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Everett Lilly - Everybody and Their Brother

Andy May’s Swift River Music Wins IBMA for Everett Lilly Project

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Everett Lilly CD, IBMA Recorded Event of the Year, is a Very Special Tribute

Charles Lilly wanted to honor his father, bluegrass music pioneer, Everett Lilly. As the mandolinist and tenor singer with Flatt & Scruggs and the Foggy Mountain Boys for two years during their heyday in the early 1950’s, and as a member of the group The Lilly Brothers and Don Stover, Everett helped transform bluegrass music from a regional musical style to one that is loved across the country and around the world. Though Everett had played on some of the most highly regarded and influential records in the history of bluegrass music, it had been a long time since he had been in the studio.

So, in May of 2005, Charles and his friend and musical collaborator, Bill Wolfenbarger, embarked on a project to record Everett, then 80, playing some of his old favorites. As Charles and Bill started lining up musicians for the sessions, a funny thing happened: Word spread in the small world of Nashville’s music circles thatEverettwas going back into the studio, and musicians who had been influenced by Everett or The Lilly Brothers in some fashion or another along the way volunteered to be on the project. The next thing Charles and Bill knew, they had “everybody and their brother” lined up for the project, each one doing their specialty— or just whatever was asked of them, out of respect for and in honor of Everett.

Since many of the performers were out on the road much of the time and were giving their time off to be a part of this event, Charles and Bill worked around their schedules. (Charles himself was playing bass and touring with Grand Ole Opry star Billy Walker during this time.) It took nearly a year, but by the following May, much of the recording had been done.

Then tragedy struck. On May 21st, 2006, Charles, Billy Walker and his wife, Bettie, and guitarist Danny Patton were killed in a highway accident while returning to Nashville from a show in Alabama. Devastated, Everett and Bill, along with other Lilly family members, decided that they needed to complete this project because that is what Charles would have wanted. They also decided to dedicate the project to Charles and to Bea, Everett’s brother with whom he had performed for so many years and who had passed away in September of 2005.

In May of 2007, almost two years after Charles and Bill first came up with the idea— and with Bill’s staunch assistance throughout— the project Everett’s son started to honor him and he finished to honor his son was released on Swift River Music. Joining Everett on the recording are: Bea, Charles,  Daniel and Mark LillyMarty Stuart,  Rhonda and Darrin VincentBilly WalkerRonnie & Rob McCouryDavid BallCharlie CushmanLarry Stephenson, Joe Spivey, Eddie Stubbs, Jason Carter, Dickey LeeFreddy WellerMike BubRad LewisAndy MayMarcia CampbellClay Rigdon, Eric Blankenship and Bill Wolfenbarger. Some of the tracks, such as Get in Line Brother, and Waves on the Sea, are songs that Everett helped make famous; some are songs that he has performed and enjoyed over the years. There are also a few contemporary songs that are particularly meaningful to Everett: Will You Find Me Worthy? and He Knew Me When He Was Hanging on the Cross are sacred songs written by Charles and Bill and Savannah’s Not in Georgia, is an original written by Daniel Lilly, another of Everett’s sons. One bonus track is a previously unreleased recording from the late 1950’s of The Lilly Brothers performing Cyclone of Ryecove, an AP Carter song. The end result is a musical journey back to the roots of the music and forward again to include some newer songs inspired by the traditional musicEverett helped make famous.

Clearly, Everett Lilly is deeply valued by the bluegrass community. In addition to the personnel list on “Everett Lilly & Everybody and Their Brother” reading like a who’s who in bluegrass music, in 2002 The Lilly Brothers & Don Stover were inducted into the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Hall of Honor, the highest tribute that the bluegrass community can give. Marty Stuart has said, “I think when we all get to Heaven we’re gonna find out that Everett Lilly is God’s favorite mandolin player– and mine too!” And now Everett Lilly has once again been honored by the IBMA: “Everett Lilly & Everybody and Their Brother” has been named the association’s 2008 “Recorded Event of the Year.”

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