Homecoming Concerts


Initiated by the Everly Brothers

VIDEO RECORDING - (visual quality not the best) about 11 minutes:

A Few Prominent Festival Guests

Chet Atkins

John Prine

Finale with Everlys and The Kentucky Headhunters
Last update on October 10, 3:49 pm by Gloria Solis.
A good selection of guest artists on this Homecoming concert. The EBs are great. Love Phil's dancing up at the microphone, he can really move.


Phil Everly, Billy Harlan, Tommy Payne and Don Everly - 1949

Billy Harland, real name William Charles Harlan, was born on March 24, 1937 at Martwick Ð Mulhenberg County Ð Kentucky. His folks, Williams Guy and Ida Mae Blades, as well as his uncle Jack and aunt Nina, all musicians, set the musical background for him. His Dad was the choir leader at Cleaton Baptist Church. From Mulhenberg came also the first Everly Brothers (Ike, Charlie and Leonard), Kennedy Jones (The thumb picking father and composer of "Cannon Ball Rag"), Mose Rager and legendary Merle Travis.

Like all the childs around, Billy was clothed with overall and wore them until the upper part was skinny as strings. Soon his was nicknamed "Kraut" and that stuck until now. In 1944, his Daddy, a coal miner and an electrician at the Evansville (In) Shipyard during World War II, passed at 47 years old. Buddy will team with Tommy "Red Top" Payne under the name of "The Green River Valley Boys" et will perform on various amateur shows set at the Central City's State Theater by the WFMW radio. There they shared often the stage show with Don and Phil Everly, the sons of Ike Everly and himself a great guitarist. From time to time, he will join Dave Rich's band, The Melody Hands, taking care of the double bass. In 1953, Billy will have his own show on Russellville (Ky) WRUS radio but without wheels, he had to stop. He was not only a musician but also one of the best baseball players at the Drakesboro High School.

In 1954, Billy joined Dave Rich who had left Les Smithhart and his Super X Cowboys. Dave was playing in that band since three years with his older brother, James "Spider" Rich, a great guitarist and a friend of Chet Atkins. Dave's band, "The Melody Ranch Hands", featured Billy Harlan (bass), Royce Morgan (guitar) and later Archie Shanks (fiddle), Clarence Hanks (steel guitar) and Stonewall Jackson (drums). In January 1955, they will play on the just born WNES radio, in Central City, where Dave was DJ too. Central City, a town with only 4500 people, will have two radio stations. Even if several local performers will play on both stations, WNES and WMTA will fight hard for announcers and sponsors.

Early 1955, Hawkshaw Hawkins and Jean Shepard were on tour in Kentucky when them touring bus broke after a concert in Owensboro. Buddy Killen, them bass man, had to be back in Nashville quickly working also for Jack Stapp's Tree Publishing. Buddy Killen, who knew Dave through his brother Spider, called him to ask about help for the trip back. Dave, having a car but unable to leave home, offered to Billy Harlan to drive Buddy in Nashville. On the way, both musicians started to talk and Buddy offered to Billy some jobs he can't handle no more. He had hard time to handle his touring schedules and his work for Tree. So, Billy started to work for a while with Ray Price and joined The Cherokee Cowboys.

On October 18, 1955, Billy Harlan, Dave and Buddy Killen backed Jerry Reed for his first recording session for "Capitol" set in Nashville. Billy remembers Ken Nelson giving some hard time to Buddy during that session. Nevertheless, Buddy was an excellent dog house bass player having played with George Morgan, Ray Price or Hank Williams. Few weeks later at the Nashville DJ Convention, on November 10, 1955, Buddy Killen played a song demo to Bob Neal, then Elvis manager. That demo sung by Glen Reeves was "Heartbreak Hotel", a song written by Mae Boren Axton who had meet Elvis earlier in Florida. Elvis will agree to meet Mae Boren and a contract between Elvis and Tree was signed on November 16, 1955. Elvis became co-author and "Heartbreak Hotel" was recorded on his first RCA session set on January 10, 1956.

