LeMars, Iowa - "A tradition of traditional music for 35 years." Bob Everhart is the
President of the National Traditional Country & Bluegrass Music Association.
"We formed the NTCMA in 1975, but it was a much smaller organization then. We did our
first festival of traditional music in 1976 as a Bicentennial celebration. This gave
us our first opportunity to begin the work of 'saving' some of America's fine old-time
rural music. Since then we have been featured in American Profile Magazine, a national
newspaper insert, and on numerous national and international television shows. Over the
years we have been in just about every relative newspaper and magazine that deals
with 'tradition' as such. Our interests are in music and rural lifestyle, and from that
small beginning 35 years ago, we now have a Pioneer Music Museum which houses over
2,500 artifacts of early rural music. America's Old Time Country & Bluegrass
Music Hall of Fame is also located in the museum, and contains an incredible
collection of momentos from some of the biggest name in this musical genre."
The NTCMA is preparing for their 35th festival of old-time rural country and bluegrass
music, and according to Everhart, "We even include some other musical art forms in
our umbrella of rural music. Folk music is quite different today than it was
during the time of Woody Guthrie, but we still have a large interest in the
folk music that came from the upper Midwest. We also include ragtime music, which
drifted up the Missouri River from Joplin, Missouri. We're also concerned about
the 'nationality' music of the original homesteaders and settlers. Therefore,
you'll find polka music, schottische music, accordion music, and even zither
music that represents early settlers from Denmark, Sweden, Germany, Norway, Poland,
Finland, England, Scotland, Ireland, and many of the other countries that our
pioneers came from. We also include dancing. One of our ten stages
is a dance hall," Everhart continued, "and an excellent opportunity to re-visit the
polka and the waltz, and all those other incredibly fun customs."
One of the ways Everhart makes sure that his 'tradition' of traditional music
continues, is to include much of it in the NTCMA's annual festival, along with the
life-style of the early pioneers. "We have a history of being a very rural
agricultural society here in the upper Midwest, especially Iowa," Everhart added, "the customs,
food, dance, art, crafts, and of course the music, is very important to us. That's
why such a famous country music super-star like 'Whispering' Bill Anderson is making the
trek to LeMars, Iowa. He'll be with us on September 3rd, to be inducted
into America's Old Time Country Music Hall of Fame. He's already in the
Nashville Country Music Hall of Fame, and we were concerned he might
think this was a step down for him in recognition, but he thinks just the opposite.
"The rural areas of America where what we call 'country' music came from is very
important to all of us in country music. My home-state of South Carolina also
has me in their Hall of Fame, so I'll be looking forward to my trek to Iowa,
perhaps one of the most rural of the States in America."
"It's also an opportunity for us to induct Jim Reeves," added Everhart.
"One of his cousin's is coming to represent him. So, we'll have a very nice Tribute
Program to Mr. Reeves We'll have well over 650 performers this year over the seven
days, and quite a few Hall of Fame inductions throughout the week."
The festival that Everhart directs, also has a Tipi Village, to make sure even early
Native American music is represented. "It's not easy to present all this
remarkable music and life-style in just a day or two, so the festival has been expanded
to seven days," added Everhart. "We even have an early-bird pot-luck and Gospel show
on Aug. 29th, the day before the festival officially kicks off on Aug. 30th. It goes
to September 5th, with Labor Day being on September 6th."
Everhart goes on to remark on another 'tradition' that he is interested in. "Yodeling was
very very popular in the early years of country music, and it is still practiced today by
many different kinds of yodelers. This year we are introducing a "Yodeler's Paradise"
made up of yodlers from around the world. From the United States we have Joyce Leonard
from Michigan (just back from performances in Branson, Mo.), Mike Johnson from Virginia.
I believe Mike is the only black country singer I know that yodels. And from Utah the
very famous yodeler Kerry Christensen. He yodels at Silver Dollar City in Branson, Mo.
annually. Add to that Stew Clayton and Gordon Wilcox from Canada. Stew is a fast
yodeler, and Gordon yodels the slow Jimmie Rodgers style. Greta Elkin from Ireland is
another fast yodeler, but Ben Steneker from Holland can slow his yodel down. The special
treat is Roger Tibbs from New Zealand. He's the most famous yodeler from the Southern
Hemisphere. So you can see why this festival is so important to 'tradition' and
According to Sheila Everhart, Bob's wife, "We have an open door policy with our festival,
and always have had. Every performer in show business had to 'start' somewhere, and we extend an
invitation for anyone interested in performing country music to be with us. That's
why super-stars come, and that's why beginners come. It's a sharing experience for
all those that enjoy America's rural music, from the very beginning."
The Everhart's have a website where more information can be obtained.
http://www.orgsites.com/ia/oldtimemusic "We have excellent rural-style food at this event," noted
Sheila, "and we also have arts, crafts, and even an old log-cabin stage where quiet
dulcimer, harmonica, and acoustic guitars can be heard without a public address system."