Americana Music Bluegrass Music Folk Music

Pay Attention to Cary Fridley

I have always had a place in my heart for Cary Fridley. That voice is pure beauty.

I had mentioned Cary previously in a past blog on titled “The Lost Art of Bluegrass Singing” (, where I talked about the video Vocal Techniques for Old-Time Mountain Music that she did for Homespun Tapes. I fell in love with her voice the first time I heard her singing with The Freight Hoppers. After leaving the band, she recorded a number of solo albums as well as played bass in a few other bands. To see her history, I recommend going to her website at

I recently found her album Down South and put it in the CD player. It hit me why I love this girl’s voice. It is so pure, comfortable singing folk, bluegrass, traditional country, and blues. Looking at her bio, she works with so many bands, as well as teaching vocals and traditional music theory at the Junior Appalachian Music programs and the Black Mountain Center for the Arts. Additionally, she is an adjunct faculty for the Fine Arts at the AB-Tech College in Asheville, North Carolina. This girl keeps busy!

You can tell it is all because of her love and passion for traditional music. Cary truly puts her heart and soul into her work. I have subscribed to her YouTube channel ( For a few years now, and along with videos of past performances with The Freight Hoppers, she has posted a number of lessons that she gives to her classes at the college and the JAM programs. Her latest video is what got me to loving her again, so to speak. It consists of a shot of a CD player, and it is playing her album Fare You Well in its entirety ( I wonder how many other people who are this passionate about Appalachian music work as hard as Cary.

I am going to keep this blog short, as I only really want you to spend some time checking out Cary’s videos. You may learn a few things!

Next week, the blog will be late, as I will be attending the last day of the Milan Bluegrass Festival. Hopefully, I will have a few good stories to tell.

Chew on it and comment.

Music Programs

More Programs to Get Kids Into Music

Here is some information that is great to read about.

I came across this program during a web surf and thought that it was great. It is called Violins Not Violence, and it helps to promote music to children and young adults to keep them out of gangs and crime in California. The organization recently donated a violin and guitar to two deserving youngsters who have an interest in pursuing music as a hobby or perhaps a vocation. While there is not much information on the website (, the recent donation did receive some media coverage. I recommend making a donation to the group, as one can see that actions are more powerful than words with this non-profit group started by two police officers.

A cute T-shirt is being offered by the Bluegrass Hall of Fame and Museum, and will also be available at the ROMP Fest September 15-18 (the same week as MerleFest, another screw-up in the roots-music traffic jam of September). The shirts says, “Pick Banjos Not Fights,” and is available at the HOF website ( While no word is available on if any of the sales goes to supporting music programs directly, the HOF and the IBMA have a number of youth-oriented programs dedicated to promoting music and keeping children out of trouble.

I have talked about the Junior Appalachian Musicians program ( before, but I want to mention it again. This program has helped hundreds of kids in the southeastern region of the US with pursuing an interest in music, particularly the music form that region that was developed by their ancestors. I highly recommend going to the website and learning about it. I know that the Southeast Michigan Bluegrass Music Association (, of which I am a member and part of the Education Committee) have been working to begin such a program in our area, and we have small programs such as JAM. SEMBMA currently offers an annual scholarship program for you ages 13-18, and holds a musical instrument “Petting Zoo” at many regional bluegrass festivals.

Also of note here in the Michigan area, a SEMBMA member Dixie Roy Andres has been hosting a program called Fiddlin’ Dixie with Lil’ Friends for about 10 years now at regional bluegrass festivals. Her program gets young people into music by having them build their own canjos, shoebox guitars and toilet paper roll kazoos. It is a wonderful program to get small kids involved with. For more information, go to Dixie’s website (

Chew on it and comment.

Musical Instruments

Lutherie: My Coronavirus Stay-At-Home Therapy

Last week a buddy asked me to check out a mandolin online that he was considering buying. I gave him the pros and cons, and he eventually passed on the deal due to the asking price for its condition. That got me motivated back into one of my old hobbies – basic lutherie, or stringed musical instrument repair, building and maintenance. Ever since my first bass guitar (a Magnum short-scale Jazz copy that I re-wired with a 3-band EQ), I’ve always loved working on guitars and other stringed instruments.

I could kick myself that I did not pursue that interest when I was younger. I always saw myself with a small guitar shop that people would come to try out my work and perhaps have jam sessions on a Friday night. But alas, I went the college route, got a degree that proved useless, and have bounced around at various white-collar jobs ever since.

However, I continued my love on a small scale throughout my life, repairing electric guitar electronics, minor amplifier jobs, building effects pedals, and stringed instrument setups/maintenance. After the above talk with my buddy, I got to thinking that, because of this stay-at-home virus situation, I should do some basic lutherie work again. All of my current instruments are in good shape, and as I have mostly acoustic instruments, there’s not a lot of electronic work to do.

I went on eBay and found a Rogue A-model mandolin that needed some work done on the back of the body. I bid on it, my highest price being something that I thought no one would come near as the mandolin’s shipping cost was pretty high. I won the auction, and the total cost came out to about what would be average – $41.95 – not a bargain, but not killing the wallet either.

The mandolin arrived a few days later via FedEx, and when opened, I got to see the actual damage. About 1/3 of the back had snapped out of its joining with the side, which made it look like either the back or the side was shaped wrong. Inspection showed that the glue joint was bad, very little glue was used, and the wood joints were dry. At first I thought that I would have to re-cut that part of the back and glue in a 2nd piece, making it look like something the Three Stooges would have built.

Fortunately, before I pulled out the tools, I wedged my fingers into the soundhole, flexed the back a bit, and it snapped back into place. I carefully removed that part of the back again, put in some hide glue, re-snapped it in, clamped it, and let it dry overnight. Voila! It held, and all that I have left is to clean off some glue residue, check for any rough spots on the finish around the repair site (it may need some sanding and re-laquering in spots), and re-install the bridge for set-up.

This has motivated me to go back to eBay, and the internet in general, to start looking for repairable guitars, mandolins, and violins. It’s not that I want to have an arsenal of low-end stringed instruments, no way! What I would like to do is repair them and make them available to kids that want to learn bluegrass and folk music on the cheap. Making a non-playable guitar playable again is an emotional reward. I don’t see me making even a part-time wage from this. And even this simple repair and maintenance stuff takes time and some money.

It has got me to thinking that perhaps I could help start some form of non-profit group that repairs string instruments and donates them to a charitable music organization such as Junior Appalachian Musicians, which helps teach music to kids (if you haven’t heard of this group, you need to check them out at Or perhaps starting a JAM type group in my area (I have discussed this idea with the Southeast Michigan Bluegrass Music Association, as well as local multi-instrumentalist Aaron Jonah Lewis). Or at least do it on my own one instrument at a time. Hopefully some of the free time I have now can be used to research such an idea.

I would love to see young people in my area spend a lot less time by themselves in the basement playing XBox and more time with others (hopefully with a lot less social distancing) creating art and music. With technology taking over our everyday lives, now more than ever, I would hate to see creativity and socializing become a thing of the past.

Chew on it and comment.