Late 1955/early 1956, Hawkshaw Hawkins recorded a song co-writing by Billy Harlan and Dave Rich titled "My Fate IS In Your Hands" (RCA 47-6716). It would be his next single after his excellent cover of "It Would Be A Doggone Lie", first recorded by Autry Imman for Decca. Billy will soon wed Jane Wester and them son will be christened Philip Don to please his long time friends Don and Phil Everly. Later, Billy would wed Pam Baker and they will have two sons, Damon and Nathan.

Talking about The Everly Brothers, they will have them contract with "Cadence" in February 1957 after Dave Rich had menaced his manager, Hal Smith, to leave if he don't give them a helping hand. Those brothers, after them "Columbia" short lived contract, were down on them luck and ready to leave Nashville and to forget about being singers.

In 1956, with Dave Rich, Billy will play often at the Roller Rink (Rockport Ð Indiana) and at the Hillside Hoedown (WHET-TV Ð Evansville Ð Indiana) sharing the stage with Joe Penny. Joe Penny, who played with Hank Williams and lefty Frizzell, his mostly know for his rockin' sides cut for "Federal" in 1958: "Bip A Little, Bop A Lot" and "Mercy, Mercy Percy".

On June 19, 1956, Billy will play on Dave Rich's second session in Nashville. That session will produce four titles and "Ain't It Fine"/"Your Pretty Blue Eyes" will be coupled on the single RCA 6595. That great waxing showing Dave unusual vocal possibilities bring him the nickname of "The man with a pedal steel in throat". Many singers, among the best, would think about a technical gimmick until Dave had to show them live his vocal range. For various reasons, Billy was not used on other sessions but had steady work with Dave on the road. They were together at the "Merle Travis Day" on June 29, 1956 sponsorized by WMTA radio. A honouring stone was set in Ebenezer with Merle, Gene Autry, Chet Atkins and Ken Nelson with a crowd over 10 000 people. Those people from Kentucky wanted to Thanks Merle for his coal miners songs and his fabulous talent. In "Sixteen Tons", a song cut in 1947, Merle used as line for the chorus "another day older and deeper in debt", a phrase often used by his father, a coalminer himself. He was one of them and they knew that. "Sixteen Tons" was then riding high in the charts after being covered by Tennessee Ernie Ford for "Capitol" records in 1955.

Since 1955, WMTA radio showcased every Saturday night a live show named "The Saturday Jamboree". Among the performers can be find Eddie Gaines (Summit 45-101 Ð Be Bop Battlin' Ball), Billy Harlan, Tag and Effie Willoughby (Done Flubbed Your Dub With Me), Royce Morgan, Jimmy Piper (Summit 45-108 Ð Don't Play Around). All the Summit records recordings were done in WMTA studio and, later, Royce Morgan will handle the "Royce" record label.

Billy played with Dave at the Wisconsin State Fair, from 18 to 28 August 1956, and shared the stage there with Jimmy and Johnny (in fact, Jimmy Lee and Lynn Fautheree), Jim Reeves, Betty Foley and a new RCA teenage act Janis Martin. Late 1956, Dave was riding high on his musical career when he got a call from God and a revelation. He soon choice to join school to become a preacher and to give his life to God. Chet Atkins tried to keep him in the musical business and several recording sessions were set but Dave disbanded his group. For a while, Billy moved to Chicago but, two weeks later, he got a call from Buddy Killen for a three day job with Jim Reeves.

In 1957, he became permanent member of Jim's band "The Wagonmasters" with Leo Jackson (guitar), Louis Dunn(drums) and Bobby Garrett (steel guitar). In April 1957, Jim and his band will fly to Europe for an USO tour in Germany. For 22 days, they backed on stage all the artists: Janis Martin, The Browns, Del Wood and Hank Locklin. It was a RCA and grand Ole Opry casting and everything went fine. Billy Harlan remembers flying in London with Mary Reeves and enjoying a sightseeing tour including London Tower, Westminster Abbey, Trafalgar Square, Buckingham Palace, Big Ben É There was few pictures of prior that tour left published in various country magazines like Rustic Rhythm but those taken in Europe were all in the Jim Reeves estate. They are now in the hand of a collector and few were used for a CD issued by Bear Family titled "5000 miles away from Home". That CD offer several recording done on that tour like "I'm Walking" (Janis Martin) or "Have I told Lately That I Love You" (Jim Reeves).

