I was born in Central City, Kentucky in 1968, the 1st of 4 siblings. We lived in a "shotgun house" in the community of Martwick just a few miles from the Green River and the county line bridge that crossed into Ohio County. Rosine, Ky, where the Bill Monroe Homeplace stands, was a short 30-mile drive. I was highly favored with rich exposure to music. Dad and Mom were both talented musicians and singers, as were almost all my uncles and aunts on both sides of the family, including my grandparents.
Hazel Joines was my grandfather on my dad's side (I called him papaw). He played guitar, and harmonica and sang. He was a cousin to Merle Travis, and they played the local dances together back in the day. Papaw had a brother, Uncle Winford, who played mandolin, and a sister, aunt Myrtle, who played the banjo. They would get together with old man Bethel, a fiddle player, and provide the music for the local dances. Berta Mae was my grandmother on Daddy's side, and she sang. After she and papaw were married they were the church worship team before it was a thang. They had four children, all of whom were musically talented. Aunt Hazel Mae was performing on radio shows in the county at a very young age with the likes of the Everly Brothers and The Rich Brothers, sharing the same band. By the time she was in her teens, she was performing at the Grand Ole Opry Kids Opry. Dad's younger sister, Carolyn, sang and played piano at church and on Sunday radio programs. Dad was a very talented musician playing multiple instruments and singing. He was in a rockabilly band and played on channel 13 out of Bowlingreen Ky. Mom played piano and sang in church and on Sunday radio programs.
Wilbur Shemwell was my grandfather on my mom's side. I called him Daddypaw and he was a preacher who pastored a local Holiness Church. Daddypaw was an annointed singer and played the harmonica. Virginia was my grandmother on my mom's side. I called her Momma Peggy, she sang in church, and in her younger days had played some on the fiddle. They had 15 children. The firstborn died not long after birth. All of mom's siblings learned to sing from their grandma "Mammy" who was a member of the Church of Christ and taught them to sing all the different parts. Some of them played various instruments.
Daddypaw also knew Merle Travis as they used to jump trains and ride them as far as Florida. Uncle Gilman, who was Momma Peggy's brother, told how they once jumped the train with Merle, and how he went about picking his guitar to the rhythm of the train. Later in life, Mose Rager, who influenced Merle Travis with his Thumbstyle Guitar, attended many services at the Shegog Crossing Holiness Church with my family. I can even remember him testifying on occasion.
I learned to play music at an early age, and by the time I was nine years old, I was playing the drums and bass guitar during church services. I also began taking piano lessons at that time. Everyone in the family played guitar, and dad taught it to me along with the drums and bass, but I wanted to play something other than guitar. There always seemed to be a harmonica laying around and no one played it so I would carry it around like a toy but didn't take it seriously at the time. By the time I was eleven, I had landed the position of drummer for the Hartford Church Choir, and we would attend "Camp Meetings" as invited guests to perform. I played for the Choir for two years or so. Later on, Dad bought out the local music store, and I ran it. With access to so many instruments, I taught myself how to play banjo and dobro. The fiddle intrigued me. I had heard Charlie Daniels on the radio in my uncle's car and knew right then that I was going to play the fiddle.
Bob Bethel was a local barber in the neighboring town of Greenville, Ky. He was known as the "Fiddlin Barber", and was the son of Old Man Bethel who played with my Papaw Joines. On my sixteenth birthday, we paid him a visit. Bob took me under his wing and taught me to play the Fiddle and encouraged me to get out to the bluegrass festivals and mix it up. Over the next several years I was in numerous local bands playing bass guitar and fiddle. One night an eleven-year-old boy named Robby Pendley asked if he and his dad could come down and practice with us. Robby played harmonica, so we told them to come on down, and that was a major turning point in my life in regard to music. I toyed with the harmonica but had never taken the instrument seriously, but Robby was miles ahead of us musically, and I had to know more about where he had learned to play! Harold "Roadblock" McElvain was the local sheriff. He had taught Robby to play the harmonica, so the next day I was at his office. I was 24 years old when Harold took me in and got me headed in the right direction. He sent me to the Rough River Fiddle Contest to play in the Harmonica Competition. I took 4th place and began my journey for the next several years winning Ky State several times as well as Indiana State, was runner-up twice in the Alabama State Championships, and many other first-place wins in other festivals. TO BE CONTINUED.......