hours I have in putting these songs into this CD. I don’t know, but many, many, many hours were involved. Once a song was decided upon I needed to determine the key that worked well with my voice.  Words were typed, and arrangements were worked out.                  larry rr fog sepia new (2)

Every song has many tracks on it. Most of the fifteen songs have, at least, nine to ten tracks. I begin with laying down the rhythm, and bass guitar tracks. After these have been completed then anything goes. Some songs have, as many, as five to six guitar arrangements.

Songs include songs made famous by Ray Price; Keith Whitley; George Strait; John Fogerty; Hank Williams; Taylor Swift; George Jones, and Bob Wills. Yes, there is even a western swing song form the 1940 era.

My good friend, Marci Williams sang most harmonies with her melodious voice. This CD would be much less without her superb harmony styles. She, also, sang the lead vocals on two songs. I sang harmony on one, and she sang her own harmony on the other song. What talent! Marci is, also, an incredible artist!

Other friends worked on this venture as well. My good friend, Dick Vernon, did some steel guitar on a number of songs. Another friend, Billy Rich did some great fiddle work for that country sound. Both of these gentlemen have been playing music for a long time.

Two of the included songs are original gospel songs I had written. I wrote them during spring gobbler hunting lulls over a period of time. I did some keyboard work on one of these songs. That was interesting since I don’t play the piano! Somehow it worked.       Back page

My sister, Ruthie Wolfe did the photography, and text layouts. She always does a great job! I appreciate her talents!

If anyone is interested in obtaining one of these CDs, I am asking for a $12.00 donation. If I mail them out I am asking for an additional $3.00 to help cover costs of shipping, and mailing.

Thank you for your interest!

Larry A. Smail at 481 Butler Road, Kittanning, PA 16201

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Teea Goans Concert

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My step father, Bob Miller and mother, Ruth with Teea

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Teea Goans

What a voice! What can I say!  I had the honor to play lead guitar with Teea Goans On Saturday, September 13th at the WTYM Radio Station for an outside country jam concert.

The morning proved to be challenging for all of us trying to keep dry under a few tents. Water blew in from the sides and back. Water dripped between the tents and water even dripped through the tents. Nobody was electrocuted. The rain caused additional problems as well. The sound system people couldn’t set up everything we needed to do a successful rehearsal. Teea had to sing without a microphone. Hearing was difficult, but we managed to get a quick rehearsal in!

The band with Teea

The band with Teea

DSC_0045  After this I returned Teea to her hotel room and waited to pick her up again for the show later. The day gradually cleared after the noon rains quit, however, the winds came! Hair was being blown all about!

This band came about after much effort. We searched for a drummer and bass guitar player to offer the style of music needed to play many of the songs Teea had planned to perform. Time was short, but we managed to put together a band quickly. The band members were: Dick Vernon on steel guitar; Betty Hill on the bass guitar; Al Mechling on rhythm guitar; Jeff hazard on drums and myself  struggled through with the lead guitar.     DSC_0047   DSC_0018

Teea Goans is an up and coming country music star. She has been on RFD TV television shows with more shows coming. She has two CDs on the market and is about to begin her third CD. She has appeared on the stage of the Grand Old Opry, Branson and sang with many of the “big names” of country music.

Laurie and I took her out for the evening meal after the concert and we felt honored to become more acquainted with this “down-to-earth” young lady. Please, take some time to visit  her web at:  http://www.teeagoans.com

PHOTOS BY LAURIE SMAIL

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Over the last several months I have been engaged in a music project. The project consisted of working with my friend, Al Mechling. Al is owner, along with his wife Marla, of Mechling Bookbindery  north of Butler, Pennsylvania on Route 38. The business deals with books and restoration and bookbinding. Their web site is: http://www.mechlingbooks.com

Marla Mechling Photo

Marla Mechling Photo

However, back to the music project details. Al, and myself, worked on making a CD entitled, “Songs from The Heart.”  Al did all lead vocals on this country-styled endeavor. My task was to arrange and place the various instrumental tracks prior to his vocals. I played all guitar parts, bass guitar and did some piano and keyboard tracks as well. Al’s daughter, Melissa Lauer, performed the piano work on an old classic called, “The Last Date.” The CD has over eighty tracks on it with twelve songs recorded. This equated to many hours of work!

Al is greatly involved in the MAKE-A-WISH FOUNDATION and he is donating all proceeds to this organization.

A special introduction was included on this accomplishment by Ashley-Anne Stump. Ashley-Anne is a special young lady to Al. She has benefited from Al’s dedication and the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Anyone interested with a purchase can go to:  http://www.mechlingbooks.com/product-p/cd100.htm

 

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Songs For My Mother

Last winter I was working on making a CD for a friend. He is 81 years old and his health hasn’t been the best. I placed rhythm and bass tracks on about 9 songs with the plans for him to do his instruments and vocals at a later date when his health was better. Upon realizing the reality of this not happening, I became interested in placing some tracks down for myself as an instrumental CD.. Out of the blue I decided to try my hand at singing on this track. I added more instruments and before I knew it I had a song with seven or eight tracks.

The image for the CD of my mother sometime in the 1940 time frame.

The image for the CD of my mother sometime in the 1940 time frame.