On March 31, 1958, thanks to Buddy Killen, Billy Harlan will record two songs published by Tree. The record session was set in Nashville with the support of Royce Morgan (gtr), Buddy Harmon (drums) and probably Pig Robbins (piano). "I Wanna Bop" and "School House Rock", two great rockin' songs, were issued on Brunswick 55066 and reviewed in The Billboard with the following mention "the talent show some promise". Those songs were bootlegged on LP Collector 1009 "Rock'n'Roll Vol 2" in the 70's and were legally issued, in 1978, on LP MCFM 2833 "Rare Rockabilly Vol 3".

In April 1958, when Leo Jackson was drafted in the US Army, Billy Harlan asked Jim Reeves to bring Royce Morgan in The Blue Boys. Then were in the band Jimmy Day (steel guitar), Doug Kershaw (fdl), Peewee Kershaw (dms), Billy Harlan (bs) and Royce Morgan (gtr).

Buddy Killen will also set a deal for Donny Young (aka Johnny Paycheck) with "Decca". Two singles were issued and "Shaking The Blues" (Decca 30887), a great rockin' side written by Georges Jones, was also on the "Rare Rockabilly" LP's set.

Billy wrote "One Soda Pop and Two Straws" for the Everly Brothers. That song should have been used, in July 1958, as B-side for "Bird Dog" (Cadence 1350) but for some unknown reason Archie Bleyer chose to use "Devoted to You". Another of his song, "Never Been Kissed" copyrighted on Tree, was recorded on RCA by Martin Green while "Two Dollar Date" came between the hands of teenage idol Fabian but was not recorded.

Late 1958, Jim Reeves give the leave to his band and Billy Harlan joined The Wilburn Brothers while Royce Morgan moved to Red Sovine's band until fall 1959. Royce will also take care of "Royce" records and will produce 8 singles. Among the classic cuts in that label are "Bonfire" (Jimmy Piper Ð Royce 0001) and "Long Black Shiny Car" (Mike Page Ð Royce 0005).

On April 29, 1959, Billy will cut two songs for RCA that will stay for years in the basement. On the first song, "Teen Jean Jive", Billy is supported by The Everly Brothers (guitar), Pig Robbins (piano), Jimmy Day (steel guitar) and Jackie Moffitt (drums). On the second song, "Lonely Man", we find the same musicians except The Everly Brothers. On that song, Chet Atkins took care of the guitar. Those two songs were issued on Bear Family records "The Drugstore's rockin' Vol 1 and 2". By August 1959, Billy exhausted by the work on the road, put an end on his career. In the late 50's, he also worked as Disc Jockey on WMTA and WNES.

Since Billy had composed some songs like "Natural Woman" recorded in 1972 by Johnny Russell and used as B-side of his hit recording "Red Necks, White Socks and Blue Ribbon Beer". He also wrote an "Opera" and serve as Chairman of the board of the Merle Travis Music Center and Executive Director of the National Thumb Pickers Hall of Fame board. At the Merle Travis Music Center, he is involved with promoting Muhlenberg County activities that include all musical events from country and western to symphony orchestra concerts. He also offer a CD titled "Remember Them" with a patriotic, social & gospel tone with songs like "My Dad Was a Miner", "Sweet William" or "Holly Spirit Blues". He still perform and even created an alter-ego named "Eldes". Under that alias he use to sing old Elvis songs with new lyrics making "Heartbreak Hotel" under his new title "My Hips Ain't What They Used To Be" He's still in touch with Dave Rich and Royce Morgan and they played recently together in Central City. Those three old friends got a nice feature in Bobby Anderson's book "That Muhlenberg Sound" and, without Dave Rich own copy, I will never be able to explore that Kentucky Rockabilly music.

Last update on October 18, 5:05 pm by Chris.
See Gloria's entry for this Homecoming Concert Press Conference #196 - this is the concert when Phil was ill with a bad cold and by the end he had such black eyes and looked worn out, he still gave his all as they both did at these Homecoming Concerts.
Which band is Iowa's best? One national publication gives its take.

