Hello folks… I apologize for the long blog hiatus. We have been extremely busy over the winter. However, it has not been the good kind of busy. As many of you know, I have been playing music for 11 years now. Let me correct myself, I’ve been playing guitar for 11 years…I’ve been singing for 14 years. I sang in churches from age 7-10. The wonderful age of 10 was when I discovered one of my best friends…the guitar. Something a lot of people may not know is how and why I first got interested in music. My family is not musically oriented. I wasn’t raised directly into music by my parents. My love of music came from my Grandfather…Papaw as I called him.
My Papaw was my best friend in the whole world. I spent every day with him during the summer months when I was off from school. He taught me a lot about life. He probably taught me the majority of just about everything I know. haha He taught me how to be a respectable person and how to treat people like you would want to be treated. He taught me how to lead by example. (Papaw was a County Commissioner in Washington County Tennessee. He held that position longer than anyone in the County ever has or probably ever will.) He taught me how to drive on a John Deere Gator when I was 7 or 8. But one of the things Papaw taught me opened more doors than he or I could have ever imagined. He introduced me to Country Music.
I remember being 5 or 6 years old riding to Johnson City, Greeneville, Elizabethton, Erwin, wherever it was he had to go that day (Papaw was a Rainbow Vacuum sales man and repairman) and the whole way there, he’d play tapes of great Country Music. He’d sing right along with Hank Williams, Roy Acuff, Porter Wagoner, Faron Young, Ferlin Husky, Ray Price, Jerry Lee Lewis (the Country records), Charlie Pride, Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs, Bill Monroe, Buck Owens…all the greats. The first song I ever learned was Jimmy Brown the Newsboy. That was one of his favorite songs. He’d sing it all day long. And I loved every minute of it. One of the first songs I ever learned when I was picking up the guitar was Jimmy Brown. G.C. Matlock (another hero of mine) showed me how to play it just like Earl Scruggs on the great album that Papaw had, “Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs Play the Famous Songs of the Carter Family”. Of course, Papaw never imagined that I’d get to meet Marty Stuart and that Marty would let me play his favorite song on the Grand Ole Opry.
Papaw could tell some great stories about Country Music. He’d tell about going to Conklin School house and hearing the Carter Family for a nickel…or going there to see Mac Wiseman, Flatt and Scruggs, Bill Monroe, and a whole bunch of other people. He’d tell me about hearing Hank Williams singing on 650 AM… He’d tell me about being in the Service with Faron Young. Papaw said he used to help Faron sneak out from the Military base on Saturday nights so he could go see the Grand Ole Opry.
It was always funny for him to go to some of the concerts where I was opening up for other modern country music artists. I’d get to do a 30 minute set, while the headliners would do 90 minute sets. He’d be the only one in the crowd wanting us to play longer than the headliner. He’d leave there saying that modern country music was “a long way from Bill Mon-roe”. Never was there a person any prouder of me and my music. He never told me so…but he never had to.
The past few years, I’ve had the fortune to travel all over these great United States playing Country Music. The one thing I always hated about flying off somewhere to play was that Papaw wouldn’t get to come. But, if I was playing anywhere within driving distance, he was there. For 14 years, I saw him in the audience looking back at me. My number one fan. My hero.
A few weeks ago, on April 19, the strongest man I ever met lost a horrifying battle with lung cancer and took his last breath as I was walking down the hall way to his room. It was about 8:00 that morning and I had just gotten back to the hospital after going home at about 3 AM to lay down for a few hours.
Last Friday night, May 11, I played a show at Grandview Elementary School in Telford, TN. That was about 5 miles from my Grandparents house. Driving through Jonesborough on my way to Grandview, I saw several billboards with my picture on them. I couldn’t help but think how proud my Papaw would have been to have seen those signs.
That show is the first I’ve done that I’ve looked out and not seen my number one fan cheering me on. I’ll miss him more than words could ever say. All I can really say is that I hope that my music is a way for his memory to live on. Rest in Peace, Papaw Evert.