I do not sing and for this to happen still amazes me! One day my wife, Laurie came home while I had the earphones on working on some guitar parts and asked her if she wanted to hear this. She couldn’t believe she was listening to me singing. I couldn’t believe I let her in as to what I had done.

A friend, Marci Williams learned of this through our conversation and she wanted to hear it sometime. She did and discussions occurred and suddenly the concept of doing a CD for my mother evolved. Marci is a great artist, musician and singer and she suggested to sing some harmony and the rest is history!

I began searching for old country-style songs that my mother would be familiar with. In total twelve songs were decided on. Most of the songs were from ones I heard as a boy growing up around the house. My mother, Ruth Smail liked such artists as Buck Owens; Hank Williams; Merle Haggard; George Jones; Hawkshaw Hawkins; Charley Pride; Ray Price; Johnny cash; Mel Tillis and many others. A couple of the songs on the CD are more recent artists such as Vince Gill and Keith Whitley  and Lorrie Morgan.

The process of writing down the words  and determining the best key to sing in and arranging happened next. After many, many hours I had the twelve songs down with a lot of tracks per song. My good friend and fellow musician, Dick Vernon placed a number of steel guitar tracks down and the mixing work began.(We don’t allow Dick to sing!) I played all the guitar tracks and the bass guitar.

I, also, borrowed an electric keyboard from my sister Ruthie and by using homemade cheat sheets learned enough of the piano to play on several songs. A few others I used the strings sounds on this piano to sound like orchestration. There was a lot of faking going on here!

Marci sang harmony on all but one song. She sang two-part harmony of a couple of the songs. She did some mighty fine lead vocals with me on a couple of songs. I sang harmony with myself on one song.

Throughout this process, my sister and, I and even my mother, searched for a 1940 era photo of my mother and Hawkshaw Hawkins. This was planned for the CD cover. We couldn’t find it, but we did find a photo of around 1943-46 era  of ma holding a guitar. This became the surprise cover. (Hawkshaw Hawkins was a big name country singer who passed away in the very same plane wreck with Patsy Cline in 1963. One of his songs, Lonesome 77-203 is featured on this CD.)

Very recently, I surprised my mother, now married to Bob Miller, with a copy of the CD while at a campground playing music. She wouldn’t believe I sang on a CD since she hadn’t heard me sing since I was 17 years old. She thought this was one of my tricks. When she finally listened to the songs she became teary eyed and later, when I saw her couldn’t thank me enough.

Having her as my mother is thanks enough!

Songs on this CD are: Lonesome 77-203…Hawkshaw Hawkins;  So Afraid Of Losing You Again….Charley Pride; Today I Started loving You Again… Merle Haggard; Heart Over Mind… Mel Tillis; Til A Tear Becomes a Rose…Keith Whitley and Lorrie Morgan; Together Again…Buck Owens; Jackson….Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash; Walk Through This World With Me…George Jones; Crazy Arms…Ray Price; From a Jack  To A King…Ricky Van Shelton;   You Win Again…Hank Williams; Go Rest High On The Mountain...Vince Gill

 

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Clarion Bluegrass Festival

Going over songs: (l-r) Bob Sink; Butch Rupp; Me chewing gum; and Mike Elias

Going over songs: (l-r) Bob Sink; Butch Rupp; Me chewing gum; and Mike Elias

Last evening, I spent time playing music with some good friends and making some new friends. The event was a bluegrass music festival held at the Clarion Holiday Inn on Route 68 just north of Interstate 80. The place was packed!  Musicians were to be found all over and in special gathering rooms. Also, bands played all evening on stage.

I do not have many opportunities to play bluegrass so I was happy to have been asked by my friend, Bob Sink of Corsica, Pennsylvania. Bob is an excellent, old-fashioned style fiddler and mandolin player. He usually can be identified with his Confederate style kepie hat! Bob has had some serious heart-related  issues over the last month. I was elated to see him out and about again!

Bob Sink

Bob Sink

Another old friend, Butch Rupp was present and he played dobro and guitar too. He played with the gospel band I am currently involved with for a time. We can always have some laughs when we are together.

Mike Elias

Mike Elias

Another musician, I met earlier in the evening was Mike Elias from Ohio. He played the 5-string banjo. A nice fellow and good musician!

The last musician I played with was Peg Seroko,  also, from Ohio. She sang and played the upright bass.

I was apprehensive to go and play with all of these people because of not knowing what to expect and meeting them for the first time around 7:30. At this time we began  going over some songs and hit the stage at 9:00! Like I said I don’t get to play bluegrass very often and I was met with a list of songs with only three having heard before. I would just have to fake it!

Peg Serotko (rt)

Peg Serotko (rt)

I enjoyed myself, Laurie enjoyed herself and we met some great people.

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I have one issue with playing bluegrass music. I am not a loud guitar player. My acoustic Guild, although having two mics at the sound hole proved to be difficult for me to hear through the monitors. This seems to be an issue everywhere I play in such a way. This causes me to pick the strings harder and that action, in turn, causes my playing to be less smooth. The public loved it, however. They could hear it well through the main speakers. I even was blessed with applause! Like I said they are great people!

The photos included here are from: Greg Knox of Shippenville, Pennsylvania. More photos can be seen at:www.facebook.com/learningandphotography. His web site is: wwwBrightIdeas-LC.com

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