A while ago, the best band of each of the 50 states was listed online. The results were quite surprising. For example, neither Blondie, nor the Beastie Boys, nor Billy Joel, all native New Yorkers, was the New York state choice.


See the article and video (enclosed within the article) through the link below which was recently issued: October 23, 2017

The article is short and sweet!
The video is quite good, but has to be seen as soon as you open the link.
There is also a link to the other states' favorites (check out Kentucky).


EXCERPTS from the article in The DES MOINES REGISTER:

"The brothers, Phil and Don Everly — neither of which were born in Iowa — spent much of their childhood in Shenandoah, prior to relocating to Tennessee and reaching international fame."

"The publication notes its snub of Des Moines’ own metal nontet, Slipknot (you know, the band that literally put out an album called “Iowa”), in the first sentence of outlining Iowa’s best."

Criteria for choice of best band from For The Record:

The band must have been formed in or primarily based in the state in question. (Lots of groups move to Los Angeles or Nashville or New York City after scoring a record deal, but they're not from those cities.)

Only groups, not individual artists, are considered. (This admittedly skews the list away from hip-hop and country, but it also skews toward not driving us totally insane trying to wade through every musician from every state.)

We limited ourselves to bands who rose to prominence after World War II.

These are not simply our favorite bands from every state; we considered a secret recipe of historical significance, influence, popularity, and the nebulous "quality" factor.

Excerpt from For The Record:
The Everly Brothers
Sorry Slipknot fans -- Des Moines' reigning nu-metal troublemakers don't take this one despite having the most intimidating costumes. Instead, the distinction goes to The Everly Brothers, who might be more associated with Nashville but actually got their start in Shenandoah, Iowa. Long before they got selected for both the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and the Country Music Hall of Fame, the family band serenaded locals on the radio station KMA, where their father Ike Everly hosted his own show. Soon enough, their sweet vocal harmonies would be heard across the country.

Last update on October 24, 11:56 pm by Gloria Solis.
Our girl on the road - Sharon - has this week been to Shenandoah again.

She took a few different photos once again.

Some more of Sharon's photos when she visited Shenandoah last week.

Sharon also went to Clarinda, not far from Shenandoah, home of Glenn Miller. So much music from this part of the country was Sharon's comment.

Last update on November 1, 5:33 pm by Chris.

KEEP THEM COMING (hope you love traveling)!! Hope the WISH LIST comes true, and soon!

The IOWA State Flower (wild rose) and State Bird (goldfinch)


Here is Shenandoah in perspective: a particular point where the Everlys shone

Last update on November 1, 10:02 pm by Gloria Solis.
At many of the Homecoming concerts there was 'Thumb Picking' contests, they are well documented throughout this Homecoming thread including who won the contests. It was not the only thing where others could join in, take a browse through this thread to read about all the other aspects that were on show to entertain the fans.

Each year the fan club members got together for their own special events, all mentioned in this thread.

This is a short clip about the 'Thumb Picking' contest in 1993 which will also be added into the correct place on page one.

Drakesboro Kentucky is the home of the "Four Legends" Fountain. Built in 1992, the Four Legends Fountain honors four pioneers of the "Thumb Picking" style of guitar playing often associated with Bluegrass music. Kennedy Jones, Ike Everly, Mose Rager and Mearle Travis, all of which, have close ties to Drakesboro and Muhlenberg County.
Located in Central City is the Everly Brothers Monument, Popular thru the years as Rock and Roll singers known for their steel-string guitar playing and close harmony singing.
There are abundant tourism and recreational attractions in Muhlenberg County. Lake Malone and the surrounding hardwood forest form Lake Malone State Park.
The Paradise Park in Powderly is a replica of a 1920’s coal-mining town and features the birthplace home of the late Merle Travis. It is also the site of Pickin’ in the Park, a free Friday night concert featuring local musicians from June through September.


“thumb picking” involves the use of a plastic guitar pick that fits on the thumb. Besides the thumb, most of the other picking is done by the index finger.

MOSE RAGER MONUMENT in front of his home and near the Four Legends Monument

IKE EVERLY, MERLE TRAVIS, MOSE RAGER (3 of the 4 legendary thumb pickers)

CHET ATKINS influenced by Mose Rager and Merle Travis

No photo for KENNEDY JONES (JONSEY) found yet, but some information:
Kennedy Jones (1900-1990) composed the thumbpickers anthem "Cannonball Rag," but when Travis recorded the tune in the 1940s, the latter received the credit.

In 1939 Jones moved to Chicago. He played in several bands, one which included his sons, Donald and Kennedy Jr. His daughter Farre Lee too was an accomplished guitarist/singer, who regularly performed on radio station WLW. In the 1950s Jones moved to Cincinnati close to his daughter.

Travis, Mose Rager and Ike Everly all claim to have been influenced by Jonesey.

Video Recording by DOGHOUSE ROSES playing CANNONBALL RAG (KENNEDY JONES/MERLE TRAVIS> This was chosen because the video showcases the thumb picking technique.

Places and musicians mentioned here have all influenced the EVERLY BROTHERS in their musicianship.

Gloria mentions Kennedy Jones and him singing "Cannonball Rag"in #205. This is a really nice video clip all about the great thumb pickers that have been lost to us. Merle Travis, Ike Everly and Kennedy Jones.

Michel Le is doing 'their' style of thumb picking in the Central City museum and sharing it with Billy Harlan, Carmel Rich and others. There is s place inside the museum where the musicians can sit and play - this was the 'old' museum although it was not old another new one has been made at the side of the 'old' one and it was opened this year - Sharon, Marion and Mefloody are 3 who we know who have been to the new museum.

There are hundreds of photos on this thread showing inside the museum, brilliantly set out, so if you cannot go then look at the photos in this thread. There is also an excellent video inside the 'old' museum which I am told the US cannot see but still a great video.
Last update on November 17, 5:36 am by Chris.
This is the video clip of the 'old' Central City museum. It really is so well done and all the Everly Brother's music is playing throughout, just fabulous.
On Labor Day Weekend 1988, Central City began hosting The Everly Brothers Homecoming event to raise money for a scholarship fund for Muhlenberg County students. The Homecoming became a popular annual event for fourteen years, before ending in 2002.

(Not to be discouraged, the citizens reformed the event as a weekend long cruise-in and car show that is still held annually on Labor Day Weekend. View other comments on the concerts and Labor Day festivities throughout this thread.)

Everly Brothers Foundation: Incorporated is a tax exempt organization located in Central City, Kentucky. Donations to Everly Brothers Foundation Incorporated are tax deductible.

Everly Brothers Foundation is located in Central City, Kentucky. This organization primarily operates in the Information Bureau business / industry within the Services, Not Elsewhere Classified sector. This organization has been operating for approximately 29 years. Everly Brothers Foundation is estimated to generate $33,286 in annual revenues, and employs approximately 1 people at this single location.

Everly Brothers Foundation
203 N 2nd St
Central City, KY 42330
Contact: Shelia Divins
Title: Director
Phone: (270) 754-9603


"I met Phil Everly once — at a press conference when he and brother Don returned to Shenandoah, Iowa, on July 5, 1986, to perform in the town where they grew up and began their career singing along with their parents on KMA and KFNF radio." Lincoln Journal Star news

ARTICLE: On the Beat: Remembering Phil Everly
By L. KENT WOLGAMOTT / Column Jan 6, 2014


"... at the end of the hour or so when just a couple of us were still asking questions, it provided a brief glimpse into the “comeback” and reconciliation of the duo, who had regrouped in 1983"

"...for me, the Everly Brothers don’t need to be put in a Beatles context. They were simply one of the great rock 'n’ roll artists of all time -- their sibling harmonies creating a distinct, unmatchable sound, their joyous, innovative spirit driving the music.

That sound incorporated their country roots -- the music they would have sung in Shenandoah -- but it was pure rock 'n’ roll that continued on well after the band’s hit period peaked in 1962. They were, in fact, at their peak during the '80s and '90s, and the shows I saw were unforgettable. So was my meeting with Don and Phil almost 28 years ago."


More photos from the Shenandoah Homecoming concert.

Last update on November 26, 7:47 pm by Chris.
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